Becoming a lifelong learner was not something I ever envisioned for myself. Sure, I enthusiastically worked ahead on learning multiplication tables in Kindergarten at my grandmas kitchen table, and I was several chapters ahead in my high school Spanish textbook, because it felt <<fantástico>> to already know the vocabulary words ahead of the rest of the students. But I hit a major burnout stage my senior year of high school when I tried to coast through my final year before college, and it hit me even sooner (sophomore year) once I was off on my own at Ball State.

I *always* hated to read books, except in Dr. Shea’s honors Humanities class my freshman year in college. I’ve never really been patient enough to sit down for a long time and work through a whole book in one sitting, or to rapaciously read a book with every spare minute I can muster.

So it has startled me in recent years to discover that I just can’t find enough time to read all of the blogs and listen to all of the podcasts that I want to follow. As my blogger buddies have become published authors (I’m looking at you Cait Flanders, Tanja Hester, Chad Carson, Brynne Conroy, Brad Barrett and Jonathan Mendonsa), there’s even more content I just have to ravenously consume.

Just yesterday, I listened to over 9 hours of financial podcasts (listening on 1.5x speed), as I drove to the opposite coast of Florida to attend a ChooseFI Local group meetup for a group that isn’t local to me AT ALL. My friend Lisa Duke invited me to attend, and since I know her from CampFI SE, two different Playing with FIRE screenings, and FinCon, I just had to see what her group was up to on a random Sunday in December. Turns out, her group is meeting monthly, and the members are taking turns giving a presentation about a topic where they have some expertise. Yesterday was no exception, with a member named Bruce giving all sorts of information and resources about real estate investing.

While I’m still too chickened out to get into the real estate investing game because of my horrible house story, I can’t blame my reluctance on a lack of knowledge on the subject. As Bruce was going through the resources, strategies/tactics, tax incentives, and such, I was often chiming in with information I’ve gleaned over the past few years from the blogs, books and podcasts that I’ve consumed in my journey to overcome the hesitation I feel about investing in real estate. I also was able to provide additional insight that I could share from my career in local government, from zoning and code enforcement questions, to floodplain management and flood insurance. I realized I’m a novice real estate investor, but not an ignorant one.

But with all that I consume from a financial and investing standpoint, I feel like I am no longer anything resembling a well-rounded person. I never listen to the radio anymore, since I have hours and hours of podcast content to catch up on. I almost never sing anymore, and that used to be something special about me that I took pride in knowing I sang well. I can’t tell you the last time I read a fiction book that wasn’t by my favorite FI-related author and friend, MK Williams. I can’t remember the last time I took up a new hobby, embraced the feeling of being a beginner and making mistakes, and/or didn’t try to monetize my hobby in some way.

So, in 2020 I’m going to stop trying to optimize everything in my life. I’m going to stop listening to podcasts every second of my daily 2-hour commute, and I will listen to the radio and sing along sometimes. I’m going to watch a movie and not worry that there are so many other things I could be doing with those 90-120 minutes of my life. I’m seriously considering buying a guitar and learning how to play basic tunes that I can sing along with and feel pride in a skill again.

And I’m going to keep learning and keep trying to share my knowledge with others. What would you like to hear more from me about in 2020? Is there anything you suggest I should learn more about?

  1. Broadening your interests sounds like a great idea!

    In terms of other things to learn about…I’ve had some life-changing experiences with meditation and yoga over the past 18 months, so I am totally trying to sell everyone on mindfulness. Dan Harris’s book “10% Happier” is a great read and a really good start for someone who has never meditated and may be a little skeptical about it.

  2. Glad you’re going back to being a bit more well-rounded. PF can suck up so much of our lives that it’s ridiculous. Especially since people talk so little about money in the real world

    Hope you enjoy your singing!

  3. I think the guitar idea is a great one! And I didn’t know you sang. I’m a musician too…I sang in choirs for years and also at church, and I’ve been playing the piano since I was six.

    Although, just the other day I was thinking that I never sit down to the play the piano just for the joy of it, and since I don’t currently have a music-related job, this means I almost never play.

    So…you get a guitar, and I will sit down and actually play the piano I already own. 😉

    1. It all started for me in the children’s choir at church. All the others were yelling the words, and I actually sang the tune. Progressed to choir in elementary school, show choir in middle school, Varsity Choir and musicals in high school. And when I moved back home with Mom and Dad from age 26-28, I sang in the church choir, just out of boredom as much as anything else! 😁

  4. Glad I read this one since I’m in it. 🙂 Thanks for the mention.

    I shared it to our group as well. Sorry that trip was the straw that broke the camel’s back with your FI obsession!

    I think being more frugal is super important. Stacking some cash and investing is super important, and the earlier you do it the more of that sweet sweet compounding you get.

    But you are right. It’s not everything.

    I always encourage my clients to look for other areas of life to optimize and enjoy more once they get their finances automated.

    Diversification isn’t just for your portfolio.

    See you in January!

  5. Josh I like this – trying not to optimize every minute is a good choice. It’s nice to simply read for pleasure!! I got really into my blog last year & my pleasure reading totally dropped off. I’m reading more for fun in 2020!! Two books I’m reading now, courtesy of Nomadic Matt: The Year of Living Danishly and Love With A Chance of Drowning. They’re both travel related & really good!

  6. Sounds like you got your priorities right. Nothing wrong with just listening to podcasts though haha!

    I move invested in real estate for the past 4 years and it’s been a complete game changer. I really suggest you jump into it head first! Good luck in 2020!!

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