Blogging, Thoughts On...

Thoughts On Simplifying & Taking Back Control of my Life

If you’ve been a blog reader of mine for a long time, you might remember my post on minimalism last summer or even my whole 50 Weeks to Organized project I worked on all last year. Basically, the drive behind both of those was that I was feeling an intense desire to simplify my life and make sure I had all my priorities straight–I wanted to make sure I was focusing on people, not things, and on meaningful experiences, not time-wasting activities.

As with any worthwhile pursuit, these kinds of aims couldn’t come overnight–while I’ve gotten much of my clutter (kinda) under control and cut out some of the unnecessary fluff, I haven’t been able to shake the overwhelming feeling that my life isn’t exactly going the way it could be and the way I want it to be. And it’s not because the solid foundation isn’t there—I’ve got all I need for a happy, fulfilled life.

The problem is me and the way I’m choosing to spend the 2-3 hours of free time I have each night.

Luckily, I know from past experience that the power to change all that is entirely within my reach.

I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions lately—things like:
-What makes me happy and brings me a sense of fulfillment?
-What brings me joy?
-What are the goals and dreams I have that are truly worth pursuing?
-What are the goals and dreams I’m willing to put forth the effort to achieve?
-What is holding me back from striving harder to reach those goals and dreams NOW?

Some of the answers haven’t come easily, and some of them haven’t been easy to face.

For example, one of my goals three years ago when I first discovered that bloggers could actually make money blogging was to make money off my blog—I read up on sponsorship and creating quality content and I even bought myself a nice camera and learned some photography tips along the way all in my quest to have the kind of blog that could grow into a money-making pursuit.And  I wouldn’t trade those skills I gained along the way for anything.

But I’ve been thinking long and hard about what making money off a blog would really mean—namely (among others), an obligation to write nearly every day (whether I felt like writing or not), an obligation to my sponsors to sell their content or their product (even if in my heart of hearts, they didn’t really have my full support and enthusiasm), and the constant nagging worry at the back of my mind about the numbers–how many new readers am I getting? How many readers did I lose, and what kind of posts drove them away? Which posts are getting the most hits?

And it’s come down to this–

Blogging for money, at least the way I understand it now, is not something that I think will be worth pursuing for me or something that I’m willing to sacrifice more for. Since I’m trying my best to move towards less stuff and fewer time commitments, it would hardly make sense to try and get into an industry that would basically require a constant time commitment as well as a constant need to promote the materialism I’m trying so hard to avoid right now.

Even though it probably seems so silly, it’s still a tough dream to let go of—after all, I’ve been working toward it for over three years and have invested countless hours to reach that particular goal.

So what does this mean for the blog?

Well, I will keep blogging because I get an innate satisfaction out of expressing myself, conversing with the blogging community, and finding creative ways of presenting my ideas. I also believe that regular blogging has helped to develop my level of comfort with writing, which is something I’ve been trying to work on since high school.

So in the end, this whole concept of simplification boils down to who I want to be and what I’ll need to give up to get there—

-I want to be the kind of person who takes walks after dinner, perhaps with a camera in hand, to regularly enjoy the beauties of nature and reflect thoughtfully on her life.
-I want to be a woman who continues to develop her talents throughout her life instead of relying on all the frontloading she did on them as a teenager
-I want to be an adult who doesn’t just consume (esp. mindless media), but who creates
-I want to be a go-getter who isn’t afraid of going for her dreams (even when they scare her)
-I want to be a disciplined disciple of Christ who spends time daily in meaningful spiritual and soul-feeding pursuits
-I want to be a reader of classics and poetry and philosophy, not a reader fed on a junk food diet of pop culture, social media feeds, and the kinds of blogs that only leave her feeling like something is lacking

Each week, one of our friends (Jon) sends us a weekly email updating us on his and his family’s life down in Texas. At the top of each of his emails, he’ll include inspirational quotes that I always take great pleasure in reading. One quote in particular has truly haunted me ever since I read it, and it goes like this:

“If you have a twenty-hour-a-week television habit and would repent and convert it into a gospel-study habit, in one year you could read the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and the entire Bible. In addition, you could read Jesus the Christ, The Articles of Faith, Gospel Principles, the basic priesthood manual, the basic women’s manual, the basic children’s manual, all three volumes of Doctrines of Salvation, The Miracle of Forgiveness, The Promised Messiah, and Essentials in Church History, and could then reread the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. This would still leave time to read the Ensign, the New Era, and the Friend each month and the Church News each week. This is based on your ability to read only ten pages an hour. The average person can read twenty pages or more an hour. If you are average, this leaves you with ten hours a week to govern yourself in other kingdom-building activities, such as keeping a personal journal, genealogy and temple work, improved home teaching, welfare services, civic and patriotic involvement to protect our freedom, and much more.”
                                                                                                               – William R. Bradford
Although Matt and I actually don’t get live t.v., we are constantly playing movies (usually in the background) and connecting ourselves to social media sites, playing mindless games on Facebook (Candy Crush, anyone?), and surfing the Net (and often doing all three at the same time).

I’ve known that I’ve been needing to change that soon, but I’ve kept putting it off over and over again, reasoning that those activities were “how I relaxed” from the stress of my job, even though they ultimately have never left me feeling as satisfied as more worthwhile pursuits, like keeping a tidy house, reading a good book, or serving others.

No more. 

We always encourage kids to have “TV-Free” week and are always hearing in the media about the “atrocious amount of time” that average teens spend consuming media every day. But what about the adults? What about the rest of us? Aren’t our futures just as important? Perhaps people reason that if kids form good habits when they are young, they are less likely to fall into bad habits later.

This is true, to a point.

But I hardly watched t.v. as a teenager and spent my time overall in much more worthy pursuits. It’s only been since I’ve become a full-fledged adult that I’ve managed to let myself get sucked into the time-wasting black hole of constant entertainment.

No more.

So folks, here’s the final verdict:
*I am deleting my Candy Crush from my Facebook
*I am severely going to cut back on my blog/social media feed
*I am going to severely cut back on my movie/t.v. watching (I just haven’t decided on a good number yet, but I will)
*I will only blog when it will be truly authentic, instead of blogging just because I feel like it’s an obligation. Some weeks, that might mean I still post five times a week. Other weeks, I might only post once.
The time has come to live a different sort of life, to be a better sort of person.
I hope this helps do the trick.

If you still want to come along for what could be a very sporadic ride, I would love to still have you around 🙂

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