Hello, friends. It has been a l-o-n-g time since I’ve written online. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve been writing a ton at Facebook. In fact, it’s as if Facebook has become my personal blog. But that’s about to change. Everything is about to change. Let’s talk about it.

As you’re well aware, 2022 was one hell of a year for me. It was a year of death and destruction. That sounds like hyperbole, I know, but it’s not. It felt as if my world were crumbling around me.

After my mom died in October, I made a vow. I was going to do whatever it took to get myself back to the same mental and physical spaces I inhabited a decade ago. That span of time between 2012 and 2016 was Peak J.D., and I wanted more of it. Maybe I couldn’t achieve exactly the same state of mind, but surely I could get closer than I’ve been the past few years.

Optimizing for Joy

To that end, I asked myself: What was I doing differently then than I’m doing now? I made a list. I dubbed 2023 the year of me. As corny as it sounds, I began to “optimize for joy”. I began to take action. The action was effective.

Here are some of the things I’ve been doing:

  • I’ve been traveling. I spent some time in Colorado in February, a week in Mexico in March, and I just returned from a month-long solo trip through the Scottish isles, up the coast of Norway, reaching briefly to Svalbard, then ending with a week in Iceland. I did a whole lotta nothing.
  • I’ve been reading. Earlier in the year, I spent a lot of time reading books on mental health and self-improvement. Then I discovered the Nero Wolfe novels of Rex Stout. Wolfe and Stout have helped me rekindle my love of books. This year, I’ve been reading more books than I have since…maybe 2006? It’s great fun.
  • I’ve been exercising. I’ve been hitting the gym religiously three days per week. Sometimes more. Things were frustrating at first, but now I’ve developed some strength and have lost some weight. I haven’t returned to the peak fitness I enjoyed 2012-2014, but I’m getting there. I’m about to shift my focus from strength training to aerobics and flexibility for a few months, but I’ll return to weightlifting by the end of the year.
  • I’ve been hanging out with friends. For a variety of reasons — travel, COVID, moving, etc. — my social life has been lousy for a long time. This year, I’m deliberately making time for friends, both old and new.
  • I’ve been medicating. For years, I’ve resisted using drugs to address my mental-health problems. I’ve always believed that I should be able to dig myself out of the dark, dark holes I get into. Sometimes that works. Often it doesn’t. In April, I asked my doctor for help. She prescribed Wellbutrin. After a rocky start with the stuff, I find that it’s helping me keep my demons at bay. It feels great to feel human once more.

These are the things I’ve been adding to my life during the Year of J.D. There are also things I’ve given up. Those include:

  • Hearthstone. For nine years, I’ve been addicted to Hearthstone, a digital card game. I choose the word “addicted” purposefully. I’ve tracked my play before, and I tend to average two hours of Hearthstone per day. That’s insane. Still, I couldn’t stop. But you know what? The day I started taking Wellbutrin, my urge to play the game vanished. I’ve played a total of two hours of Hearthstone in the past three months, which is a far cry from two hours per day. (I haven’t given up gaming entirely, though. Currently playing Zelda on the Switch and loving it. But it’s not an addictive behavior. Haven’t played at all for a week.)
  • Reddit. I know a lot of people get sucked into Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. None of those have a compulsive draw for me. (I’ve always hated Twitter. I use Facebook sparingly, and really only to share stuff with my friends.) But Reddit? Man oh man, Reddit has sucked a ton of time from my life. I’ll scroll mindlessly for hours looking at dumb stuff. My urge to do so has declined since I started taking Wellbutrin, and the recent actions of the site’s leadership have served as the final straw. I’ve given it up.
  • Get Rich Slowly. That’s right: This time off has helped me to see that I need to give up GRS. Again. I never should have repurchased the site. I can’t explain why — and I don’t need to, honestly — but GRS acts as a weight around my neck. It’s a psychological burden. My life is better when I’m not writing about money.

I thought for a time that I wanted to give up online life entirely. I have some strong opinions about the modern internet and its negative effects on society. I don’t want to be a part of something that I believe is destroying our world. But I’ve realized that I need to practice what I preach.

Practicing What I Preach

You see, I often urge my friends who are angry about the state of the world to do something instead of complaining. If you don’t like how Mississippi, say, does things, then move to Mississippi and contribute to the change. Don’t try to dictate what Mississippi does from the comfort of your home in Oregon. That’s bullshit on so many levels.

If I were to abandon the internet completely, I’d be surrendering. I’d be saying, “Okay, I give in. The SEO spammers and AI websites and social-media stooges win.” I don’t want to do that. I don’t necessarily want to wage war on these things, but I do want to provide — in some very small way — an alternative to all of the bullshit that’s out there.

Besides, I like to write. I’ve been writing online for 26 years. This is a part of who I am. During my extended hiatus, I’ve felt like a part of me is missing. While traveling recently, I published photos and stories to Facebook every single day. It was fun! It made me realize how much I miss writing for the web.

So, I’m going to return to writing for the web. But I’m not going to write on just one topic. I’m not going to publish at a niche site…like Get Rich Slowly. I’m going to write at my personal blog in a personal style. If there are people who want to read what I write (and even join the conversation), great. If not, also great. I’m going to write for myself — because it’s what I need to do to process my thoughts and feelings, because writing has been a part of who I am for nearly fifty years.

The Bottom Line

I’ve reached an agreement with my business partner, Tom Drake, that gives him control of Get Rich Slowly while allowing me to use my money writing in whatever way I choose. Basically, he’ll take over GRS and do with it what he thinks is best, and I’ll move my online world — my entire online world — to jdroth.com while still being able to use the articles I’ve written in the past.

For those unfamiliar with Tom, in some ways he’s the Canadian me. I’ve been called “the Godfather of money blogging” (and, more recently, “the grandfather of money blogging”). Well, Tom is the Godfather of Canadian money blogging. He’s been writing about personal finance since 2009. Tom runs many sites, but is best known for Maple Money.

Maybe I’ll write something for GRS now and then. But maybe not. When I do, those articles will be published simultaneously at both Get Rich Slowly and at Folded Space. (Folded Space is the name of the personal blog I publish at jdroth.com.) This article, for instance, is appearing at the same time in both places.

So, that’s where I am. I’ve had a happy and productive first six months of 2023. Making this the “year of me” was super smart. I’m in great shape physically and mentally, and things continue to improve. I’m eager to see what the rest of the year has in store…

19 Replies to “Optimizing for joy”

  1. Erik says:

    Good luck on the new site, I’ll be reading you there! I honestly got pretty bored with most finance focused blogs after reading so many over the last 7 years or so, and I’m not getting that much value or entertainment from them anymore. I’ve become more interested in people blogging about their lives and a broader set of topics / interests. So this sounds like an exciting direction!

  2. Greg says:

    Thanks for posting here. I had apparently unsubbed from the other blog.

  3. Jewels says:

    Good luck with the new ways! I’m assuming Tom is going to focus on monetization and writing more search engine friendly content? If so, I’m not sure it’s going to work. So be careful as GRS might turn back to the site after you sold the first time.

  4. Brian says:

    J.D. I have been following your blog forever. Might be since college for me, 15 years ago. You need help from a dietary/supplemental/exercise point of view. I tried to email you a year or two ago when you posted on this stuff but couldn’t find an email address. Please email me. I’m just a random dude in flyover country but I’d like to help.

  5. Treo says:

    Can’t say I am shocked by this, at all. Glad you’ve had a chance to do all these things and more though. It was always weird to me that you bought back this site (although, I was looking forward to it coming back from the monetization death it had gone through), it never quite felt like the old GRS.
    I thought about this a bit over the years… you started this site mostly to chronicle your own journey, and then this site brought you the financial independence you had been working towards. That kind of meant you had accomplished your goal and should have “walked away”. I’ve known startup founders that took a big secondary, but didn’t completely sell their company and just kind of “lingered around”… very awkward… Of course, I know you have to keep up some of the optics for the acquirer… but at the end of the day, this site became a means to an end… maybe I am wrong, but that’s how it felt when you first talked about QuinStreet buying it.
    Anyways, I’ll look forward to reading your other musing, you are a great writer and I’ve always appreciated your candor and writing style.

  6. J$ says:

    Get it brother!!

  7. GRC says:

    Have been following this site for years, it seems as if everything went down the rabbit hole once you made enough money to actually be a millionaire… when you were poor and in debt, you seemed more happy and motivated. ( at least in your articles and writing).
    Hope you find a new motivation in your life soon.

  8. Mary says:

    Best of luck on your journey! I hope you find peace.

  9. Jennifer says:

    J.D., I’ve read your stuff for many years now & I was so happy when you re-purchased the site. That said, I’m even happier to see you doing so well and focused on pursuing what makes you happy. You owe us nothing. Thank you for the difference your writing has made in my life and the life of so many others.

  10. Financial Samurai says:

    Best of luck with the new adventure! Gotta do what makes you happy.


  11. Ingrid says:

    Hi, I’d love to follow you on Folded Space, but it requires to be logged in to leave a comment. I cannot find a way to set up an account for that site, not sure what I’m doing wrong. Any hints?

    • J.D. Roth says:

      Hm. Apparently I’d switched off the setting that allowed folks to register as users. I’ve turned that back on, so I think things should work. I’ll email you directly to have you test. You and I will figure this out for everyone else. 😉

  12. camillocraft.com says:

    Your journey during the “Year of Me” is incredibly inspiring! Embracing joy and positive changes after tough times takes strength. I root for your happiness and authenticity.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    While I’m sad to see the change in Get Rich Slowly, I absolutely support your decision! I realized a while ago that what I like about the site is YOUR writing, not the content. Certainly the content has served me well over the years, but it was always best when it was written by you and it turns out I love your writing more than anything else about the site. I’m pleased to be able to follow you and your thoughts elsewhere, and I hope you’ll approve my Fb friend request so I can read more. 🙂

  14. Tyler says:

    So why are we not hearing from Tom Drake? Is content on GRS going to continue? I feel very confused about what is going on here and don’t know if I should keep checking in or just abandon the idea of finding something new.

  15. Donna Freedman says:

    Are you going to FinCon? Let’s have some beignets or gumbo, because I’m struggling with the same issue: I can’t quit writing because I’ve been doing it professionally for 40 years, but I don’t want to spend so much time doing it. Yet I also don’t EXACTLY want to give up my site.

    If you’re gonna be in New Orleans and you have time in your schedule, let me know.

  16. Jennifer says:

    I think I’ve been following you since almost the beginning of GRS. I enjoy your voice and will probably check into your personal blog once in a while. Take care of yourself.

  17. WealthandFIRE says:

    JD, you are a legend and will live on forever in the finance space online. Always enjoyed your articles and will continue following here and on your new site

  18. Wesley says:

    Best of luck JD! I used to read GRS religiously and loved the content. I came back when you purchased it back, but left again after your article explaining why politics were being introduced. This article highlights a bit part of my reasoning. I’d rather that the people in Oregon leave Mississippi alone! Don’t try to change it or even worry with it. Instead, just worry about Oregon (or your own hometown, wherever that is) and leave everyone else alone, in their own part of the world.

    Either way, I wish you all the best! You’re a great writer, and I hope to see you out there on the web. I’m a big believer in that everyone gets a “second act” in the US. I’m interested to see what yours will be.

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