I forget sometimes that living with less is not the way of the world. I forget that some people think it’s a little weird. Once in a while, I even forget that until recently, it never crossed my mind to live without lots of stuff, car payments, student loans, credit cards, a full-time job, a “crazy busy” schedule, and total and utter exhaustion.
From a very young age, we are taught that if we work hard, we can have anything and everything we want. But what if what we want is not to work hard? What if we want to trade working hard for …
- working on things that matter
- working with people who make us smile
- working right from our heart
If we did that, we might not make as much and then we couldn’t have as much stuff. I wasn’t aware that I was working for stuff until I made the choice to become debt free. It was then, when I started paying for things that I had purchased years before, that I realized, I wasn’t working to make a living, to make a life. I was working to buy crap.
Between advertisements, constantly comparing our lives, and the idea that more is better, there is a never-ending quest for stuff, which of course leads to a never-ending work-spend-owe-work-spend-owe lifestyle. The allure of stuff tempts us with a promise of a better life. If we carry the right purse, drive the right car, and live in the right neighborhood, life will be wonderful and easy.
Without an intentional shift towards the things that are most important, options seem to disappear, complacency sets in and you are simply working to buy crap.
Be consumer disobedient. You don’t have to go shopping to save the economy. You don’t have to buy what advertisements tell you to and you don’t have to own what your neighbors own.
Make a list. I have a list on Evernote called “what I want to buy”. If there is something that I really want to buy, I’ll add it to the list. After a few weeks, the desire usually fades and after a few months, the desire to add anything to the list fades.
Consider the true cost. Spending $100 on a new pair of shoes doesn’t sound excessive, especially when you can buy them for $1000 or more. But instead of thinking about that $100 in terms of dollars, think of it in terms of time. How many hours do you have to work to make $100? What about a $20,000 car? How many hours of your life does that steal? Read Your Money or Your Life when you are ready to assess the real value of your time.
Make new friends. Surround yourself with people who care about the things you care about it. If you are ready to be debt free, consider a local Financial Peace University. If you want to dress with less, join a future Project 333 quick starter course. Your motivation and momentum will soar with a group of like-minded individuals.
Dump regret. When you finally realize what you want out of life, and discover it isn’t what you’ve been working so hard for, you may feel like you wasted time. From experience, I can tell you that without that time, you wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate and commit to your new direction in life. Don’t waste another second feeling bad about debt, stuff, and decisions that you made last year, or last week. Live in the right now because this is it.
This over this. Dig in and think about what really makes you smile, what makes your heart sing, and how you want to spend your time on this planet. What would you choose over what you own, or could own? I choose …
- The smell of the forest over the smell of a new car
- The way the sun feels on my face over the way a cashmere sweater feels on my arms
- The sound of crashing waves over the sound of high-end speakers
- A small space to live over a big home to store all the stuff.
- Monday morning dog walks over Monday morning meetings.
- Uncertainty over false security.
I’m not suggesting that you quit your job tomorrow or ever, but instead of working to buy more stuff, work to make your life what you really want it to be. If you are reading this, chances are, that isn’t a new Rolex.
Awareness is half the battle. Give “less” an opportunity to change your life. Once you decide that time is more important than money and people are more important than stuff, the changes you have to make become an honor instead of a chore.