Jillian Johnsrud is a speaker and coach within the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early)community. She is also the author of Fire the Haters and achieved financial independence by the age of thirty-two. Jillian helps others chase down a life of intention and adventure on the way to Financial Independence.
Today, Jonathan and Jillian engage in a rich discussion on the power of being intentional, the difference between looking wealthy and actually building wealth, and the importance of maintaining a healthy relationship with work
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01:14 – Jonathan introduces today’s guest, Jillian Johnsrud, who shares early lessons she learned about money
04:40 – Jillian reflects on marrying early and living off a modest annual salary
06:04 – Looking wealthy vs. actually building wealth
10:44 – Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE)
14:32 – The flexibility that comes from maintaining a low cost of life and maintaining work-life balance
18:15 – The inspiration to write Fire the Haters
20:45 – Finding an incredibly supportive online community and the three distinct sections of Jillian’s book
28:57 – Jillian provides one practice to implement and one to avoid
33:50 – The last thing Jillian changed her mind about and one thing that she would like people to know about her
38:46 – Jonathan thanks Jillian for joining the show and let’s listeners know where to connect with her
“I also had this realization that money gives you options; it gives you choices. And in that moment, I desperately wanted more choices and more options than I thought we had.”(03:25)
“We were not on high earning career trajectories. So, I could look rich or I could be rich. But there wasn’t going to be enough money to do both. It was one or the other. So, we opted to actually build wealth instead of just looking wealthy.”(06:47)
“I define a mini-retirement as any time you step away from your 9-5 for a month or longer to focus on something that really matters to you.”(12:07)
“I always internalized this narrative that creative or entrepreneurial work is for other people, for maybe more privileged people, for maybe richer people, for people who don’t need a pay check on Friday…And so I never really pursued it.”(18:47)
“You don’t go through it once and then it’s done. It’s like concentric circles. Every time you grow outside of your comfort zone, there’s a little bit of discomfort there until it becomes familiar and then you grow some more.”(22:32)
“It doesn’t have to be time consuming, but give it an hour a quarter to sit down and to think through, ‘Where do I really want to go? What really matters to me? What’s really important tome? What are my core values?’ Because it becomes like a filter that we can then easily and quickly make other choices with.”(30:14)
“Sometimes work is a little like mint. It’s a little bit invasive and it kind of self cedes. And, if you leave it unchecked, it will spread to the entire box. And the only way you can grow mint outside of a container is to aggressively trim that back constantly; you have to police it. And for me, work is the same way.”(37:34)
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Jonathan DeYoe: Welcome back. On this episode of the Mindful Money Podcast, I’m chatting with Jillian Johnsrud . I expect the episode today to be part inspiration and part education. Jillian is a speaker and a coach within the fire community. She’s the author of Fire the Haters, finding the courage to create online in a, uh, critical world. She has a large family, and they were financially independent by the time she was 32. That’s where the inspiration comes from. Jillian, welcome to the Mindful Money podcast.
Jillian Johnsrud: Thanks so much for having me.
Jonathan DeYoe: So, Jillian, where do you call home?
Jillian Johnsrud: Montana. Yeah, I was born here. We traveled around, lived in DC and overseas for a number of years, but been back in Montana for the last decade.
Jonathan DeYoe: It’s a big state. Where in Montana?
Jillian Johnsrud: Just outside of Glacier National park.
Jonathan DeYoe: Okay. I went to school at Montana State in Bozeman, so I spent four years hiking in the crazies and backpacking in the crazies and around Bozeman, Montana. Great place.
Jillian Johnsrud: Yeah. Awesome.
Jonathan DeYoe: What did you learn about money, finance, entrepreneurship when you were growing up?
Jillian Johnsrud: I grew up in, like, wheat and cattle country. I grew up in the middle of the state, little town called Big Sandy. And, gosh, it is just a hard working community, and I think that effort is a little bit contagious, but I love that community. I think you can pull a lot from your surroundings and pull a lot of good things. In our individual family, we were a little bit on the poor side, right around the poverty line, and my mom was in a relationship that was a little bit unhealthy. And so when I was probably twelve, I just came to her and I was like, listen, we can’t stay here. We can’t do this. This isn’t healthy. It doesn’t feel safe. We have to leave. I don’t care where we go. I don’t care if we live in the crappy little apartment above the grocery store. We have to get out of here. And she is a very practical woman and was just like, I can’t afford to raise three kids on my own. Uh, so I went upstairs and I just cried. I cried hot tears into my pillow. But I also had this realization, like, oh, money gives you options. Oh, it gives you choices. And in that moment, I desperately wanted more choices and more options than I felt we had. And it really set me on this path of, I think I would be defined, uh, in that season of my life as like a super saver. Like, just saving as much money as I could so that I would never be in that spot again.
Jonathan DeYoe: I’m wondering if you said you were twelve. Did you note that lesson when you were twelve or did that lesson hit you later?
Jillian Johnsrud: No, pretty much right then, I had always been. I think my natural personality was a little bit more of a saver. Just having a little bit chaotic of a childhood. Sometimes you find ways to have control and to create your own agency. So I think I’d always internalized that a little bit, but this moment in time really provided that clarity of like, oh, ah, it gives you options. And so I worked all through high school and aggressively saved, saved everything and ended up moving out my junior summer.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. And I want to touch on that because you were in what I read at 19, you were married. Is that right? And then you lived on the first year you were married on $12,000 a year. And this is quite a few years ago, so there’s inflation, but still, that’s a really low number. Can you talk about how that was even possible even back then?
Jillian Johnsrud: Yeah. So, like I had mentioned, I had saved aggressively throughout high school. So when I went to college, I bought a used travel trailer and moved into it. And that was my house. And this was 20 years ago. So this is like, way before tiny homes or van life. Like, it was not cool, nobody was doing, and it was not an attractive trailer. And I tried to paint it. I think I made it worse, but that’s where I lived. And so when my husband and I got married, we moved into student housing for like a month or two. And then I realized we could save, like, $200 a month by just living in the trailer, and so we gave it a go. And so our first year of marriage, we lived in that trailer. And honestly, it was great. I loved it. And it’s funny how things kind of circle back. Now we have five kids at home, and we’re going to travel half the year going forward in a travel trailer. So we’re kind of right back at the beginning, except now with five kids and two bunnies and a cat.
Jonathan DeYoe: Wow. Everyone travels with you when you travel?
Jillian Johnsrud: Whole crew. The whole crew, yeah.
Jonathan DeYoe: You have been very intentional. You’ve put savings first, and you’ve given up on, I think, and maybe you don’t feel as if or sense that you’ve given up, but you’ve given up on some of that spending that I think we get sucked into. So how critical was it that you were intentional and you made that commitment early on?
Jillian Johnsrud: Yeah, that was really hard for me. Like I said, growing up kind of on the poor side, I desperately wanted to not look and feel poor. Like, I kind of had some of that kind of trauma and fear and shame embedded in me, and I just didn’t want to look and feel poor anymore. But I also had this realization that we were not on high earning career trajectories, so I could look rich or I could be rich, but there wasn’t going to be enough money to do both, like, one or the other, pick and choose. And so we opted to actually build wealth instead of just looking wealthy.
Jonathan DeYoe: Was there anything along the path that you were like, you know what? I’m going to give myself this thing, the speed bump to the building of wealth for you?
Jillian Johnsrud: No. There were a number of temptations. There were a number of things I almost gave into. I drove a really crappy car all through high school, and I almost bought, like, a convertible sports car. I wanted it so badly there, and I just wanted to not feel broke and poor, and I didn’t. So I got to buy a travel trailer instead. And still, I have to say.
Jonathan DeYoe: So I did read in your bio that you grew up at the poverty line, as you just said. So I grew up a little bit below that poverty line, and, uh, not a competition, but I did not withhold my spending. So I went to college and I spent money. I bought a nicer car when I graduated from college, and I wasn’t able to do that. That trauma about looking poor and feeling poor, and I was unable to overcome that. And so I ended up doing some stupid things, and I’m very impressed when I meet people that avoid that like you have.
Jillian Johnsrud: I think anyone who’s had that experience, you really have to be intentional about what are the choices that you’re making here. And sometimes even now, I kind of struggle against that. We drive this minivan, that, man, it’s rough. It is in bad shape. We’ve always driven hoopdies, but man, this one’s getting bad. And we had some family come in and they’re like, wow, that vehicle. And I’m like, oh, I know, but I have to say, it’s a lot easier when you have a million in the bank to be like, I drive a crappy vehicle. I did not have that fallback confidence. When I was 19 or 20 or 21, I was like, I’m driving a hoopdy and I’m like 5000 in the bank.
Jonathan DeYoe: But now you could afford it. And now there’s a little bit of, uh. But you don’t. Right. And there’s habit building there which comes out of years and years and years of making better choices. And we talked a little bit briefly about this. My brother died last year. And when my brother died, we both moved from Midwest, South Dakota to Bay area, California. We moved from a place where my parents drove cars where the way that the doors closed in the back was, there was a rope tying them together because they wouldn’t latch. That’s the kind of cars we drove. But we both sort of took on some sort of difficult jobs and made money and we did well. And so we spent money. And when he died, I started questioning all these things that these are lessons that you’re now reteaching me in this, uh, which is just so valuable that you can get off with less, you can do less, and you’re traveling. You said six months a year, right? This next year with the whole family.
Jillian Johnsrud: It’Ll be eight months.
Jonathan DeYoe: That’s wealthy living.
Jillian Johnsrud: Yeah.
Jonathan DeYoe: Wow. How do you do that?
Jillian Johnsrud: Well, we are financially independent, so that helps. And when I do work, I work remotely, which helps. But the trick with traveling with five kids is it takes a lot of practice. And so we started with like two week trips and then six week trips and then eight week trips and then twelve week trips. And we just travel with our kids a lot every year. And you all get better at it. There’s a learning curve. Learning to homeschool them was such a fiasco. And now it’s pretty easy. They figured it out. I figured it out. It’s kind of like having to cook three meals a day. Eventually you just kind of figure it out and it’s background noise.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. So fire, finish. Independent, retire early. And you were independent at 32 and you do comment on retiring early. But then I go to your website and I see your consulting and you’ve got relationship with different brands. And the book was published last year. Looks to me like you’re still working. So what does retirement mean to you? What is this thing called retirement now?
Jillian Johnsrud: So I’m more of a fan. I’m not so much in the camp of like, retire once. Actually, my next book that I’m going to start writing summer next year, some kind of outlining is retire often. Because this kind of one and done retirement, I don’t think it serves us as humans very well. The idea of a mini retirement, taking lots of small breaks throughout our working career to focus on what matters in that moment, to focus on the things that need our time and our attention. So when we started this journey, I really didn’t think we would be financially independent until we were like 60. Like I said, we didn’t pick high earning professions, so I thought 60 was like shooting for the moon. But because I thought we weren’t going to retire for so long that first year, we decided that we would do these mini retirements. So before, in the 1112 years, I guess it took us to become financially independent. 13 years, actually, we had taken like six of them. And I define a mini retirement as anytime you step away from your nine to five for a month or longer to focus on something that really matters to you and it’s so much more accessible, I think pretty much everyone can do it. If you’re a little bit intentional, a little bit thoughtful, even if it’s a break, a little bit of a gap between jobs, I think we all have the opportunity to take at least a couple of, um, them.
Jonathan DeYoe: I’m trying to put this. I think maybe the world is shifting to agree with you, but I think if we went back ten years, pre pandemic, everyone going into the office to go to work, I think it’d be a lot harder to pull off mini retirements without losing career trajectory. Right. But there’s so many creative entrepreneurs now, and creative people are, they can stop, do something for a while and then come back to it. Is that really who you’re speaking to? Are you talking to people that go to the office?
Jillian Johnsrud: I think everyone, yeah, nine to five workers. Like you said, I do a lot of coaching and I mostly coach people through transition times. Whether it’s a mini retirement, retiring early or career switches or whatever, and everyone’s a little worried. Like, if I’m going to have this gap in my resume for six months or a year, how am I going to explain this? Are they going to think, um, I’m undependable or unreliable or flaky? And nine times out of ten, if you have a good story of what you did, if you did something that was interesting and meaningful and exciting, they just want to hear the story. If you’re like, actually, I took six months and me and my dad, we went, hiked Kilimanjaro, and I learned how to cook in Italy. They’re like, that’s amazing. How did you do that? It’s a lot more interesting than just feeling bad about it. If you come into it with kind of that, uh, energy and mindset of, like, I’m really proud what I did, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m glad I did it and I’m glad to be here. Like, I’m excited for this next stage of my career. It’s almost never a problem.
Jonathan DeYoe: I’m working for the office worker for the nine to fiver if that means you have to plan ahead. But you need to find a moment in your career where there’s like, okay, I’m going to advance here, or you have to find that right moment, because I worry today that people don’t. And this is silly. This is silly because I’m going to say I’m worried that people aren’t working hard enough, and you’re saying, no, we should actually take these breaks. So how does your ability to maintain a low cost to your life enable that freedom of travel? And can you do it without that?
Jillian Johnsrud: I mean, yeah, if we spent five times what we spend, we couldn’t afford our lifestyle and we would have to go get very well paying jobs. But there’s a little bit of synergy in that. We rent out our house while we’re gone. So this year we’ll probably rent it for 2000, $2,400. My husband’s retired from the military, so we’re able to stay on military campgrounds, which especially the navy and the marines, they got the best real estate. So it’s all on the beach, it’s oceanside. It’s so beautiful and pretty reasonably priced. So what we rent out our house for more than covers all of our camping fees. So we’ve got a little bit of extra gas. We go out and do different adventures all the time, but we’re kind of strategic in that, too. There’s a science museum pass that you can get that we’ve been members of for like ten years. So every time we go through a new town, there’s a list of like 300 of them. We see, okay, what museums are on the list and we’ll hit up those two or three museums. We usually buy a couple season passes to zoos. This year we’re going to do a, uh, season pass to legoland because we’re going to be in southern california for a few months. We’ve done a season pass to San Diego zoo. We did one to universal studios. And, yeah, so it’s not a huge cost. Like between our season passes, we probably spend maybe 2000 a year and some gas. With five kids, we pretty much just eat at home or in our camper. We have like a little ninja and we’ve got a barbecue grill and a fridge and an oven and a microwave. So it’s a little bit harder than cooking at home, but not really.
Jonathan DeYoe: So you publish one book, you write a blog, you maintain a podcast. I know you’re taking a hiatus. How much time do you spend productively in your work relative to on the family at this point?
Jillian Johnsrud: Yeah, this year I committed to doing 8 hours or less a week on kind of business activities. And I’m blowing out of the water. I’m doing like 4 hours a week. It has not been a problem. I thought, oh, it’s going to be so hard to contain this and pare it down and no, apparently it’s easy peasy for me to step away and not respond to emails. I’ve been doing great. It’s about 4 hours a week. Yeah. And I kind of picked the things I loved the most this year, the things that I really value that kind of light me up and give me energy. This summer we’re landscaping our yard. I went down a permaculture rabbit hole, so I’ve been planting like crazy. So if you looked at my life, you would think, oh, she’s a professional landscaper who a couple of hours a week does this other stuff is kind of what my schedule looks like right now. I’m in the garden like two or 3 hours every day, shoveling cow manure, digging holes, building a patio, building a pergola.
Jonathan DeYoe: So I need you as my coach because I would love to get it down to 16 hours a week would be incredible to me. I’m still working. I work from home, and I’ve owned my own business for many, many years, but I was more in the 60, 80 hours a week kind of guy. So I’m trying again for last year. I’m just trying to pair that back. So I’m impressed. I’m impressed. I got another close friend of mine who was a guest on the podcast who hasn’t been to the office for three years. He works two, 3 hours a week, and he runs a retail game store in northern California and does really, really well. Lives in, you know, travels three to six months out of the year, just like you’re talking about. So. I know, it’s just, I haven’t figured it out. So what was your inspiration to writing the book?
Jillian Johnsrud: I love talking to other creators. I love talking to other know. Growing up, I probably always had this inkling and this desire to be a writer. I was probably like the majority of Americans who kind of had always dreamed about writing a book. But because of my upbringing, the pragmatism of where I grew up, South Dakota is probably also a very pragmatic, hardworking, kind of like, if you’re not sweating, you’re not really working kind of place. And so I’d always internalize this narrative that creative work or entrepreneurial work is for other people, for maybe more privileged people, for maybe richer people, for people who don’t need a paycheck on Friday, which, um, also was kind of like, foolish people, like, they’re doing something risky or foolish by kind of going out on the limb. It’s dangerous. And so I never really pursued it. I took jobs where I got paid on Friday, and I could pay the bills. And then after we became financially independent, I was like, huh, so what now? What are we doing next? And I knew I wanted to do something with writing, but for me, I had a hard time, like, going online publishing writing. I thought being a writer would be like me, all by myself in my office, in my cozy chair, writing and being in this online presence, this online world, was, like, chaotic and confusing, and it was outside my skill set. And all the other creatives and entrepreneurs I was getting to know in the similar part of the journey were all struggling with it, too. It’s just not something that we learned growing up, how to live an online life. And so I wrote this book because it was the one I wanted to write first. It’s just like, kind of a fun, easy topic, but it’s about how to create work and share it online. Even a lot of my clients are self employed, small businesses, kind of normal businesses. But creating content and putting it online is so important, even if you are a florist shop down the street. But a lot of people struggle with it. They’re scared about what? If someone says something mean, and they will. That will happen.
Jonathan DeYoe: So you said something that I want to pull on a little bit, and that’s you were sitting alone in your office, and you’re trying to write, and you’re not sure about it, and then you found this online community that was sort of supportive and going through the same thing. How did you find them, and then how did you integrate that into the process?
Jillian Johnsrud: Yeah, man, community was so instrumental and helpful when I was starting out. Like, I don’t think I would have made it, but I started by finding other people who was doing what I was doing. Other people kind of starting on the path and just connecting with them, either through their blogs or through social media. I started attending conferences and events and meeting kind of these online friends in person. Um, and then you build up a big enough body of work that now, if I go to a conference or an event, a lot of people know me, even if I don’t know them. So you get to meet a lot of new people because they go to your talk, or they’ve read your book, or they listen to your podcast, and you make a whole bunch new friends.
Jonathan DeYoe: So you wrote the book for all the people struggling with the same kind of issues, publishing online and maybe getting flamed for it. How is the book being used by either clients or people that buy it? How do they report using it?
Jillian Johnsrud: It’s mostly people who are in those first three or four years of creating some kind of content online. And I kind of designed it just like a user manual. It’s like a field guide of here’s every challenge you’re going to go through, and here’s a more helpful perspective. Here’s a different way to look at it. And so I would say going through it the first time, people get a lot. But what really warms my heart is people have an issue, they have a conflict online, and they go back to it and say, wait a minute, I think she wrote about this in the beginning of the book. What are we talking about again there? Because you don’t go through it once and then it’s done. It’s like concentric circles. Like every time you grow outside of your comfort zone, there’s a little bit of discomfort there until it becomes familiar, and then you grow some more, and there’s a little bit of discomfort there. And so you bump up against these things. Like, impostor syndrome is really common, and people think, well, once you conquer it, then it’s gone forever. But then you’ll be on a bigger stage, or you’ll be in a room full of people you really admire, or you’ll have a bigger opportunity and you go, oh, wait, am I supposed to be here? Do, uh, they know I’m just me? And you feel it all over again.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. You split the book into three different sections, and I, uh, wanted to spend some time on the third section, but could you just walk us through the sections really quick so people know?
Jillian Johnsrud: So the first one is about kind of dealing with life online, how to have boundaries online, how to give yourself the gift of being misunderstood online, because a lot of people will intentionally misunderstand you, the kind of bad actors that you’ll find online. I kind of created characters of those to kind of realize it’s them, not you. This is just who they are. But, yeah. How to set boundaries, how to create rules around your work and your time and your interactions, because the CEO of the Internet will try to create all the rules for you, and you just have to be like, sorry, buddy, that’s not how I play this game. So it’s just kind of that whole online life.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. And then in the second part of the book, you talk about more the inside critics. And the person that I went to before I read your book was Stephen Pressfield. Are you familiar with his work? Yeah.
Jillian Johnsrud: Yes.
Jonathan DeYoe: He talks about resistance. I haven’t had him on the podcast yet, but he has a blog that he writes about the daily process of just sitting down and doing it. Is that how you got over it as well? Like, have a daily process, or is it more fighting it through? How do you get over the inside critic?
Jillian Johnsrud: I mean, a little bit depends what the criticism is like, what that fear and hesitation is. So I broke that section into a number of really small chapters, each dealing with kind of that different element of fear. Like, one of them is about family and friends, because so many people struggle with this, especially if you’re going to do something a little bit different, a little bit outside of the box, or just different from your family of origin. People might not understand. They might not get what you’re trying to do. They might not have the same vision that you have. And what was really helpful for me was just being like, that’s okay. Not everybody has to be a huge fan for every part of your life. I kind of just let them off the hook, and I’m like, we have other things in common. We have other things we can talk about. And I can have my creative friends and my online friends and my business friends that we can talk about that kind of stuff with and that get what I’m trying to do. It was the same when we started buying real estate and rentals. A lot of people in my family were like, what in the world is she doing? Has she lost her mind? And it was really helpful to meet other real estate people who were like, oh, that’s an amazing deal. Oh, that has great cash flow. Oh, that’ll be a great fixer upper. Instead of my stepdad, I heard him in the background one day. My mom pulled up, like, the zillow listing of a house. We put in an offer, and I heard him say, does she try to find the ugliest houses? Well, yeah, I kind of am.
Jonathan DeYoe: Um, that’s where the deal is. So when I’m sort of personally hesitant about a creative project, actually, a better way to put this is to. I actually read in your book that when you said, whenever I’m hesitant about a creative project, a home task, I think you said something, a home task feels dramatically urgent or something like that. Right. So can you speak to that, like, how you want to do this thing? But then there’s a fear or there’s a hesitancy or there’s something that comes up, and so all these other things, then they will fill that space for you. So how do you overcome that?
Jillian Johnsrud: Yeah, there’s definitely this temptation of procrastination through perfection. It doesn’t feel ready yet, doesn’t feel done. You feel nervous. And sometimes you procrastinate by doing something else or just trying to even just make it better. And I think, for me, the cure of that. I told a story about an Ira glass quote of this idea that you get into something because you have good taste, but because you’re new, everything you produce falls short of your taste. And that’s where a lot of people get stuck in that creative process, in that it’s so discouraging. Everything you put out is mediocre compared to what you wanted it to be. And kind of the analogy that makes sense in my head was like dry stacking a stone wall. Every rock you set on it falls short of where you want the top of the wall to be. But the only way to get it all the way up to the top is to keep setting stones one on top of another that fall short of where you want the finished product to be. And so every time I’m kind of in that I don’t want to ship this, I don’t want to put this out, this isn’t good enough. Like, I feel so uncomfortable. I just think, like, this is the price of admission. I have to continue to hit publish. I have to continue to put things out that aren’t exactly what I want them to be, because it’s the only way to get better.
Jonathan DeYoe: Don’t be afraid to start. I mean, don’t be afraid to just put it out there and see what.
Jillian Johnsrud: Comes and just keep going. And not that we should accept. It’s tough. Like, you don’t want to put out subpar work, but you put out the best work you can do in that moment, even if it doesn’t match your taste or your skill set or what you desire your skill set to be, and then you keep going, and you have to learn to live with that.
Jonathan DeYoe: Discomfort and remember that you’re becoming. Remembering that, uh, this is the work that leads you to the outcome. That’s the next work, right. It’s okay to get better and better and better. So, on the podcast, one of the things I want to do in every single episode is I want to help people get closer to success however they define it. And so what I ask people to do is there’s two things. The first thing is give us just one action step, just one thing that if we do this really seriously and we do this thoughtfully and we do this intentionally, will create a better outcome for our personal lives or financial lives. And then the flip side of that is there’s all kinds of noise, all kinds of crap, all kinds of just stuff out there in the world telling you things, much of which is just junk. So what’s one message that we’re hearing that we can just ignore? So one thing that we can do that’s going to benefit us for sure, and one thing that we’re hearing about that we can just. You know what? I’m going to ignore that.
Jillian Johnsrud: Yeah. I think the one thing that I would do, it’s something that we started doing early, is just creating a little bit of time and space and almost ritual around some life planning. We put so much time and effort into buying a house or planning a vacation or getting a new job, which are all important things. But if you spend 20 or 30 hours planning a vacation, but no time planning your life, and it doesn’t have to be time consuming, but give it an hour, a quarter to sit down and to think through, where do I really want to go? What really matters to me? What’s really important to me? What are my core values? Because it becomes like a filter that we can then easily and quickly make other choices with. I had some clients that were trying to weigh selling their house or using it as a vacation home. And it gets so convoluted in our heads. There’s all these pros and cons, there’s all these different factors. And we went back to that initial work, like, what’s the most important thing? And through all of. I’ve been working with them for two years, through all the time, what’s always been the most important thing? And that was more freedom and the ability to take a break from the career. Okay, well, only one of these two choices gives you the most important thing, and that was selling the condo, putting in that work up front because we had done this for so long. They were like, oh, of course that’s the most important thing because we’ve talked about this 24 times. This is the most important thing, our biggest priority in our life right now. And so it becomes like this filter that we can just easily and quickly make all the other decisions and make sure it’s all lining up with what actually really matters to us. I don’t know of any other way you could spend 4 hours a year that would have that kind of return on investment. Definitely not your health. You can’t exercise 4 hours a year and be in great shape, not cleaning your house. You can’t just clean 4 hours a year and it be perfectly clean. But 4 hours of life planning will radically give you the life that you really want.
Jonathan DeYoe: I love that. The idea of starting with values, having a purpose, setting some goals, and using that as your structure for, yes, this, no, that decision making, that is huge. Thank you very much for that. Is there something you can point to that’s like, from the noise from the world, social media, whatever, that you can say, you know what, everyone’s talking about this. You don’t have to worry about it.
Jillian Johnsrud: And this might be a controversial take. I’m not a fan of speculation investments, and I think just cut it out entirely. I look at something like, is it a company that’s profitable? Do they make a product that people want? And if it’s neither or not even a product that people want, a product that’s useful and needed. But when people started getting into the ntfs, I was like, what are we doing here? This is like Beanie babies, except it’s worse. They’re digital beanie babies. They have no function in our society. And so whenever people are like, oh, the next big thing of this could be huge. Know that if you like gambling, that’s one thing. And if you have money to waste gambling, that’s one thing. But keep investments to things that are actually investments. And I’m not a gambler, so I just cut out all that white noise in my life.
Jonathan DeYoe: That is the single best answer to that question I’ve ever gotten. And I say this because I completely and wholeheartedly agree with you 100%. I get in these discussions in my office where we’re comparing different investment schemes, I’m like, no, that doesn’t have any cash flow. Forget about it and just cut it out of your life. Don’t even think about it. Leave that mental space for something else. I love it. Thank you so much. A couple of personal questions. We started off personal. We’re going to kind of come to a conclusion personal as well. What was the last thing that you changed your mind about?
Jillian Johnsrud: I’ve been maybe not the last thing. The thing I’ve been working on the most especially, let’s see, we left our job seven years ago. So over these last seven years is gripping. In Montana, I said, I grew up in a very hardworking community, and I kind of internalized this narrative of, you’re only working if it’s hard and it’s challenging, and you’re putting in a ton of effort, and you’re kind of miserable and exhausted. That’s real work. And if work is easy, if it’s fun, if it’s interesting, if you feel creative, if it’s restful, obviously you’re doing it wrong. That is not work. I don’t know if you’re being a slacker or you’re lazy or you’re just making crap up, but that does not work. And so I kind of have been trying to untangle this in my head for the last seven years and find things that do are relaxing and energizing and flow and provide value to other people. You don’t always have to pick the hardest path in life. You don’t always have to go the most difficult route. Like, sometimes the easier route is also okay and maybe even better, because not all of your energy is going into the struggle bus.
Jonathan DeYoe: Oh, my.
Jillian Johnsrud: Uh.
Jonathan DeYoe: God, you could talk to my entire family. This is a book you should write. Because I think it’s, like, midwestern work ethic overall. That’s how we define ourselves. We work hard and. Oh, you don’t work hard. Well, then we don’t think that you’re worthy, right? You have to work hard and painfully. That’s insane. I so agree. Uh, I love it. So, is there anything that people don’t know about you? Or maybe you’ve told them, but they forget about you. That’s really important to you that they remember.
Jillian Johnsrud: Oh, I don’t know if it’s important. I don’t know. Trying to think. I think I would probably say kind of like you mentioned this. I almost want to call it an appearance of output. It’s really easy to think, oh, you’re an entrepreneur, you must work a tremendous amount. And ah, there are some people I know that do kind of what I do, but they do it 14 hours a day and they just hustle all the time. And I think a common misconception is either that or if you’re retired, you’re going to be so bored. What do you do? How would you even fill your time? And the truth is, oftentimes more in the middle in that you can cultivate. Like I said, I’m super into gardening right now. We all have this defined amount of space, and I think about it like a raised bed. We all have this four x eight box, and sometimes people just have one enormous work shrub in this box, and it kind of crowds out everything else. But it is possible to trim that puppy back and to cultivate some other things. Some relationships with your kids, some hobbies, some interests, some other things you’re passionate about, your health, your extended family, travel. You can find this balance. And I think the narrative is like, if you care about your career, that can be the only thing that you grow. And why would you cut it back if it’s working so well? I got that question a lot. When I said, yeah, I’m cutting work way back this year. Well, shouldn’t say way back. I did like 15 hours a week before this, so cutting it in half. And it’s tempting to say, well, why would you like, you’re doing so well, it’s thriving so well. But to me, sometimes, and for other people, sometimes work is a little bit like mint. It’s a little bit invasive, and it kind of self seeds. And if you leave it unchecked, it will spread to the entire box. And the only way you can grow mint outside of a container is to aggressively trim that back constantly. Like, you have to police it. And for me, work, and even though it’s my creative work, it’s the same way. So I think that’s kind of the misconception is like, I must work a ton or I must be bored. And neither.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I planted mint in my garden, not knowing that once. And so it did absolutely take over.
Jillian Johnsrud: And I love it. It’s like one of my favorite character faults in there.
Jonathan DeYoe: So just before we close here. Make sure we let everyone know how to connect with you, how to find you online, what your website is, those kinds of things.
Jillian Johnsrud: Yeah. Jillianjohnsrude.com and if you’re interested in some life planning stuff, I do have a free ten day video course that especially couples really love it, but single people love it too. They’re just short, like five minute videos in a worksheet. And if you go to slash intentional and that’s free, it’ll just one will pop up in your inbox every day.
Jonathan DeYoe: Wonderful. Thanks, jillian. Thanks so much for coming on the show. All that stuff will be in the show notes and I appreciate more than you know. We have so many similarities that I wasn’t aware of before we started this, and I really liked having you on the show.
Jillian Johnsrud: Yeah, thank you so much.