On Quitting and Time Management

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.

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

My family had a very rough few weeks.

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.

Finding Balance

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.

21 thoughts on “On Quitting and Time Management”

  1. I love your voice, Matt, and the fact that your posts are so thoughtful and deep. Few bloggers do as good a job of tying personal finance and psychology topics together. I’m glad you’ve decided to keep going for a while.

    But I definitely understand the “Do I stop or do I keep going” dilemma of blogging. I got really close to not renewing my domain and hosting when it comes up next month. Blogging can feel like whistling in the dark. I decided to keep going, but I know it will keep coming up as a question.
    Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted…Three Days at Great Wolf Lodge: A ReviewMy Profile

      1. Yes. Taking a long break in February and a shorter one in May helped relieve a lot of stress and burnout, as did dropping back to one post most weeks.

        It’s a two-edged sword, though. It’s much easier to write when I write, but my traffic also dropped way down which added more self-doubts about the value of continuing.
        Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted…Three Days at Great Wolf Lodge: A ReviewMy Profile

  2. I can totally relate to this Matt. I’ve struggled with very similar issues. But, I have to say, I’m really happy you’ve chosen to continue. I get a ton of value out of your posts – and I always learn from them. As I’m sure others do as well. Whenever I struggle like this, I take a step back and remind myself I’ll do what I can – as long as it’s on my own terms. Seems like that’s exactly what you’ve done!
    Amanda @ centsiblyrich recently posted…Debt Free Story: Change your hobby and kill your debtMy Profile

  3. Matt:

    1. You have helped me out! I wouldn’t say you saved me or anything like that, but your blog is definitely a piece of my journey that is going in the right direction, so thank you!
    2. With #1 in mind, you still need to blog for you (I mean aligned with your goals, which do include helping others. So even though it’s ‘blog for you’ it’s actually helping others. Confused yet?). I think I am in a similar boat, I am not very active on the SEO side right now, instead I am blogging to help others ‘stuck’ in life, improve my writing, learn about internet marketing, and help get me ‘unstuck’. This sounds similar to you. Can you find blogging topics that are so exciting to you, that you can’t help but share them? I have some of those, but not sure how long they will last ….
    The Tepid Tamale recently posted…Maybe all is not lost!My Profile

    1. Thank you. I very much appreciate that. I go through phases where I will be able to write a whole bunch of articles about a whole bunch of topics and then points where I just don’t feel like writing about finances and self-improvement. I think I am always ready to write, but sometimes it is entirely unrelated to this blog.
      Matt recently posted…On Quitting and Time ManagementMy Profile

  4. Matt you are one of my favorite bloggers and selfishly I hope you continue forever. Although secretly there are days that I wish you started to work for Motley Fool because I think you could easily slide it Morgan Housel’s role before he departed and totally crush it. If I had any connections there, I’ve applied a couple of times, I would totally try to get you there to work so you had a broader audience 🙂
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…One Way To Save 5% Each MonthMy Profile

    1. Ha! Thank you for that. I had not really considered trying to write for an already-established publication. It is definitely an interesting idea. I appreciate the vote of confidence. Seems like you’ve built up quite an audience on your own, though! Your site has completely taken off recently. Congrats on that!
      Matt recently posted…You Do Have TimeMy Profile

  5. We all have our moments Matt. It’s tough to find the right balance. I’ve recently trimmed back the amount of time I read and comment on other blogs to help try and find that balance. I’ve also considered taking a break or stop blogging altogether, but jumped off the deep end and started a couple of new sites. I wish you luck. I’m sure you’ve helped more people than you know.
    Brian recently posted…Finding Harmony When Dumping DebtMy Profile

  6. I just subscribed to your blog (literally, two minutes ago!) from a thoughtful comment you posted on another blog. I hope you will continue.

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