Audio (Podcast)

Stop Achieving For The Sake Of The “Next Thing”

Sarah Webb
By Sarah Webb

Alli Owen is an intuitive alignment coach, writer, and podcast host. She is a recovering overachiever, having graduated at age 24 with a master’s in engineering, hiked 2 of the tallest peaks in the world, and traveled to 6 continents.

Since then, she has learned to let go of society’s expectations, stop achieving for the sake of the “next thing,” and step into alignment with her true self. She has since been on a mission to help others do the same through her podcast “Aligned and Alive” and her transformational one-on-one coaching programs.


Connect with Alli Owen:


Podcasts: Aligned and Alive

Facebook: Alli Owen

Instagram: alignwithalli

Pinterest: Alli Owen | Healing, Yoga, Truth-Telling

YouTube: Alli Owen

Introduction:00:03Welcome to Plaid Radio by Plaid for Women and the #NoMeanGirls Movement. Enjoy today's show and be inspired to change the world.
Sarah Webb:00:16Welcome to Plaid Radio. I'm your host, Sarah Webb and I'm with today's very special guest, Alli Owen. Alli is an intuitive alignment coach, writer, and fellow podcast host. She's a recovering overachiever... Ding, ding, who can relate to that? Having graduated at the age of 24 with her Masters in Engineering, she has hiked two of the tallest peaks in the world and she's traveled to six continents. Since then, she's learned to let go of society's expectations, stop achieving for the sake of the next thing, and step into alignment of her true self. She has since been on a mission to help others do the same through her podcast, Aligned and Alive, and her transformational coaching programs. Welcome to the show, Alli.
Alli Owen:00:57Thank you so much, Sarah. I'm so excited to be here.
Sarah Webb:01:00So, I am a recovering workaholic, but that really gets into the overachiever status as well, so, I get you on that! So, tell us a little bit. You have a master’s degree in Engineering and you did that for a while, but then you… you're doing something completely different now. Kind of walk us through that logic and how you decided to make that step.
Alli Owen:01:20Oh my goodness. So, the first day of my engineering job I walked in and I was so bored. I was like, “this, I can't do this forever.” And Amen to the people who can do it. Like we need people who obviously can. I just felt so stifled and immediately started like looking at, as an overachiever, like what's my next move? It was also weird, as an overachiever, to be done with school and not have that next thing. I wanted to go to get my MBA and I was looking at that. Then I was like, “you know what? That's just another thing to buy my time and another thing that I want to like check off the list.” I'm like, “well what do I need to do to actually figure out what is true to me? And what is aligned with who I am? And so that took years. I worked as an engineer for four years, and I did the personal development work, I hired my own coach and figured out where my life was going. We also saved 70% of our incomes for those four years and prepared to do something. We weren't exactly sure what we were doing, and we tried on a lot of different hats. I'm trying to figure out what entrepreneurial venture we wanted to do, or if we just wanted to move. So, I quit my job in April and we've been on the road traveling in our self-converted Sprinter van for about three months now.
Sarah Webb:02:56So, how many years were you actually in profession? You said you kind of had that spark as soon as you started, but how long did you make plans?
Alli Owen:03:03Four years.
Sarah Webb:03:04Okay. And when you were thinking about entrepreneurship? You mentioned your husband. Was this something that you had to convince him to do or was he also in a professional job that he didn't like. What was that like?
Alli Owen:03:17I'm definitely more like spontaneous and not as big of a planner as him. So, the first six months we were dating, it was right when I started work and I felt like I didn't want to do it and I was like, “let's just quit right now and go travel. Like we could travel for like six months with our savings,” because I had only been working for six months and had some debt to pay off and stuff. I really wasn't prepared. And he was like, “why would I do that? I have a great job. I would never quit my job.” And so, it definitely took some time talking to him about it and him doing his own, personal development work, listening to podcasts and realizing he could be in that job for the rest of his life and… That would be fine. A lot of people do that and that's a great path for some people. He felt he was trading so much of his time and so much of his life for this paycheck that he wasn’t even using. We were obviously using 30 percent of our paychecks. So that kind of got him thinking and we got on this path of quitting our jobs in 10 years and that was his goal. Once we worked for 10 years, then we could actually quit our jobs and never have to work again. So, that was our plan, but then we had some mental health struggles these past two years and we're like, “you know, we just can't do this anymore and we're willing to take the risk and trust ourselves that we will figure it out, entrepreneurial or we can always go back and get a job if need be.” So, yeah, he's much more risk averse. He felt we needed to plan, and it was the mental health issues that were the tipping point for him being like, “okay, I see what you're saying. I can't do this anymore.”
Sarah Webb:05:13So, looking back at how that transpired and where you are now, is there anything you would do differently regarding college? Would you have invested in that professional degree and gone down that path because obviously it's one of those things, it helps you make money and it gave you that financial foundation and helped you find your truth path, but then at the same time… Like sometimes I'm like, “Oh, I feel like that was such a waste,” which is not a word I like to use much. But what do you think about that? What would you tell your younger self?
Alli Owen:05:41I don't think my younger self would have listened as much as I would have liked had I told her because I really wanted to prove it to my dad, mostly, that I could be an Engineer. And so, there were like those daddy issues that I needed to work through. I don't think I would've told myself anything that I would have listened to, but if I could I would have told myself just to like to listen to your intuition. My intuition, when I was an Undergrad, kept resisting. I didn't want to be an Engineer. I kept trying to major in other things, but I was just shut down by my parental figure. But I still kept trying to fight it. It's like you have to go through the shit to get to the place where you can see that and to be strong enough to resist that because even leaving my job, I had to go through some resistance, but now I'm in a place where I'm strong enough to resist that. And so, maybe I would have told her to resist.
Sarah Webb:06:44Well, what would you think about someone who maybe is one, two, or three years in their career and they're looking to make a change? You talked about saving a lot of your money and I think that's definitely key. My CPA hat really likes that. What other suggestions would you have for someone that thinks that they want to make a big change like that?
Alli Owen:07:02I would say try as many things as possible while you are still in a job. Once you quit that job and you don't have that steady income and you're trying to make it entrepreneurially, there's a lot more pressure because you don't have that income. Even if you've saved, and we saved five years’ worth of expenses. So even if our businesses don't make money, we'll still be fine, but there's still that pressure on you that I'm not making any money and I need to start making money! And so, I think try as many things as you can right now, whether that's online courses or just reading as many books as you can, or talking to as many people as you can who are doing what you might be interested in. Just follow those little flickers where you're like, “Ooh, that kind sounds interesting. Maybe I'll try that.” Then talk to her about that and take action on it. Try it out and see how you feel while you're doing it.
Sarah Webb:08:03Now you're traveling across the US on this extended road trip. Did you always have this travel bug or was this something you kind of learned to experience through this, like you said, trying all these different things?
Alli Owen:08:16I definitely always wanted to travel. Even when I was in college, I really wanted to travel, and I wasn't allowed to until I graduated and could pay for myself. So, I saved up all my money and took off to Southeast Asia and spent two months in Southeast Asia. I've always just felt this need, like a pull, to go places and experience things. So yeah. Did I answer your question? I feel like I just...
Sarah Webb:08:45Yeah. You talked about going to Southeast Asia for two months, was that when you were dating your husband? Did he enjoy travel as well or is that something you cultivated together?
Alli Owen:08:57He definitely enjoys travel a lot, too. And it was funny whenever... So, Southeast Asia was before I met him, but whenever we started dating the first like three months of dating, I was like, “okay, we need to travel together and go somewhere that's really foreign, that we don't speak the language, and see how we react in this environment.” Kind of like a test. And so, we went to Japan. Neither of us had been there and it was definitely a really good experience for us because we would get lost and then we'd have to communicate about it and figure out where we're going. And no one spoke English. We got lost in the Japanese countryside because the bus just dropped us off and said, “your hotel is that way,” and pointed to these trees. So, we just started walking. Traveling with someone is stressful and I liked seeing how we could react and learn and how we work together, too.
Sarah Webb:09:56Traveling with someone in a highly stressful situation truly brings out the real character of someone. And it's not always pretty. My husband and I have had those trips were, it wasn't pretty, but we can laugh about it now.
Alli Owen:10:10It's good to laugh.
Sarah Webb:10:12It's not funny at that exact moment. We have a lot of trips where were like, “ha ha ha, we survived that!” You've talked about Japan and Southeast Asia. What is one of the most amazing places you've visited so far?
Alli Owen:10:29So, I think the one place that always comes to mind for me is Africa. After I finished graduate school I spent a month in Africa. I climbed Kilimanjaro and then I went on a horseback riding safari in Botswana. I went all by myself and it was really, I think competence building for me just to go and figure it out, in Africa of all places. My mom was not super pleased about my choice of Continent, but it was amazing, and it was... I wouldn't say start with the hardest country, but I would recommend traveling by yourself. I think it was super transformational for me.
Sarah Webb:11:21Do you have any big future plans for overseas travel or are you on this road trip for an extended period of time?
Alli Owen:11:28Yeah, we have plans to take this van or maybe we'll do another van down to South America and drive there. Other than that, we have a plan to hike Camino de Santiago in Spain next year and my husband hasn't been to Southeast Asia, so we have to go there again, too.
Sarah Webb:11:49You talked a little bit about saving your money. What are you doing now? How are you making sure you're being efficient with that? Are you working while you're traveling or are you really tight on expenses or combining all of those strategies to make it last as long as possible?
Alli Owen:12:06Yeah, totally! So, we have really low expenses. We spend $2,000 a month. That's including everything, health insurance, phones, and everything. On our YouTube channel we have our monthly expense report, where we talk about everything we spent, and we do that as accountability to ourselves, but also to show people how accessible it is to live on less. It's lowering expenses, for sure. And then we also have a couple of businesses that we are running. They aren't super income producing yet, so I would say we're just living on our savings.
Sarah Webb:12:47It takes time to ramp that up and you just started in April. I think that's completely okay. I think sometimes as entrepreneurs or just the general public, we see entrepreneurs from afar and they're very successful and we don't always see the years of the back work that it actually took to get to that point. It definitely does take time. You talk about being an intuitive coach, writer, and all of that, is that part of what you're doing while you're traveling or are you meeting with people or are you virtual? How does that work?
Alli Owen:13:20Yeah, so before I quit my job I was meeting with clients one on one and then once I quit I was really hesitant about how it was going to be in the van. I didn't want to have these clients that I felt like I needed to meet at all these times. So, I wanted to really adjust to van life before I took that on. So, I actually stopped taking clients in April. But now that we're more in a routine and I’m feeling ready to start working more. My husband and I also have a coaching business, too. So, that's why I say we. We do financial coaching for couples. I work on the mindset part of that. But as a coach myself, I'm launching a program this fall. It's in partnership with my podcast about aligning your life to more of what makes you come alive. So, it's for people who are lost and not sure about what their purpose is and what their next steps are. And so, I'm launching that this Fall.
Sarah Webb:14:22I'm excited about that. So, I know some people are very curious about when you say van life, what are the dimensions of where you're living and what's a daily routine for van life?
Alli Owen:14:33Yeah, so I live in 60 square feet and it pretty much looks like, we wake up whatever time you want to wake up at, which is really nice and definitely a privilege, and then we try to go on hikes wherever we are. We're really outdoorsy. We have mountain bikes and so we'll try to find a mountain biking trail or a hiking trail or something that's close by. We have a full kitchen in our van, so we pretty much don't eat out very much. We have a fridge and, well we don't have a toilet. That's always a question everyone has, but we use public restrooms or nature and we have a gym membership to shower. That's also a question a lot of people have. We mostly try to sleep in campsites that are free. So, a lot of BLM Land or campsites without amenities, so they don't have showers or toilets, they're just kind of wilderness campsites, I guess you would call them. But they typically have a fire pit and you can park the van there. We try to stay for the most part in those just because they're a lot nicer. But we do occasionally stay at truck stops or Walmart parking lots. It's a mix because sometimes you want to be near service and Internet, being able to connect and work on our businesses. So you have to do a balance.
Sarah Webb:16:00What part of the US are you in right now? Like what region?
Alli Owen:16:04We're in Michigan right now. We started in California and booked it across to South Carolina and then went north from there. And so now we are in Michigan.
Sarah Webb:16:15Awesome. And do y'all have a plan? Like we're going to be here for this many weeks so we want to do this and this or is it like a week to week thing?
Alli Owen:16:24We have a plan. We have a conference that we're speaking at in September in Florida, so we have to kind like loop back down to Florida. We're speaking on how to financially prepare for a mini-retirement actually.
Sarah Webb:16:42Are you speaking at FinCon?!
Alli Owen:16:44Yeah. Yeah!
Sarah Webb:16:45Awesome! And for financial nerds or people interested in that, it's a nationwide conference on all things, financial, podcasting and blogging and things like that. So there's really amazing speakers. Congratulations! That'll be great!
Alli Owen:16:59Well we're not like keynote speakers.
Sarah Webb:17:01Hey, you're there! Give yourself a pat on the back.
Alli Owen:17:06Thank you. I appreciate that. So yeah, we're going to head down there and then we're going to head back to Colorado. That's where my family's from and we have one business that is actually a food product and so we need to be in one space to be able to create more products to sell, because we can't sell them out of the van for health reasons, obviously.
Sarah Webb:17:32Thank you for not trying to sell them out of the van!
Alli Owen:17:32We try to follow the law.
Sarah Webb:17:34We appreciate that. Sounds like you've really kind of carved this out. Do you see yourself living in the van and doing the coaching and all of this for your lifetime, or is it just, “hey, we're gonna do this for the next few years and then go back to full residential living?” What do you see, as of right now, this second, what do you think the future holds in that?
Alli Owen:17:56I definitely don't think we're fulltime like van lifers, but we could definitely be fulltime tiny home people. We’ve talked about buying a tiny home community and building a bunch of tiny homes and then renting them out or selling them or something. I think we really like the small space. It really frees you from just having things. Frees you so much mentally and it's made us a lot more focused on our goals and who we want to be and what we want to do with our businesses. I'm really a big fan of small spaces for sure. I definitely see us living, maybe not in 60 square feet, and I would definitely like a toilet and a shower. Ah, the dream!
Sarah Webb:18:44I think that's great and it's also one of those experiences you can look back on and be like, “hey, we did this early on in our marriage and what an adventure that it was!”
Alli Owen:18:53Yeah, totally.
Sarah Webb:18:55Well, very briefly on your website and you talk about you were raped in your early twenties by your boyfriend and you talk about this experience where you sought out therapeutic help and you talked about some of the stigmas that, “oh, you don't want to be seen as going to counseling or you don't want to take these pharmaceutical drugs.” You’ve talked a lot about it, obviously it's a horrible experience, but you talked about being judged for reaching out and asking for help. Can you share a little bit about that? I was surprised that that's how you felt and that makes me so sad.
Alli Owen:19:27Yeah. Well, I was involved in a very religious community and I was a virgin whenever I was raped and so there was a lot of stigma associated with having sex before marriage. So, I think a lot of the judgment was also self-inflicted and also just perceived judgment that I felt like I was receiving because of the messages I had been told growing up that, “sex, it's dirty and it should be shameful.” Like just sex in general is that. And so not only did I have sex, but it wasn't consensual sex. And so, trying to understand that and unravel that was really hard for me as a 22-year-old and I actually didn't understand that it was rape until two years later when I went to therapy and I told the therapist exactly what had happened. That’s the first time that she called it rape and being able to say that gave me a lot of freedom and release and that this burden wasn't mine to hold. Even though I still feel like I don't appreciate how the church treats sex, now looking at it, I think there's a lot of problems with how they approach sexuality. I was able to go back into church and release those judgments and the shame that I had carried with me and realize that God loves me, no matter if I'm gay or if I've been raped or whoever I am, God still loves me and it's just these people in this building that choose to try to exclude people because it puts them on an elevated pedestal and/or makes them feel like they have it all figured out or are better than other people. You can find that not only in churches but in office places and friendship communities. It's just human nature, maybe. The dark side. The dark side.
Sarah Webb:21:22Yeah. You talked about, it's not everybody at that church. I think it can be misunderstood about organized anything is that we… Just because you attend a group or a church or whatever it is misunderstood that you all have to think and act the same way and a lot of times that's not true. Do you think you kind of had resisted calling it rape because you were in a relationship with this person? This wasn't some random act of violence? Do you think that was playing into it a little bit when you were meeting with your therapist years later?
Alli Owen:21:52Totally. It was my first time, too. We were told, your first time should be with someone you love and someone who really appreciates you. And so I tried to make that person this, this ideal that I had in my head and he was not that at all. He was a horrible human being, but I tried so long to make the story that, when that was a false narrative and that story was creating bucket loads of shame on me. And so, releasing that and going to therapy and talking about it publicly has really helped. There are so many other people who have experiences that are like, “it just feels really weird and I don't know if this is rape, but it wasn't right.” And I think we have as a society this idea that rape is from a guy you don't know in the park behind the bathrooms or something.
Sarah Webb:22:56Like the movie setup of what we're told to protect ourselves from.
Alli Owen:23:01Exactly. And it wasn't until the 70’s when all the states said that it was possible for a woman to be raped or for someone to be raped within their marriage. So, this wasn't that long ago that rape identified as illegal within the confines of marriage. I think society has a long way to go to understanding what rape is and how it impacts people. But one book, if someone is listening to this and feels like they've had an experience like that, I highly recommend it. It's a book called, I Never Called It Rape and it was super eye opening for me to hear other stories of women who have had similar experiences.
Sarah Webb:23:47What would you say to someone who has encountered any type of trauma as a young impressionable woman? When I think about that age, you're set free by your parents, but you haven't necessarily... I wouldn't say that at that time for me personally, I was fully an adult. It’s this stage where you're experimenting and you're figuring out what that is because you're not under the daily thumb of your parents, but you're not fully independent, either. What would you recommend to someone who maybe experienced trauma or as in a negative type of relationship?
Alli Owen:24:20I would totally recommend therapy to anyone who has experienced trauma. There's a lot of unconscious trauma or trauma that we don't realize is trauma and working through that from a young age I think sets you up so much because you realize your triggers, your habits, your patterns, and you're able to pull them up by the root and replant healthy habits and understand your triggers and understand why you are the way you are or why you need react certain ways to certain people. And so if someone is really young or even if they're not young, I highly recommend, highly recommend therapy.
Sarah Webb:25:04Yeah. Well good. I'm glad you found the help and support you needed and also disappointed that you kind of had that judgment piece. In that vein, our platform is all about women supporting each other and celebrating and lifting each other up. And so, we have a campaign, #NoMeanGirls and we've all experienced mean girls, but you, through this trauma, you've definitely experienced mean girl treatment, men or women, but mean girl type treatment in that judgment. How have you been able to push past that and realize it's not about you, it's potentially their own limiting beliefs and whatever they're dealing with.
Alli Owen:25:44I think it's mostly empathy and trying to understand why they are the way they are or why they are projecting that onto you. A lot of it comes down to fear. They are afraid that they'll be outcast from that social circle if they decide to stand up against some belief that that social circle holds. I think understanding that, yeah, they are being horrible to you and they are being mean and it's not fair and it's super shitty, but they really are trying to do the best they can and that THAT might be the best they can, that's so shitty. That's who they are. But that helps. Having empathy for them helps me to understand that it's not me, it's them and it's where they are.
Sarah Webb:26:36Yeah, absolutely. A few months ago, we launched, our #NoMeanGirls@school training. We've had this campaign for adult women and people kept saying, “Oh, you need to do something for girls,” and we're like, “no, no.” And we kept getting pestered, honestly, and so we went and created a program for girls ages 10 to 14. One of the things that we talk about is that it's not about you as the victim, it's actually about them as a bully and something's happening in their life or like you said, they want to be accepted or maybe they don't have the self confidence in that way. It's interesting because I think... We did our pilot program this summer and for a lot of the girls they had never heard that before. As a victim and obviously being a young girl, you do think it's all about you. And that was really... They were able to release a lot of those things when we walked through, “it's really not about you at all. There's something happening in their lives.” So, I appreciate that. Well, thank you for joining us today. Thank you for sharing your story and we'll be sure to link up your book suggestions as well as your podcast because I know others will definitely enjoy that. I want you to have a great time at FinCon taking the van, looping around the US, hitting Florida. It's going to be an incredible experience. So best of luck!
Alli Owen:27:52Thank you so much, Sarah. I loved chatting with you.
Sarah Webb:27:54And that's a wrap for Plaid Radio.
Sarah Webb
A bit about me, I'm a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee and volunteer. I am married and have two children - one who aspires to be a secret spy ninja and the other wants be a doctor for toys...Read More
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