Last week, I went to a money and media conference.
I didn’t take many notes. If you’re looking for big takeaways to help you 10x your life or your brand, look elsewhere. Why? In the spirit of full disclosure, I attended exactly one session.
It’s not because I wasn’t excited for the speakers. I was. I knew that there was a veritable fount of knowledge coursing through the convention. It was a little bit the result of our travel schedule, but it was mostly because I was busy doing things that I can’t do with the Virtual Pass. I was making new friends and reuniting with old.
I sound like the Girl Scouts song. Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold. Or something like that. I think I earned three badges before I quit. I cannot say this earnestly enough: camping is not for me.
Corny as the song seems, there’s real truth in it. For me, FinCon, blogging, and this entire journey toward spending and living more purposefully has been about growth and connections. That doesn’t come without lessons of its own. While I might not have a notebook filled with notes because of it, here’s what I’ve learned so far:
Don’t Swap Herds.
Every person at FinCon is doing something to set themselves apart from the herd. The vast majority of people who are looking to be more intentional with their finances are doing something to set themselves apart. Why, then, are we so quick to swap one herd for another?
If you tell your story exactly like someone else’s, whose story are we remembering? If you script your life to mirror someone else’s, whose life are you living? This experience was a great reminder to take the formulas, take the templates, take the lessons, and then put your own stamp on everything. Authentically.
Lift Up Others.
The very best part of FinCon was looking around and seeing people working on lifting up others. Inside the expo hall. Outside the registration booth. At restaurants and bars. By the pool. There was always someone willing to ask questions, share ideas, and create connections.
If you have a platform, use it. There’s nothing new with that concept. But what was remarkable was watching the way that everyone was choosing to use their platforms. This wasn’t just about networking to seal new deals for themselves. People were genuinely looking to push others toward their goals—whatever the goals may be.
There’s Less of Us Than You Think.
I’m not an introvert. But I’m not totally extroverted either. To be honest, I think the Myers-Briggs test is about as easy to manipulate as a Cosmo quiz and has only slightly more value. (That was a hot take, my apologies.) I do know that regardless of where people stood on the personality spectrum, I heard people comment about how many of us there are both at FinCon and on these financial journeys.
Newsflash: there aren’t. Not really. Of course, this conference was incredibly well attended. But when you think of the world as a whole and how many people struggle with money, there aren’t that many of us on these paths. And there are even less of us who tell our stories
publicly while hiding behind a photo of spare change I found on the ground.
You Shouldn’t Hate It.
Challenging and frustrating, sure. But if you hate what you’re doing, think long and hard about what you’re doing and why. It was the second night of my stay when a quick conversation turned into an hours-long chat. In asking about the ways in which my blog has grown since last year, I didn’t have any real numbers to share. Instead, I revealed something else.
“It’s good. I don’t hate it anymore.”
I’ve been blogging for over three years now. I’ve been on this purposeful spending journey for a bit longer. And there was a stretch of time when I spent every day thinking about quitting both. I wanted to reclaim my time. I wanted to take the pressure off. I wanted to go buy ice cream at Walgreens on a hot day without a sale or a coupon just for the heck of it.
Right after the last FinCon, I gave myself permission to take breaks. I reconsidered how much time I would spend writing. I also reminded myself that it’s OK to spend money. I’m not blogging because I want to build a brand or because I owe anyone an explanation. I’m blogging because I love to write and because I have something to say. Over the past year, I’ve fallen in love with the journey again.
Make Time to Laugh.
There are parts of blogging that are frustrating. There are parts of trying to overhaul bad financial habits and replace them with new ones that are heartbreaking. This isn’t easy.
So laugh. Laugh a lot. Make an effort to surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Even if it’s at their expense when they fail to rub in their sunscreen at the pool. It’s as much about the journey as it is the outcome, and when the journey gets rough, it’s those connections that make it all worthwhile.