Should I Invest in My Local Community Instead (Part 2)

Everything about the way we live our lives involves opportunity cost.  It can be daunting to realize this as an abstract thinker who loves multiple possibilities.

  • For everything you do, you could be somewhere different doing something else. 
  • For everything you do, there's probably a way to do it better and different people to do it with.

This reality can make anyone's head spin if they think about it long enough, especially if they have a "maximizing" mentality and an overwhelming amount of choice.

Last week I discussed a developing fear I have about my online activities (and side-hustles) interfering with my ability to be as involved as I’d like to be in my local community.

Seeking Balance

Since I live in a very enjoyable place with enjoyable people, I’m heavily aware of this specific trade-off.  If I lived in an area where everyone was locked up at night on their computers, it would be a different story (and I would probably go full-board into the online world without reservation). 

But my neighborhood isn’t like that.  There are lawn parties, girl’s nights, trivia, sporting events, barn dances, pot lucks, and continual interesting people to discover.  Living in an environment like this has provided deep-seated meaning and happiness.

When it comes to the internet and small business ownership, I am seeking balance. 

Last time I was overwhelmed online, I quit. This time, I have no plans to quit social media or blogging.  I really love using the internet to find like-minded people around the world who share narrow interests.  It has been a blast.

However, I’m starting to love my local and online friends equally, so I’m in a jam trying to figure out the time-management aspect.  I’m thinking out loud here and have a couple of ideas. 

Splitting Myself Into Pieces?

Research on social capacity says you can only handle meaningful relationships with about 150 people.  If you are more interested in this concept, consider checking out this article from Forbes.

Of course, meaningful relationships are different than simply passing around useful information.  It’s not like I think I need to keep my social media numbers to this size (150), but it’s wise to be aware of Dunbar’s number (and his psychological research on networks).

For me personally, I’ve always struggled with the economic idea of being a specialist versus a generalist.  Since I’m merging a lot of narrow interests in my career and side-hustle pursuits, I’m considering splitting up my social media accounts to reflect this.

(Twitter could be for my personal finance comrades, FB could be focused on my local community, Instagram could become more about musician life, LinkedIn for education, etc.)  I’ll go more in-depth about this approach in a different post.  

Of course, I hope to be a whole person on each of these platforms.  I can’t split myself into a million pieces. I’m simply brainstorming a starting point for keeping all of this organized as I go forward as an online musician and writer.  I also want to communicate this to my audience who may follow me for one specific reason. 

Quality Over Quantity

When it comes to life online, it’s up to each of us to decide who provides useful information, insightful quick quips, or humor that resonates with us.  I’m still trying to decide what my definition of a “quality contact” is. I have a couple of ideas. And I'll use these parameters to curate who I follow.   

People I’ve never interacted with, people who seem drawn to argument, and people who have continual thoughtless or self-focused comments are probably getting the boot.  Not because I can’t handle the conflict, but because I can’t handle the drain on my time.

I’ll still keep track of people I find inspiring who are far more connected or much farther along in their pursuits than me. I don’t expect them to have time to interact with me.  But I do enjoy watching and learning from how they handle themselves.

An Idea For Local Connection

While I was attending the beautiful wake that inspired Part 1 of this post, I saw an awesome young family who runs a local magazine in our town.  This magazine spotlights bustling small businesses, interesting musicians and artists, elderly people who have lived lives full of wisdom, etc.

Simply put, it’s a great magazine with a specific purpose.  It acts as a fantastic resource for our area (and it’s a fun way to learn more about the people who live and work here).

It occurred to me on a whim - someone should start a podcast for our local area.  

I have no idea how I will find time to do this or if I will follow through on it, but the very idea occupied my mind for a week (and my husband’s).  Whenever this deep dive of thought happens, I’m starting to take note and listen to our intuition. For example, I already found a grant I could probably receive to start the podcast with no expense to myself (and I found a great Side Hustle Nation episode about local podcasting).  My husband would run “the behind the scenes work” and I would show up at the library to interview people on a weekly or monthly basis.

I could also batch all of the work in the summer and roll out the podcast throughout the year, or simply assist someone else equally excited about the idea who has more time.

We’ll see.  Whether or not I apply and receive the grant will probably lead our future endeavors.  Whether or not we have another child will probably determine a lot as well.

Pause… You Busy Bee

“How much of this pursuit stems from my need to feel busy and productive?” 

This is a good question to ask yourself no matter what creative endeavor you are pursuing. 

  • Do you need to feel busy for reasons that aren’t exactly benign (dodging a feeling, a person, the past, etc.)? 
  • Do you feel worthless if you aren’t achieving “something” with the majority of your time?

If you’ve taken time to reflect on this (and still bustle with fast-paced energy), then - I say - go for it.

That’s where I’m at right now.  I feel lucky to be alive.  I love life, my family, and my community.

Being busy ebbs and flows. If I’ve caught a wave of energy and ideas that make me excited to wake up each day, I’ll probably just go along with the energy while it's there.

Do you participate in your local community?  Do you have ideas or services you could offer?   

Also, do you have a definition of a quality contact? Next week I’ll discuss social media.