I debated quitting this blog recently.
When I started writing last summer, I put some rules in place. I assumed that there would be some valleys, and I didn’t want to give up when things got tough.
First, I agreed that I would write for at least a year before I reassessed. That year isn’t up until July.
A few months in, I also signed up to attend FinCon (the annual financial writer/blogger/podcaster convention) in 2017. FinCon isn’t until the end of October, so I figured I would push through until at least then to meet and learn from some of the great people that I’ve connected with in this community.
I took both of those steps before the election.
Since the election, I have felt a strong push to spend more time helping people that need it. It is a feeling that I have always had, but for the past few years it hasn’t felt so urgent. I don’t know if that is because I was just starting to get my career going or whether it was because my financial situation was not yet secure enough to look outward or some other reason altogether.
But it has felt a lot more urgent lately.
I questioned the time that I spend on the blog. Is there a better use of my time? A more helpful use of my time? Is this really just a self-indulgent endeavor to inflate my own ego?
But I kept on, because I told myself that I would give it a year.
Then came May.
A Rough Month
One of the consequences of this was that I stopped writing. Of the six articles that I was supposed to post in the first three weeks of May, I posted one.
And that’s okay. I have no problem with stepping back from responsibilities when necessary for self-care.
But it would have been very easy not to come back. And I was very tempted.
Setting Time Priorities
There are a lot of things that I want to do with my time. And some things that I need to do with my time.
I need to earn money. I would love to hit financial independence so that I remove that need from the list, but I’m not there yet. So I need an income.
I want to spend time on my relationships. I want to spend time helping others. And I want to spend time on self-improvement.
Balancing those four needs and wants is hard.
It is especially hard in that you are not simply balancing these items within each week or each month. You balance over your whole lifetime.
I had the opportunity to take a much higher paying job. My salary would be almost triple what it is now, but my hours would probably also be about triple what they are now.
If I took the high-paying job, I would devote all of my time in the present to earning money at the expense of the other things on my list. But I also would hit financial independence a lot sooner. The need to earn money would drop off my list entirely. So while I would have minimal time for relationships, helping others, and self-improvement now, I would have lots of time for all of those when I hit financial independence on an expedited schedule.
By staying in the lower-paying job, I need to keep earning money for a larger number of years. However, I have more time during those years to spend on my other goals.
To further complicate matters, there are different balances that can be achieved by mixing jobs with other goals. Perhaps there is a job that helps more people more directly than my current job, but is at a lower salary and has longer hours.
There are an infinite number of combinations of these factors.
My Current Path
Of the options that I had, I took the path of the lower-paying job and I do not regret that. I don’t think it makes sense to rush to financial independence at the expense of the rest of your life. Life can be taken from you without warning, so live it to the fullest while you can.
This leaves me with a limited number of hours to balance my time-use goals. And brings me back to my earlier question. Is this blog a good use of my time?
I like to think that my writing here has helped some people. But it is hard to see that impact.
And if it has helped people, is it help of a useful magnitude? I don’t have a particularly large audience in the grand scheme of things, so if I am helping a relatively small number of people with relatively small improvements to their lives, is this the most helpful use of my time?
Ultimately what brought me back was the idea that this is an overlapping use of time.
Double Counting Time
When I first developed the concept of this blog, I wanted to help my friends with their finances and I wanted to share some of the self-improvement and happiness research that I have learned over the years. I still do that to a large extent, but I also need to keep learning new things in those fields to keep writing new content.
Much of this learning I may have done regardless. I was working on self-improvement before starting this blog and I will continue to work on self-improvement after the blog dies. But the blog forces me to keep a relatively consistent pace. It forces me to keep finding new ways to be better when I have no other desire to keep pushing.
So I hope that this blog helps people. I hope that you find things in my writing that make your lives happier. But I also get value out of this time myself. I think that through writing this blog (and continuously studying to find new content) I am contributing to my own self-improvement.
So the blog stays. For now. I will continue to study. I will continue to write. I will continue to read and connect with the other members of the community.
And I will continue to put pretty much no time into marketing or SEO or any other behind-the-scenes work so that I have free time elsewhere to find other ways to help people.
Thank you all for continuing to read, and I hope you enjoy and are learning ways to live a happier and richer life. Even if only a little.