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The FIRE Meet-up
This weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting Tanja Hestor and her husband Mark, who blog about life post early retirement, the RE of FIRE, at their blog: Our Next Life.
They were in New York for the weekend to see Harry Potter’s The Cursed Child on Broadway and thought having a FIRE meet up of NYC peeps on Cinco De Mayo was a good idea.
You can see the YouTube video of my journey to meet them here.
This was the first time I was surrounded by so many FIRE bloggers and I got to pick their brains a little bit about certain topics regarding blogging about FIRE.
After speaking with them, I realized that what we talked about can also be applied to living a productive and healthy life.
After all, being productive can help you reach financial independence faster, and being healthy allows you to enjoy F.I. when you do reach it.
For example, we talked about burn out.
Jane has been blogging for over a year now and mentioned that she felt burn out between months 8-12.
The Luxe Strategist mentioned how she feels burn out like every 3 months.
So I asked the group in general, “What are some things you’ve done that helped with burn out?”
Gwen mentioned that having routines helped.
She said to schedule time for yourself, for example, 1 hour a day, and just sit yourself down in front of the laptop, open it up, and eventually you’ll start to fill that blank screen with words.
Essentially, make it a habit to write, even if you don’t feel like it, and eventually everything will work out.
They mentioned that you just have to push through it, and eventually the burn out does go away.
At first, a part of me thought, “Okay, this is all nice advice that I will store in my brain vault and use it when I go through burn out. Because I’m obvi not there yet.”
But deep down, and I eventually mentioned this in our group conversation, I know that I’ve also gone through burn out.
I’ve been blogging about FI and FIRE from a fun minimalist perspective for about 3-4 full months now.
This involved hundreds of hours designing the blog (which is still a work in progress), writing articles, and spellchecking.
I would come home from work and get right to typing.
I stayed up late writing blog posts on most nights, published them in the wee hours of the morning, and crashed for a couple of hours before waking up to go back to my desk job.
All the while I would much rather be creating fun blog content.
The morning when I checked my blog stats and found out I got featured by Rockstar Finance, a big website for all things personal finance, money, investing, financial independence, and FIRE, I was shocked.
My brain didn’t work.
It felt like all of my months of “hard work” and sleepless nights had paid off and someone was giving me the recognition I felt like I deserved (note the ego).
Then a couple of days later, I got featured on The Financial Diet, another big website for personal finance.
I was done.
While I was super filled with mental excitement and feeding off the positive comments and feedback, I found that I was having trouble typing up another blog post.
It took a good 2 weeks for the majority of this inertia to go away.
I’m still feeling remnants of it right now.
Winning The Blog Lottery
To get featured by two prominent personal finance websites back to back in the same week was more than I expected when I first set out blogging.
First of all, it happened much faster than I expected and I think that’s what partially threw me off balance.
It felt like I won the blog lottery and I suppose my subconscious was like “Okay, you won the award that you set out to win. You can hang up your medal and go retire now.”
This might be why I was having such a hard time mustering up the energy to write any more blog posts.
Words fail me right now but it might be as if I felt the hundreds of hours and sleepless nights catch up to me all at once and I was able to let myself go.
What I wish I realized sooner, or had in place to help counteract the inertia and lethargy stemming from burn out, was a system to implement after a tremendous positive event happens.
I remember reading somewhere that after a corporate win, this company would allow their employees to celebrate one day, and only one day.
Then after that one day of celebration was over, it’s back to work on the next goal, the next win, otherwise inertia sets in.
And I realized that I needed to do something like this, but I didn’t do it.
What I should have done after getting featured was go out and treat myself to a nice chocolate milkshake and some fries and watch a nice, loud, brain-deadening, action movie in theaters. Something like Rampage ft. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
A full day to just relax, unwind, let go, and bask in the warm self-glow of knowing that I “won” something I set out to achieve.
Instead, I fed off the energy from Twitter and my stats for a couple of hours, went to work, and kept checking social media and my blog stats to see how many thousands of views the feature got me.
My mind was always so focused on the next, next, next, that I didn’t focus on the now to just enjoy it and treat myself to congratulate myself on a job well done.
But now that I’m aware of it, if something like this happens again the future, I might try to do something that’s akin to what I do while meditating.
Be Aware of, And Admit, What I’m Feeling
Instead of self-denial like I had for 2 weeks, I would acknowledge right away that I’m feeling burn out.
By admitting the feeling right away, I can be more proactive toward addressing the root causes.
Dig Deeper: Why Am I Feeling This Way?
Why did I feel burn out after getting featured twice?
When I first started writing this blog post, I didn’t think I was going to get to this point but here’s what I think is the deeper reason.
I Didn’t Allocate My Time, Attention, and Focus Properly
I really spend way too much time on social media. If I have to do a mental guestimation, it’s probably around 1 hour a day, minimum.
And while it is fun to have twitter conversations with other like-minded F.I. peeps and facebook chat with friends, I can stand to check my social media less.
It’s not like the notifications are going away.
The problem with checking social media constantly is that it takes mental energy and focus away from me being present and in the moment.
I can count hundreds of instances when I would be at work, or running errands, and check social media just for fun instead of focusing on the task at hand.
Even as I write this blog post, and for previous blog posts for that matter, instead of doing a hyper focused typing session for a couple of hours and be done, I would somehow end up on social media a couple of times every hour.
Thus, writing, reading, typing, or doing any kind of work, always took longer than expected because of distractions.
If time is money, this state of distraction cost me productive time, which cost me money because I could have been working on side hustles to generate more income.
Is Blogging Like Being an Athlete?
Before going to this FIRE meet-up, I just finished “The Power of Full Engagement” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.
In the book, the authors talked about how they train corporate workers to work like athletes.
It’s part of their “Corporate Athlete” training system.
An athlete looks healthy. An athlete trains for short bursts of time then spends the rest of the time recovering.
This gives the muscles ample time to rest, relax, and recover so it can build itself to be stronger before the next use.
Athletes train for hours, days, months, and years. Then they perform at a competition and take a long rest after.
I feel like constantly going on social media in the mornings and evenings, during work, and during blogging is akin to keeping my brain muscles constantly in the “on” position without giving it proper time to rest.
This might be one of the reasons why I felt mental lethargy after getting featured.
I felt physically fine and I was healthy. But my brain just didn’t want to work 😂 because it never had sufficient rest.
What Can I Do Better Next Time?
I’ll work on scheduling my priorities and not prioritizing my schedule, as recommended by Stephen R. Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
He recommends that we schedule our priorities ahead of time for the whole week versus making our schedules that morning for each day (because if we do the latter, we’d just end up prioritizing our schedule, which doesn’t always lead to the productivity we want).
That way, we have long-term focus in mind versus just a day-oriented short-term-sightedness.
My priorities are my health, wealth, love, and joy (Eudaimonia concept from Ancient Greece) because I think these 4 factors lead to living a well-rounded, balanced, and enjoyable life. One where we can experience all the abundance and joy that life has to offer.
Applying them to my vision as a creator of fun and insightful content for people, I have to take care of my mental and physical health so I can keep creating for the long term.
It wouldn’t make sense if I spend all my time creating, only to burn out, give up, and quit forever.
It wouldn’t do you, me, nor the world, any service.
Doing That Which Brings Me Joy
In terms of joy, I ENJOY, with a capital E, creating content for people.
Whether it’s silly youtube videos, blog posts, and, in the near future, potential podcasts and books 😆
It just makes me feel good. Call it the Leo in me. Darn extroverted star sign!!!
So the goal is to take better care of myself and my time and energy in order to focus on my life’s priorities and not let minute random distractions distract me from the vision of the world I want to create for myself and everyone around me.
Reaching Financial Independence is just the stepping stone to the greater vision beyond.
With that said, blogging is like being an athlete.
You train, you train, and you train.
Then you rest.
You put yourself out there on the line and “compete.”
Then you rest.
I know it’s a work in progress, but I am working, and sometimes failing, on resting more.
Please excuse me if I sound lazy.
I just don’t want to feel this inertia and lethargy again nor do I want to let it stop me from being the positive and productive creator that I can be.
To reference from the Bible, after creating for 6 days straight, even God rested on the 7th day.
I think He was on to something 😉
Thank you for reading!
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