Disclosure: Please note that links to merchants mentioned within this post might be using an affiliate link which means that - at zero cost to you - I might earn a commission if you buy something through that affiliate link. That said, I never recommend anything I don’t personally use and find to be a valuable asset to my business.

Getting Real or How I’ve Been Taking My Life Back in 2011


  1. Glad to hear you found your way back to where you want to be. It is really easy to get focused on the “big life” that everyone seems to be working towards. I’m with you, I want time! :)

  2. Chris Johnson says:

    Thanks for this. Good stuff.

  3. Rosalind Gardner says:

    Congratulations, Rae. I totally hear you. I too have been there and come back.

    I wish there was a way to help folks fend off the crazy desire to fill their closets instead of their hearts when they ‘come into’ money. I personally could have bought 2 more houses with the unworn clothes in my closet. Duh me.

    Life is way too short to waste at the shopping mall buying stuff that supposedly proves who you are.

    My real friends and family could give a shit for all that extraneous stuff and they’re the ones I trust to keep on the straight and narrow path to a fulfilled life — which includes barbeques, singing karaoke, camping in the wilderness and loving the people who count.

    Thank goodness for ‘real’ family and friends.


  4. Bruce Sutherland says:

    Hi Rae,
    Longtime reader, first-time commenter here. What an excellent post! I totally get where you’re coming from with the “selling your time” thing. I am currently in the same position and I can truly say that it sucks. I swore to myself if I could ever get out of consulting, I would NEVER go back. I wish you and yours much luck and success in the future but I think with your new priorities in place, you won’t need the luck :) Cheers!

  5. Brian Clark says:

    There’s something better than Target?

    Seriously, yes, this started to happen to me. I pulled away at the beginning of this year from keeping up with certain people. People, ironically, who make a lot less money than my company does.

    And the money keeps coming, surprisingly. Don’t play the game you’re supposed to, play the game you want to. That’s what wealth is all about.

  6. Jey Pandian says:

    Well written, I’m glad you decided to share it with us. Ironically, I met my wife through Facebook and proposed immediately after (she said yes). :)

  7. Greg Hoffman says:

    Love it. Thank you for sharing. I’m at that point of realizing my dreams but I’m very cautious of losing who I want to be. I’m a newlywed in the last year too and I don’t want to go down the wrong path without balance.

  8. Logan Thompson says:

    Excellent post. It’s easy to get caught up in the money game and forget about real life outside of that. Thanks for sharing your story.

  9. Thanks for sharing Rae, it definitely helps keep things grounded when others share their story.

  10. Rae Hoffman-Dolan says:

    Thanks guys… Rosalind, I’m in the same boat – on the clothes and the barbecues :)

  11. Kelly McCausey says:

    Oh Rae, I’m so happy that you’re happy. I’m literally yelling a ‘Woohoo!’ for you.

  12. Justin Brooke says:

    Same story over here, forgot what I originally wanted out of this business and started trying to be like everyone else instead of being like myself.

    I’m still recovering from mistakes I made in 2010, but it’s all part of the process right? Success + Bloopers = Reality?

  13. LaTara Ham-Ying says:

    I read your blog often but I don’t comment. This post made me smile from the inside out because it reminded me of me. Now I was not rich but I sure was miserable because I missed putting ME into my business. I was too busy trying to get to the RICH to see that my family needed me and that the most important thing for me was who I am in God’s eye and where I am with my family.

    Turned my business structure around in 2009 to fit me and now in 2011 it is working well, my family loves it, and I love them more than the world will ever know.

    Thanks for sharing!

  14. Mike L Cunningham says:

    As you know, I’ve been following you on Twitter for probably as long as I’ve been there, about 20007 SXSW. I started because of your fresh mouth, but came to know the real person behind those tweets and later the blog and now FaceBook. I’ve seen the changes you talk about, but didn’t really understand the drivers until this post. Maybe I didn’t read everything I should have?

    The world you speak of is full of so many stars, and wanna be stars, if it were the night sky, we wouldn’t ever see the moon. Many of the Wannabes are entirely Smoke and Mirrors, and are taking money from the same people over and over again.

    You are not one of those, you give good advice and information, without the hype and the constant Sales Pitch. I believe that by being Exclusive you will make everyone happier, Family and customers but most of all as you have discovered, yourself.

    Enough! Congratulations on your Marriage and of course the Baby.

  15. Gayla Baer says:

    So happy for you! It’s nice to hear stories from those who’ve gotten a glimpse or trial run on the more “privileged” side of life. While I was nowhere near as ‘famed’ or ‘successful’ as you I’m sure – we didn’t worry about money – we didn’t want for too much really. The day it hit me was when I found myself sitting in first class and realized I liked the people in coach better. I asked to be moved and never lost touch of the ‘coach’ side of me again :)

    I love what Ros said – “fend off the desire to fill closets instead of hearts” – priceless.

  16. Tim Staines says:

    When I first met you, you had just dropped a wad of cash on a dinner with some of the other big shots. It was my introduction to all that ridiculousness, but even so, something about that didn’t seem quite right to me. The blue collar Rae was there under the rich Rae, and I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason I was able to relate to you. I guess my point is, even while you were high rolling you were still retaining some of those roots, and to me that’s what makes you you. I’m glad you’re back to enjoying your offline life . . . that’s what keeps me going online too.

    Cheers to cheap canned beers!

  17. Rae, just found you via Lynn Terry so for a first time read this was brill!

    I too am a no bullshit kinda girl and appreciate the candour. It requires some real courage to take a hard look and realize that the trappings are superficial and really give no meaning and substance. Good on you for finding the balance and recognizing what matters most.

  18. Sharon O'Dell says:

    Thanks for telling your story Rae. This was my life back in 1993-1999. I started a company from an idea and for the love of what I was doing. Soon it was 3 companies and 30 employees. I traveled so much I had to ask my personal assistant where we were landing half the time. I bought $10,000 paintings on a whim, spent like there was no tomorrow and had the best paid 30 employees in the U.S. (my Receptionist made $60k a year).

    Still, Ilived to go back home to my daughter and my work was no longer my passion but more of a requirement. It all changed one day when I went to the dermatologist and was diagnosed with Melanoma. After surgery and being given a 60% chance of living 5 years, I no longer needed all the cars, the big house, tens of thousands in clothes and misc. crap, nor the lifestyle of the professional consumer I had become. If I had 5 years, I wanted them to be the best 5 years with my daughter EVER. I dumped it all, and have never been so grateful in my life.

    Post script: I did live more than 5 years; it’s now 16 years later and I feel “whole” again. I enjoy my “simple life”, I drive a 1995 truck and live in a smaller house in a place I love. I have no debt and my daughter is grown, married and happy.

    Stuff is stuff and you can’t take it with you when you go! Time and love are all that matter.

  19. Deborah Carney says:

    Sharing the personal side is what makes you you :) Everything you do is upfront and in-your-face. I’ve been in similar situations – high paying job vs working for myself – I chose working for myself over a steady paycheck and worked many extra hours to grow my business.

    I’ve never been at your income level, but I have had the opportunity. Instead I am cutting back and relooking at what I should be doing and why. Fortunately I found my man within the industry and he and I both understand the value of offline time and neither of us need to be “rich”. He was away from the computer all day today at the New York Auto Show. And my computer literally kicked me offline with weird tech issues.

    “I always thought “when you know, you know” was bullshit until I met him.” <— same here. I was divorced mother of 3 and didn't bother looking. We found each other at an Affiliate Summit after I had switched from being an affiliate to being a manager, and after I had lost two of my children. I believed I had too much "baggage" for any man to take.

    Anyway, this is your story, not mine, but for you to share your story shows others that they aren't crazy to want to get off the merry-go-round and choose family and "real life" over money and empires.

    Time to stop and read a book. An offline book made out of paper…. or watch a movie with my man :)

  20. Chance Hoggan says:

    This is one of few blogs I actually read / recheck often – No idea who you are – I just bug you sometimes! The reason I like your blog and your posts is because I seem to detect trueness and within SEO/Marketing/Beer/!

    Some of the best things in life are free but lots of dosh is really good too… guess it’s about finding a balance.

    I tend to SEO and spend my earnings traveling the world… sometimes totally miss my family… but so much to See.

  21. Declan Dunn says:

    Love this post, and the folks who would have never ridden on the bus with you, nice! I stepped off the conference path and went back myself, and your story resonates at many levels, thanks for sharing the real truth, as you still discover it.

    Your post reminded me of a great Neil Young quotation, after writing his biggest single ever, Heart of Gold: “This song put me in the middle of the road. Travelling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there.”

    The highway is fun, but it’s for getting from place to place quickly, sometimes without seeing or feeling the experience, and it’s paved. Here’s the experiencing life that makes you feel genuinely alive, with people who want to be around you, not just because of the biz…thanks!

  22. Aussiewebmaster says:

    I would ride anywhere on the bus with you…

  23. Rich Mistkowski says:

    I especially like your closing comments.

    When my daughter was younger, she used to ask me all kind of questions about going to work vs playing with her. I’d tell her that “I would make a good Rich Guy. I’d play with you all day.” She would give me THAT look that she STILL gives me.

    Then we had my son and for various reasons, I started to, and still do, put more and more pressure on myself. To do more; to make more; to work more. More pressure; more work; MUCH less fun!

    This morning as I struggled to make the REALLY STRONG coffee (dark, foggy, rainy! Just another spring day in NJ) I was thinking about my 9 year old daughter’s softball game last night. Eleven giggling, screaming, COMPLETELY OBLIVIOUS, girls. Can be very frustrating as a coach. Especially after a long day of work.

    Then I came downstairs and read your post. Me, my coffee, and the furnace. (the furnace in April? NJ SPRING!) I started thinking about my daughter and the “rich guy comment”. I then remembered a question that she used to ask me. During my “rich guy” conversation, she used to ask me, “daddy, do you wish you were still a kid?”

    My answer to her was the same all the time. “EVERYDAY honey, EVERYDAY!”

  24. I’m glad you took the time to write it and you were kind enough to share it, I think people need to re-examine their life more frequently and change what might be broken to get their happiness back.

    Refocusing and dropping what is taking too much emotional energy is something I had to consider last year, but I made the decision to cut back on other elements and refocus on my own projects with more structure and found some great success.

    I see a lot of people in our industry drop out for months at a time only to come back with a supercharged refresh but almost wipe the slate clean and start again but im not sure that is sometimes to erratic and not suitable long term.

  25. Shawn Collins says:

    Nice read, Rae. I am on a similar journey. Not so long ago, I prided myself on working all day and until the early morning, barely sleeping, and then getting up to repeat it all.

    I got to the point where I felt like an idle minute was time wasted, and I couldn’t stop working. I’d get agitated if I had to interrupt my work schedule for real life.

    Then I refocused on things. I finally realized that it’s a whole lot more fun to focus on lifestyle and living than trying to do more and more and more.

    But I never did have a fancy clothes and purse stage, and I love me some Target. :)

    Rock on, Texan!

  26. Reading your blog lately made me understand the whole inspiration thing Americans are always talking about, you’re like those motivational speakers one hears about on TV. I’m just obsessing about money and taking more clients than I can handle and then I read this and it makes me think about the dangers I need to avoid. Not that I’ll ever have a 6 figure income, but balance is necessary and I hope to find it, like you did. Thanks and all the best to you and your family.

  27. Patty Gale says:


    I love this post and I love your honesty. I hope to meet you someday in person. You said what many people feel, including me.

    While I haven’t done the conference circuit, I have lost site of my original intention for my business model and have spent much more time, these last few years, being at the call of others than I care to be. As Bruce said above, it definitely sucks, so I’ve been starting to re-evaluate and change things the last few months.

    What matters most is the memories we create with the people most important to us. Kids just want our time and they grow up way too fast.

  28. your my mentor, I like your no bullshit attitude.

  29. Eric Nagel says:

    Glad to see you’ve found your place in the world. It’s something I’ve been questioning for some time now, but don’t feel any closer to an answer. I’ve done the corporate life, the traveling consultant, the work-from-home and now self-employed work-from-home. Not sure where life’s going to take me next. Until then, I’m just going to keep moving forward.

  30. Ruud Hein says:

    Maturing is pretty cool. Additional bonus: pretty solid example to set for your kids. On top which by lowering your expenses you most likely have passed the cross-over point so … Enjoy :)

  31. Rosenstand says:

    Thanks for sharing, Rae. A truly “uplifting” story and in many ways similar to mine. It takes a lot of courage to get rid of stuff – no matter if the “stuff” is human dead weight, companies or what ever. Respect!

  32. Tony Spencer says:

    I loved this post Rae. Very happy for you.

  33. It really shines through in your recent posts and even on Facebook how happy you are right now – and happiness is contagious!

  34. Stella | Strategic Blogging for Beginners says:

    Wow – this was so real and touchy as I read every bit of this, tears rolling down my cheeks. I’m so happy for you Rae, that you have re-discovered yourself again and what ‘really matters’ to you. You’re right, being rich is not having money. Stay blessed and keep being simple.

    I enjoyed reading your story – thanks for the boldness to share; you may not know how many people could get a release from this post.

  35. Lexi Rodrigo says:

    I’ve been noticing on Twitter that you’ve been much happier lately than when I first started following you, maybe two years ago. I’m so happy for you, Rae! Thank you very much for sharing your journey with us. This is exactly what I needed to read today.

  36. Great story with a happy ending. Or beginning. Whichever. I’m glad you’ve found your path to a simpler, happier, less stressful existence. Soon you’ll be able to add beer to that. Cheers!

  37. Jon Henshaw says:

    Thanks for the personal and meaningful post. I love seeing you kick ass in life, and Sean’s pretty awesome too! #respect

  38. Charles Grimm says:

    Best post I have read from you or anyone else in the “internet business” yet!

    The lines between the reality of the internet, the value, the hollywood, the hype and the “personal branding” has become very muddled. I am glad there are still straight talkers out there that share the other side.

    I am always reevaluating, and consider life balance a core value..and pass this on to my clients when ever I can…of course I have my own past experiences to draw on which helps. Living in Central Florida (from Oakville/Toronto) also helps…In fact I found myself starting to use phrases, like “hey bud”.

    We met once at an SMX conference..you won’t remember I’ sure. I am pretty much under the radar… Great post, I look forward to reading more!

  39. Kathryn Katz says:

    Good for you! I’ve been following you for a long-time and glad to see that you’re taking time out for yourself.

  40. Hey Rae

    I was always rooting for ya and I’ll ride the bus with you any day. ;)


  41. Andrea Logan says:

    I like your style.
    Congrats on finding yourself again.

  42. Thank God for our families and friends! They’re the ones who keep me humble and grounded. I’m glad you found your happiness again and thank you for sharing your story.

  43. Christine says:


  44. I wish I could better express how strongly this post resonated with me today. I am simultaneously cheering you on and clapping my hands screaming “YES — THAT!!!!!!!!” After a recent family tragedy “real” life is suddenly in clear harsh and gorgeous perspective. Not that I’ve been on a journey even remotely similar to yours, or that any of us have of each others – but your points and the concepts are so exactly what I both needed to hear and what have been running through my mind lately. Thanks for writing and sharing this.

  45. Matt Mikulla says:

    Hey Rae. Thanks for inspiring me when I need it most. I’ve been struggling with bringing an important lost part of myself back.

    When we were all shooting pool and having beers last April in Dallas I could tell you and Sean had something good. Congratulations.

  46. Matt Hodder says:

    Awesome post Rae. More people need to understand the difference between working for money and working for time.

  47. I can always count on you telling it like it is Rae – thanks for a great lesson and for sharing.

  48. Tim LeBlanc says:

    I’m very appreciative of your openness on your blog. You have a great perspective and it cool that you choose to share it. Thanks for the inspiration.

  49. Rae Hoffman-Dolan says:

    @Tim Staines – yeah, thus why I mentioned above I’ve always managed to keep my personality – but sure as hell lost sight of my goals for quite a while there. It’s been pretty empowering to have the reality check sink in and take action on it. :)

    Thank you for all the congrats. :)

    THRUMA! Wow, been forever!

    Kristy – appreciate the sentiment …. appreciate EVERYONE’S sentiment that has been responding.

    I almost didn’t publish that post – but Netmeg kind of insisted after I had her read it in draft…. I’m glad I did. Not only did it feel good to share my experience, but it was also awesome to hear so many people identified with it and to hear so many of your stories. :)

  50. Marshall Stevenson says:

    It’s this kind of stuff that makes me truly respect you. I was so happy to have finally met you in person almost a year ago and I can see how much you’ve changed in that time (even blushing when talking about Sean). I’m happy you’re in my life, well in a virtual way at least, and just like many others you’ve been an inspiration.

    A few months ago I lost my job from the company I worked with for almost 7.5 years. It was awesome because I got to spend more time with my daughter and loved almost every second of it. I’m back to ‘the grind’ now but have some new fires burning in me so that I can be wealthy…that’s always been my goal. Time to spend with myself, family & friends.

    This post is a gem and great insight into an often (very) private person (while outspoken, you’re still reserved) and while it’s not why you wrote the post, I want to thank you for sharing.

    Keep it up and kicking ass in 2011 and beyond!!

  51. Alan Bleiweiss says:

    It’s truly a blessing to read how others face life challenges, and to see the transformation, the reawakening. It’s no surprise that only once you recommitted to your truth that Sean showed up and your family is growing again. And it’s a reminder that the choices I’ve made to work when I want, not because I have to, so that I can truly enjoy the richness of life rather than the outward “rewards”, is something others recognize as most valuable in their own lives…

  52. Jim Rudnick says:

    @Rae…I’m impressed with your take on your life and how it’s all changed…and the part about being somewhat “lost” i.e. off the path and then refinding it and seeing all of life’s little dominoes begin to line up and fall for you….is spot-on girl!

    reminds me of a quote that I heard only a couple of days ago…..”being rich is having lotsa cash…but being wealthy is having lotsa time!”

    enjoy girl!

  53. Natalie Akpele says:

    Rae –

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to write this. Thank you! It spoke volumes to me. You give me hope that things can change.

  54. Cynthia Fink says:

    Dear Rae,
    Well said and very insightful. I can tell you from my trip further down the road, I just went on Medicare, that what you wrote about only becomes more true. Time goes by so fast. When I married my wonderful husbad, 40 years ago, (40 years! Oy vey!), i was working for a company that would only give me a week’s vacation because I hadn’t worked there long enough to get two weeks. We lived on the west coast and got married on the east coast. We had a one-day honeymoon. I seemed so important at the time to keep my job and only take one week.

    The company is out of business. I should have listened to my gut. I didn’t trust it at 26; at 65 I know better. Good for you. I hope your post gets read by millions. Thank you for writing from your heart.

  55. MicroSourcing says:

    It’s rare for accomplished bloggers to reveal this much about their personal lives, but it’s a lot of help for others who are going through the same. Plus it’s always good to have an idea of what happens behind the scenes of a big business. We all want that success, but we don’t know if it comes at a price.

  56. Michelle Robbins says:

    So happy for you, Sean and your kids Rae :) What you’ve got together, you could never put a price tag on! #stillsmiling

  57. Andy Beal says:

    Thanks for sharing this Rae. I’m glad to hear you’ve find the perfect balance for your life and new family.

    All the best.

  58. Aaron Andrews says:

    1st time reader and I’m very glad I read this article. I can relate to this article as I never really been one to worry about high end fashion, cars or jewelry until I get around people who do.. Now I do want to experience some of the finer things in life but I don’t want to lose happiness or money doing so. I think it’s very important to LIVE OUR own lives and not somebody else’s. Great post!

  59. Stew Kelly says:

    Thanks for a heart warming post Rae, lots of lessons learned and I am grateful you shared. It reminded me of the old saying “Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it.” Looking forward actually to hearing more about your new path. Not everyone recognizes they are headed for the ditch until it it too late.
    Best regards,

  60. Chris Hunt says:

    First class post (Aaron linked to it from the newsletter).

    I’ve been thinking a lot on E-Myth Revisited, I find the less I sell my time the more I’m able to scale projects as I don’t end up being the limiting constraint.

    You can read a book on conversion rates and it give you a few tips, a book like this has real impact across ones whole life.

    And it looks like the concepts are really working well for you:)

  61. Barry Tubwell says:

    Good shit sugarhip’s and it couldn’t of happened to a more down to earth women then you. lol, I use to follow you on twitter back in the day but you always posts so damd much it was too hard to keep up with you. I am so glad you have come out on top though.

  62. I go back to the WMW days when you first started and had the other screen name. I first met you in person at WITS in San Diego, at a table over a few beers and some jokes that cant be repeated here.

    It’s interesting to read what you wrote here while thinking about your evolution in this industry. The conference stuff was inevitable, as the days of Werty in the fountain at Pubcon in Florida evolved into the conference circuit as we know it today and the personas that have to be maintained.

    I am glad you found your center again, and thankful that you shared it. You have more admirers in this world than you may realize, and its because you are who you are. You may have felt lost, but those of us who have or will ride the bus with you knew it was only a matter of time. You cant change who you really are inside, and this is the proof.

    Keep kickin ass, kid.

  63. Dr. Pete says:

    Really appreciated this post. Ironically, I missed it because I was offline for a month, clearing my head. I’m finding myself at that crossroads. I’ve been working for myself for 5 years (after 8 years building a start-up), I’ve got a solid reputation, good clients, I’m making good money, and there’s time left in the day to pursue my own projects. I work from home, and I love that, especially since my wife and I had a baby girl last summer.

    At the same time, though, I’m getting bigger offers (clients I’d have to hire to handle), and it’s hard not to think about the prospect of making a lot more money. Part of it’s legitimate – I’m not looking to hit the party scene or buy an Italian sports car, but it would be nice to get a bigger house and give my wife more options (she works a high-pressure but high-paying corporate job). So, I find myself struggling with that balance – what of MORE do I really want, and what’s just some illusion I’ve bought into because it’s what people are SUPPOSED to want. Even at 40, it’s not an easy thing to figure out.

  64. Heather Reisig says:

    How odd it is that sometimes, we need to make a lot of money in order to hit our ‘rock bottom.’

    I am genuinely happy for you, and I’d love to meet you and Sean and your family in person someday.

    I wish you the best.

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