When you’re stuck, just write…

I read a quote recently that said something like,

“When you’re stuck, just sit down with a notepad and start writing… your brain has things it wants to say even if you don’t know what they are.”

If I had read it last week I probably would have laughed as it sounds so ridiculous, haha, but interestingly I experienced exactly this the other day and it completely changed my trajectory :)

I had arrived at the coffee shop as I always do in the morning, but rather than crack open another book or laptop or any other number of ways to occupy myself, this day I wasn’t feeling any of it. Instead, I sat there with coffee in my hands, bored, wondering what to do with myself. Then, randomly, something inside me said to just take out a pad of paper and start writing… anything at all. I opened up my bag to pull out an old pad of paper, and scrawled up at the top was:

“CHANGE IT UP.”

I must have written it over a year ago based on the notes around it, but I immediately started nodding my head and giving my past self some mad credit…

“Yes!! You said it, J$!”

“That’s exactly what I need to do right now: change it up! You are The Man!!” lol…

I flipped to a fresh new page and began writing whatever flowed out of my head not knowing where it would lead… (remember that quote above??)

Here’s what I ended up with:

ideas

The first chunk of ideas my brain pushed out centers around “learning” more and jobs I’ve always thought were cool, then moves to more fun/hobbyesque/mission-centered ideas, and then eventually to the essence of what I believe my heart was *truly* telling me to do more of in that instant: put more GOOD into the world.

Interestingly I had just spent an hour helping people online the day before, and it seems my brain was trying to bring it back up yet again despite me not being smart enough to catch it on my own ;)

I then tried to focus on my main superpowers, to help narrow it down more. This resulted in the following:

super powers

Time. Curiosity. People. Wow… I had never described myself like that before! And the more I reflected on it, the more true it felt in this current season of my life. I do have a lot of free time on my hands right now for the first time in, well, ever. And I AM super curious no matter what we’re taking about! And then of course I just love people… even the haters, bless their hearts.

It also made more sense then as to why I like to tweet out when I have a free hour and ask if anyone needs help with anything. Something about the immediate impact of helping people, coupled with never knowing *exactly* what I’ll be working on is so oddly alluring. And let me tell you, randomly throwing out these questions brings out some fascinating requests, haha…

Here are a few of them from last week:

  • “Do I drive the old car or the new car for normal use? Old car is on its last legs but gas is cheaper for it (grade and mpg).”
  • “I haven’t had a job interview in 10 years, but I have one today at 5:15 p.m. Any advice from experience on interviewing? Specifically, is there a weird question that you have been asked in an interview?”
  • “Any tips on connecting with other people who are enthusiastic on making money online/sidehustles? I’m in a group with bunch of entrepreneurs but the owner is always “too busy with my business” to post content for us and I don’t have anyone in real life who isn’t content with a 9-5.”
  • “Tips for my website? Still learning but having fun with it :)”

I’ve also been asked to help cheer people up in the past, offer guidance with their investments, or even give movie recommendations (my two faves currently are “The Swimmers” on Netflix and “The Pez Outlaw“). Of course, I’m far from being an expert on any of these, but I do make it my mission to fulfill these requests the best I can and it’s always so fun and rewarding.

It also got me thinking…

What would happen if I did this in real life?? Like, what if I just rolled up into places and told them I have an hour to spare and would like to help them with whatever they need right now? Would it work? Would I be similarly fulfilled? Would they laugh and point and think I’m a psycho? 😂

My online friends of course trust and know me well, but to the rest of the world I’m a total stranger… and one with a mohawk at that, which does me no favors at all here, lol…

But the second I got this in my head I became enthralled with it and came up with all the reasons I should try it. It looked like this (I’ll spare you the chicken scratch this time):

  • Easy way to volunteer fast
  • No pressure for anyone!
  • No clue what I’ll be working on, which is exciting
  • Get to meet a ton of new people!
  • 100% flexible (I can offer my free help anytime I want, 24/7 – or not!)
  • If it sucks, I’ve only committed one hour (and if I’m enjoying myself I can keep going!)
  • Great way to give back to my community I love so much
  • Don’t think it’s ever been done before? I can start something new?
  • I get to learn a lot!
  • It’ll give me more courage (I’m social, but also SUPER shy)
  • It’ll forever be a “story” I can tell
  • It’s a fun experiment!

Then of course, it could very much fail:

  • People probably won’t trust me or even believe me?
  • They’ll think I’m weird or up to something, haha…
  • They’ll probably give me $hit work to do! 😂
  • Also maybe a liability issue on their side?
  • I’ll probably have to go through proper training or paperwork or something first?
  • Maybe an hour won’t be long enough to help…
  • They’ll just say no and it will be a huge waste of time…

(I quickly crossed out that last one because I don’t think you can EVER go wrong acting out of love, even if you’re rejected… Just asking to help makes it a WIN right out the gate no matter what the answer is! Which is another reason to try it out!)

I stared at these notes for around 20 seconds and immediately had two thoughts:

  1. THIS is what I was called to do right now in my life… It all makes so much sense!!
  2. No more *thinking* and writing down lists. Go out right now and TAKE ACTION.

I was so moved that I packed up my bag, walked out the front door of the coffee shop, and headed straight to the first place I saw before I had a chance to change my mind… And holy $hit was I scared!!!!

I’ll tell you all about what happened next…

Tomorrow ;)

UPDATE: Tomorrow is here: Operation Give Back IRL: The Results!

XOXO,

j. money signature

PS: Here were some of the “pitches” I drafted up during my brainstorming session…which completely went out the window once I opened up my mouth 😂

“Hello! Y’all need help with anything? I’m working on volunteering more and have a free hour.”

“Hi! Question for you – I’m on a mission to volunteer and give back more to the community and I love your shop. Is there anything I can help you with? I have a free hour.”

“Hi! Question for you – I’m trying to give back to the community more and I have a free hour. Is there anything I can help y’all with?”

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29 Comments

  1. Christina February 2, 2023 at 9:27 AM

    Looking forward to hearing about how your adventures in volunteering went!

    Reply
    1. J. Money February 2, 2023 at 4:00 PM

      It’s going to be juicy!

      Reply
  2. Ornery Owl February 2, 2023 at 9:33 AM

    I live in a tiny rural community which is one of the poorest in my state. If you don’t mind driving a little, you might scout out tiny towns in the boonies and contact the town hall and local churches. You’ll find there are a lot of people who need things done but can’t afford to hire anyone to do them. For instance, someone like me, who is on the young side of elderly but disabled, has a porch in need of repair and a coat of stain.
    In the city and suburban areas, you could also contact programs like United Way. They always need volunteers.

    Reply
    1. J. Money February 2, 2023 at 4:18 PM

      Ahhhh great advice, thank you! I like the idea of hitting up the smaller towns vs United Way and the like just because it feels more *personal* and can help faster and more directly :)

      Where do you live? Actually, I’ll email you… I want to learn more about your situation 👊

      Reply
    1. J. Money February 2, 2023 at 4:18 PM

      Haha thanks! Every now and then lightning will strike ;)

      Reply
  3. Amanda February 2, 2023 at 10:33 AM

    This is awesome. I am sure it will bring more joy into your life. Can’t wait to read how it went.

    Reply
    1. J. Money February 2, 2023 at 4:31 PM

      It’s been amazing so far :) My life has been so different this past week!

      Reply
  4. Zach February 2, 2023 at 10:53 AM

    I love this. And from your writing style and what I know about you through social media, you are definitely personable enough to make this work.

    You helped me out the other week with my interview, and you did not even know me. (FYI – my second interview went very well Monday, and I was told I should hear something by Friday!)

    I am excited to read tomorrow’s post on how it went!!

    Reply
    1. J. Money February 2, 2023 at 4:31 PM

      AWESOME!!!!!

      Cheering you on over here man – it’s such a FUN position too!! Appreciate all the kind words 🙏

      Reply
  5. CeliaJ February 2, 2023 at 11:13 AM

    Question? As you age, is it safer to keep your home or rent an apartment in a senior community? I think about if you live long enough and spend all your $ then Medicaid lets you have a house but you could be kicked out of an apartment if you can’t pay…… especially if you can as a couple but the couple becomes only one. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. J. Money February 2, 2023 at 4:44 PM

      Hi CeliaJ!

      Excellent question, and not one I have ever pondered before :) I feel like living in a *community* in general always does you good no matter how old you are, but especially if you’re older and need to rely on people more.

      I’m not sure how the buying/renting stuff works in terms of Medicaid, but you always read stories on the people who are most active and have the most friends live longer – and happier – so based on that alone I will 100% be living with other elderly people myself when I get to that age :) I feel like it’s college all over again, except only the fun parts! Lol….

      Reply
  6. Barbara February 2, 2023 at 11:35 AM

    I love every part of this…and that you shared it!!! Oh, and the suspense …. :-)

    Reply
    1. J. Money February 2, 2023 at 4:35 PM

      Haha I’m glad!! It’s been such a big part of my life this past week that I felt like I had to share if I’m going to keep being open and honest on this blog… Even though it only kinda sorta not really relates to finance, lol…

      Reply
  7. Impersonal Finances February 2, 2023 at 1:09 PM

    What a breakthrough! Always look forward to these updates and this didn’t disappoint. I watched the Stutz documentary by Jonah Hill on Netflix and loved what he had to say about how writing helps you discover your own thoughts:

    Nobody knows what’s in their unconscious unless they activate it. And one trick is writing. It’s really a magical thing. Writing is like a mirror that reflects what’s going on in your unconscious. Things will come out, if you write, that you didn’t know. You enhance your relationship with yourself by writing something simple.

    Cheers to you for writing it out!

    Reply
    1. J. Money February 2, 2023 at 4:38 PM

      AHHHH!!! THAT MUST HAVE BEEN WHERE I SAW THAT QUOTE!!!!

      I was racking my brain trying to remember and couldn’t figure it out for the life of me! Thanks man! Just finished up that documentary yesterday and completely agree – brilliant movie and tools shared in it… I really didn’t care for Jonah Hill much but boy do I feel different about him now… He’s so smart!! And love the relationship those two have together :)

      Reply
  8. Loui February 2, 2023 at 1:24 PM

    Love the idea j$ of an hour of free work!!!

    I have always seen being an apprentice as a hidden super power, where you can learn a ton, in just 30 days.

    But love the minimalistic approach with just an hour.

    Think I might steal the idea for a topic for my new youtube channel!

    Reply
    1. J. Money February 2, 2023 at 4:39 PM

      Please do!!!

      And then come back and tell me how it went :) It really spices up life for everyone involved 💪

      Reply
  9. Donna Freedman February 2, 2023 at 7:48 PM

    Sometimes you have to be READY to listen to what your unconscious (and your heart) already knows.

    Can’t wait to hear about your next adventure.

    Reply
    1. J. Money February 3, 2023 at 9:52 AM

      That’s very much true too. It’s possible my brain has been telling me this for ages and only recently got smart enough to listen to it 😁

      Reply
  10. Jim February 2, 2023 at 11:04 PM

    J, that’s a fabulous idea about helping those in need out for an hour. You could then create a whole youtube channel out of it, with a go fund me account where people could donate to your cause and then you get to distribute the funds to whoever you think is in the most need. I’d tune in and donate!

    Reply
    1. J. Money February 3, 2023 at 9:58 AM

      YES!! We actually had a fund like that years ago (LoveDrop.org) and it was amazing…

      I’ll have to sit down and really think about how to amplify this even more as the dust settles here, but would love to tie it back into the online world more to expand the goodness where it makes sense. Thanks for the note!

      And will 100% take you up on that donation offer if you’re serious about it? :) We can always do it in a makeshift way on the side for now – like maybe $20/mo which I pull together with my own $ and continue doing The Good?

      I def. miss bigger projects like this – it would be cool to revamp one from over 10 years ago but tweaked for more modern times…

      (And love your 100 mile swimming challenge btw – that’s a good one! And fun to think about with the cities like that!)

      Reply
      1. Jim February 3, 2023 at 8:05 PM

        Yes, I’d definitely donate, count me in! BTW, thanks for the mention on my swim challenge, so far so good, gotta log 8.3 miles a month. I have to tip my cap to you, b/c it all stems from your push up challenge! You inspired me Bro!

        Reply
        1. J. Money February 6, 2023 at 11:02 AM

          Love it!! 🙏🙏

          Reply
  11. Debbie February 3, 2023 at 5:33 AM

    The Universe is a funny thing. You were inspired and took a step toward your goal. I’m betting you found something/someone to help. And I am also betting that you will suddenly find more and more. That is how it works when one takes inspired action and stays open to however it will unfold. Good for you for wanting to help others. Very honorable.

    Reply
  12. Sweha Hazari April 28, 2023 at 3:54 PM

    I always thought I was quirky to be addressing strangers reading my blog as friends. Until I stumbled upon your blog!

    I love your rambling writing style, and based on that, I feel your creative energy will make your volunteering stint a super hit.

    Looking forward to reading more about your life!

    Reply
  13. Lila May 4, 2023 at 6:28 AM

    Just read your post, and I gotta say, it’s a total mood lifter! I love how you just went with the flow and started writing whatever came to mind. It’s amazing what can happen when we let our brains take the wheel, right?

    Reply

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