Why I Chose Not to Do My MBA

As a blogger, hustler, entrepreneur and hopefully all around girlboss, people ask me how I became inspired to create and curate a blog. People also ask “Annika, how do you possibly have the time to work a full time job and be building a brand”? Well, to be completely honest and transparent, I am really motivated to make this work because it makes me happy! I find so many times in life a big decision spurs creativity and passion. For me, this HUGE decision was surrounding the choice of MBA or no MBA.

The process of deciding not to do my MBA was a really emotional one. The whole thing took about six months or so for me to really realize what I wanted. I think this made me dig deep because for so long I had this concrete plan in my head of what I “should” do, which I kept telling myself was what I wanted to do.

In the plan I had set for myself I had come to a decision point, the point where the MBA prep would start. I did all the things I was supposed to do: did my research on schools, joined a GMAT prep course and booked my exam date. Throughout the entire process I found things to be almost painful. Looking back now this is so interesting because I if I am doing something like blogging, even if it is hard work and late nights . . . I LOVE IT and it actually GIVES me energy. Whereas when I was doing all this MBA prep, it drained me right out and actually made me question so many things!

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My pivotal moment happened while visiting a good friend in London. She said, “Why do you actually want to do your MBA?. . . You don’t need it”. This struck me like a pound of bricks. At first I thought about the same old reasons like international experience and a good network (which she pointed out that I have a good start on and that those things can be achieved without the $100k price tag). It got me thinking about what the reasons were for driving me to go and spend a heap of money, consume a year or more of my life and take on some massive stress!

After some major inner searching I came to a root cause; I felt like having my MBA

. . . would make me enough and I would somehow be more worth it. . .

This was a troubling but liberating realization.

I realized for many years I had been doing things because I thought I should be, not because it was necessarily the thing that would bring me the most joy or passion. I took a step back and thought about what I really wanted:  Flexibility, an international life, and a creative business. These are the things that drive me, and things that inherently make me happy, why wouldn’t I take them into consideration? This is when the blog was born.

Maybe it is just me, but I would bet that there are many people similar to this. We put pressure on ourselves to be enough. There are, of course, the pressures that we get from society and many that we get from ourselves but there comes a time that you should just do it for you because it makes you happy.

Being a blogger who also works a full time job can definitely be a challenge at times! For anyone out there who is considering starting a blog or even for those who have and are looking for a few tips here and there I can share a few:

  1. Do it because you’re passionate! Like I mentioned above, if you’re not passionate, the tasks and time commitment will drain you.
  2. TIME BLOCK – You’re busy, we are all busy and yes, we all have 24 hours in the day (minus sleep and cocktail hour ;)) make good use of it! I love watching TV as much as the next chick but if you want to build a brand you better get your ass in gear!
  3. Network – I love to network. Networking supported me in my MBA research and in my decision not to do it. Networking is also so important (online and IRL) to grow your blog and your brand! Networking is how I met the FAB ladies @lipstickandmuffinmedia !

I challenge everyone to think about the passions and goals that you have. Are you taking yourself seriously and doing things for you?

Keep Hustlin’

Oxox Annika

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Annika Friesen is a lifestyle blogger from Toronto, Canada. The blog Fernweh Society specializes in travel, career, fashion and girlbossin’. You may find her running around Toronto cell phone in hand and jacked up on espressos or sneaking off to the airport for a jet setting adventure. Annika lives with her other half Dustin and their frenchie Karlsson.

Follow her on Instagram @fernwehsociety

6 Lessons My Mama Has Taught Me

Today is a special International Women’s Day for me.

First, I woke up to a message of a follower from my Instagram that I have never spoke to and she was telling me how she was inspired by what I do and was asking me for advice and guidance for her future path. Then, I found this social media post of me being featuring in a collage with many other successful female entrepreneurs including the creator of Motives Loren Ridinger, actress and celebrity Lala Anthony and many other inspiring female millionaires that have affected my life and the person I have become in a major way.

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As I thought about this privilege that I have received on this special day, I can’t help but thinking about my mom, the woman who has the most impact in my life. She deserved so much more credits that she doesn’t even know.

I want to write this post as a special gift to my mom and et her know how much she means to me and how much of her wisdom has shaped the woman I am today. Here are the lessons my mama has taught me 🙂

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Lesson #1: “Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other women who have their back”

Ever since I was a baby, my mom has always been that one person that always fights for gender equality. My mom was an activist for women’s rights in my home country and later, the head of a non-profit organization that fights for the rights of female workers in the workforce. My mom always took me to her work and the conferences that she was invited to and that was when I realized that the only way for women to succeed was to support one another continuously.

Lesson #2: “Never rely on a man emotionally or financially”

Since I was at a young age, my mom already taught me to be very independent. She, herself, is a perfect example of an independent woman. My mom works very hard for her own money and she never expects anything from anyone. She always says “Never expect anything from anyone because anything you want in life, you can create it yourself”.

Lesson #3: “If he can do it, you can do it too”

It could be hard to believe but growing up, I was a tomboy. I have an older brother who is 6 years older than me and I remember having to wear all of his clothes because our family was struggling financially back in the day. I also remember wanting to be like him and do the things that he could do. So when he went for karate class, I wanted to do the same. When he got a mountain bike, I also wanted the same. Next thing I know, I started to believe that there is really no limitation in what a woman can do when it comes to life achievements. Every time I tell my mom about something that I want to achieve, this is her favourite sentence.

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Lesson #4: “There is no free ride in this world. You gotta earn it”

I love hearing my mom’s childhood stories and how my grandmother raised 6 kids all by herself. I have to say that I was lucky enough to be born in a family full of strong women. They all taught me the value of hard work and integrity. Growing up, I always had first hand experience of how hard my mom had to work to prove herself as a successful woman and as a great mom to us. I have seen my mom going through many sleepless nights working late on her computer and doing overtime work to be able to earn a bit more money each pay cheque. She taught me that success is really not by chance, it is by choice and if you work hard, you will be rewarded for every piece of it.

Lesson #5: “Always stay humble!”

My mom is probably one of the most humble person you will ever meet. Her wardrobe has always been the same. She probably goes shopping once a year and buys 1 or 2 new outfits. If people run into her on the street and recognize her from the city news on TV or newspaper, she will probably smile at you and talk to you like she’s the friend you have known forever. Every time I achieve something big in life, she always reminds me to continue to learn from others and never stop improving and working on myself.

Lesson #6: “Be yourself! Everyone else is already taken!”

Last but not least, my mom has taught me the biggest lesson of being myself, accepting that I am different and never second guessing about where I am coming from and where I am going to.

When I decided to quit my well paid 9-5 corporate job to pursuit my entrepreneurial path, my mom was the first person to tell me that she was happy that I was happy and whatever I do, she believed that I would be successful at it.

Mom, thank you for being such an inspiration and Happy International Women’s Day to all of you 🙂

From Tracey with love ❤