The last few months or so I have watched as a number of people express to me "How lucky I am that I don't have kids, or a husband or a house to worry about. You can travel and work when you choose to do so."
Frankly, I know I have a sense of freedom that not everyone has, however, I'm sick of people telling me that they can't do what I do because they have a house or kids or a new car. I wish more people stopped and looked at what they wanted out of life and just did it.
We all make choices in life. Some of us choose to drive a $150,000 car and some of us choose to take public transit. Neither choice is right or wrong, they are simply choices made based on the life we want to live. If you want to drive around in an Audi R8 because you know people will look in awe at the car you drive, that's your choice. You choose the perception of status that comes with that kind of car (the money spent on that kind of car) over the perception of taking public transit.
I'm not saying you can't drive a great car and travel, some people can. However if you're one of the many people who says things like "It must be nice to be able to travel so much" or "I wish I could afford to do that" and you have a car that costs more than all the trips I make in the course of a year combined, then please don't complain about the fact that you can't afford to travel because you have a car to pay off.
If you buy a house in the best possible area in town and it costs twice as much as a nice house in a not great area of town, then you have no one to blame for that choice but yourself. I understand making a choice like this based on safety and personal concerns however this is still a choice.
If you're not happy with the things you buy and the life you have, change it! You have the power to do this, even if you aren't sure about it, you have a choice.
NO ONE is ever stuck where they are. We like to think we are, but we aren't. We make the choice to be stuck.
If you live above your means, that's a choice. If you're happier making $10 an hour at The Gap then you are making $50 an hour at an office job, go work at The Gap. BE HAPPY!
The amount of money you make doesn't make you happy. It's what you do with that money that determines your joy or lack of joy as the case may be. Only you have control over this part of your life. No one is going to look out for you. It is your responsibility to make sure you are happy.
I choose to work temp jobs, not because I can't find full-time work (in fact, every place I work asks me to stay) but because I like the freedom of deciding when I want to work and when I want time off to travel. Sure I could make twice as much money (or more) in a year and have full benefits but I don't care about that. I don't want one single place to have to go to every day. I don't want to be saddled down with the same mundane tasks every day.
Some people love the life they have and the disposable income they have to go with it and there is nothing wrong with that. However, if you're one of the many people (like myself) who doesn't have disposable income and you wish could travel or do other things, take a look at what you really spend your money on.
Do you need to spend $5 a day at Starbucks for coffee to start your day? That $100 a month ($1200 a year) could get you a whole month at a nice resort in South East Asia (or more).
I guess what I'm saying is, don't tell me how lucky I am to have the life I have because you wish you had my life. Go out and have the life that makes you happy too!
I work very hard, doing jobs not everyone wants to do, in order to be able to have the life I have now. I struggle some months to pay bills. I worry sometimes when I get on flights to travel if I'll actually have enough money to eat three meals a day while I'm away. What I don't do, is blow money on things I don't need. I don't own a car, I don't own a house. I don't have 6 credit cards. I don't have a laundry list of debts that need to be paid. I keep my expenses to a minimum. I buy my own personal health coverage (in part so that when I do travel I have health coverage if needed) and own only the things I need to be comfortable in my day to day life. I don't buy Starbucks every day or eat out every Friday. I go to the movies regularly because I enjoy it. I buy a pedicure every few months because it makes me feel look.
I keep my spending to a minimum and evaluate every purchase I make. I'm not perfect with my spending but I try to be as reasonable with purchases as I can be because for me travel is the #1 goal. Sometimes that means making a trip to a new place and not being able to buy souvenirs to bring home, but that's okay because I get the experience of going. I get the life changes that come with those experiences and I am okay with that.
We can all choose to have whatever life experiences we want. We choose if money and status matter more than other things. You choose the life you have.
YOU choose what you can and can't do with your life based on where you spend your money.
You have the power to make your life whatever you want it to be in order to be happy. So the next time you envy the life I have (or anyone else for that matter), think about the choices you make in your own life. Where you spend your money and why there vs somewhere else? Are those choices standing in the way of you having a life that makes you happy?
Let's start (all of us) making the choice to focus on ourselves and our own happiness for a little while. I promise you it will be worth it!