This is an extremely personal endeavor for me.
My name is AJ Hauser, and I am The Minimalist Fisherman. I’d like to tell you a bit about myself, why I am the weird way that I am, and how I can help you become a better fisherman… or fisherwoman 😉
My hope is that you will also help me in return, by providing feedback and advice in the comment sections associated with my articles and videos. I don’t want to produce content for the hell of it – I want to continue to grow!
As a partner and the Senior Design Lead at The Hauser Design Group – a premium website design and development firm – I have been working on websites for over 18 years, starting with MySpace profiles in a dorm room. I was in a band with no money, worked with family… well, you can read a bit more about my overall history, including the bands, the grilled cheese empire, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and our house with no walls if you’d like.
I am also a business consultant, and I help people market their websites and YouTube channels more effectively. If you’re looking to increase traffic or your overall impact and turn more window shoppers into buying customers – let’s book a call and talk shop.
But the reason you are here, is because I am The Minimalist Fisherman.
What is a minimalist?
Let’s keep this part really simple, because there are many definitions of what minimalism is and isn’t all over the web. It’s so trendy, after all.
A minimalist evaluates every aspect of their life and surroundings, and discards things that do not provide real value.-AJ Hauser
So this raises a few questions. First – what is value?
Well dear reader – you get to determine what value means to you. Some people value relationships, some people value experiences, some people value prestige and others value accolades. I would argue that value should refer to experiences, not things.
However, that’s my opinion and we all feel differently when it comes to the things that matter to us. I would warn you though that it’s dangerous to fill your life up with stuff… if stuff is what you value… this minimalist mentality is probably not for you.
In fact, focusing on stuff is opposed to what minimalism is at it’s core.
When it came to fishing – my emphasis on the stuff is what got me into trouble… I was too worried about filling up a tackle box, a backpack, a truck, a boat and a garage, and not worried about things like time on the water, techniques or learning more about fish behavior.
When I realized my focus was missing the mark, it was time to do a complete 180.
What is a minimalist fisherman?
Minimalist Fishing is the careful accumulation of quality fishing behaviors, knowledge, skill, technique and gear. Things that do not provide genuine value & results are freely – intentionally – discarded. Minimalist Fishermen catch more fish by constantly evaluating and optimizing what they do on and off the water.
A Minimalist Fisherman continuously evaluates every aspect of their fishing gear, knowledge and skill. They quickly discard things that do not provide real value. “Value” is defined by you, the fisherman.
Minimalist Fishermen will seek out the most important presentations, the most essential tools, the most meaningful knowledge and the most significant skills to efficiently master their craft. This process inevitably leads to more successful days on the water, and more fish in the boat.
These concepts have helped me in many ways, and I know they can help you as well.AJ Hauser
These questions completely changed my perspective:
Am I a collector, or am I a fisherman?
Is my tackle box filled with baits that I know how to confidently use, or is it full of stuff that I hope to learn to use “one day”?
Am I buying more gear because I’m using so many baits I’m running low, breaking them or losing them – or does buying more just make me feel better for a brief period of time?
Any of these sound familiar? That’s ok, it’s never to late to start making improvements. Start with this question… what is the value that you seek?
Do you want to fish tournaments?
Do you want to catch bigger fish?
Do you want to make new friends with similar interests?
Do you want to create a successful YouTube channel?
Do you want to bond with your spouse or children over fishing?
Do you want to find ways to share your passion?
Do you want to use your limited fishing time better?
All answers are valid, and a combination of several responses actually sparked my personal journey down this path. You can watch the video on just that if you haven’t already.
My journal opened my eyes
I always hated writing in a journal in grade school. Yet, for whatever reason I picked the habit back up again in 2014. I was in a dark place. My business was suffering, my employees and clients were suffering, my family was suffering – I remember walking outside one October night crying out to God almighty, begging Him for help.
“PLEASE GOD – WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?!”
“I know!”, I thought, “I need to devote 150% of my time and energy to my business – that will surely make me happy!”
So I did.
I gave it everything I had.
And we grew.
We hired more.
I sold more.
Landed bigger accounts.
I was on a roll! I was fixing my life!
But… then I noticed that keeping the business afloat was beginning to take more and more of me. Slowly, of course… but I felt it, and I would ask myself:
“Next week it will be better – right?”
“This weekend I’ll get all caught up and have some time for the kids – right?”
“Just one more massive sale, then I’ll be able to sleep at night and stop staring at the ceiling and drinking just to shut my brain off… right?”
I was wrong, and in 2019 I started to read that journal I started 5 years earlier, and upon going through some of the old entries, I realized that while I had been “fixing my life”, what I was actually doing was killing myself. I was mentally and physically drained, in horrible shape, drinking heavily, lacking sleep, I had lost my faith, my purpose… all chasing a slightly better income.
And for what?!
So I could have nicer things.
More and more things.
I made time for my family. They know that I love them with everything that I have, but at gatherings, I never felt like I was truly 100% plugged in. I was always worried about the next email, the next sale, the unhappy customer, or the proposal that was being reviewed by the board… and so I was there, but I wasn’t always present.
On top of that, I was neglecting my passions almost entirely. I was neglecting the behaviors that made me who I am… well, they did once upon a time. Now they just represented who I wanted to be.
As a result I found myself depressed and STUCK. Few things are worse than feeling stuck with no purpose… I decided it was time to make a change.
This video starts to explain some of those changes that I incorporated in my life. Things that really made a difference, and it all began with some key concepts and a few decisions to shed the build-up that was preventing me from being the father, husband, friend and fishing buddy that I wanted to be. I had to change where, when and how I worked, I had to set boundaries with customers, I had to take a good long look at every aspect of my life so that I could clearly define the behaviors that I wanted to incorporate, and what I needed to discard to regain the time and energy required for said behaviors.
This led me to have my best end-of-year fishing run in Illinois to date.
I’m still working towards finding the greater purpose I mentioned… but I feel like I’m finally back on the path.
If not… don’t you want to be?
It all stems from the decision to start… so… let’s get started.
Let’s dig a little deeper now, and take a look at one of the concepts that changed the way that I looked at my life: the difference between tasks and behaviors.
I know this will help you as well.
Let’s get better.