Everything in life is a trade-off. If you choose to do one thing, you’re implicitly choosing not to do other things. If you choose to have children, for instance, you’ve made a tacit choice to forego many of the things you valued before. Or, if you choose not to have children, you’re making an indirect choice to never experience all that parenthood has to offer.
Sometimes these trade-offs are obvious. We all know that when we choose to buy a new car, that’s money that can no longer be used for, say, buying a boat. Or a house.
Most of the time, though, trade-offs aren’t so obvious. It’s tough to take into account all repercussions of every decision because usually we don’t even know what all of the consequences will be.
What do I mean?
Trying to See the Future
Let’s take our year-long RV trip, for example. When Kim and I set out on our quest to drive across the United States, we did our best to plan for what lie ahead. We talked with other trailerites. We read books and websites. We considered our own personalities and preferences. For the most part, we did a fine job prepping and packing for life on the road.
We knew that our trip would require certain trade-offs, and we were ready for these. We trimmed our wardrobes to just the essentials. We filtered through all of the Stuff in our apartment to choose only the things we truly valued. (Or, if you prefer, those items that spark joy.) We negotiated living space. We planned an itinerary. We talked about how we were going to eat right and exercise while constantly on the move.
For the most part, our planning paid off. For those trade-offs we could foresee, we did a great job of coping with compromise. Obviously, however, I wouldn’t be writing this post if we’d planned everything perfectly.
There’s No Write Time
There were certain trade-offs we failed to foresee before setting out on this trip. We didn’t anticipate just how exhausted we’d get (mentally and physically) from the constant migration. We should have known — but didn’t — that by drinking beer and wine every night, we’d not only consume way too many calories but also thwart our motivation to work out in the morning. (And we didn’t count on just how frustrating road workouts could be.)
But for me, the primary problem has been a lack of time to write. “I’ll just squeeze my writing time between the cracks,” I thought before we left. But when you fail to make time for your big rocks, they don’t fit between the cracks!
Once on the road, I realized that regular writing would be almost impossible. Kim and I were constantly on the move, either traveling across the country or exploring the places where we parked. Even when I did have time to write — usually early in the morning — it was tough to do so without disturbing Kim in our tiny motorhome.
So, I haven’t written nearly as much as I’d wanted, neither here nor anywhere else. (Only our travel blog has received regular updates, and those haven’t been frequent.)
This lack of writing time was fine at first. It was like a break. I’ve spent the past decade of my life writing constantly, so it was relaxing to not have to think about putting pen to paper.
In time, though, the break became a burden. I’m a writer. It’s not only my vocation but also my avocation. I do it for work and play. Writing is a release for me, a way for me to unburden my mind. When I take a week or two off from writing, it’s a vacation. But when I take a month or two off from writing? I get cranky. And five months — or six? Prolonged torture!
Things came to a head at the end of July. While we were stranded in South Dakota, I wrote an article here about the cost of living. That one article lit a spark inside me that has grown into a raging fire.
“I want to write about personal finance again,” I told Kim on the day I published that piece. “I want to start a new money blog.” I shared my vision with her: A site that built upon the work I did developing the “Be Your Own CFO” guide I wrote a couple of years ago.
“That message seems to resonate with people,” I said. “They get it. When I say you should manage your personal finances as if you were managing a business, it seems to make sense.”
That conversation gave birth to Money Boss, my new blog about money. I’ve spent the past two months talking with friends and colleagues about the site, planning its future, trying to find time to write for it. Things may have been quiet here, but they’ve been busy behind the scenes.
And here’s another unexpected consequence: For the past few weeks, I haven’t been able to focus on our trip. All I want to do is work on Money Boss. I haven’t appreciated anything we’ve seen or done since northern Indiana (except for Niagara Falls, which was awesome). Kim too has been struggling to enjoy our adventures.
Solving the Problem
Instead of slogging through six more months on the road, we decided to take action. We need to rest. We need to eat right and exercise. We need to work. To that end:
- We’ve rented a condo in Savannah, Georgia for six months. We’ll be here until the end of March.
- Our number-one goal while we’re here is to get back in shape. We’ve already begun eating right and exercising. We both know what we need to do, and we’re doing it.
- While we’re here, I’m going to write. (Hallelujah!) My primary goal is to launch Money Boss. But be warned that I also plan to post lots around here.
- Kim too is going to work. She hopes to find a temporary position as a dental hygienist in town (she’s getting certified in Georgia). Plus she wants to launch an online store.
We moved into our new place last Thursday. Boy, does it feel good. We love our motorhome, but living in 250 square feet is confining. This condo is four times as large, so we have space to spread out. We’re close to a Whole Foods, so it’s easy to find and stock healthier food. There are also lots of ways for us to exercise here. (There’s an HOA fitness center thirty seconds outside our front door, so no excuses!)
Best of all? You guessed it: Time and space to write. This morning, I was able to do the same routine I do at home in Portland. I woke up, grabbed some coffee, and sat down in front of my computer. I wrote an article for Far Away Places. I wrote this article. In a moment, I’ll write an article for Money Boss.
It feels amazing to have time to write once more.
I’m happy happy happy.