The Importance of Living Intentionally
I turned down a job this past week. I did so not because it wan't a lucrative opportunity. Instead, I turned it down because it didn't line up with the life my wife and I are trying to build for ourselves. Freedom and flexibility are our primary drivers at this point, and a time-intensive office job would have thrown a wrench deep into our lifestyle goals.
But I did struggle a bit with the decision. Couldn't I just work for 3-4 more years in the corporate world? Sure, we would have to put our short-term goals on hold, but during that time I could easily buy a few more rental properties and save a lot of money. This would put us on an even better footing for the remainder of our lives. It is an intriguing proposition. In fact, it sounds down right reasonable and responsible!
Then I came across this article by Benjamin Foley of Fully Rich Life and it quickly brought me back in focus. Although I hope you read the entirety of the post, I will highlight some of the finer points that resonated with me:
- "Most people associate more money with more happiness, due to the freedom they believe the former will bring. However, that is not the case. As many people know, there is a limit to the economic utility (re: happiness) that money brings and that limit is around $70,000 – 80,000 a year for couples. The number varies on the city, but the truth remains: Money does not bring happiness."
- "I want to live an intentional life, where I can work on things that I care about and not be strapped down because of the things I own."
- "Any business owner knows that increasing your overhead is bad for your bottom line and can stagnate growth. But we as individuals rarely look our expenses this way."
- "Most of the things you own are not assets. They are liabilities. If you are ready to regain control of your life and have financial and personal freedom, adopting a more minimalistic approach to life will serve you well."
- "It’s time to start prioritizing life over work. It’s time we start living intentionally, grounded in our decisions, resisting the pull of modern society to tell us what we should or who we should be."
That last point hit me the hardest. Previously, I had placed way too much of my (perceived) worth and identity into my career. On the surface, I felt like a success in the eyes of the world. And for short stints of time, that felt pretty damn good. The problem is that on the inside, I was constantly looking for an exit. Although I love personal finances and helping people, the stress, lack of flexibility, and misalignment of some core convictions were killing me. I didn't have control to establish the life I wanted for both myself and my family. I didn't prioritize life over work, and I couldn't go back to the possibility of that happening again.
For my wife and I, a meaningful life includes the establishment of work flexibility, travel, and more time with friends and family. When planning the path to our targeted life a while back, we understood that getting to that point would involve three steps:
- Becoming self-employed so we would have more control over our schedules
- Developing alternative, passive sources of income that would provide continual financial support no matter our whereabouts
- Reducing our living expenses so that we would be able to travel more freely
After some strategic planning and focus (and quite a few sleepless nights), we are now fortunate to have those first two steps checked off the list (which feels great!), and are in process of working hard on that third item.
So today I am thankful to be reminded that now is not the time to take a step back from our vision, no matter the incentives (monetary or otherwise) to do so. Distractions will always rear their head which is why it's important to keep motivators and reminders handy, while also surrounding yourself with people (physically or virtually) who share your vision. Personally, I have pinned the link to Ben's post to the top of my browser list for when I do need that reminder.
You have to take control of your own life. No one else has the incentive to do this for you.
Are you living a life that has true meaning to you? Do you feel that you are in control of your financial well-being? Have you been collecting things that generate short-term excitement at the expense of long-term fulfillment? If any of these questions are pain points for you, then a shift towards more intentional living may very well be in order.