What Would You Do, If You Weren’t Already Doing This?

What Would You Do, If You Weren't Already Doing This?

If you haven’t listened to our latest season of the podcast, Honest Money Conversations wrapped up again last week. In the final episode, Carrie shared a question she had been grappling with, and I have been thinking about it ever since: what would you do, if you weren’t already doing this?

What I love about the question is that you could apply it to so many different aspects of life. What you do for a living, how you budget your money, what your habits are, and so on. If you weren’t doing it this one way already, and had the chance to start over, would you still do it today? Or would you do something different?

Personally, I have been applying the question to my work. Carrie’s question is what sparked me to write this post and document what I’ve accomplished since I started this blog 7+ years ago. It felt really important for me to take stock of this stuff, before making any big decisions about what to do next. And that’s not to say a single blog post is what helped me come to any conclusions! I’ve been asking myself “what do you really want to do?” since last year, and have more than enough messy notes in my journal to prove it’s taken many months to figure it out. But that blog post felt like the last page of one chapter, and this post is the start of a new one. :)

Going back to Carrie’s question, here’s what I know: if I started a brand new blog today, it wouldn’t be a personal finance blog. I don’t have $30,000 of debt anymore. I’m not doing a shopping ban. And I don’t have any big financial goals that I’m working towards (just retirement). I will always care about my own personal finances, and I will also always want to create space for us to have open and honest conversations about money. Have a question? Ask me anytime! I mean it. Because I know that the more we share, the more we can all learn from each other—and the better off we will all be. So I will always be open to having those conversations.

But I’m not a personal finance blogger anymore. I have known that for a long time, and thought making the switch from “blondeonabudget.ca” to “caitflanders.com” was enough to prove it to myself. But I was still working on Rockstar Finance, which sometimes made me feel like I was (or like I should be). And the fact that I was working on Rockstar also meant that I was basically only consuming personal finance content. I love that my job was to simply read your blogs and find the gems we could share with the world. Without that job taking up 6+ hours/week, though, I’ve been able to spend more time thinking about what’s next.

If I started a brand new blog today, it would probably be called something like “themindfulconsumer.co” (and yes, I own it, lol) and that’s a lot of what I would write about. I am completely obsessed with the topic of us, as humans, being consumers of everything. And I love talking about how what we consume affects our lives, our work, our mindsets, our habits—and yes, our wallets too. This includes thinking about our digital lives vs. analog lives, finding information + inspiration from spaces outside of the ones we work in, and so on. I am simply OBSESSED. (Want to hear a bit more about what I mean by this? You might enjoy this episode of our podcast.)

And I’m not surprised by this. I completed my BA in Communications in 2012, and some of my favourite papers and projects were on this exact topic (specifically, social media and technology). But then I found myself maxed out financially, and my only priority was getting out of debt. We all know where things went from there. :)

So, that’s where my interests lie, and what the blog will be about going forward: a space where we can talk about how to become more mindful consumers (with a big focus on digital vs. analog). And I actually don’t think this is too far of a stretch from what I’ve been moving towards, anyway. At first, I was worried that writing a memoir about a year where I didn’t shop would pigeonhole me into that space. But when I really think about it, my intention for that book was to start a conversation around how to stop binging and start being a mindful consumer—and that was a great place for me to start.

Now, the beautiful thing about having a blog with your name as the URL is that you can write about anything, and I also see the topic of adventure coming up a lot too. Specifically, I want to bring the outdoors into my work. If you look at my Instagram account or read this post, this should come as no surprise. I want to talk about what the word “adventure” means to me; that includes tiny adventures (like my Adventure Tuesday’s) and big adventures (like my trip to the UK next month). It also includes the topic of challenging myself, both outdoors and in all the ways I have attempted to create change in my life.

I’m still working out some of the details of what all of this will look like, including a new project I want to launch alongside it this summer. The best part (for me) is that nothing really needs to change on my blog, aside from my “about” page. My URL will stay the same, and I already have a logo that fits with this new direction. :)

Before officially “signing off” as a personal finance blogger, I want to go out with a bit of a bang. Since it’s Financial Literacy Month (in the US), I thought I would spend it sharing every last bit of personal finance-goodness that is currently bottled up inside me. I have a handful of money-related posts in my drafts folder that I would love to publish and nearly a dozen personal finance books to share via giveaways (woo! multiple giveaways!).

I don’t think it’s possible to show you just how excited I am about these changes, especially the new project I’m going to launch this summer! I was afraid to say “I don’t want to write about money forever” out loud, because a hard pass or “no” always feels like you could be closing a door and losing out on opportunities (including money). But since doing therapy last year, I have slowly been adding more and more boundaries into my life. And after opening up and being honest with a group of women (at one of Nicole Antoinette’s events!) in Seattle last weekend, I knew I had to give myself permission to do what I REALLY want to do—and this is it. :)

So, that’s it for now, friends! The first book giveaway will be on Friday, and then I’ll be back next week with two money-related posts. Until then, I’m curious:

What would you do, if you weren’t already doing “this”? (Whatever “this” means to you, right now.)

  • I would move to a new city! I am still in my debt repayment plan, but by the end of next November I should be financially free! I’ve lived in the same area my whole life, with the exception of studying abroad in Beijing, China, but I’m ready for a fresh start somewhere, with more parks and places to explore.

    • Ooo, I love that! And I have found (for me) that it’s really important to have a new financial goal to work towards after you’ve crossed off another. Any thoughts on how to make that happen? Maybe drive around and/or go on a couple short trips, to explore some new places first? Or do you have an idea of where you’d want to go?

      • I’m currently in the Midwest, but my older brother ventured to the West (Utah) and my older sister just settled in North Carolina and I haven’t been to visit either of them yet. So I’ll start with them and go from there. I loved Milwaukee when I visited a friend’s hometown with her, but it just seems like a different Midwest city than where I’m at. Not sure if it’ll be enough of a change or challenge.

        • Ooo well I’m excited for you to visit both places! I’m hoping to spend more time in Utah in September. :)

  • I think you can start the new blog, I love the idea! I would keep this website as a main profile as you grow and evolve. Essentially, Cait Flanders is the person, but on other blogs you would be the CEO.

    • I totally agree! But I also know how much work it takes to maintain one website, let alone two, haha. I’ll house it all here. :)

  • I love this, Cait! I’ve been following and reading this blog for years and I have really enjoyed how it’s evolved. I, too, was wondering what would happen to this space once you’ve paid off your debt & finished your shopping bans. So happy to hear that you’re here to stay and that the conversation is evolving just as you have.

    I heard this podcast and the question from Carrie and literally went “ooooo!” because it was such a good question that I hadn’t thought of before. I’m not sure I have the answers quite yet to what I’d be doing if I wasn’t currently doing “this” in life, my passion project & work. But I’ll be sitting on it for a bit and journaling about the answers.


    • Writing about it helped me a lot! And I will also say: if nothing comes to mind right away, that’s a good thing! It means you’re feeling ok about things! This was never about me wanting more/bigger/better or anything like that. The question made me pause because there were a couple of things I *knew* deep down that I was ready to stop doing—I was just too afraid to say so. Enjoy the journaling, Lo! :)

  • Oh, I love this “new” direction – although, I have to agree: it is not really far fetched, more like long-time coming :D Looking forward to more mindful consumption, adventure & nature posts <3 So happy you are taking your blog into this direction!

  • Hi Cait.
    Again, another very interesting blog post that you are sending our way to read. Whether you are discussing financial topics, consumer topics, adventure topics, etc., I feel that our lives still are directly as well as indirectly influenced by money matters, to a greater or lesser extent. It’s just how it is. It all centers on exactly how much emphasis (in actions, thoughts, and/or desires) that one gives to any of the above. So here I read that you are shifting your emphasis and that is good. That is how one grows.

    To answer your question:
    If I was not already doing what I am currently doing (ie., enjoying retirement and volunteering), I think that I would (and still might pursue) look into all the various opportunities out there (in real life or online) in pursuing more self educational opportunities. One thing that I (and others) have found is that the older you get and the more that you learn (through education, skills, experience), the more that you become aware of what you don’t know. So, whether to learn new stuff for practical or pleasure purposes, that’s probably what I would do. And you know something? – maybe that’s exactly what we all should start actively looking into doing (and not just thinking about it). Just like you tell us that you are doing. :-)

    • This is why I dislike the word “expert”. That word assumes we know everything and there is nothing left to learn. Not possible, my friend! Here’s to learning new things!

  • Cait, I love your writing and it comes out best when you discuss what you are passionate about. Keep writing about whatever interests you the most. Those are the areas your readers have the most to learn from you.

  • I am so excited for the direction you and your blog are going in! I love the topics you are going to write more about, and just as you begin to salivate before a tasty meal, I am excitedly anticipating your first post on the subject of consumerism, analog vs. digital life etc. The question “what would you be doing if you weren’t doing this” actually terrifies me a little. I feel comfortable and okay and safe where I am, but asking myself that question is very scary, like I am opening a door and I don’t know if I want to really see what is inside, because maybe I will realize I need to make a change. So, maybe I will just peek through the keyhole for now: and I see myself writing more, whether it be stories or blog posts, maybe full time. I’ll quote a tale from the movie Eat Pray Love when Elizabeth Gilbert tells the story of the man begging to the statue of a Saint to win the lottery, the Saint comes to life and says ‘please buy a ticket’, and maybe that is the answer. Maybe I should write more. Thanks for the food for thought Cait xo

    • Maybe we can both write more, Ashleigh. And thanks for sharing that quote! :) Also, I will just continue what I said to Lo up above, and say I don’t think it’s a bad thing that nothing comes to mind right away! We are allowed to be content/don’t always have to be chasing more. What I realized was that Carrie’s question really struck me because there were some things I *knew* I wanted to stop doing. I just had to get the courage to do it.

      • You are right Cait. I think my fear sometimes is that when I feel happy/comfortable with things as they are, I feel outside pressure to pursue more, and then I question if I am just settling. Maybe I need to have some more courage to push back against that pressure to say ‘this is enough’. Thank you for sharing your thoughts :)

  • I love the new direction you are taking Cait! It totally fits with your book and what you have been writing lately.

    I’m a bit disappointed that I can’t register for “themindfulconsumer.co” especially after writing a post about it
    https://www.tawcan.com/being-mindful-consumers/ (I’m being a bit sarcastic here :p).

    I think our approach to our blogs is very similar. Like you, I haven’t limited myself to only talk about personal finance. Having that flexibility has allowed me to grow as a writer.

    • Bahaha. I know, I’m sad that someone bought mindfulconsumer.com/themindfulconsumer.com. But what can ya do! I guess we can just wish them well ;)

  • I am fairly new to your blog, and just read your book, so your new direction seems logical to me :) I really enjoyed your book, and read it really fast (perhaps not that mindfully!)

    I don’t know what I would be doing if I wasn’t doing this…do you have any particular recommendations for how to think through to what the answer would be?!
    I am feeling the urge to do something radical but I am not sure what that might be…

    • Hey, that’s really great feedback, Nicola! To know that you’re new and feel like this direction is a natural one. :) What I would say is that if nothing comes to you right away, don’t overthink it! The answer can just be: I am happy with where I am. But if you’re feeling something stir up inside you, I would start talking to friends and/or journalling and seeing what comes out. You don’t have to make any big decisions right away. Just listen to the words you are saying (especially any that come up over and over again). That’s what I keep doing for myself, and it eventually turns into something.

      • I think I might try journaling in some form- I have a terrible track record of starting journals enthusiastically, though, and abandoning them fairly quickly. I need to find a way of journaling that I can maintain. I think journaling would be useful as I’m not sure that I currently see the larger patterns- I will look out for any words that I am repeating! Thank you for your suggestions!

        I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts on digital/analogue as currently I am thinking a lot about social media use (mine and others) and oversharing…and where the balance is between the great stuff that goes on and the not so great stuff…

  • Cait
    Love the evolution of all that you have done, your content is genuine and authentic. It only makes sense that our websites evolve as we do as individuals. That is why people connect, the real life feel of it is honest and readers gravitate towards it.
    Cheer ~ Chris

  • This is a great question- and my answer made me really happy, because I thought to myself “more of this”. Although to be fully transparent there is some paperwork and meetings involved with “this” that I’d be skipping in a heartbeat! (and shifting that energy to other projects)
    I look forward to the mindful consumer posts- it’s certainly an area I’m trying to improve in. I strongly recommend the Netflix documentary “The True Cost”. I watched it about a year and a half ago and I haven’t purchased any fast fashion since.

    • A great recommendation! This reminds me that maybe I should write a post about documentaries/shows that have actually given me a lot to think about sometime. :)

  • Lady you are speaking my language right now. I listened to your latest podcast as I walked my mountain town the other day. I’m in a very similar spot of wanting to start something new-ish. And doing a 180 from my work of the last eight years. So much good stuff there. Very excited for you on these next ventures!!

    • Ahhh that’s so exciting, Rachel! Let’s connect and talk about it soon! Maybe a phone call while we are both out for walks!? :)

  • Cait, I love that your blog has evolved over time as your interests and priorities change, because it never starts to feel repetitive like most blogs do when they are so pigeonholed. When I first discovered your blog a couple of years ago, I went back and read the *entire* archive and have read every single post since then, plus I’ve listened to every podcast episode (and have never commented up until now — sorry! I’m a hard-core introvert and stick to stealth mode most of the time…). Every single other blog I’ve ever followed, I’ve always stopped reading after a year or two because it starts to feel like different variations of the same ideas and message over and over again. Don’t get me wrong, those blogs do have great content and are great resources, especially for people who are starting out in a particular space. But for me they don’t have the staying power to keep my interest over many, many years.

    You’re an interesting person with great insights and ideas about all sorts of things, and that’s why I keep reading and listening, to hear what you have to say, rather than just consume narrowly focused content about specific topic X, Y, or Z. Keep up the amazing work! p.s. I’m a fellow Canadian, living in Vancouver in fact, so between that and following you for so many years, in my head we’re totally BFFs ;-)

    • Ohhh thank you so much for this comment, Jennifer! I’m waving down from up here in Squamish! And I really appreciate what you shared here. I don’t know that *I’m* interesting, but I am definitely *interested* in lots of different things. There’s so much to learn from / consider about this short time we get to experience life. :)

  • Hi Cait! I think it’s such a great idea to go into the area of being a mindful consumer. For me, a shopping ban can be restricting at times but I would not mind living my life as a mindful consumer.

    Anyway, looking forward to your new projects. And to answer your question – I am currently a university student in my last year of school. I would want to be working a meaningful job otherwise, and that is also my hope for the future!

  • No more money blogging!!? Bye bye, nice knowing you… (deletes bookmark..)

    KIDDING! Love the progression and you’re just in a different place now, so why continue to focus on where you’ve been. Sounds logical to me. We all change and accomplish things and move on, so this is just another step. I’m looking forward to what you’ve got cooked up!

    • Thanks, friend! Imagined it wouldn’t be a hard sell to keep you around, with more talk of adventures and all. ;)

  • That’s such a great question! I would definitely work from home if I weren’t in my current job. I would love to blog, freelance edit, and get paid to read books :) Getting there with baby steps.

  • I’m so excited about the direction you’re going! Of course, I already loved your blog, but I have been doing a lot of thinking about digital vs analog lately so I can’t wait to mindfully consume the amazing things you’ll be creating. :)

    And that question just gets right to the heart of the matter…so many areas of my life to apply it!

  • I have a car that gets driven about once a week, and lately I’ve been thinking about getting rid of it. It’s been payed off for some time, but there are still insurance and gas costs. The flexibility is nice, don’t get me wrong. But I live in a major metro area with lots of car sharing options … I think it’s a small thing I want to do differently than I do now.

    Jazzed about your new direction! Go get ’em!

  • Hi Cait! I recently found your blog after reading your book (which, by the way, thank you!) I’m excited to hear about the new direction you’re taking with the blog… it’s a topic that’s been really on my mind for at least the last year or so. It feels like there has to be a better way to have a relationship with the world around us, y’know? Looking forward to hearing your take on it.

    Oh and as for your question— right now I’m in the midst of my first year of freelancing so that takes aaaallll my time… but I’d love to get a blog around creativity and the creative process up and running. Maybe someday!

  • Congrats on your new direction, Cait! I’d like to move to a new city. I am already debt free and have enough saved for the move. However, I want to wait for one more year so that I can build my emergency fund and help my elderly parents downsize so that they can move closer to family. In the meantime I’m taking mini-vacations to the cities I am considering moving to. Hopefully I will time everything (move, parents’ move, fully funded emergency fund) just in time for my 50th birthday next year.

  • Looks like I picked the best time to start following your work. I was only marginally interested in the personal finance aspect but really drawn to the mindfulness consuming you mentioned in your book. I’m looking forward to seeing where you go with this!

  • Congrats, Cait! So happy that you’re doing what’s best for you, and I’m excited for the changes! I just finished your book and with the help of your budget planner I really feel like I’m starting to get a handle on my impulse purchases and eating out craziness. Your words are inspiring and wonderful, thanks, Cait!

  • Woot woot! So pumped for you, girl. (And so glad we both changed our URLs!) Loved reading this post and learning about where you’re going. I know you’ll rock it!

  • Hi Cait,

    I have loved the direction that you’ve taken with your Instagram posts, and look forward to seeing where you will go with this site.

    If I weren’t doing what I was doing right now, I’d like to be working on my laptop in a cafe coworking space within walking distance of my home. I’m not sure *what* I’d be working on, but I am more and more attracted to a life where I don’t go to an office M-F for 40 hours a week and have some flexibility in my schedule.

  • The other morning, I dropped off my husband at the car service place – he was picking up his vehicle and moving on to other errands, and I was heading home. On the way, I passed several stores, and my automatic thought was, “maybe I should stop there to see what they have!’ and then I thought, “but I don’t really need anything there.” so I kept going. I had just borrowed your book from the library, and wanted to start reading it. I’m in my 60s, and retired from a full-time job of many years, and still don’t feel like I know what I want to do “when I grow up”. I had a severe heartbreak in my 20s that crushed my self-esteem, and it took way too many years of therapy to “recover” from that. (I’m not sure I’ve ever fully “recovered”). Your book was so honest and emotionally revealing – I admire and praise you for writing it. And maybe I’ll figure out some day what I want to do “when I grow up”.

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