Six months ago, I wrote my first blog post. In it, I talked about how, for the first time in a long time, I didn’t really have a plan. As such, I thought now would be a good time to reflect on this experience, and re-evaluate the path I’m traveling.
Two roads diverged in a wood…
You may recall that I started this blog as an avenue to share thoughts, experiences, and learnings with our son. Although I knew I wouldn’t earn a fortune overnight, I had it in my head that I’d have at least earned a small sum of money by this point. Yeah, not so much. To date, and only because of my articles on Medium, I’ve made just over $7!
So, I’m averaging less than a dollar per month on my writing, but the enjoyment I’ve gotten from the posts so far is worth doing it for absolutely nothing. I’d read the stories about the bloggers who make six figures per month, and who have tens of thousands of followers. And I thought the Amazon Affiliate Program would be a sure-fire way to earn some dough.
I’m definitely not making six figures per month, I have fewer than 40 email subscribers (and I value each and every one of you!), and, any day now, I expect to receive an email from Amazon, saying they’ve dropped me from the program due to insufficient activity.
And I wouldn’t change any of it.
Follow your detour
Follow Your Detour is a blog that I have really come to enjoy, not only because of the couple’s story but also because of the message in the name. How many times have you freaked out when you’ve gotten off-course (during a road trip or life in general) and panicked about the fastest way to get “back on track”? Most of us don’t like it when life diverts us on a detour. But it’s the detours that often lead us to the most rewarding, unexpected destinations.
The past six months have involved one detour after another for me. In his book, How Will You Measure Your Life?, Clayton Christensen puts this idea another way: you may start out with one idea in mind (your deliberate strategy), but other, more promising, ideas often evolve along the way (emergent strategies). I referenced that life doesn’t always accommodate our plans. And, in the end, it’s not what happens to us, but how we react to what happens to us.
In my case, blogging will remain a creative outlet for me, and a way to reach people in all corners of the globe, but I’ve decided to instead focus my efforts in other ways that I think can have a bigger impact. For example, I believe personal finance education (for people of all ages) is the way for me to have the most powerful influence.
Just where have these detours led? Among other things:
- I started my own company
- My debt story was featured in Student Loan Hero, and subsequently picked up by Business Insider
- My posts have been published on Medium and Thrive Global
- I now know that blogging is not easy
- I’ve had wonderful conversations with friends about new opportunities and ideas (for both me and them)
- I’ve learned a lot about myself, and a variety of topics
- I’ve read a ton of books, and not all of them were about personal finance
- I’ve reconnected with friends and family members
- I’ve had people tell me they enjoy my posts, and how much they resonate with them
- I’ve written some good posts, and plenty that aren’t going to be the next great literary work
- This summer, I’ll be doing some work with several organizations that serve underprivileged and foster children – work that includes personal finance education, “Shark Tank”-type projects, and help with resume and interviewing skills
- I’ve begun helping adults through personal finance coaching
- I’ve pitched a values-driven personal finance program to a number of schools, and have received a good amount of interest
Although I still haven’t completely figured out Google Analytics (I’m not the most technologically-savvy person you’ve ever met), I do know that my website activity is trending upwards. And, interestingly enough, at least as far as Medium is concerned, the most read post so far has been the one about meditation. Hmmmm, not sure I would have expected that.
Remember, things rarely work out exactly how we have it planned in our minds. And that’s okay, maybe even great! I came across the quote below from Brandon Stanton in Tim Ferriss’s book, Tribe of Mentors, and I think it works perfectly here:
“Sometimes you need to allow life to save you from getting what you want.”
Before my exit from the corporate world, I’d already decided that I’d just ride it out for another 10 years until our son went off to school, and then do everything I’d waited to do. There comes a point, however, when you realize that time may not come. And I certainly realized that another 10 years would have felt like an eternity with all the nonsense that you deal with sometimes. Sure, the additional 401(k) money and larger pension would have been nice, but at what cost?
So, you’re telling me there’s a chance
As a result of the many conversations (i.e., detours) along the way, I’ve got a few things in the works that I never would have thought about before, so who knows what the next 6 months will bring. I do know that you need to have a general plan, but you must be flexible too. And you have to keep going, one day at a time, taking one step at a time. Things aren’t just going to happen while you sit at home and watch TV.
At the end of the day, I wouldn’t trade this past 6 months for anything. I’m getting stuff done at home, I get to wear my favorite outfit (t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops) every day, and, just yesterday, I was home to take our sick dog to the emergency vet.
Aside from the book that started it all for me (Your Money or Your Life), the most impactful book I’ve read during this time is Man’s Search For Meaning. Every person should read it – period. The author, Viktor Frankl, survived the Holocaust, and credits much of his ability to do so to the fact that he had a clear purpose – a reason for being. He also proposes that the United States should have a “Statue of Responsibility” on the west coast, to complement our Lady of Liberty in New York. His point is that, with the freedoms and gifts that so many of us possess, we have a responsibility to use these gifts, fulfill our purpose, and leave a positive legacy.
I feel like I’m getting pretty close to defining my purpose, and what I want my legacy to be; but it only happened through this time of reflecting on where I’ve been, and by taking the opportunity to re-evaluate where I’m going.
It’s never too late to contemplate your own detours, and where they might be taking you. Do yourself a favor, and just roll with it. You never know where you might end up.