Two months ago, I found myself at a run down coffee shop on a college campus, picking at an over-sized muffin and working on a pretty good anxiety stomachache.
I was there to meet with a financial adviser. I anticipated a terrifying, math-y, money-based conversation that would somehow make me feel both poor and stupid. (Like most people in the world, I prefer to feel not-poor and passably intelligent.)
My advisor turned out to be a lovely, helpful, totally normal human who used normal human words to explain complex subjects. I did not, however, expect her to be a source of Buddha-like insight.
As we were poring over my savings and retirement plan, she turned to a multi-colored graph and said “So there are basically three approaches to saving. You can work more. You can save more. Or you can want less.”
And then the skies cracked open and a choir of angels tootling on reasonably priced horns announced a personal paradigm shift.
I am not unfamiliar with the minimalist movement. I love a good capsule wardrobe. I know how to make do and mend. I don’t have a tv blahblahblah. I’ve lapped up a million magazine articles and life coach-written blog posts about the importance of less. But there was something thrilling about hearing this from a numbers-based, decidedly non-woo woo financial professional.
In fact, I like that so much, let’s say it again.You can work more. You can save more. Or you can want less. Click To Tweet
She was not espousing the emotional, psychological benefits of less.
She was not imparting the environmental benefits of less.
She wasn’t telling me that I’d like getting dressed in the morning if I had fewer clothes in my closet.
She was simply relating a numbers-based reality. I could stop working and spend more time by the water if I adjusted my vision for the future. I could have an apartment on the water in Minnesota before I could have a house on the ocean in California.
Now, I’m not saying we should collectively ‘aim lower.’ I’m not saying that we should all take mediocre jobs or date boring humans who don’t light our fires. I’m not saying you should stop wanting a vacation home in Italy BECA– USE I ALSO REALLY WANT A VACATION HOME IN ITALY.
But what if we took a look at the things that we believe we want and really, actively considered them? Are they goals that we set for ourselves? Or are they wishes that seeped into our brains via women’s magazines and billboards? Do we really want a fancy car or are we just enamored of our friend’s 2015 Audi?
What would our lives and futures look like if we gave ourselves permission to want a little less? To not quite strive so hard? To make a conscious decision to shift our focus?
I’ve given myself permission to want less. If you want it, here’s yours.
I’d love to hear about your relationship with wanting, striving, consuming. Have you spent a lot of time considering your goals and dreams? Have you ever found yourself chasing a dream that’s too big for you or not really yours to begin with?
P.S. Did you know I have a (free) private Facebook group dedicated solely to the topics of money and happiness? And the stuff we talk about has helped members change jobs, save thousands of dollars, and fight less with their partners? Join us!