Originally posted on: August 27, 2013
Over the past few months and especially the past few weeks, I have looked at lots and lots of things that I should and will do to simplify my life professionally and personally.
What's going on you are fairly successful doing the social media marketing and blogging thing - right?
Let me back up a bit explain what is going on.
Last year I decided to take a year, to see if I could make a go of creating a small business called A Veteran Runnah, that would focus on social media, online marketing and blogging both on my blog and as a free-lance writer. I did not go into this naïve or thinking that I would be an overnight success. I knew that it would take a LOT of hard-work and effort on my part.
Well that year is now over.
I had some huge successes:
- becoming a featured Real Health Blog contributor, (which ends August 31st)
- going to the inaugural Runner's World Half as a FitFluential Ambassador - last October.
During the last year I do know that I learned a helluva lot, made my share of mistakes and most of all - met so many amazing people, face-to-face and online.
When it became clear that my time as a Real Health contributor was coming to an end, it made me stop and think, sit down and really take a long look at what would come next. My wife and I had several frank discussions about the future, what kind of life we want to live and came to several conclusions. We decided on a direction that we would take that would make the both of us happiest.
The changes financially, will mean doing things differently, but not really that differently.
What I Learned
The biggest thing that I learned is that I am not a social media ninja, guru, expert or really all that interested in being an amazing entrepreneur.
I don't have the personality or drive, to be really successful or happy in that world. Chasing, closing and promoting - the next big deal or even little deal, are not the things that drive me or trip my trigger. I just don't fit in that world and it is not who I am, especially since my heart just was not into that lifestyle, because that what social media marketing really is - a lifestyle, not just a job.
It doesn't take a lot of money, being rich or famous, to make my life happy or successful. As long as we have enough to meet our needs and a few splurges from time to time, I am very happy (well as long as I keep in good running shoes). I am very content on our 8 acres, double-wide trailer and don't need a fancy new house, to travel around the world, have a Porche in the garage and a giant SUV in the driveway.
No my life and wants are much simpler than that.
I want to see my grandkids more often, be more a part of the local community, enjoy puttering around the house/yard and sharing my Runnah's story - my way, without worrying about how or what I say or do will affect my how a brand will view me.
I am a lot like my Ford Truck: reliable, can be cleaned-up pretty good, still can go places off the beaten track and can do a lot of stuff people didn't realize that I can.
Another thing that I learned is that I am more loyal than I thought I was.
While I have never been very loyal to any particular brand of running shoe or gear in the past, but then I always purchased my gear and had the consumer's option of talking about it the way that I wanted and not feel guilty if I decided to use something else. After all I had made the choice to buy it.
When I started to get free stuff to do product reviews or swag, beyond the normal stuff that runners get at races. I had a hard time reconciling how to be loyal to those brands that provided me free products, while still remaining true to myself and providing accurate reviews.
Eventually, I found the right balance for me and became very selective about the products that I would agree to review. This decision ensured that I was providing accurate reviews of the products that I liked and while not publicly trashing a brand's product that I did not like or did not work for me, but providing accurate feedback back to the brands.
However, to remain solvent, I needed to have multiple income streams and be willing to accept assignments from multiple brands in the running/health niche I had chosen. Which meant that I sometimes needed to review products from competing brands and that bothered me - a lot, especially when I preferred a certain one over the others - by a lot.
At times I felt as though I was walking a tightrope of remaining true to who I am versus becoming a brand whore and there were more than a few things that happened that made me scratch my head and go mmmmm - then say I don't think so and walk away.
This was really the beginnings of my disillusionment with what I was doing.
The other part is that all corporations or brands have their policies and procedures that have to be followed, they all have a certain perception of how the world should see their product and how they should be written about and how you represent them.
Their ideas and mine...well the two didn't always fit so well, but if I was being paid for a deliverable, I needed to toe the company line and let things go once, I made delivery. It was difficult to do that at times, because I do take pride in the work that I do and when the final product did not resemble what I had written, but had my name attached to it - well it bothered me.
The other big thing that I learned was that over the past year, was that my life got way too
I was always attempting to do this or that, attend this chat, that hangout, this deliverable was due, can you re-do this article, this just happened - can you prepare a post by tonight, your video was good, but can you re-shoot it this way and all the other stuff that happens as a free-lance writer, featured blogger and social media marketer.
It seemed that I was on the computer all the time, when I wasn't, I needed my smart phone to beep and buzz when I was mentioned, someone left a comment or retweeted a tweet I had made on different social media sites. I felt that I needed to know and be involved in all the social media conversations - all the time. In other words my laptop and computers were beeping and buzzing constantly between 6:00 AM and 11:00 PM.
Social media became too much - I was connected to the online world so much it was affecting my real world negatively, plus I was feeling burnt out from having to be "on" and portray that good online persona - all the time.
I started putting limits on notifications and how much time I was spending online, but to do the social media marketing thing and be good at it, you need to keep up a presence on the major social media hubs, especially when you are first starting out.
Then add in the fact that as a social media marketer, you are always looking for new clients or work, submitting proposals, for when your current work is over and keeping track of it all (for legal, tax and other purposes), was not what I wanted to be doing long-term.
I know and understand that many people live their lives being connected online 24/7 today whether they are doing social media marketing or not and they consider themselves happy, successful and satisfied with that lifestyle.
However, I am not a digital native and still remember a time when technology was not the focal point of our lives - yes there was life before the Internet and while it might not have been as immediate, it was still a good one.
Although I have been involved with technology for a long time and am very comfortable using it, this level of immersion is not what I want to be a primary focus in my life, especially for the long-term.
I enjoy my time away from the electronic world and the wonders that it provides - too much.
So instead of continuing to chase after something that is not really who I am.
I am letting go of the fantasy of becoming Harold the social media ninja or guru or even the next great blogger, who will be acclaimed by the national publications and be paid the big bucks to write for them.
I know now I would not be happy living life in the fast lane, after touching the tip of that iceberg.
So I have started the journey to downsize my life.
Yes, I am going back to being who I really am - Harold the barbarian (no not the one popularized by Robert E. Howard), but more this definition.
I am going back to being the uncouth, uncultured and socially inept (at times) person that I have been most of my life - no I don't fit into the world of limos, red carpets, high rises, small mansions and masses of humanity hurtling by at a million miles an hour.
- loving my family
- taking the path less travelled,
- being a guy from a small town in Maine and the lifestyle that I have here,
- sharing my journey and story about fighting getting old,
- attempting to be the best Runnah I can be at this point in my life
- puttering around the house breaking things and then trying to put them back together - my Harold the Destroy persona,
- not worrying about what the Jones' have,
- being a lot blunter and not worrying so much about impressing others with my wittiness and ability to sell a product
- being a good friend
- smiling a lot
Who knows maybe I will even have more time to expand my interests back to including other things like reading, more exploring the local area, genealogy, archery, some hunting or fishing, but definitely spending more time outside and a lot less time on the computer, phone or virtual worlds.
The reality is that since I have made this decision, I have relaxed - a lot. I am looking forward to what the next chapters in my life will bring to me and sharing pieces of that journey with those of you who choose to continue reading my blog.