What I’m Up To: My Work for 2014

11 March 2014 · 9 comments

Sometimes it seems like I’ll never learn.

After vowing at the end of 2013 that I wouldn’t overburden myself this year, that I’d take 2014 off as a year to relax and to work on my own projects, I’m just as over-committed as ever. On one hand, I don’t mind. It feels good to be busy and to be doing productive work. But on the other hand, it would be nice to be pursuing personal projects.

So far this year, my main work has been the guide/course that I’m writing for Chris Guillebeau’s series of “Unconventional Guides“. Mine, naturally enough, is an unconventional guide to money. I’ve written it based on a single conceit: You ought to manage your money as if you were the chief financial officer of your own life.

This guide took much longer to produce than I’d anticipated. It was tough for me to find the “hook”. Even after I’d discovered how to approach the material, it was difficult to get every chapter to fit the mold. In the end, though, I’m happy with how things turned out. This is some of the best material I’ve ever written. It feels like there are chunks missing from the guide (how to work with a team, for instance), but those can be included as part of a follow-up email series.

That brings up the work I’ll be doing for the next two months. Now that the guide itself is finished, it’s time to create additional content. I’ve already conducted sixteen interviews with other folks in the financial world (including Jean Chatzky, Ramit Sethi, and Liz Weston), and those audio files will be available. But I also need to develop a supporting website with additional content, such as downloadable forms and files, plus links to resources around the web.

Beyond that, I’ve agreed to resume writing the “Your Money” column for Entrepreneur magazine. My first piece is due tomorrow. Plus, I’m in talks to write for another popular personal-finance outlet. Combine this work with my twice-monthly articles at Get Rich Slowly and the writing I want to do here, and that’s plenty of responsibility.

On top of this, I’m doing more speaking this year.

  • In a couple of weeks, at Pioneer Nation, I’ll be speaking about “time management for solopreneurs”.
  • In June, at Digital CoLab, I’ll talk about the power of networking (and how to network the right way).
  • In August, I’ll return to Ecuador to participate in a second retreat. Last year was so successful that we’re going to do two retreats this year. During week two, David Cain (from Raptitude) and I will present on “Happiness and Freedom”. Look for more info soon!

I’ve also entertained three additional speaking requests, although I’m likely to accept only one of these.

So, that’s what I’m doing for my “day job”. Meanwhile, I’m continuing to work on some time-consuming personal goals. After gaining fifteen pounds with my aborted “scrawny to brawny” fitness program, I want to lose the weight to get back to where I was last autumn. That takes time. (I’d like to spend two hours per day exercising, although I’m lucky to find sixty minutes per day at the moment.) I’m also taking guitar lessons, spending time with Kim, and trying to make time to read.

The bottom line: Life is busy but good. I had hoped things would be less busy in 2014, but apparently my priorities lie elsewhere. I guess I’ll just sit back and enjoy the ride!

Update! This morning, my friend Jim published a podcast interview with me in which I discuss past projects (including Get Rich Slowly) and present ones. This was a fun conversation. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it since the interview was conducted, but I remember enjoying the discussion.

1 Chrys Hansen March 12, 2014 at 00:21

Looking forward to reading your personal reflections on the “scrawny to brawny” experiment unless they have already been posted elsewhere. I believe that the concept is a good one although the ultra-high calorie breakfast fest seemed like an ultra-high hurdle to overcome. At least it would have been for me. Why don’t you develop a program yourself? Oh, sorry, you probably don’t need another project.

2 jdroth March 12, 2014 at 07:10

Haha.

I don’t have any plans to write about “scrawny to brawny” elsewhere, so I’ll share brief thoughts here. From what I can tell, at its heart, it’s a solid program. The problem I encountered was that I have psychological trouble with weight gain. After having been so overweight for so long, it’s tough for me to bulk up — purposefully or otherwise. So, intentionally packing on fifteen pounds in a few months — even when that mass was mostly muscle — really messed with my mind. I had to stop. (Plus, from a practical viewpoint, I no longer fit in my wardrobe, which sucked.) Now I face the daunting (but not impossible) task of cutting those extra pounds to return to my pre-S2B state.

I’ve decided a couple of things. First, I don’t mind lifting weights and putting on muscle. However, I don’t need to “bulk up”. I thought I wanted to, but I don’t. Instead, I’ll stay at my ~170 pound state (which seems to be where my body wants to be), and I’ll still do plenty of running and biking. I’ll be sure I lift weights too, but I won’t neglect the stuff my body’s built for. Meanwhile, I’ll focus on a paleoish diet with plenty of plants and lean protein. Doing so will give my body the best nutrition it can have. This plan is essentially what I was adhering two for the years I was in the best shape (in other words, 2011-2012), but I’d strayed from it in 2013.

So, the task now is to shed these fifteen pounds I put on during Scrawny to Brawny. It’s more challenging than I’d hoped, but with the arrival of warm weather, I’ll spend plenty of time outside doing long, slow-distance exercise. That’ll help.

3 mark March 16, 2014 at 10:24

JD,

I know it goes counter to what you might think, but after 3+ years of self-experimentation, the one way I’ve found to gain lean mass yet not have to ‘bulk up’ in the process is to spike your insuling once or twice a week with a very junky treat/meal.

Prior to stumbling on this method, I had tried all other types of approaches (sweet potatoes post-workout, etc.). But the best thing I’ve found also happens to be the most enjoyable – eating high-sugar foods once or twice a week to replenish muscle glycogen enough to fuel workouts.

mark

4 Chrys Hansen March 17, 2014 at 02:15

I’m a little curious as to how you came upon this realization for yourself. Is there a specific time period after exercise that you initiate this high-sugar food snack? Are their particular high-sugar treats that you’ve found more effective than others? such as Powerbars, Snicker bars, or whatever? Finally, how did you determine that this self-realized cause and effect was an accurate one?

5 mark March 22, 2014 at 20:52

I lost ~75lbs on a low-carb/high-fat diet over the course of a year, four years ago. With all of the excess weight off I shifted my focus to fitness and tried numerous methods:

– just daily cardio: this made me better at cardio, but nothing else
– crossfit: did this for 6 months and was always tired; similar to the cardio: I got better at crossfitting (i.e., whiteboard scores) but not more fit
– weightlifting: got stronger but was not visibly – no cutting/leaning was occurring as a result

I did the above in phases/cycles for months at a time. The weightlifting (3x per week) I’ve been doing for the past 18 months. That doesn’t count the weightlifting while a member of crossfit (where we mostly just did metcons masquerading as weightlifting).

A few months ago I heard a podcast where a guy was getting interviewed about the subject and he mentioned carb backloading/cycling. Sounded like bullsh*t but I tried it and it has been working well for me.

Like a lot of things diet/fitness, what *makes sense* and what actually works are often completely different things.

6 lachlan March 12, 2014 at 07:06

Can you review s2b?
Why did you quit?

7 Mark March 12, 2014 at 07:41

I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on s2b as well…I had been considering joining this last round, but ultimately decided not to based on financial reasons.

8 jdroth March 12, 2014 at 08:31

Okay, you’ve all convinced me. I’ll do a follow-up post on S2B.

9 kathy April 22, 2014 at 09:12

I’m interested in your Get Rich Slowly course but I’m wondering if it’s for me.
The only debt we have is our house. We have a two year emergency fund, retirement plans, and are saving for college for our daughter.
Is the course good for someone like me or is it geared towards people with a lot of debt?

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