In 2009, I was at the peak of my ambition and was ready to take the next step in my career until I accidentally found a back door into financial freedom.
You see, I’ve built up the skills and everything I felt I needed yet found myself nowhere near my financial target.
I have set a goal to be financially free by thirty and was working for six years into it. I was about to commit another four years following the same approach, but I know deep down that what I’m doing isn’t the best way for me. I didn’t have the words to express it but I remember the feeling creeping up on me.
It feels as if I was pushing a car instead of riding it.
Little did I know that the best approach to financial freedom was with me all along.
I’ve discovered that the secret to financial freedom is contentment.
If you think about it , many of the wealthy folk that I’ve encountered and observed, live very frugal lives.
It is true that you see a luxury item here and there but they often only spend on one or two.
I’ve seen someone, I know this is a bad example, spends as little on his family as possible but spends an insane amount on good looking expensive objects.
Another wealthy folk that I observed and spent every weekend with has an insane castle for a house but lives way below his means. Eats out very little, sees cars only for utility and takes a non-luxury scooter around town.
Another had very few properties and spends well on food, travel, and experiences.
And the list goes on.
You see, there are many distractions and marketers are training us to want to spend money on their wares.
We always want the best and we go to Lifehacker to pick the best version of what you’re planning on buying.
I also found myself browsing through Lifehacker in search of things to buy when there is no need to or initial desire to.
At the time of this writing, I’m thinking of getting a new MacBook, a new iPad, a replacement iPhone (I’m eyeing the SE and currently using the 5s), a new bike, a new set of kitchen tools, hiking tools, a better backpack, CrossFit gear, and many more.
A few months back I already declared all my goals met and all my needs complete.
My current tools are perfect. Before I decided to buy each of them and on days when I appreciate the use and value of said item, I told myself that this is the last tool I’ll need. I’ll only buy a new one if this breaks.
Over time, I found myself desiring new thing that when I take the time to analyze, isn’t significantly better than what I have.
The problem happens when I think about it.
When I’m thinking, I’m comparing things. I don’t only think of what I want but I also imagine what people will say.
I lose my focus on what I have and what I’m doing.
Instead of attacking the task at hand and achieving my goals, just as I often do, my resources are then channeled into other things.
These things are trivial. If I were to categorize them as needs, wants and nice to haves, many of the distractions are nice to haves.
I already have everything that I need and most of the things that I want.
I have a few that I desire and at the moment, I’m working on achieving them.
Despite that, all these distractions are leading me to stop, working on what I want. If I allow distraction to lead me, I am headed toward failure. Not the kind I accept and move on from.
The distractions are often in the form of nice to haves instead of needs and wants.
I can go on and on but I digress.
To give you some background, the human mind is designed to pay attention to new input, and eventually ignore, the input it receives constantly.
That is the reason why most of the things that we previously desired are, after a time taken for granted.
This is the reason why the iPhone 7 is extremely attractive despite the 80% of the things that we intend to do with it can be accomplished with an iPhone 5s.
I spend too much time thinking and less time living my life.
When I’m thinking, I create problems in my mind, demons to fight, instead of going though it effortlessly.
I can go on and on but I’d like to stop here and give you my recommendations so you can stop reading, pondering and get back on with your life.
Take the time to come back to “here and now” by closing paying attention to your breath, your body, how you feel and what you’re trying to do. This practice will allow you to reset your mind.
Count your blessings. There’s good reason why this piece of ancient wisdom made it to the present. It works. This principle is acknowledged by, eastern and western religions, and the philosophy of the non religious. According to Christians that I admire gratitude is the primary element of effective prayer.
Paper is previously a piece of technology available only to the wealthy. It enabled them to direct the latent powers of the mind and used it to build empires. It’s a medium many of us had stopped using. You can use your journal to direct you by writing down your goals and your accomplishments. You can use it to track your progress and your thoughts.
“Life is not meant to be perfect, it is meant to be lived. “ -Dexter Morgan
Whenever I find myself enjoying something, an item that I am using, the time with a person I’m with, an activity that I had desired for a long time, I find myself stopping mid way and think about it. Instead of being grateful, I think about it. I criticize, compare and become ungrateful. I stop enjoying and desire something else.
This leads me to recall end of the story of creation. The serpent deceives Eve into desiring the forbidden fruit when everything she has is with her already. As children I imagined a good use of a time machine is to go back in time to stop them from eating the fruit.
Today I realize that I am presented with the exact same scenario everyday. I am already in paradise but I kick myself out of it by listening to the annoying serpent.
If you think about it, it’s the perfect analogy.
Stop thinking about it and continue with your life. Appreciate what you have and ignore the serpent.
I’ll see you on my next post.
Thank you for your attention.