What the Mythical Work-Life Balance Really Looks Like

What the Mythical Work-Life Balance Really Looks Like

Wouldn’t it be nice to quit your job and work whenever you want to? Even better, work FROM wherever you’d like to? About a year ago, I decided that I was going to chase after the mythical work-life balance thing after feeling trapped in my band directing job. If you’re wondering, I’m currently writing from a Starbucks at 1 pm on a Wednesday.

Before I go on, let’s rewind a few years so I can take you back to the mindset I was in when I decided to bail on a career I had dreamed of doing to work from a laptop. Don’t laugh, but I was REALLY good at drumming (specifically in a drumline) in high school. Like, top 1% of the top 1% of snare drummers in the country good.

work-life balance

See? Very serious drumming with friends.

I graduated high school and went on to study music education in college. I wanted to teach drumlines (which is actually a legit thing in Texas, band is a big deal partly because football is huge here). I wasn’t a supreme all-around musician, but like I mentioned above I could drum.

So I graduated eventually, got a job quickly because my resume was killer, and started working at a good band program in Houston. Dream accomplished, right? Maybe not.

I always knew that teaching wasn’t a lucrative career. They TOLD me that in college repeatedly. In fact, I openly would say I didn’t care about money because my passion was drumming. I was fine with making a small salary.

However, I quickly realized that I liked performing more than teaching. The unfortunate reality was that I found myself semi-trapped in a career that I wasn’t passionate about anymore, and I was quickly finding that my passion was actually talking and writing about money on this site (irony above is marked in green).

work-life balance

So, I did what most people would call crazy. Hell, it WAS crazy. Don’t do what I did next unless you are also a little crazy too. I walked in one day and quit my job to run M$M. Boom. Done. This website had made about $3 total at the time for reference. Work-life balance here I come.

For all you future full-time bloggers or work-life balance fanatics out there, this is what the first months actually look like:

Month 1 – The Excitement

I was SO stoked about going out on my own. In true hipster form I bought a standing desk, a Macbook, iMac, and a printer. I was totally ready to take over the world. I wrote articles and literally waited for advertising offers to roll in (hint: they didn’t).

Month 2 – The “Oh Crap” Moment

To no surprise, I wasn’t making enough money. I did some freelance articles here and there to keep cash coming in, but it was scary. I had saved up a year’s worth of salary before I bailed from teaching…but any self-employed person that has a brain doesn’t want to blow through their savings. The fear of becoming broke set in.

Month 3 – Hustle Mode

Because M$M wasn’t doing jack, I HAD to do something else. I started a digital marketing company and managed to get my first client. I also started REALLY hustling on Twitter for M$M and did everything I could think of to get my site noticed.

Fear of failure is a big motivator for entrepreneurs just FYI.

Month 4-6 – The Complacency

My digital marketing company was doing pretty well. I was at least able to help my wife pay the bills, but I wasn’t killing it or anything. But I will tell you this: my work-life balance was at an all time high. I had basically cut my hours a ton and was making about what I did as a teacher. I felt like I had it made, which looking back made me lazy.

I’ve never been a lazy person, but not working a lot of hours can create laziness. It’s also unbelievably boring. Here’s the secret about full-time blogging and mega work-life balance that few people anticipate:

Nobody has the same freaking hours as you, which totally sucks.

 

One day if this site pulls in enough cash to let my wife leave her job too, we might travel around and blog like you see some of the prolific travel/money bloggers do. But before you get to that point, you are the only one you know that works a weird schedule and it actually wears on you from a social and psychological standpoint.

I believe Tim Ferris talks about a type of depression that occurs when you reach that point, and I halfway believe it. I wasn’t myself for a month or two because I was so disconnected from the real world. Fortunately the story gets better below.

Month 7 – $ Cha Ching $

All the sudden, money started rolling in for M$M this January. Nothing super crazy, but a few thousand a month. The site was growing and advertisers and reporters started to notice me. As soon as that happened, it basically flipped on a hustle mode that I didn’t really know I had. Making money is addicting – especially when you are doing it for yourself.

Month 8-Today – Growth

As of today, M$M has been mentioned on Reuters, Lifehacker (twice), International Business Times (twice), Marketwatch, USNews, Huffington Post, Elite Daily, and a few more big ones coming out soon. I’ve done cool podcast interviews, rubbed elbows with executives at Fidelity, and even got on a radio show somehow. I’m chasing down every lead I can for my marketing company as well.

My life is literally awesome now – but it’s not because I don’t work like so many millennials dream of. I’ve been there, done that…and it’s not as cool as you’d think. Notice when I got excited about being out on my own again:

It’s when I started working more.

Rather than find work-life balance or taking pay cuts to get time off, start searching for your passion and go after it with everything you’ve got. THAT is what creates happiness, not sitting around watching everyone else work more than you because it sounds like a cool thing to do.

On a site full of what I consider decent advice, “work hard now instead of later” is the best advice I’ve given so far.

 

Live differently, your bank accounts will thank me later. ~M$M

 

 

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20 comments… add one
  • The Green Swan May 12, 2016, 7:35 am

    Congrats on finding your true passion and the success you have found chasing it! Quite a leap of faith you made at the beginning, but the hustle paid off. Keep up the good work!

  • Amanda @ centsiblyrich May 12, 2016, 9:35 am

    Glad to hear you got that passion back! Kudos to you for taking the risk – you’ve come a long way in a short amount of time!

  • Matt @ Distilled Dollar May 12, 2016, 1:12 pm

    Great to see your progress so far!

    Thanks for diving back into how you felt early on, even if there was some growing pains.

    Keep up the awesome work!

    • Millennial Money Man May 12, 2016, 2:00 pm

      Definitely growing pains, I guess the point is that it’s not always as glamorous as it seems! Thanks!

  • FinanceSuperhero May 12, 2016, 3:06 pm

    This is excellent advice, MMM. Laziness is for suckers. It is inspiring to see that you prevailed through a tough stretch and are happier than before, all while generating solid earnings. I really appreciate your honesty and transparency in this post!

    • Millennial Money Man May 12, 2016, 3:17 pm

      Hey no problem! Before I left my job for blogging I always felt like people didn’t mention the hardest parts of the game in their earnings reports or success posts. Making money by doing this is HARD at first, but if you can stay consistent you start to make progress. Not going to lie – life doesn’t suck! 🙂

  • Felicity May 12, 2016, 6:31 pm

    Well said! Also awesome to get a glimpse into your steps and thoughts up to now. (Loved the green irony markings, too!)

    This is why I always hesitate to say we’re planning on retiring early, because it sounds like we just stop creating, stop contributing.

    In reality, there are so many different things we want to pursue in “retirement”, and that we’re starting now (as time permits)!

    • Millennial Money Man May 12, 2016, 9:32 pm

      There’s nothing wrong with early retirement, just make sure you fill it with things you enjoy doing!

  • Ms. Montana May 15, 2016, 8:24 pm

    I never felt like the term, early retirement, fit us. Like we just won’t work anymore. We love to work. But now that we are “work optional”, we don’t have to do work that sucks, just because we need to pay the bills. We still carve out work time, but there is more free time. I think the work-life balance gets trickier in your 30’s. Everyone is in the throws of parenting little ones, full throttle with their career, and trying to have a bit of time for marriage and adventure. For us it has been way easier to connect with friends now that we don’t have paid employment. I can meet up with friends before they go to work, or on their lunch break. If I do a weekend thing with a friend, I know I will still have lots of time for the kids, the hubby, household chores, ect during the week.

    • Millennial Money Man May 15, 2016, 10:57 pm

      Yeah early retirement never did much for me either. I want to build a business and do something I’m passionate about, not just sit around. Like I mentioned in the post – it’s boring for me. I’d love to find the perfect balance of working hard at a passion and having flexibility to spend time with my family too. But…if I’ve gotta work I’ve gotta work!

  • Katie at More Money For Me May 19, 2016, 4:17 pm

    My dad lives by this philosophy in his retirement. He doesn’t want to just sit around not working—that’s boring! He’s been retired for years, but is busier than most people I know with various projects. He organizes fundraisers, forums for international CEO’s, and a massive photography project—all his day-to-day activities add value to society, not just keep him busy. He technically “retired” from his company at age 46, but I didn’t realize he wasn’t “working” for over a decade because of how busy and active he is. Crazy!

  • Bria May 20, 2016, 11:52 am

    This post is so raw and to the point for so many trying to do what you’ve done. Thanks for being so honest with everything! You’re such an inspiration and doing a hell of a job – keep going!

  • Melanie @ Dear Debt May 20, 2016, 1:48 pm

    I’m almost at the two year mark of being self-employed…and work-life balance is hard. My life IS my work…it comes in waves though. Some months are easier than others. But the hustle never stops.

    • Millennial Money Man May 20, 2016, 2:30 pm

      Yeah I don’t even realize when I’m working and when I’m not anymore. Last night I was up till 11 messing around with Facebook pixels and the site. Never really ends, but totally worth it!

  • Gabe Jul 8, 2016, 8:24 pm

    This is great Bobby. Really indicative of what it’s like to work for yourself after having a “regular” salaried job. I’ve been on the Mr. Money Mustache and financial independence kick for a while but now that I’m out on my own and building my financial planning business, I can’t actually imagine “retiring” from it. I’m building relationships and changing lives, it’s awesome!

    • Millennial Money Man Jul 10, 2016, 1:33 pm

      Thanks Gabe – really appreciate that! Early retirement just doesn’t do it for me – I’m sure there are plenty of people that want to achieve it though. Finding something you love doing every day is a GREAT feeling!!!!!

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