It has been exactly 50 days since my last update; 127 days since I left for my adventure in the UK; 232 days since my first book came out. This year has been so different from what I expected, filled with decisions I didn’t know I would make. Yesterday, I woke up and deleted the 2,522-word post I had written for today. In it, I shared all the details that went into making this decision. I talked about the slow steps I took toward it, the mini adventures in opting out, and everything I was feeling about saying “goodbye” to this blog as a whole. Even though it’s all true, the thought of hitting publish on that post didn’t feel right. I woke up this morning knowing that the truest thing I could say is that it just feels like it’s time. I knew it when I shared my last update, and I still know it today, so that’s what I’m here to say. It’s time to let go of this blog. I’m ready to move on and start something new.
The “start something new” part of that sentence is what excites me most—and that’s why I’m moving towards it. It feels exciting. For most of this year, blogging has felt stale—and the internet, as a whole, hasn’t felt like the fun place to hangout with friends it once did. That’s not to say it doesn’t feel safe (though we could discuss that argument, and I have thoughts for both sides). It’s just not as fun anymore. I used to open up new browser tabs and visit people’s blogs like I was walking into their dorm rooms and sitting on their beds. Then we’d share life updates, what little bits of advice we had, and both walk away feeling like we’d had a great conversation with a friend. Now, it feels like every platform (blogs, social, etc.) is a place for people to shout and be heard. We have been told we need to build, grow, make money and have all the answers. We need to be experts.
I don’t want to be an expert. I just want to be a human.
I want to wake up and enjoy my slow mornings, with coffee in one hand and my journal in the other. I want to sit down and work, and not feel like it needs to be a productivity experiment that I should document. I want to go for long walks and spend time in nature, and not take pictures as proof. I want to get a good night of sleep and a bad night of sleep, and not turn it into a discussion on the internet. I want to date and celebrate milestones with the people in my life, and not share it with the world. I want to make big financial decisions and small financial decisions, and not have to justify them or worry what people will think. I want to have regular days and big days and happy days and sad days. I want to go through an experience and not wonder which parts would fit best into a blog post. I want to live and not share every detail anymore. I just want to be a human in this world.
Whether you’re a new reader who signed up after reading The Year of Less, or you’ve been with me since the beginning, you all know it’s taken a long time for me to get to this place. Eight years ago, I was 25 years old, maxed out with nearly $30,000 of debt, felt like a failure and cried myself to sleep at night. I relied on drinking, eating, and spending money to get me through most things. I wasn’t happy. I was lost. Today, I’m 33 years old, have some money in the bank, work for myself and sleep better. I’ve learned how to pay attention to what I’m doing, ask myself how I feel about it, and try new things until it feels like I’m on a better path. I’ve made so many changes and done so much hard work that I now trust myself to do what’s right for me. That comes with a certain level of confidence I didn’t have before. I’m not the same person I was 2,896 days ago. I have changed.
So, it makes sense that a different person would want to work on different things.
At the beginning of the year, I shared an idea that felt crazy at the time with my good friend J$: “I want to burn everything to the ground and start fresh.” We had just wrapped up three years of working together on Rockstar Finance, and he asked what I was going to do next. That was my response. I didn’t know what “everything” included or how I would burn it all down. I just had this feeling that it was time to let things go. Similar to the way you outgrow a job, because you are no longer being challenged or learning, I was ready for a new position. And ever so slowly, I have burned it all down and moved in that direction: my role at Rockstar, the blog’s Facebook page, my involvement with Simple Year, my podcast with Carrie, my Twitter profile. It’s all gone—and so far, none of my fears about letting each one go have actualized.
The blog is the final piece of the puzzle. It’s the biggest piece and the scariest one to remove, because it’s the first one I laid down and eventually built everything else around. When I first started writing anonymously as “blonde on a budget,” I never could’ve imagined my last post would read like this one. Thanks to this blog, and to all of you for reading, I have received opportunities I never could’ve dreamed of: freelance writing gigs, a full-time job, a chance to work for myself; fun collaborations with friends and mentors, ways to make money on the internet, opportunities to speak to people in-person—and a book deal. Every other publisher wanted TYOL to be a how-to book, but Hay House let me write it exactly how I wanted to. And then my old weekly spending reports somehow evolved into a deeply personal memoir that quickly became a bestseller—that still blows my mind.
This blog was an outlet that ultimately changed my career and my entire life. I don’t know if I will ever be able to find words to express my gratitude other than a simple “thank you”. Thank you to everyone who read the blog. Thank you to everyone who took the time to write a comment or email. Thank you to everyone who replied to other people’s comments, started conversations and built this community. Thank you to all my friends who wrote guest posts for me when I needed time off. And thank you to the friends who have collaborated with me during these past eight years. You have all helped me in more ways than I can list here, and I am so grateful for your time, energy, and attention. Now, I believe that the best thing I can do is continue to model what it means to live an intentional life. In this case, that means trusting my gut and letting go of my blog, even if it feels scary.
Because make no mistake: the idea of walking away from this blog does scare me. I’ve “lived here” for 2,896 days. That’s 2,896 days of checking blog stats, working on new posts and replying to comments. And 2,896 days of having at least one task related to maintaining this website. I spent the summer checking in with my fears and realized they weren’t much different than what comes up when we decide to let go of anything. Similar to the way we have to detach ourselves from our belongings in order to declutter, I’ve had to let go of whatever attachment my ego had to being a long-time blogger. I’ve had to remind myself that this blog doesn’t define me. I am not my pageviews or other stats. I am a human first, and a writer second. And it’s ok for the ways in which I share my words to change—that’s what we’ve been working on for the past eight years, right? Change. :)
Letting go isn’t easy. It’s a continual practice. Fortunately, when we intentionally create space in our lives, we can intentionally decide what to fill it with. I haven’t decided what I will fill all of my time with, because I want to remain open. But here’s what you can expect from me in 2018:
- a new newsletter that will not be about my life! I’ll be writing in seasons and taking chunks of time off, to honour myself + also to model what it means to listen to yourself and create boundaries in your life.
- the release of the Mindful Budgeting evergreen planner that will live on the site year-round and be available when you need it most. :)
- and then I’ll finish my proposal for book #2. After all that, I ended up telling my agent I needed time (and pressure) off from that too. Another decision that felt more “right” than scary.
Taking time off this summer created space for a growing list of ideas to enter my mind. Some of them include: a solo podcast, a collab with a group of women, and anything where I can make sure all contributors are paid equally. I don’t know which ideas I’ll work on yet, but I would be excited about any of them! The one thing I do know is that my personal life will no longer be at the centre of what I’m sharing. Now, I want to show up for all of you and help the best way I can. Also, aside from the newsletter, I’ll continue to spend a little time on Instagram. That’s the one online space I’ve really been enjoying in 2018, and I have a few ideas for ways we can connect more and build some community there. If you haven’t already, please say hi. :)
As for this website, it will always be my home base. But consider the blog to be nothing more than a place you can find simple updates, like product releases, book tour info, other events, etc. And with that, I think we’re done here, friends! My final post. Before I sign off, there are two messages I want to leave you with.
The first is a call for mindful creators. I’ve spent most of this year thinking about how we consume information, and believe more of us could stand to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. A shift is coming. If it hasn’t happened already, we are getting close to reaching what feels like a critical mass. There are too many blogs, websites, podcasts, videos, streaming services, etc. to keep up with. We, as consumers, are starting to feel overwhelmed by the amount of options out there. When it gets to be too much, I think we’re going to see people opt out altogether. They’ll unsubscribe, hit delete, and walk away. I say this because I’ve been doing it all year. As a collective, we are beginning to realize how limited our time, energy, and attention are—and creators need to respect that. If you don’t believe me, liken it to how much physical stuff we used to accumulate, and now how big the movement to declutter/simplify is. I truly believe a shift is coming. People want less but better.
What does this mean for creators? I obviously can’t predict the future, but I do think it’s time to start asking big questions and setting intentions for the work we do. For me, that starts with reminding myself that having an audience is both a gift and a responsibility. It’s incredible that people want to read/watch/listen to what you have to say. But don’t let the number of followers or pageviews or comments fool you. Your audience/platform is not your self-worth; it is a gift and a responsibility. Always remember that people are human beings first, and the content you share has the power to shift the way they think/feel. Be helpful. Be hopeful. Create the content you would want to consume. And really think about the messaging you’re putting out into the world. (Also, if you’re a new blogger, I still stand by all the tips I shared about how I slowly grew mine my own way.)
For that last point, I’ve found myself experiencing a growing frustration with some content in the minimalism/simple living space. In short: the solutions we are offering are way too simple. We can’t keep telling people that simplifying is going to solve all of their problems. The real work comes next and it is hard. Let’s have more conversations about that. And finally, the last thing I want to do is challenge creators in this space to see one huge disconnect in the work we do. We encourage people to do things like log off social media, yet we force ourselves to actively maintain profiles on every single platform. It’s like we’re offering “you don’t have to keep up” as good advice for others, but we can’t seem to give it to ourselves. Talk about mixed messaging. If you need someone to write you a permission slip to take a step back, I’ll do it and offer you something to think about: How do you consume content? What would your life/your work look like if you only created content in those spaces, instead?
Finally, a note for all the mindful consumers (which is basically a note to all humans). If you read those last three paragraphs in full, I would love to hear your thoughts on the overload of information out there. But more importantly, I just want to say this: you don’t have to keep up with it all. It is exhausting and anxiety-inducing—and it is physically impossible. You literally cannot read, watch and do everything. And also, remember that what consumes your mind controls your life and finances. So don’t buy into any of the messages that dig at your insecurities and make you feel less than. You are more than a consumer. If you feel overwhelmed but don’t know what to consume less of, start by paying attention to the content you consume, the way you consume it, and how it makes you feel. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t be afraid to make a change. Play around. Experiment. Create boundaries. Do what feels good to you. You have more control over this than you might think.
Ok, that’s it. For real this time—a new 2,500-word post, haha. I love you all. Thank you, forever.
I’ll see you on the next adventure.