Alex Jackson Talks Turnarounds, Legacy, and More
LOS ALAMITOS, CA - I remember when I was turning 30 in 2019. The first thing that came to my mind was, “I am not anywhere near ready to run a company…”
No one asked. However, it became apparent to me that I had put the pressure on myself to know the answer to that unasked question as I approached my 30th year, because it was burnt in my head that my mom became President of Frieda’s, our family business, at the age of 30.
In 1985 when my mom, Karen, turned 30, I was not even a glimmer in her eye (or however that saying goes). My mom was jumping into the infinite abyss of the unknown that only my grandmother Frieda had experienced: being a woman running a produce business. Karen worked with Frieda for almost 10 years, and Frieda was also supposed to be her source of inspiration. I feel alone just thinking of how alone my mom must have felt not knowing many other women business owners during that time. When a challenge lies ahead, we naturally turn to those who have done it before, and I am not sure my mom had anyone to turn to.
My mom took on a lot at the age of 30. She “had it all” on paper: She was married, had a house, car, and ran a business. At the age of 30, I also “had it all” on paper, but I felt unfulfilled from the depths of my being.
What I did not have at the age of 30 was self-love, belief in my inner voice, and belief that I was enough. I must imagine my mom Karen had the same thoughts at some point in her 30s.
So, as I turned 30 years old, I remained lost, unhappy, and unmotivated. I gained 50 lbs self-medicating with food. A few months after I turned 30, my grandma Frieda died. That sucked. I panicked, worrying about where I was going to turn for reassurance I was capable of everything I was taking on in my life, as my grandma, Frieda, played that role for me as my only antidote to my rampant imposter syndrome.
Then COVID hit.
I lost 50 lbs.
I got pregnant.
I turned 31.
Then…I woke up. Specifically, on December 29, 2020, while giving birth to my beautiful, perfect, cherub child Eli. And that awakening has continued every day since.
I got divorced.
I moved out on my own for the first time in my life.
I turned 32.
Jody Boyman, psychologist, wildlife photographer, and entrepreneur, shared on the Second Life podcast something her graduate advisor said to her when she was at a crossroads in her life: “Women’s lives are nonlinear. You have the opportunity at every moment in the day to make a radical pivot if you want, if that is your decision.”
Shortly after giving birth, I realized I needed to make a radical pivot in order to love myself, knowing loving myself meant I could finally live up to my full potential. Over the previous two years, my unhappiness within myself was so palpable. I was grasping on to any answer to the question I kept asking myself, “What would make me happier?”
Should I move?
Should I quit my job at my family’s business?
Would losing weight make me happier?
Answer: No. Absolutely not. Tried that, didn’t make me happier.
I realized I was in a relationship that subtracted from my self-love, and I had to end my 10-year relationship, five years married, with my child’s father.
It was the best decision I ever made, and the scariest one as well. I was tearing apart a “family.” I was going against everything I ever wanted (no divorce). And I was also so unhappy, unmotivated, insecure, and bored.
What did I want?
I wanted to love myself. I wanted to love my growing career in an industry that fulfilled me. I wanted to love being Eli’s mom. I wanted to try new things and spend time with those that support me and share open and honest communication.
Today, I am on the other side of this journey. Not completely out of the woods, but for the first time I’m confident in myself. I have a healthy relationship with food, I have overcome my imposter syndrome (that was tough), and I am happy.
Money does not buy happiness. The job title does not buy happiness. The house, the car, and the clothes do not buy happiness.
Self-love can provide endless amounts of happiness. A relationship where you feel heard and valued can add to that self-love.
I imagine my mom had a similar journey in her 30s (and 40s and 50s), however, in the 1980s, ’90s, and early 2000s, it was taboo to say you were unhappy when everything on paper added up to happiness.
Nothing magical happens at the age of 30 that triggers a pivot. It seems to be a common milestone year for my mom and me. The awareness may have been all I needed to know I have the authority to make changes. I’m responsible for my own happiness, and I’m the only person that can prioritize an adjustment. Like Jody’s advisor said, you have the opportunity at every moment to make a radical pivot.
Karen’s five pieces of advice are crucial. I have a business coach—two, actually—and they have helped me live to my full potential. I finally have a financial advisor for the first time (financial confidence is very freeing). The rest of Karen’s points? Check, check, and check.
I wouldn’t change my journey for anything because it all leads me to feeling happier than I ever have. So, here is what I wish I knew at the start of it:
- Self-love is the only type of love that will make you truly, deeply happy. Without self-love, anyone else’s love for you will not fulfill you. You will always feel like something is missing
- Listen to yourself. Your inner voice is powerful. You know yourself better than anyone. And, in order to listen to yourself, you need to love yourself
- You are not alone. When you feel alone, I challenge you to call someone you trust and say you need to talk, and they will listen. They will make you feel less alone. They may not have the answers you need, but they will assure you that you are not alone
- See a therapist. Mental health is sexy. If #1 through #3 sound scary/hard/impossible, see a therapist. My therapist’s name is Beth, she’s a Libra, and she is the best
- You are enough. You deserve to realize how valuable you are and that everyone and everything in your life should be adding to your greatness, not subtracting from it. If this also sounds scary/hard/impossible, see a therapist
Advice is a dime a dozen, and everyone has an opinion of how everyone else should live their lives and run their business. It is easy to be critical when you are outside, looking in. It is much more challenging when you’re looking into a mirror. Your personal and professional life are more intertwined than we give them credit. Finding passion in the work toward self-love will only illuminate the passion in work, too.