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In this Slow FI Coffee Date, Mel (from Modest Millionaires) and I discuss:
- Mel’s recent decision to take a 1-year sabbatical to test her Coast FI plan which consists of part-time work on her business and more time to spend with her family.
- What we’ve both been learning as entrepreneurs over the last several months.
In the episode, we cover the following topics:
- How we worked through both the finances and our scarcity mindsets as we prepared to make these big life changes.
- The power of Coast FI – the point at which you no longer need to save for traditional retirement.
- The importance of embedding yourself in a community that will support your goals, believe in you and help you to work through your limiting beliefs.
- How we’re learning to structure our days now that we are in full control of our time.
If you would like to learn more about Mel’s work, you can find her in the following places:
- Blog: http://www.modestmillionaires.com/en/
- Twitter: @ModMillionaires
- Instagram: @ModestMillionaires
Full Transcript of the Discussion
Jess Fioneers 0:00
Thank you so much. For everybody who’s joined this session so far, if you don’t know me, I’m Jessica. And I’m one of the co founders of The Fioneers. And a little bit about my background. So my career background was actually in nonprofit organisations and human resources. And I quit my job, actually, in December-January timeframe, to actually take my business and my writing full time. So it’s been a fun transition. We’re going to talk a little bit more about that this evening, as well as talking about the exciting things that Mel has been up to you. So first, what I would love to do is just tell you a little bit about what is Slow FI, what is the purpose of these coffee chats, what we’re focusing on today, I’ll introduce Mel, and then I can tell you more about how you can participate in in the conversation this evening. Slow FI is a concept that we created within the last couple of years, we wanted to really start to change the narrative within the financial independence space, that the point of financial independence and financial freedom is not just to work really, really, really hard and be miserable until you can ride off into the sunset and have 100% freedom, right? That it is actually a spectrum, and that you are able to take advantage of that freedom a lot earlier to design a life that you love along the journey. So that’s the essence of Slow FI. It’s this balance of building financial freedom and designing lives that you love without waiting to retire early. The purpose of these Slow FI coffee dates is to explore different topics and ideas related to Slow FI. So the content will be similar to the interview series that’s on the blog, but this way we get to go deeper. I know sometimes when I’m doing the interview style posts, I want to just have a conversation with the person and pick their brain about all the different things that they’re doing and learning. So this is an opportunity to do that and to go deeper into those. This is not meant necessarily to be an interview style conversation. We’re hoping that this is a two way conversation, a two way dialog, where we’re diving in deep to the things that we’re doing and learning and focusing on. So hopefully it feels that way, that obviously the vibe we’re going for is like, call your girlfriend. So today, we are going to be focusing on some of the biggest changes that have happened in our lives recently. We’re going to be talking about both sabbaticals and entrepreneurship. In this time together, if you have any questions, we would love for you to participate throughout the course of the discussion. We actually have a friend of mine, Nicole, who is monitoring the chat for us and who is pulling out questions over the course of the time together. So if you have any questions or anything that you want us to dig in a little deeper on, put that in the chat, and then Nicole will make sure that that gets recorded, so that we’re able to see it. We’re not going to be actively monitoring the chat throughout the course of the event because it’s hard to keep track of it and to stay on task. So Nicole will be doing that for us. And then feel free also to chat amongst yourselves on the chat. I’ve definitely seen, if you have a question or if you have an answer to someone else’s question, feel free to hop in and answer that in the chat. We all have important knowledge that we’re able to share with each other. Okay, so without further ado, I would like to introduce Mel. Mel is the blogger behind the blog Modest Millionaires and Mel has been an incredible inspiration to me. So she actually participated in my beta version of my coaching program back in 2019, Design a Life You Love. And then we’ve grown to be great friends over the last few years. I always say that Mel is my blogging BFF. And so, we’ve done an annual planning process with each other a couple of times, and we are accountability partners and meet on a weekly basis to talk about our goals, what we’ve accomplished, where we feel stuck. And so Mel is one of my dearest friends. So I’m excited to do this event with her this evening. And then a little bit more specifically about Mel, she recently decided to take a one year sabbatical, to focus on time with her family and building her business. And so I’m super excited to dig into the conversation today. So welcome.
Mel Modest Millionaires 5:56
I’m super excited. Thanks for inviting me. And likewise, I feel like you’re such a valuable friend. And I appreciate our planning together and just our fun, regular chats. But also it’s nice to have someone that’s living similar things going on in life and doing such a big transition at a similar time. So I appreciate you. Thanks for inviting me.
Jess Fioneers 6:22
For sure. So now actually, to give people a little background on you. Could you tell them a little bit about your FIRE journey? Generally, when did you learn about FI? And what point in the journey are you right now?
Mel Modest Millionaires 6:38
Yeah, definitely. So finance is a big part of my life in the background, I studied business. I was always attracted to it and understanding it. So when I was working as a senior advisor in the federal government, I bounced between jobs. At one point, I was almost done paying off $25,000 of student debt. That’s when I was like, what’s the next goal? And that’s when I stumbled on Mister Money Mustache, who was my first introduction. Then I really enjoyed Mad Fientist. And I was super excited. I went to my partner, my spouse, though. I went to him, and I’m like, Let’s do this. We’ll cut down our spending and get to financial independence in 10 years. And he was like, Yeah, no thanks. We were living pretty frugally already, so that wasn’t a good introduction. But I was kind of stubborn and still made my own plan. But I had to adjust it with our life and then it was when we were expecting our first kid in 2014, that he was like, Hey, yeah, tell me about this financial independence thing. He got really on board and we created a real plan this time. Together, that was a 10 year plan to financial independence. That was six years ago. So our plan was by 2025, we want to be financially independent. We added two kids to our family, now four of us. And along the journey, I wanted to spend more time with the kids, spend the summers off. So I kind of had that mindset of including time off. But still, things changed. And now today I’m on my sabbatical, and we’re 80% of the way to FIRE. So just a bit background on where I’m at where my journey is, but that’s pretty much it.
Jess Fioneers 8:42
So let’s talk. I want to hear more about your decision to take a sabbatical. So, what does the sabbatical like? What does that look like for you? And how did you make the… what was the motivation to do that?
Mel Modest Millionaires 8:59
Yeah, so definitely began early on in our planning. As I mentioned, I had these ideas of doing summers off and taking a bit of time off. But really what was driving it is finding out why we’re pursuing financial independence. I think it’s so important for anyone on that journey. To me, that was spending time with my kids and my family, but also to keep on learning and focusing on my passion and work like that. Then I wanted to take those values and kind of place them along the journey, sparkle them throughout the journey, so we’re not compromising it for when we reach that financial independence. And it was doing it in a way that, there’s a compromise the end goal of that financial independence, while also having those short term desires. And the idea of the sabbatical is kind of another vehicle to do that and really test that out. But doing it in a way that’s part time, since I’m Coast FI now. I don’t necessarily need to do full time hours, I can have some more time with my kids, have the summers off with them, was really kind of along the way that you suggest to incrementally use that freedom for those values and for that why behind FI.
Jess Fioneers 10:29
Awesome. So I guess one thing that we can talk about, for anybody who might not be familiar with what Coast FI is, we can define that. I would define that as when you’re at a point in time where you no longer need to save for your traditional retirement. So that’s when you have enough already saved in your investments for retirement, that those will continue to grow and provide you with a comfortable traditional retirement. So that basically means at that point, you could choose to scale back on work and only cover your actual costs of living. That can give people a lot of freedom. There are many people who reach that point and aren’t necessarily comfortable with saying I’m going to scale back completely. But it can give you a feeling of freedom, to be able to say I can start to scale back, and I can start to use that freedom to make my life better. Even if you’re still worried about… For example, we have reached Coast FI but we haven’t scaled back completely yet, because part of it is just the comfort level and knowing that there are some risks associated with saying, I’m just going to cover my cost of living, if the market would tank or we would get to a point where we would be unable to work after the age of 50, which I know happens for a lot of people. So many people will say, Okay, I’m not ready to scale back completely.
But I’m ready to scale back a little bit. So those are two options that you have. When you get to Coast FI and I know Mel, if you’re 80% to FI you are well past the Coast FI number. So for you to be saying you, probably if you wanted to, could be pulling some of your money out but you’re choosing not to do that. Is that right?
Mel Modest Millionaires 12:38
Exactly. I did many scenarios of projections. And if I just cover my cost of expenses, that takes me to… I’m in my 30s, early 30s. So I’d be around 40 at financial independence. And that’s the plan I’m kind of following right now, just covering my full expenses. But I could scale back and I would still reach financial independence in my 40s just a bit later on. Right.
Jess Fioneers 13:05
So you still would have the ability to retire early, in the traditional sense if you wanted to, right? But I guess the likelihood is that you probably aren’t going to want to because you have work that you really enjoy doing. So let’s talk about that. What’s the work that you do? And why did you decide to start doing a side hustle on top of your nine to five?
Mel Modest Millionaires 13:31
It started, I’d said started with atheblog, though, that wasn’t really a side hustle itself. It was more about how I was really invested into finances, in the sense of I was really passionate about it. So I wanted to keep on learning, keep myself accountable, but also share with others and perhaps help others along the way. By exploring and communicating around that passion gave me some opportunities to test and concretely that’s family and friends because I was anonymous, but I was still talking about what I was learning on the blog and by writing to my friends and family, I started getting asked, Can you help me with my budget, my financial plan and stuff? And I found out that it was super energizing to me, that was work I could, I fall into flow and it just pulls me through and it’s so fun. Knowing that during the journey, exploring allowed me to kind of craft the plan and adapted it to it, back when we really doing the first version of your Design Your Life program. I was realizing that this opens up options, taking this into a side hustle way and actually helping other people, getting rewarded with money for it in exchange and everything was rewarding, but it might be something that I still want to keep doing, even if I reach financial independence. So I’m finding that out several years before my targeted date, and I start to think, Well, maybe I don’t need to get to that full point to transition into this. It could cover part of my cost of living. It really helped me kind of adapt the plan to make it more enjoyable overall.
Jess Fioneers 15:31
Yeah, that’s awesome. And then I’m curious, what point did you decide? So let’s go back to the idea of the sabbatical. You decided to take a one year sabbatical. But I think my understanding is that you’re hoping that at the end of the year, you’re not actually going to go back?
Mel Modest Millionaires 15:55
Yes, it is a test. That’s how I’m seeing it. I like having that option in the background. It allows me to just take a step back and not have that pressure and just fall into a scarcity mindset of I need to take any contract that comes over, I can be selective and be like, this is really a good fit, I want to work with this person, I want to do this project, I can be more selective around my boundaries and everything because I know I have a fallback plan. So I’m not as stressed about right now, do all the things. I’m like, let’s do this right, take my time to gradually build up. But I do have the option, I’m really lucky to to have that option. That’s a rare occurrence. I work for the federal government in Canada, and we have the opportunity to take leaves without pay in different circumstances. So I feel lucky to have that in the background. But I also I evaluate, while still kind of wanting to keep pursuing that. And a month and a half into this, almost two months now, I find really, it’s going by too fast and I’m like I really want this to continue. And I see it as feasible, for my target. Like you mentioned, Jess, like someone on Coast FI can decide to scale back to a certain level. But mostly people on the FI journey are often saving like 40%, 60%, even more of their income. So if you’re looking at it, I only need to cover the portion that I was spending, it’s 40% of what I used to be making. It doesn’t feel that huge of a mountain to climb, having that backup of all the journey that that took me there.
Jess Fioneers 17:45
Yeah, definitely. So then you’re seeing the year off as an experiment with the hope that the business will grow to a place that it will cover your portion of the expenses so that you don’t need to go back at the end of the year. I’m curious about the finances piece behind it. So what were some of the things you needed to do, or some of the things you needed to get in place for yourself to feel like you could take this year off? So there’s that piece, right? There’s the finances. And then there’s the mental piece of like, at what point did you feel like it made sense for you to take a sabbatical, to take this risk on your business?
Mel Modest Millionaires 18:41
So for the financial aspects. As I mentioned, I’m a big spreadsheet nerd. I love playing in spreadsheets and having different scenarios projected out. So as I mentioned, I had those projections of, what if I only coast? What if I need to pull out a portion of my investment? What if the growth like really falls in the first few years? So I did that, I did multiple scenarios of this. I also worked with a coach that focuses on transitions, Jillian Johnsrud, I’m sure a lot of you in this space know her, she’s fantastic. But she became financially independent and has started a business. So she’s been in a similar scenario of transitioning into this FI life while also wanting to create a passion business. So she helped me also create different kinds of contingencies. One of which was how many different ways could I think of making that income to cover my expenses, and I did mind mapping around that. That was really helpful, not just for the financial piece to know that I have those different ways but for the mental piece. That’s where it really came in to have those contingency plans, having those different ideas of options. Then I’d say, to get to the mental piece.
Jess Fioneers 20:12
Well, part of that is the mental piece, right? Of answering that question that’s like, what are all of the ways that I could generate X amount of money in a year? I wanted to come and comment on that too, because I think like I used to, before meeting all these amazing people who are, people are making money doing anything and everything. It’s kind of amazing to see. I used to think, Oh, I could never make money outside of a job. I never understood how people did that. And now I see. I think about it, and I’m like, Oh, my gosh, I would never need to go back to a traditional job because I could do all of these different possible things. Because there’s so many ways to generate income. Even if something’s a small income stream that adds up to a lot of things. Right? I know that some of the things that you were thinking about were, you could do some affiliates on your blog, or you could do some translation, some English to French translation work. What were some of the other ideas of income stream?
Mel Modest Millionaires 21:31
Yeah, I had done a lot of light translation, just as a side hustle, and then doing CVs, resumes and coaching for interviews is something that I’ve done in my work and other stuff, which is all things that I might consider at one point, or just on a volunteer basis too, but I focus on stuff that I enjoy doing too which is fun. You made me think by saying that seeing what others can do, that was a huge, huge portion of the mental piece. Getting more involved in the financial community, going to FinCon back in 2019. Just talking to people attending events like this, and seeing that people are actually creating these different lives than usual scripts was huge. And my mindset was, Well, I could try and see what happens.
Jess Fioneers 22:30
Yeah, that was a significant shift for me, was seeing people do this. For me, when I first started my business, my thought – and Mel, you probably remember this – my thought was like, Oh, well, I think I would really enjoy it and maybe I would make some income, maybe I wouldn’t, or maybe I would make enough that I could semi-retire and maybe I’d make 10-20,000 a year or something. Never expecting that it could be something that would be a full time job or a business, like an actual business. But it was through that process of meeting other people and learning about the things that they were doing and realizing like, wow, people actually do this for a living and that’s a thing. Then, for me, I worked with a coach, as well, who focuses specifically on helping coaches create and build and market their coaching program, and I was just exposed to so many different people who were making a living coaching in different kinds of ways. That was really inspiring to be like, Yeah, they can do this, I can probably do this too. And there’s a structure and there’s specific ways that are generally successful, that you can use as models to follow. So part of it was saying, I can learn these things. Yes, there’s some things I need to adapt and make my own, but that there is a process and I can follow it and I can trust the process, was kind of a revolutionary thought for me, to be like I can just trust the process.
Mel Modest Millionaires 24:40
Yeah, and I definitely remember you in your initial projections, and then how quickly you kind of immersed yourself not only with the coach, but you also had mastermind groups and then looking up a lot of resources that are free online too with coaching groups and in any profession, like VAs have different resources where people just share their experience and what worked for them. All of the combination of those pieces really fast track what you had in mind for your timeline. It was the same for me. When I started working with Jillian was January 2019. 2020 feels like it disappeared sometimes from my mind, but 2019, in December 2019. So that’s a little over a year and a half ago. My timeline was 2023 to start transitioning into coaching and I thought I would go part time first from my job, and then to coaching. And then COVID hits, and the balance just wasn’t working. So things change. But all of those support systems helped really fast track everything.
Jess Fioneers 26:02
Yeah, that’s an incredible thing. I think, for me, it’s like embedding yourself within the context of the community, where the thing you want is just like the normal thing, right? And where people are like, Oh, yeah, that’s totally possible. I remember coming to some of our life design, mastermind groups and being like, this seems like a really cool idea. But it’s pie in the sky, this is not something I can do for a while. And everyone was like, Well, why not? You could totally do that. And you could do that tomorrow. I feel like, if I was trying to do this on my own without that support system, without the people who are also doing similar work to me in the writing and coaching space, and not being embedded in those communities, there’s no possible way I would ever been able to ramp up the business as quickly or even probably get through to a launch, because it was so hard, right? It’s hard to put yourself out there. And it’s really hard to get something started without having that support system in place. For me, it’s like your inner critic is going on overdrive the entire time you’re trying to start something new. So having that community, is really the thing that accelerated, I would say, the path to entrepreneurship. For me, actually, someone in the audience asked if we knew each other before blogging. We didn’t. So Mel, and I actually, I think we started reading each other’s blogs first. And then saw each other on social media, and then we’d chat. And then like, I remember you DMed me a question. And I was like, Oh, sure, I can answer the question. And so then we got to chatting. Then we actually had a chance to meet in person at the one of the financial blogging financial media conferences in 2019. That was after we had actually started doing the lifestyle design group together too, that was pre- the event. Yeah, so we did that, a six month lifestyle design group together, and then have been meeting weekly ever since. Right? So yeah, we did not meet beforehand. I actually saw another question come in related to that is how did you find the mastermind group? It was funny, I read a book about lifestyle design. And I put a question out on Twitter. And I said, has anyone read this book?
Mel Modest Millionaires 29:25
I was just starting it.
Jess Fioneers 29:27
Or would be interested to start reading the book? And would you like to meet in a group to discuss it? I had three other women raise their hands and say, Oh, my gosh, I’m just reading the book, or I would love to read that book and discuss it. The book that we read was called Designing Your Life and we read that together and went through all of the different activities and we met I think every Tuesday for weeks, and just discussed it, went through all the activities and discussed them with each other. It’s pretty amazing to see the place where all of us in that group are two years later. It’s really, really neat.
Mel Modest Millionaires 30:18
And it was so valuable to have a group to work those exercises around, because it’s a lot of testing out things you want in your life and coming back and reflecting. It was really valuable to have different experiences and like you mentioned before, Jess, having that little voice in your mind and those limiting beliefs that are like, I can’t really do that, or I can’t do that now. Myself, I was like, I can’t do that. I have the kids and I don’t have that much time, but then people were like, Well, what about if you spend two hours here, two hours here? It helps you like breakout of your regular pattern of thinking. It’s very valuable.
Jess Fioneers 31:02
Yeah. And another way, and I don’t know if you have any other examples of this, but I feel like it would be helpful for people to hear, how do you actually build relationships and get in touch with other people who are similar to you? A few ways that I’ve done that, I gave the example of how Mel and I connected just on Twitter, and started reading each other’s blogs. Also for example, I’m part of an online membership for other people who are blogging and podcasting, and things like that. So I’m part of a mastermind group with other people who are creating either courses or coaching. That’s a mastermind that’s structured. So I signed up for the program, and then I was placed with a mastermind with people who were similar to me. So there are programs that do that as well, for example, the coaching that I do puts everyone into a group and with an accountability partner. Then I also have mastermind groups that I run as well. So that’s always an option, is to find a program that would provide that for you. Mel, how have you? What are ways besides Twitter and social media that you built relationships?
Mel Modest Millionaires 32:38
Well, it’s still social media, but I’ve been organising the local Choose FI meetups. That’s always another way, especially in the pandemic. People that have enjoyed just lifting your hand up and saying, Hey, I’ll put a Zoom together. And you put a poll about the time, and you actually create connections where you find people with similar interests. Then you might set up just a lunch date with someone else who’s into the same type of things that you are. For people in the FIRE space, there’s a ton of those groups. But even as I mentioned, as coaches, there’s different groups. Otherwise, forums. I can only think of things online, I’m trying to think of different things, but mainly online. And it’s our last year to, I feel like our lives have been online lately. But in regular times, there’s events like meetups and conferences. Conferences are a great place where you meet people with similar interests, and that are working on stuff that you either are doing or would like to do. That’s so valuable. From the inspiration you can get there.
Jess Fioneers 33:53
Yeah, it’s funny, I just totally forgot about conferences as a way. I was like, Oh, yeah, that was a thing that we did before the pandemic. And that was one of the best ways to meet new people, was to actually go in person to a conference. And I’m definitely looking forward to being able to do that again, once we’re vaccinated.
Mel Modest Millionaires 34:20
Just like local networking events. Actually, I think back in February, I went to a local Women’s Entrepreneur meetup. And there was like a little panel, which was fine.
Jess Fioneers 34:34
February of 2020, right?
Mel Modest Millionaires 34:37
Yeah. Like I said, it’s a mash up of years.
Jess Fioneers 34:45
So let’s talk about what we’ve been learning and for you, it’s your first two months of your sabbatical. For me, it’s my first two months in entrepreneurship. The first thing that I think would be interesting to hear is, how are you determining your schedule? How are you determining what schedule is going to work best for you now that your time is your own?
Mel Modest Millionaires 35:19
That’s a funny thing of me is like, I tend to try to do a lot. But I came into this thinking that I want to create space, it’s my word for the year, I’m creating space, as well in my home by decluttering. So I created this kind of schedule going into it. And then a week into my sabbatical, I realized I needed to remove a lot of things from my schedule. Jess, you notice I thought I would declutter my entire home in a week. Then I thought two weeks would be enough. I’m still decluttering. I put it on a two month timeline, and it’s probably gonna take a lot longer. So it started out with taking that list that already had this idea of space into it. And then scratching even more things off, that was my first month. I don’t know if that was similar to you, Jess. But the first month I was like, Okay, I need to remove a lot of stuff. I already have a busy life, even when we don’t have the nine to five. I know parents in the pandemic. It’s been crazy. We need flexibility. But even people without children, we just have a lot of pieces, moving pieces, lots of things going on. And yeah, our nine to five pulls us away from tasks that show up once you’re finally done with work. I don’t know, how was your first month? Did you find that a few things popped up?
Jess Fioneers 36:44
I mean, I will say in my first month, I also way over committed to things. I was like, Oh, I won’t be working anymore. So I can do that. Yes, yes, yes. I was saying yes to way too many things. I then was like, Oh, I really need to scale that back. And so February, I did not take on anything new. And that was a little bit better. I needed a breather, because I said yes to way too many things for January. And yeah, I think I feel similarly. It was like, Oh, I didn’t have the… for me, I was part time, and so I didn’t have the 24 hours a week that I was working or thinking about work or preparing for work. And yet, it wasn’t that much time. I still need to prioritize and I still need to figure out what things are most important to me. I still need to say no to most requests that I get, right? I can’t say yes to everything. Or I will be just like a crazy person and so exhausted.
Mel Modest Millionaires 38:06
Yeah. I’ve taken one approach after the first few weeks that has really helped me, is having that 80% overlap with my goals. Whatever I’m doing in my business should have an overlap with my main goals for this year. And I have to scratch off a lot of those goals after a couple of weeks where I was like, Okay, this is not sustainable. And that helped me kind of zone in on what are those activities that I really want and that are really going to help and that was making space for my clients, not just the calls, but also space for really creating content for them and templates and stuff for specific problems for my clients, and then the space for the blog, the space for networking, and the business is other space. It’s not just all business. There’s dedicated things in the business that I work on on certain days. That’s been really helpful and super important for me. And the same for my family time. I have dedicated my weekends, I think the last three weekends, I have not really worked other than a couple of hours in the morning. Because I don’t want to be with my kids and thinking about a problem that my client has. I know I’ll have that block of time to dedicated and try to figure out a tool that can help them so I can be focused on my kids in there. Tell us about your should-less days.
Jess Fioneers 39:37
Yeah, so at the beginning of this year, I committed, because I do know that I can get a little overzealous on things and try to do too much. So I decided that one day a week, I was going to do completely productivity free days, so I wasn’t going to do anything productive for an entire day a week. Then actually, I heard from one of my coaching clients that she had learned that those can be called should-less days. So no “shoulds” for the day. So I’ve started calling them my should-less days. So that’s been a really fantastic practice and I would like to keep doing that forever. Maybe at some point, I’ll have two should-less days a week. But I don’t feel like I can, I’m not there yet. One other thing that I’m learning is that, the timelines that I set are my own, and I have control over them. That it’s like, when I was working for an employer, they told me what the timelines would be and I had certain deadlines, and I have certain things that I want to do by a certain time, but like, if it’s stressing me out, I can move it. Or I can say, Oh, I am really struggling with writing this week. Maybe I will just update a previous post and republish it. And that’s okay. So I’m learning also to give myself grace on some of those things and not say, Well, you have all this time now. So you should be able to do all of the things, when right there sometimes life happens, or you’re like, I’m just not feeling that same level of inspiration, or I’m sick or tired. And that’s okay, I can give myself grace with that.
Mel Modest Millionaires 41:52
Yeah, and it’s a surprising thing at first I’ve found, at least in the first couple of months, how it’s kind of built into us that productivity nag, or that voice of like, I should be doing something, and I should be doing it now. It’s not okay that I’m chilling. I think that’s going to be a balance and a work in progress and continue to change and adapt. This summer I want to spend the summer. The kids are going to be with me all summer, so I want to spend quality time with them. I want to reduce my business hours. Sometimes I’m like, Oh, man, that’s gonna be hard. It’s actually going to be hard to pull myself back from doing the work that I love. But it’s also like seasons, but I think both will continue to change and adapt. Being mindful of that little keep working voice and like, Oh, no, I can’t let go of this timeline. Because I said it. Well, I said it. So I’m the boss.
Jess Fioneers 42:54
Right, right. It’s like, I’m the one that set the timeline. I can move it.
Mel Modest Millionaires 43:00
My partner kind of kids, when he sees me working later and I’m really into it, but I’m like, It’s kind of time to go play with the kids and stuff. He’ll be like, Your boss is being a bit tough on you today, isn’t she? Yeah. All right.
Jess Fioneers 43:17
Yeah. It’s funny, ‘cos Cory says the exact same thing. So that’s funny. One thing I want to talk about is burnout. So I know someone had a question for us around, when you leave work, and when you make a transition, you’re probably going to be pretty burned out or tired for a little while, especially as that transition is happening, and things are hard. So how did you manage that transition? And when did you get to a place? Or are you to that place yet where you’re like, I’m energized again, or I’m to a good sort of place with that energy level. And what did it take to get there?
Mel Modest Millionaires 44:20
Yeah, specifically on burnouts, one thing as a caveat to let you know, in the background, back in 2018. We built a garage, and we were both working and we had two little ones that were two under two, I think, or they were somewhere around one year old and a two year old, or three year old and a two year old, so intense times. And I was actually burning out. it wasn’t necessarily my job that was burning me out. It was everything. So back then I did take medication. I did have therapy and this past year in COVID, I found myself having those signals again, like my body was telling me like my concentration was very low. And it played a big part of why I decided to make the transition sooner. I knew that was not sustainable because I had been at that point. So I did not get to the same level this time around, like the previous time, it took me several months after the project of our garage and everything had been done before I started feeling like myself again and energized again. But I did learn during that time and through therapy, what helps me and I have been very careful in the last several months, even before the sabbatical, to keep having a lot of recovery activities, be attentive to those signals my body was giving me. So when I entered the sabbatical, I was maybe not at a previous level that I had been. And I still was not that careful, and the first week as I mentioned, I got exhausted the second week when I tried to declutter. I think I did the clothes category the Marie Kondo way, I did the clothing, I did a couple of other things. And I was like, my body was done. So the second week, my body kind of decided for me. Since then, I’ve been making sure to create space for those recovery activities. It’s been gradual, where I felt I have more concentration. But I try not to overuse that concentration, and kind of force myself to take breaks. How have you found that? With the mental health as an entrepreneur, it’s kind of different with approaching it.
Jess Fioneers 46:59
Yeah, right. For me, when I think about it, it’s not about doing work or doing no work. I know we had a question about, when do you know when it’s the right time to pick up a project when you feel really well rested. And you might not feel totally well rested, but you might feel better at the end of the day, if you did a little bit of something, that’s working toward your goals. And so it was less about, Do I need to complete the rest to get to a point where I can do this? But it was figuring out the right balance for me. And as I said, I over booked myself for the month of January, so things were a little bit crazy. But then moving into February, there were days where I might do two hours of work in a day because I was tired. And I was recovering from, realizing that I needed to actually recover from being in the traditional workforce and needing a little bit of time. So I guess one thing that I learned, actually. Similarly, in 2018, I also really burned out as well and learned a lot about how to manage burnout. One thing that I learned. I took six months off, off of work completely. At first I was spending my days doing full on self care, recovery activities, and just relaxing and taking naps, and watching TV and all of that. At a certain point, that is still what I wanted to do. But it wasn’t helping me get better. So at that point, my therapist was like, well, maybe we need to add some routine into your days and think about long term goals and things you want to be working toward. But you don’t need to spend eight hours a day doing it. You can spend two hours a day doing it or three hours a day doing it. And so then I actually started to improve more when I would spend three hours in the morning doing work, doing something productive. And then take the afternoons to still relax and recover. So I think for me, it’s been less about now, do I need full recovery time besides my one day a week of the completely should-less time, and more of, what is the right balance of how much work I want to do and how much work I feel like my brain and body want me to do in like a given day.
Mel Modest Millionaires 50:11
Yeah, it’s identifying too that type of productive activity that energizes you. I’ll balance out. There’s still, even though I’m choosing what I work on, there’s still some things that I enjoy less that need to be done. I try to balance out my week, that I kind of sandwich those activities with the other stuff that really energizes me. It’s sometimes it’s surprising, the things that will energize you, like reading a novel might energize you, or reading a nonfiction might energize you even more, even if it feels more mentally challenging, I guess.
Jess Fioneers 50:52
Right? Or, I know that I do often get into a state of flow when I’m writing. But writing is deep work and my brain wants me to do deep work in the morning. But I’m less likely to be energized by writing if I wait to do it until the afternoon. But if I do it in the morning, just because energetically that’s when I’m at my best, right? And so it’s also figuring out like, Oh, I can adapt to what my natural tendencies are, rather than needing to fit the square peg in the round hole of employment.
Mel Modest Millionaires 51:40
Yeah, definitely the beauty of entrepreneurship.
Jess Fioneers 51:43
Yeah. So we’re actually getting close to the end here. So, Mel, I wanted to just give you a chance to tell people, what kinds of projects you’re working on right now, and where can people find you?
Mel Modest Millionaires 52:04
I’m working on meeting my clients where they’re at right now. It’s been over a year in pandemic and some people are in tough positions. I’m trying to focus on tools and building up stuff that can help people that are more at a bare bones budget situation and planning ahead. Other people, perhaps have found themselves still with the same job, but spending less because they’re home all the time. So those are the kinds of people that are asking themselves, well, when things open up, what do I do? What do I want to keep in my financial life? Or what do I want to allocate this new savings to? So I’m creating a lot of content around that. I have my blog that turned four years old that in the last week, I’m getting back into writing bi-weekly on there, and I have my newsletter that’s a little shorter, more personal. That’s where you’ll find any projects or workshops that are coming up, coaching opportunities with me. That’s where you’ll find that. And on projects, I’m working on a really fun workshop with a good friend Jess, I’ll let you talk about that later. We’re preparing something together, we’ll let you know about it. And I think that’s pretty much it. I’m on Instagram and Twitter, getting more active on Instagram, but mostly on Twitter, find me there. What about you, Jess? What is going on?
Jess Fioneers 53:31
Yeah, so Mel alluded to it. But one of the big projects that I’m focusing on and that Mel and I are focusing on together, is sometime in probably the next three weeks. Mel and I are together going to put on a workshop about limiting beliefs. So we actually ended up talking a lot about limiting beliefs and ways that we sort of overcame them to become entrepreneurs and the role of community in helping you to overcome the voice of your inner critic that’s telling you, you’re not blank enough to be able to move forward. So stay tuned for that. Then I actually just finished a guide to help you identify, to help people identify their limiting beliefs. So I’m actually going to be sharing that with the world tomorrow. I’ll be sharing all of that and you’ll have an opportunity, everyone will have the opportunity to download that and everything. So that’s the big thing I’m focused on right now. Stay tuned for all of that. So thank you so much, everyone for joining us. This was fantastic.
Great episode! If you are fortunate to be in a position to take a sabbatical it can be a great reset mentally and increase your productively when you return.