Relax, it’s OK to slow down

The personal finance community, especially the FIRE community, has a tendency to promote side hustles. The idea is simple – increase your earning power so you can save and invest more money. This in term will help expedite your FIRE journey.

So people side hustle like there’s no tomorrow. Most people have their 9-5 full-time job, then they hustle on the side. For some, it’s not just one side hustle, it’s multiple side hustles like:

  • Complete online surveys
  • Make food deliveries
  • Charge scooters
  • Drive for Uber or Lift
  • Refurbish and re-sell used products like furniture, bikes, electronics
  • Dog walk
  • Host with Airbnb
  • Turn hobbies into side gigs
  • Start a blog
  • Freelance writing
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Sell services on Fiverr
  • Sell products on Amazon or Etsy
  • Become a virtual assistant
  • Teach yoga
  • Sell handmade soap
  • Buy and sell domain names

And the list goes on…

If you’re not hustling, that means you’re not trying and you don’t really care about your FIRE journey. It is therefore frowned upon when you’re not busy hustling like everyone else. 

So people are constantly on the run, busy with their full-time jobs, busy with their side hustle(s), busy with their lives.

Busy.

Busy.

B U S Y !!!.

The constant busyness

Have you ever invited someone to a get-together and got the reply “Sorry, can’t make it because I’m busy” response?

When did it become acceptable to constantly say that you’re busy rather than just decline the invitation? It seems that the busy excuse is now the norm. It is the “polite” way to decline an invitation or a commitment by simply saying that you’re busy. But how many people are truly “busy?” Why are we constantly projecting this imagery of busyness and hiding behind this image whether it’s real or not? 

We seem to have a tendency to take on more and more tasks upon ourselves just so we can proudly declare that we’re busy. Then we can use the busy excuse to get out of a commitment. 

It’s as if it is not OK to have free time on your hands so you can do something spontaneously. Somehow, being free and being spontaneous aren’t something we strive for anymore. 

I believe that instead of being so busy all the time and not knowing how to get out of this crazy busyness life of ours, we should be consciously opting out and living and leading an intentional life.

Stop boasting about your unread email count.

Stop telling people how many meetings you have each week.

Stop committing to something half-assed, then back out of it, pretending you are too busy.

I’ll be honest, I am certainly guilty of doing that myself, telling people that I’m busy, instead of just declining something that I have no interest in doing.

I’m tired of this pretending crap.

I need to do better.

I need to stop and live an intentional life. 

Growing your side hustle(s) aka making more money

I’m tired of this constant pressure within the FIRE community that you have to grow your side hustle and make more money.

G R O W T H

I’m sure that six-letter word has kept many people up at night.

Take blogging, for example, many people started their blog with the sole intention of making money and creating an income stream. 

This quickly leads to the never-ending wheel of…

  • Grow the mailing list
  • Grow the monthly pageview
  • Start affiliating marketing
  • Start advertising
  • Optimize SEO
  • Create online course(s)
  • Write eBook(s)
  • Sell more products
  • Get sponsored posts
  • Freelance writing
  • Pump more products/contents/courses to make more money

Get 100 email subscribers? Time to get 100 more. Get 1,000 pageviews per month, time to get 5,000 pageviews per month. It’s a never-ending game of growth, growth, and more growth. Unfortunately, not many bloggers ask the question of what is enough? Or are we all just chasing an always-increasing goal post? 

Even Pete at Do You Even Blog came out and talked about the pressure of having to grow his business.

He feels like crap… because of the constant scrutiny and pressure of the NEED to grow his blog, Youtube channel, emailing subscribers, Podcast, etc.

I started blogging in July 2014, almost eight years ago with the intention of sharing our financial independence journey online to keep ourselves accountable. I’m ever so grateful that through blogging I have met and connected with so many like-minded people. I will always remember meeting Jay from FI Fighter in Hong Kong and we talked for like 4.5 hours on blogging, personal finance, FI, investing, real estate, travelling, and life. We only parted ways because we had to catch the last train of the night. I am sure we could have talked for another couple of hours. Similarly, I had a great time chatting with Matt from Financial Imagineer in Taipei a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed our 2 or so hour chat over Starbucks coffee.

For me, making money has never been the goal behind blogging. Over the years, I have taken the slower growth approach that Cait wrote a few years ago (she has since taken down the post, unfortunately). 

For the first four years or so, this blog was not generating any net positive cash flow at all. I treated this blog as a passion project. Since English is a second language for me, I have never imagined writing consistently. However, I have found that I really enjoyed writing. Over time, writing on this blog has evolved into a creative outlet for me.

In the last two years, the blog has finally generated some positive cash flow. But if taken into account how much time and effort I put in for the blog, I’d be making way less than the minimum wage. However, I’ve always seen the money as extra gravy, just like how we are not counting OAS and CPP in our financial independence plan. It’s nice that the blog is making some money now, but I don’t feel like I need to make more money by creating online courses, writing ebooks, and cramping my products down readers’ throats.

I’m really grateful for all the readership. For me, it’s about personal connections, helping readers with their finances, and hopefully inspiring readers to start their own FI journeys. It is never and will never be about the money. 

Heck, we need to stop monetizing everything we do! 

Relax, it’s OK to slow down

Ok, so what’s the point of this post?

Navigating through this global pandemic has been extremely hard for everyone. We all are mentally drained. Some of us have been in survival mode for many months, trying to get by and just making it to the next day.

Mrs. T and I certainly have had our struggles. 

It has been hard and quite often we are both mentally and physically exhausted. 

We’ve certainly spent more money on takeouts, coffee, chocolates, just to have some comfort in life. As a result, our expenses have increased compared to other years. At first, I struggled with this reality but eventually, I came to acceptance with it. We should all be OK with spending a little extra money for comfort and luxuries throughout this pandemic. 

We need to look after our well-being. And if taking some breaks, forgetting about side hustles, and spending a little extra money can lead to better mental and physical well-being, we should all do that. 

We need to stop shaming people for spending money on making their lives easier! We need to stop being so judgemental. Personal finance is personal. Stop the judgement!

So, take the time to pat yourself on the back for maneuvering through this tough difficult period and making sure you and your family are doing OK. 

And know that it is OK to slow down.

Let me repeat that.

It’s OK to sit down and relax!

It’s OK to spend money on comfort in life so you can take a break. 

Stop feeling guilty because you slowed down or stopped to take a breather.

Stop feeling guilty because you are not side hustling and making more money.

Forget everything that society and the FIRE community have preached. 

Focus on your mental wellbeing and take care of yourself. And of course, provide a helping hand to those in need.

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32 thoughts on “Relax, it’s OK to slow down”

  1. I love this post. There is ALWAYS more to do when running a small business, a side hustle, and in life.

    Our kids need equipment for soccer practice, we have to meet up with the in-laws for dinner, oops we forgot to pick up something at the store. It literally NEVER ends.

    So I am right there with you. I have enough. I don’t need to be doing any more than I am doing and I embrace slowing down. This is why I have recommitted to focussing on my relationship with my wife, kids, and importantly myself.

    Everything else comes second. It is still a work in progress, but that is the goal.

    Reply
  2. ESPECIALLY with this pandemic, which does make me feel the pressure to get to FI faster, it’s so important to pace ourselves and actually be present today.

    In past years I’ve certainly felt the guilt kick in that I’m not doing “more” but with the advent of COVID it’s literally not possible to be doing anything more. We’re absolutely stretched too thin so we remind ourselves it’s not just ok but important to find ways to give ourselves grace and rest amid all this. I don’t say we’re busy to decline things, I set a top limit for how much we can do and then everything is deferred or declined when there’s a conflict with that limit. We need it to survive but even in whatever the After times are, I want to keep those limits.

    Reply
  3. Hi Tawcan,

    I am curious what your end goal is for your retirement date in 2025. Do you have a number in mind? I have not met many fellow Canadians pursing FI. I am currently at 4700K of monthly dividend income, but I feel that it is too soon to stop and do nothing in my early 40s. I enjoy the challenge of work, but the knowledge that I can be free if I want to is priceless.

    Reply
  4. Totally agree. I had changed my mindset this past year about my blog. Before that, I was thinking about how to grow my blog and how to monetize it. I’ve taken a step back from that.

    Blogging for me is a side project that I do for my own enjoyment and to help others. That shift has taken the pressure off of me of “feeling” like I have to post and engage all the time. I’m really just starting out but I’ve already seen big growth this year. If it happens great, but if I get 10 people a day or 1000, it makes no difference to me financially.

    Reply
  5. A good reminder to relax more. This is my theme for 2022 for sure. Due to the pandemic and the birth of my daughter, I made it a 2-year goal to make more money online because there were less things to do. Might as well right? But I can’t wait for March 2022 to arrive!

    With the stock market, real estate market, and so many other investments on fire, it’s about time to enjoy more of our money and have more fun.

    I’m impressed that you continue to publish regularly while holding a full-time job as well. I couldn’t keep the pace up after 2.8 years so I left work. Good job! What you do takes a lot of endurance.

    Time for me to play with the kiddos!

    Sam

    Reply
  6. Good post, Bob. It really is difficult to slow down. Our culture pushes us to make the most of our potential. The FIRE community takes this further by trying to compress our working years. I think it’s okay to hustle and work extra hard for a few years, but not too long. You’ll burn out. Everyone needs to find a good balance.

    For me, it gets easier to slow down as I get older. Our investment is doing the heavy lifting these days. We don’t have to work as hard anymore. I’ve been pulling back gradually and spending less time on blogging. This year we’ll travel more and relax even more. It’s a good spot to be in.

    Reply
    • Hi Joe,

      Very true, it is hard to slow down especially in today’s world but if you are always sprinting you will get burned out very quickly. It is important to slow down here and there.

      Reply
  7. Hi Bob,

    I agree with your basic premise that success in life is not just about money making or hitting targets. However, we still need these things as tools to measure progress or to reach our goals faster or more efficiently. There are various contrasting ways you can choose to do do things in life – 1) Im target oriented so I want to have X subscribers and launch a course and sell y packages. 2) I want to do x blogs per week and complete atleast 100 by year-end or it could be other ideas or combination of 1 and 2. Someone else would it differently and say just do one great article a week with all research and passion and not care about subscribers, money, etc and still get views, comments, etc.

    The issue here is every person has different needs – for some it could be just a question or monetizing and making more that appeals, for some its just the ability to help/influence people that motivates. Unfortunately money is a part of almost everything except family or personal relations, which are more emotional/trust oriented. So in modern age people are trying to do 2nd or 3rd jobs or side hustles to earn more or have more incomes or savings so they have more room for future planning or better lifestyle or to meet goals. I wont judge anyone for it but I’d personally prefer to have one main job and few side hustles so I can have time for jobs and myself and family too. IMO for me its taxing or not worthwhile doing 2nd or 3rd jobs because end of the day you’ll only be running around and its going to cost me health-wise and mentally. In that case the work around would be simple hustles or cut-down or optimize expenses. For someone who cannot make a car loan payment a 2nd job or side hustle may be the answer – but I dont fully subscribe to that view because its like inviting a new problem to solve an old one, however if it helps someone for a while its okay, but that cannot sustain for long-term in my view.

    Reply
    • Hi Sridhar,

      Very good point that every person has different needs, that’s why it’s not a one size fits all solution. It’s about finding the right personal balance that works for you. For some that might be 6 different side hustles on top of the main job, for some, it might be doing part time work. My key point is that we shouldn’t just focus on the end dollar amount at end of the day. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Hi Bob,

    Thanks for posting the video and article.
    Since I started deep dive investing, I have have racked up over 50 hours of collecting and reading articles on investing a week.

    I cut my day job down to three days a week.

    Still some weeks, the hours do weight on me. I am sprinting to retirement.

    We are all not alone in our quest for Financial Freedom. The struggle to get there can be hard.

    It is good to reminded of the importance of family and gratitude .

    Thanks

    Reply
  9. Hi Bob!

    First post and question for me! I was wondering what your investment strategy is at the start of the year with your new TFSA contribution. In fact, do you invest all of your $ 6,000 all at once or spread it over the year?

    Thanks and happy new year!

    François

    Reply
  10. Why not do what Grant Sabbatier did and hire 8 personal finance writers to pump out lots of affiliate posts and then sell to Motley Fool for millions?

    Although that takes a lot of work to manage, he successfully convinced people in the personal finance community and his readers that he was retired. But the reality is, he was working as hard as ever and his health suffered.

    What people do you need to find a balance and let their truth.

    Reply
    • Everyone has their way of doing things. I just think we need to stop focusing on the nonstop side hustling and aiming for more money through growth. It’s not healthy. It’s about finding the right personal balance.

      Reply
  11. This is a blog worth reading for sure
    Diligence can get too far and drain people indeed. From my own experience too, I learned the importance of being kind to myself AND others due to the pandemic.

    Macroeconomy wise, I have been thinking: if ALL of us were to become side-hustlers , counting our pennies and not spend our money, how would our invested companies earn profits and generate our dividends?

    An investment-savvy friend once told me that he is doing his ‘civic duty’ by eating out from restaurants regularly. I laughed at his humorous comment but more I think about that, I think there is truth to it.

    We who even start thinking of FIRE are much better off than people who are living paycheque to paycheque or even worrying about bankruptcy due to pandemic downturns.. Obviously we want to continue aiming high but should also have the room to look around and help others and small&medium local businesses

    Reply
    • Thank you Sarah, appreciate your kind words.

      Eating out and spending money is totally fine, it’s a matter of finding the right balance. Should also remember to tip since most of them rely on these tips for living.

      Supporting local businesses has becoming increasingly important.

      Reply
  12. Hi Bob,

    I totally agree with you. You need money in life but it’s not at the expense of everything else. We need time to spend with family, friends, a walk in the woods, relaxing, learning new things. You cannot take the money with you into the graveyard when you are done with this life.
    I also like reading your blogs because I sense humility and honesty coming from you.
    Thank you for your blogs.

    Reply
  13. I totally agree with you Bob!
    GROWTH is as never ending battle that serves nothing.

    I used to work as a freelance web developer for the past 8 years. I’ve had side hustle a couple of days a week… It felt great at the beginning when money came in, but after 3 years, all the tax implications and increasingly demanding clients made my day to day a real pain. Couldn’t even take a day of without working triple the next day, so I ended up working 7 days a week and living like an hermit.

    Then the pandemic hit, demand went trough the roof for web development and online shopping cart; FOMO was crazy….I couldn’t sleep at night because of all the stress the clients were putting on me. I figured I was in a infinite for_loop as the more I worked the more demand there was.

    I ended up closing everything down, pulling the plug and getting a job. I continue to invest, just a bit less. I figured I’m better to push back FIRE 3-4 years than permanently impacting my health.

    Sometimes, take a step “back” and slowing down is the best way to go forward…

    Reply
    • Thanks Alex. Unfortunately if your only goal is growth, you will never get to the finish line. Sure, continued personal growth is important but there needs to be a limit.

      Working 7 days a week doesn’t sound like fun and sorry you had to go through that.

      Reply
  14. Thank for your post on slowing down, Bob, it tells me you are real and the values you espouse elsewhere (family, freedom, time) consistently shine through. I’ll keep reading your blog and your posts because of this post. Keep up the good and genuine work!

    Reply
  15. Thanks for talking about this! I often feel like I’m not meeting my potential reading personal finance blogs and hearing all the talk about side hustles, but the truth is that every time I’ve tried to take on a serious side hustle, I’ve overextended myself and burnt out. I just don’t have the room in my life for more obligations, so I now just use that time to make sure my mental health is taken care of. Got to enjoy life on the way to FI too!

    Reply

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