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In the first TFC of 2023, Chelsea sits down with author and designer Jamie Varon to talk about what it means to be radically content, the dangers of productivity culture, and moving past the myth of constantly needing to improve.

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Hello, everyone, and welcome back to an all-new episode of The Financial Confessions.

It's me, your host, Chelsea Fagan, founder and CEO of The Financial Diet and woman who loves to talk about money. And I'm also someone who loves to talk about rethinking the way we do a lot of our day-to-day tasks and think about our own lives.

I've dedicated much space on this channel and on this podcast to kind of debunking a lot of the sort of self-styled, self-help gurus who help you quote, unquote "live better," usually by following the exact way they do things. Now, it could be a matter of buying certain stuff, often their own products, or it could be about getting up at 5:00 in the morning and taking a cold shower before starting your day and not looking at any device until like noon. As someone who's never been a morning person, doesn't like cold showers, and does start most days by scrolling Twitter on my phone, I obviously don't vibe with that.

But in general, I've always felt that it was less about finding a particular guru who could direct you and more about becoming more present and content with the person that you already are. We do in life always want to be evolving, and we've spoken before on the channel about how it's most effective to compare yourself to your former self rather than to any other person. But it's also important to remember that we don't always need to be changing.

We don't need to be constantly optimizing our own lives, often to the end of just having more hours in the day to work and be productive. Sometimes it's OK to just be radically content, which just happens to be the name of the book that my guest today released this April. My guest today is someone I also had the pleasure of working with many moons and, frankly, many lifetimes ago at a different media company and who has since built a career, not just on creating amazing content, but also in encouraging her audience to do exactly what I described-- rethink the way they're already living without constantly putting themselves under an enormous pressure to be better.

It is my pleasure today to welcome to the show friend, former colleague, writer, author, designer, Jill of all trades, Jamie Varon. Hi, Chelsea. Thank you so much for having me.

I'm so excited to talk today. I know. I'm so excited to talk, and I have to spoil for our audience the immensely chic thing that we're doing next week, which is meeting up for lunch in Paris because we both will happen to be there.

Love that for us. I love that for us, too. So-- OK, so I gave a little bit of a spiel about the concept that we're talking about today, but I'd love to start our conversation by just kind of you explaining to our audience what it means to be radically content.

Yeah, I mean, a little bit of back story on me, I was just always striving, always thinking my happiness, my joy, everything, my life will begin one-- some sort of achievement away. I think that's a pretty common thing, and I felt that I was falling behind if I hadn't earned things at a certain age. And I was just-- my happiness was never actually in the moment.

It was always somewhere in the past romanticizing that, or it's coming in the future. And I had this moment with myself where I was like there's just got to be a better way than this because every time I would share that kind of sentiment, people would be like-- me, too. Me, too.

Me, too. And I was thinking, why are we doing this to ourselves? Isn't there a better way?

And so I started thinking about this idea of being radically content. And the reason that I call it radically content is because it's not about-- I feel like we have these two-- not two, but these pretty like primary schools of thought, which is like have no ambition and kind of like raise chickens on a farm somewhere, which is fine if that's what you're in to, or it's like this hyper ambitious, all achievement or you're nothing, and you've got to go, go, go constantly and this hustle mentality. And I was like, where is this kind of middle ground?

Where's this place where we have space for all our ambitions and joys and dreams? I'm a big dreamer. I'm always like trying to get to the next level with myself, but also how do I be happy in the moment?

How am I, for example, in Paris able to enjoy and really be present in this moment without constantly being thinking of what's the next thing I have to be doing? Should I be doing more? I'm not productive.

I don't deserve this because I haven't hit some sort of milestone yet. And that brought me to this point where I was like, I think that's this radical version of contentment where you're like totally happy with where you're at or at least accepting of where you're at and not feeling like all your joy and happiness is on some present moment that really never arrives. And when it does, we just go-- naturally, we go, OK, well, what's next?

Like it only lasts for a second when you have that moment. Yeah, I mean, really well said, and it's interesting that you point out the sort of dichotomous lifestyle choice that is sort of presented to especially women. I don't really talk about my family usually.

It's just try to be-- keep the private private, I suppose. But like my sister and I, you've sort of perfectly described that. She is like a homesteading mother of two, aspiring to be a mother of many, who loves just like baking and animal husbandry and living this very simple life.

And I'm sort of the child-free city-dwelling urbanite like that. We're very much-- we have those two paths, but what's always really interesting to me when we talk, and we talk most days, is that lifestyle that you're describing, the very sort of like pared back, homey lifestyle, like that in and of itself has become a commodified aspirational. A lot of the accounts that she'll follow on social media, which are obviously very different from the ones I follow, but it's so interesting how there's so much of that same being on that treadmill of, well, they have to have the perfect looking farm home and make the perfect looking baked goods.

And they have the most children, and they have the biggest-- the most livestock and all of this stuff that's obviously very different from the particular sort of like aspirational markers that I myself am looking at. But in both cases, there is just this sort of perpetual cycle of there's always a way to improve and always a way to maximize. And I think, as I mentioned in the intro, part of what often really turns me off from a lot of quote, unquote "self-help gurus" is that there is this intense focus on optimization as sort of the ultimate good, and I'm really interested to hear your thoughts on the concept of optimization, both the good and the bad.

Yeah, I love that. I mean, I say in my book-- intro, beginning-- I'm like I'm not a guru. I don't want you to put all your self knowledge away just to follow something that I'm saying.

Like my whole thing is I want people to understand who they are intrinsically. Like if homesteading really makes you happy, do that. Or if city living and having big dreams really makes you happy, do that.

But a lot of times we're often just living on this kind of autopilot and not really thinking it through. So in terms of optimization, I mean, I think there's a healthy way to engage with that. But I also-- I completely agree with you that I think this kind of obsession with even just like self-improvement.

I mean, I'm a big fan of healing, of course, but I got to a point where I was like, I'm healed. I'm going to go live my life now. I don't need to keep living in this perpetual feeling where-- because that's another way of saying like, OK, I still have to-- I still need permission to live.

I still need something external to tell me when I'm good enough because that's really what it is. I mean, personally, I'm not really after being good enough anymore which has been like the best outcome of all this work that I've done is my focus and fixation is not on am I finally good enough? I'm like, I am good enough.

I'm good enough if I never do a single thing ever again. Now I just want to do things that light me up and make me feel something and get me excited. And for me, I'm like, I'll optimize for that.

I'll optimize for things that actually bring me joy, but I feel like a lot of stuff, especially in the self-help world, it's like optimizing for the sake of nothing or for the sake of an external approval from someone else. Like what you were saying in the intro, waking up at 5:00 AM, who cares if you wake up at 5:00 AM? Not me.

Who cares? It's like the stupidest thing that we're all-- I've had people say to me, do I have to wake up at 5:00 AM? Do I have to journal?

Do I have to meditate? I'm like, you literally don't have to do any of that. If you want to, OK, because I feel like a lot of stuff that's happened with the self-help movement is like a lot of people's agency and critical thinking and thinking of themselves, what they really want, has been taken from them.

And that's something that in all of my work and in all of Radically Content I was just like take this as you will. This is what worked for me. This is what has helped me, but please use your own discernment to decide what's best for you because I think this-- we've kind of like disempowered people with all of this self-help stuff.

And speaking of specifically the optimization, it doesn't feel like it's coming from a true, authentic place. It feels like it's coming from this panic to keep up and feel good enough. Yeah, I mean, well, first of all, my hot take is that I think that night owls are an oppressed group.

There is some data to back that up, actually. We tend to think of morning people as being smarter, being more productive, being more reliable. We assign all of these characteristics to it.

And by the way, it is very scientifically demonstrated that different people have different sleep cycles that they just naturally work better at different times. They have different sleep patterns, all that kind of stuff. It has literally nothing to do with how productive or effective you are.

And I am so sick of being treated as-- I'm just taken less seriously because I just don't happen to want to wake up before 8:00 AM. That's just my journey, and I really resent the morning person sort of worship that we have in the professional world. It baffles me.

I hate it so much because also, let's be honest. Plenty of people are getting their asses up at 5:00 AM and doing nothing good with it. So it really doesn't matter when you're up.

It matters what you do. I agree. But I also think one of the things that I've been thinking about a lot lately in a lot of these conversations that we've been having on this season of the podcast is the damage that I think it's done to women collectively to have the paradigm of having it all.

We talked and I did an interview with Eve Rodsky, the author of Fair Play, that was a lot about the really, really unfair position that, particularly, working mothers have been put in with expect it-- being expected to be full time employees and the primary caregivers at home. And we've sort of taken what is objectively a very unfair position to have put working women in and sort of spun it to make it aspirational. And if you're doing this, that's like you're killing the game sweetie.

We should all be sort of imitating you, and I think for me, a huge part of happiness in the past several years is being very clearly, no. I literally can't have it all. No one can.

You can have-- you can choose what you want to have, and you can do those things well. But the more things that you try to do-- like for me, not having children is a very deliberate choice to be like that's not one of the things that I can have if I want to have all these other things. And I'm interested to hear from your perspective, what are the things that you feel like you've chosen for yourself?

And what has the process been for you in saying no to the other things? Yeah, I love that. I love that because, I mean, I say in my book, too, it's like, OK.

Maybe we can have it all, but do we want it all? I mean, I feel like the conversation of what do we want has really lost anything with this whole-- I mean, you say the word-- you said the word so perfectly. It's aspirational.

I am just not a fan of the aspirational lifestyle in general. So I think it's easier for me to parse out what I really want because I'm not getting like sidetracked by what I think I should want because frankly, I don't really care how my life looks to other people. I care how it looks, how it feels to me.

It doesn't matter how it looks to other people. I don't care what they think of it. I'm the one that has to live my life.

I think sometimes we really forget that, that we're the ones in our life. So our choices are not affecting the person on Instagram that's watching our life from afar. Our choices are affecting ourselves.

So for me at this point, I mean, it's taken a long time to get here, but I'm able to finally, and I've very intentionally done this, able to finally start doing the things that really it's only what makes me excited-- only. And I don't even question it. It's just like does this make me excited?

And I can tell the difference. If something feels heavy with obligation, I have to have the conversation with myself of like do I have to do this? And if I do, then, of course, I'll do it.

I'll find a way to figure it out. But if I don't have to, I'm really-- there's nothing in me that's creating that tension of, well, I should do this because it'll look good to others. I used to do that in some ways, I mean, not like fully.

I always had kind of a rebellion about me, but I think it makes it a lot easier when I can be honest with myself. And this is something that I really think is an important thing that we're able to do with ourselves because we're human. Sometimes there are things that say to me, oh, well, that sounds cool.

That'll look really cool to do. And I'm like, Jamie, that's not really what we're about here. It's not like-- that's not my goal.

So I have to be honest with myself, and when I am, I recognize when something feels really true and authentic to me. And then I'm like, OK, that makes sense. I'll go for that.

And it actually has simplified my life quite a bit because all the space that I was using to kind of do things that I thought other people were doing or I should do or my path should look like someone else's, I've just really been very honest and accepting of where I'm at and what my path is. Yeah. It's interesting that you mention the social media aspect of it, which I think for a lot of people is where you get into the most trouble in terms of needing to do things for how they're perceived versus how they feel or how they impact your own life.

I think what is undeniable is that it is completely unique in all of human history to both be exposed to and expose yourself to such a large number of people. Like even people who do not have public facing platforms like you or I do, even just the hundreds of friends that they collect on social media through the years, that is not a realistic representation of who is important in your life or who is valid or who's-- sorry, or whose opinion on you is something you really want to take into account. For most people, the people whose opinions of you genuinely matter are a small handful.

And so even if you're just sort of living a quote, unquote "everyday" existence on social media, you're automatically amplifying the number of people whose lives you have to be aware of and who are aware of your lives by at least tenfold for most people. And it's interesting because I-- like you, social media is a big part of what I do, and we each kind of have a bespoke set of rules for how we engage with it and how we do it. And I personally feel that we talk a lot about the struggle that social media can be, and I don't say this to be self-congratulating, but I genuinely don't really struggle with social media in my life and the role that it plays mostly because I just extremely curate what I see on there down to a very limited number of things.

But I can easily understand why, and in the past it also has been for me, something that was a net negative for my mental health and was probably not pushing me in healthy or sustainable directions. So I would love to hear from you how social media, in particular, and using the internet fits into your model of what it means to be radically content. Yeah, I mean, social media is a big part of it because I think there's always-- like you said, there's always been times.

There's the keeping up with the Joneses. There's a whole thing. There's always been this.

If it wasn't social media, it was your neighbors. It was this. That being said, we're in an unprecedented time where we're being exposed to people's achievements and highlight reels and all the things in a way that we never have experienced before.

I think that what you said is exactly what I do. I have extreme boundaries around social media. I curate my feed.

It's really interesting how the moment that I just mute something or unfollow an account, I suddenly-- those feelings just completely go away. I think sometimes I used to feel kind of stubborn about that, like, well, then that means that I have to avoid certain things. It's like then I have to avoid certain things.

So what? There's just certain things. I don't need to be exposed to people who have an exponentially larger amount of money than I have.

To me, that's not inspiring. I have to the difference for myself between something that's inspiring me versus something that's like too aspirational that it's making me feel bad about myself. And it's not something that I can realistically change in the moment.

So I think that I just have a lot more boundary around it, probably. I mean, I would say for both of us, the reason that we both have that is because we've been online a long time. True.

And because we're public figures online and have public platforms, it becomes even more, I guess, like imperative to have a more solid relationship with it because I really-- like to me, social media is work. And I'm not saying that in a bad way. I enjoy it.

It's just it's a part of the job that because of that, if I have boundaries around other parts of my job, I have to have boundaries around that, too. And I really look for places on social media where I feel heard and understood and where I'm not using social media to constantly feel bad about myself. But I guess that's also, if I'm going a little bit deeper, that's a reflection of where I'm at in my mental health and my current situation with myself, which is I'm not constantly finding ways to harm myself.

Whereas, in the past, when I wasn't in as good of a place mentally, I would go on social media in this weird, perverse thing of trying to find things to make me feel worse about myself, which I'm like, this is a weird phenomenon that I-- I mean, that I'm sure other people do. But I definitely did that. And so now it's just I kind of know my place with it.

And in that sense, it doesn't have as much of a hold over me. I don't really-- I mean, I used to feel-- I think before I published my book, I used to definitely get a lot of comparison issues, and I did struggle with jealousy and things like that. And it just-- I just had to mute people.

I just had to kind of get them out of my space. I mean, there's been certain people where I've literally told them I had to mute you. I'm sorry.

I-- or I had to unfollow you. I couldn't do it, and that's OK. And I've had people say that to me to my face, and that's OK.

The comparison thing is so real. I definitely had to make a big mental shift in the past few years of like there's two categories of comparison and envy. And I think-- and I do try to go out of my way to say as much as I can on a professional basis, like nine times out of 10 you are-- no one is your competition.

And on the rare occasions where you literally do have direct competition, you're almost certainly not aware of who those people are. There are other people being considered for a job or like when we get RFPs for TFD, other media companies are also going in for that same advertising contract. And we'll never know who got it unless we stalk the campaign which has happened.

But for the most part, the times that you are truly in direct competition with someone are few and far between, and you often don't know who they are. And for the rest of it, the vast majority of things that you could see yourself professionally as being threatened by or as being in competition with you, either there's space enough for both of you, which there-- is usually the answer. Or in some ways, they're creating more space for whatever it is that you do.

I used to be very sensitive about other people in the personal finance game who I felt were similar, and I was like-- but then I realized at a certain point, if they're successful, that just means more ad dollars are coming to this sector. So I think that there's-- and if there's someone whose work you really admire, like I recently read a book where I was like, this writing just makes me so envious of them in a certain way. And I think that there are ways to use that positively.

I reached out to the woman, and I was like I absolutely love this, and I sough more work out. So I think that there is-- it can be-- once you get rid of the zero sum mentality about it, I think there are ways to healthily follow people who you have maybe not envy but admiration for. And then I think there's the hate follow stuff, which I used to do a lot more, where there's a very specific category of people who are successful who I don't think do so using scrupulous means.

They plagiarize. They don't pay people fairly. They cut a lot of corners on their business.

They maybe give bad advice. They take money from really shady enterprises. Trust me when I say that the PF world, I have muted and unfollowed so many people who were shilling crypto because I was like, I don't care what else you're offering.

The fact that you're pimping crypto to your followers as a personal finance guru, to me it's like you're done. There's nothing to be gained now by seeing you thrive. It's only going to make me feel bitter and upset at what certain people are able to do and succeed.

So I think parsing out in your mind the reasons why you feel certain ways for certain people, at least for me, has been very important. But in terms of the-- so there's the professional side of it, and then there's also the personal side of it. And I'm interested, do you have a different process for how you use these things on both a professional and a personal level?

As someone whose professional and personal lives are so blended to an extent, and your personal brand is such a part of what you do, how do you separate those things out, and what are the different rules that you keep for those two different things? Oh, that's a good question. I mean, I think what I do-- I mean, I really have kind of like-- I don't know that I think of it too consciously.

There's just certain things that I'm like, it's private. I don't want to share every single part of myself. And I also think what's happening right now, I mean, personally I'm in a little bit of a transition because I am going into writing novels.

That's what I want my main focus to be over the next however many years. So for me, that's actually a little bit easier because writing novels, I don't-- it's not really about me. I'm kind of leaving a little bit of the focus on me and my personal brand and personal life behind.

Not completely at all, I still love to share what's going on in my life. But I-- there's so much that I don't share, like so much. But I share like what I'm working on creatively.

That feels really good to me. That doesn't feel like I have overstepped even my own boundaries. And I share sometimes what I'm doing with friends and what I'm doing with my family or anything, but I don't want to ever feel like I'm constantly exploiting my personal life for social media content.

And I think that's really helped me is that I don't think of my social media as content. I mean, I'm fine-- other people do-- how anyone does it, but for me that humanizes the experience. So I don't really think of my life as content.

I think of there's certain things that I'm sharing that I feel good about sharing, and the moment that I start going, oh, I should share this for content, that's when I kind of pull back. I think it's just having self awareness. Everything you're saying about the comparison, I completely agree.

There are certain comparisons that actually led me to figure out what I wanted. The reason I'm writing novels is because I was so jealous of people that were publishing novels. And I was like, that's a signal, and I got less jealous when I started working on a first draft.

That-- because that really helped me recognize that sometimes I get jealous and have that comparison come up because it's calling me in a little bit to myself. Totally. It's like you're not doing the thing.

You can't really be jealous if you're not actually doing the thing that this other person is doing. And I've really noticed that there's a really big difference between people who are doing things and people who are kind of like sideline critiquers, and I always wanted to be the person that's doing things. I spent a lot of time in my 20s talking about the things that I wanted to be doing instead of actually doing them, and now I don't let myself talk about anything I'm going to do unless I'm doing it.

I don't get to talk about it. I don't to get that adrenaline rush. Yeah, one day I'm going to do this.

I'm like, no. You get to only talk about it if you're working on it currently. Action is much more important to me than thinking and-- I mean, thinking is good if it's like leading to action.

So I think all of that just is like-- I'm just able to parse out when I'm getting inspired, when I'm not. And I think I'm also just able to, after years of experience, years of testing out certain things, I kind of know where my boundaries are when it comes to what I talk about. And I think in my mind, I have a few things in my personal brand that I'm OK sharing.

When it kind of leads back to, I want to show people what it's really like to have a creative life. I want people to see that. For me, it's really important to show the effort that goes into it.

I really-- there's no part of me that wants anyone to think that my life is effortless because it's so not. It's constant effort to have a positive outlook. It's constant effort to be mentally well and to be emotionally well and physically well.

This takes every single day effort, to publish books, it is an every single day effort. And so I think that's where I really-- when I can show that there was effort that was put into something, not in any kind of like-- I'm not trying to be like a martyr about it, but I just want people to see and know that the life that you want, you can build it. But this idea, and it goes back to that aspirational, I'm not trying to sell something aspirational.

I'm trying to say it does take effort. It does take taking action. You have to be honest with yourself.

I mean, that's something that's always-- that I've always loved about your work, Chelsea. Oh, thank you. I mean, there's no-- you do not try to make anything look effortless, and I appreciate that so much.

I've always appreciated that about you. And I think that that's so important because especially for women, we need to see-- because we-- I think we know that it's not effortless, but we get sold that idea so much that it actually makes us think that when something feels difficult or you have comparison or jealousy or something, you have a difficult feeling, you're doing it wrong. Oh, I'm doing it wrong.

Oh, no. I have to stop. And it's like no that's part of the process.

That's part of it. Totally. You're going to be upset.

You're going to get rejected. You're going to get disappointed. So what?

You keep going. That's the part. That's the effort that it takes.

I think-- totally. I think that the conflation of effortless and authenticity does a lot of damage because I do think that there's this weird perception that whatever comes most naturally to you or whatever takes the least amount of effort is the most authentic version of yourself. I feel very-- and thank you for the kind words, but I genuinely have always felt that my most authentic self takes a lot of effort.

I am feeling my most confident, my most realized, my most empowered, my most all of those things when I put a lot of effort in on all different fronts of my life. And I think that there are people for whom that's not the case. And that's great, too, but I think that it's important to remember that the things that can bring you the most satisfaction and joy in life are often the things that are the least natural to you and take the most effort and bring you the most outside of your comfort zone.

And there's nothing wrong about that. And I think that there's-- we really kind of-- we were talking about in the office today, actually, like the sort of cult of effortlessness, this idea that you, especially as women, we're sort of under this dual pressure to be perfect but without looking as if we ever tried. And it's sort of gauche to look like you really care too much or you're putting in too much effort on something.

And I really reject that, and I think it's incredibly damaging and prevents a lot of what otherwise would have been huge growth. Something I talk about sometimes on my personal channels and even on TFD sometimes is like learning languages. I personally have been going through the journey of learning a third language the past two years.

It's been one of my biggest focuses. It is embarrassing. Let me tell you the number of times that I have looked stupid having saying things that I didn't mean to say, messing things up, like literally shaking with nerves because I was trying to do something in a social situation that I wasn't quite ready for.

There are so many people, especially being a native English speaker, relatively few native English speakers learn a second or third language. And I think a lot of it comes down to the fact, well, A, it's a dominant language, so it's easy not to. But also, I think people have a real fear and anxiety about the process of learning or not looking perfect at something and putting themselves in that vulnerable place of possibly embarrassing themselves.

And I think about how many people die wishing that they had learned another language or wishing that they had gone and traveled to this place where they felt nervous to travel to because they didn't want to look stupid or out of place. And I'm like, the number of things that we deny ourselves in life because we're afraid of looking silly or having to try really hard is really sad to me, honestly. That's so well said.

I completely agree. I mean, I think sometimes I do things that I don't even realize is-- it takes courage or it takes effort. Because at this point, I don't expect my life to be effortless, so it just is like, yeah, this is going to be annoying.

Or I mean, for example, you're talking about languages. Yeah, I completely get that. I mean, I'm in France, and I don't really-- I kind of speak the language, but I mean, I try.

I don't care. I'm like, yeah, I'm going to at least give it a shot. And I feel stupid, but who cares?

I mean, if someone judges me, it's like-- and the other thing is I would never judge someone else. My husband didn't speak English when we first met. I was never like-- what an idiot for not knowing English.

I was like, cool. He's trying. I think it's really cool.

And that's what-- speaking of, I mean, that's what kept me from writing books for so long, especially novels, because I was like, what if it sucks? Yeah. And the thing is is that the first draft usually does suck, and that's-- Totally.

That was the most liberating thing. It wasn't, oh, I finally waited 50 years until I was a good enough writer, whatever that means, and finally got up the courage to do it. It was like I finally just realized the first draft, it's allowed to suck.

And you can just write it, get it out of your head, and editing is an amazing tool. It makes it so much better. And I-- because of that, I mean, I've written like three drafts of novels this year because I was just like, so what?

I get an idea. Let me just try it, see where it goes. If it sucks, I make it better in editing, or I throw it in the trash.

It doesn't matter. I think that has been a very liberating thing for me because I was that person where I was like, if I'm not good at something right away, I don't want to do it, and I I'm scared. And I've realized, in taking action so much, I really feel like we honestly completely under appreciate how much you get better at things so much faster than we think.

Oh, yeah. Just doing something consistently, it's like you improve so much faster than you could ever imagine. You think, oh, it's going to take so long.

There's this huge gap between where I need to be and where I am, and it's like, yeah, but once you start closing that gap, you don't even notice any of the other things. You've just got to do it. Like jump in, look stupid, go to the place, book the ticket, start the draft because I just-- I think life is not about being afraid of those things, especially when there are things like, for example, learning a language.

Initially, you're not just like suddenly going to Spain and speaking and you know. Like you learn it with yourself, and you learn it as-- so it's like there's no stakes, even. You're just-- and yet we make these stakes in our mind.

And I find that really sad because I think of all the potential we lose, especially-- and we're going back to women-- especially with women who have been taught that if they look stupid or if they look like they're making an effort or if they seem like they want something too much, it's not cool, or it's not chic or something. And it's like, I just feel the complete opposite. When I see women working hard and trying and doing the thing even when it's really difficult and standing up to their fear, that inspires me way more.

I feel like we often lose the calculus that I feel like is so important to make with all of these decisions is how does this serve me? What am I getting out of this? I would love to hear about yours.

So like, for example, with your book, we had a long, long awesome phone call recently about book stuff. And you had told me, because I was going through your book's website for Radically Content, and I was like, this website is nice as hell. I imagine your publisher probably didn't do that.

And you were like, no. I totally built it myself because I wanted it to look a certain way, and you are a designer. But I'm interested to hear like especially doing so many different things, how you make the cost benefit analysis of I'm giving my time to this because I know I'm going to get X or Y back.

I mean, that's exactly what I do, and I'm honest with myself. I think that's probably the big difference. I mean, I'm just-- I'm doing this because it's going to bring in X amount of money.

That's going to give me X amount of runway. I mean, I'm kind of coming out of a time where since-- God, 2003, no, 2009-- I've been working hourly for clients. I mean, not hourly, but project-based stuff as a designer, and I'm now in the position where I'm finally like that's less of the ratio.

So I think of-- actually, the way that I think of my life or my career, especially, is like a pie chart. So I have 100% of the pie to do what I want with it. And I don't think of it as time.

I don't think I have eight hours in the day. I think I have a certain amount of creative energy in the day. So I have to give that.

I have to spread that around in the pie. And so there's certain things that at certain times-- for example, in April, like before April and around April when Radically Content was coming out, 80% of the pie was social media and promo stuff. That was just how it was, and then I shifted it.

Once the book came out, it was like, OK, now I have more of the pie of my time and creative energy to use on other things. And there's-- and I just say to myself there are certain things that have to be in the pie because they're logistically going to and practically-- very practical-- practically going to give me runway. I have a course, so selling a digital course is some passive income where I can like free up some of my days to use for the things that are not-- that's more of like a future, long term, like writing novels.

That's like I got a book deal for my novel, and it doesn't come out for 18 months. It comes out next fall. So it's like I have to know that that's something I'm working on concurrently with the other things, and that's part of the pie, too.

And that there's a certain amount of the pie that's going to go to social media, but I also don't want to overstate the importance of that part, too, because I also-- I'm a very big proponent of I don't want to just put all my time and energy into social media, and then I haven't done the deep, long-term work of writing books, for example. I can't be on social media five hours a day and be making content and all of that for five hours a day and also write books. That's the same brain and the same creative energy, so I can't be doing all of that at once.

So it all comes down to that. I mean, there are certain things that I feel like, OK, this is long term project that I need to be consistent at, which is like writing books, and then there's other things that are more immediate and urgent, which is like logistically making money, making sure that there's enough to sustain a certain amount of months and things like that. I just kind of think of it like that, and I don't get it messy.

I think where it gets messy and people have a hard time thinking more practically that way is when there's a real like emotional, like this feeling that their-- someone's worth is dictated by their work. And so it's like you have a really hard time distinguishing what you need in a practical sense when the amount of money you make is on-- is attached to your self worth or how many followers you have on social media. You can't really-- if your self worth is dependent on how many followers you have on social media, you really don't have a lot of objectivity to think of social media, for example, in a way that is like divorced from the emotion of it.

And so I've really tried to take the emotion out of it. I believe no matter how much money I have, no matter what I've achieved, no matter what's coming, what's going, what's this, that I am completely worthy. I don't even need to-- it's not dependent on that.

So then, that taken care of, like that to me is that radically content foundation. I'm good. I'm good as I am.

I'm good enough, I'm worthy. I'm more than enough, actually. I don't even need to be just good enough.

That's the foundation. Then I can be more practical with my time and energy and think of things like you're saying in this cost benefit analysis. Is this worth my time?

Is this serving me but it's really hard when, like if I said all of my self worth is dependent on whether my book does a certain thing, I don't-- I can't do a cost benefit analysis. I can't think clearly. I'm in the emotional state of it, which it feels a lot more chaotic.

So I think it's really important even more so. That was really important for me to take all of my worth out of my career. I can get excited.

I can have pride in what I do. I can feel a lot of things. But there are certain things right now that I look at that I have in the future plan that's like-- it's all things with books and doing a movie based on my book and all this stuff.

It all takes a long time. But if my worth was dedicated to all of that, I'd be in a much different emotional place. I wouldn't be able to really think clearly.

Yeah. It's really tough to decouple your self worth from these external markers, especially professionally. Although, I think it infects every part of our life, but I think professionally-- and there are a lot of industries that trade in prestige and trade in clout and trade in perception.

Half the media industry is always on strike because they're getting paid nothing and yet are treated as if they should feel grateful to work there because to be able to say that they work at this place should be in and of itself an honor. And, obviously, that's why there's no working class people in media, but that's a whole other story. But-- We know how that's supposed to go.

Yeah, this is a dream job. You should be happy that we even want you. But I'd like a paycheck, too.

Yeah. It's like I'd love to be able to maybe own a home someday, but-- so there is that part of it. And I think there's also, when it comes to the effort that we're putting in, one of the reasons why I really like learning about investing and talking about investing is because it really-- the most fundamental principles of investing for long term wealth building, retirement, et cetera, go against the very human instinct that the more you work on something, the better the result will be.

The best process to invest is just to contribute consistently and to let it go and to not mess with it and to not try to adjust your strategy based on what the market is doing. And I think that is an exercise that for people really goes against their nature, especially when the market is in a big downturn like right now. And just kind of learning to ride it out and also learning to-- learning that more does not mean better in terms of effort and that often over delivering, like in the case of a lot of professional jobs, if you're the person who's answering emails at 9:00 PM and on the weekends, now you've just created a situation.

You're probably not actually accomplishing anything above and beyond what you already would have, but now you've just created a situation in which if you ever start to stop, if you ever stop answering emails at 9:00 PM or on a Saturday, people are like, well, what the hell? Like you used to be the go-to guy for that. And so I think for us, at TFD, we went to a four-day day work week 18 months ago, and every metric has been up, and we do-- we're more productive.

We didn't do any pay cuts or anything. And a lot of it comes down to the fact that for most professional jobs, you actually don't even work 40 hours in a 40-hour work week. You're on your email.

You're surfing the internet. You're reading an article. You're talking to someone.

There's just no need to be putting in as much effort as we often do, and I think it's very, very difficult for people to, especially if they're in a professional capacity where overworking yourself is rewarded or expected, to decouple themselves from the idea that the act of doing more will always manifest in better. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I feel like we would all be better off if we learn to work smarter and not harder because, I mean, that has benefited me.

That was like the biggest thing when I started my own company back in 2009. I was-- I felt like I was cheating. I was like, wait.

I don't need to-- because I had done that where it was eight hour days, and most of the time I was on Gchat just like back in the Gchat days. Most of the time I was on Gchat just chatting away, not even-- like I'd finish my work in a few hours, and then I'd just sit there not knowing what else to do. It wasn't like I was procrastinating or anything.

I was just done. And when I started my own company, I would just work a few hours in the day, probably max four hours. That would max out my creative energy because that would be like four hours of focused work, not four hours of half Gchat and half piddling around, and I'd be like, I'm good.

I'm done. And then I would-- so there were times-- many, many times at the beginning of starting my own business-- when I would just sit at my computer for eight hours because I felt like I should. I was like, oh, no.

What does this mean? My worth, what am I doing? And then now, obviously, I don't really do that because I'm like I know what this is all about.

But I completely agree. I mean, there's so many industries, so many places that they manipulate this, and they manipulate people into thinking that their jobs are all of their worth. And I just would probably encourage people to really understand that there's a way to engage with that without buying into it.

And, I mean, I'm very-- I think a lot of people are waking up to this, like you were talking about, the quiet quitting. There's going to be-- there's already a shift coming, and there's going to continue to be a shift. I think 2020 really changed a lot of that for people where it was like I can do my work in peace and just be done, and I don't have to just sit at a computer in a cubicle for eight hours a day.

So I think there's been a lot of changes. It's going to maybe get worse before it gets better, but I think right now we're in a time where things are definitely shifting. And I love to see it because this was a lot of what I was experiencing for 10 years before anyone else. 2020 was my year.

I was living for it. Everybody was like, how do you work from home? What do you do?

And I'm like, finally. Finally, people, like I've been waiting for this. All the people that would always be like, oh, wow.

It's so great to be you. You work at home in your pajamas. And I'm like, yeah, it wasn't as easy as you thought huh?

It takes-- but yeah, I think that there's been a good amount of shifts. And I just think in general, any time we can really decouple our worth from the things that have a lot of external stuff attached to it that's not really like controllable, like we don't know how our bosses are going to respond to us. I mean, I used to have all my worth-- like if a client liked what I did, I can't do that.

And it doesn't-- I think also people might think, oh, that will make my work-- like I won't work as well. And it's like, no I think you work better. You work better when you don't have your worth attached to it.

You can have a lot more of like a sort of good, healthy distance from something that's not supposed to be the end all, be all of like our worth as human beings and our existence as humans. Well, I have so enjoyed this conversation, as I knew that I would. And for people who would love to learn more about being radically content, where can they find your book?

Yeah, I have the website You can find me and on all the social media platforms, @JamieVaron. We love that you got that domain name.

It's a good domain. Yeah, I got it. I got it locked down.

Publisher did not do that. That was me. Girl, we have to have a separate chat that's just about dragging publishers, but anyway.

Thank you so much, Jamie, for being here, and thank you guys all for tuning in. And I will see you next week on an all new episode of The Financial Confessions. Bye.