For years I dreamed of having a lake house. I could picture the view of the lake in my mind and imagined the serenity I would feel sitting on my screen porch. The more stressful my days, the more I thought about the lake house.
When it came down to taking the necessary steps to make my lake house dream come true, something inside me just could not move forward. Three biggies got in my way. First, I never could decide what I was going to remove from my budget to pay for the lake house. Second, I couldn’t imagine spending most of my weekends anywhere besides my primary house, which I love. Third, I worried that if I owned a lake house, I would feel pulled to go there for vacation instead of experiencing new places.
As I reflected on the lake house, what I came to see as my goal was about lowering my stress and building more connection with my family. Those things I could easily accomplish without a lake house!
Your first thoughts of what you want are about how they manifest in the physical world. But when you dissect your dreams and goals, you discover most of what you want has to do with the non-physical. You desire to be good provider for your family, you desire connection with your friends, and you yearn for adventure or crave the feeling of love with those closest to you. The outer “stuff” is simply background to the real desire.
We live in an opulent world, with an unending list of things to want and desire. Some folks get juiced by constantly striving for more and better. I tried that. My personal experience is that always striving for more and better made me feel like a hamster on an exercise wheel. Busy, busy running fast and getting nowhere.
I believe what makes my life rich and personally opulent is knowing what is important to me, focusing on it and living it. I enjoy the peace and contentment that comes when I stay focused on my intention, values and goals.
By taking the small extra step of digging into your desires, you’ll not only discover what is really important, you will likely find more ways to create it in your life. If you take this work seriously, you’ll lower your stress, waste less money on things that really aren’t important, and focus not only your money but your time in ways that are meaningful to you.
Here is my favorite simple exercise (you will also find it in my book) for digging into your goals:
- Start by making your typical laundry list of all the things you want, like a new car, a boat, financial independence, vacation with family, etc.
- Look down through your list and highlight the things on the list that you have the most energy about.
- Get out another piece of paper and write one of the things you want, like a new car, on the top of the page.
- Then write the question, what does that provide for me?
- Then answer this one question over and over until there isn’t another answer.
Here is what my new car goal might look like:
What does a new car provide for me?
- Transportation to and from work and on family trips
What does transportation to and from work and on family trips provide?
- Mobility, comfort and confidence on the road
What does mobility, comfort and confidence on the road provide?
- Less worry about getting around in bad weather, dependability
What does less worry about getting around in bad weather, dependability provide?
- Time, money and energy for things that are more important to me than a car.
At the end of the day, a car for me is about dependability, ease of use and low maintenance. Based on that, I bought a Subaru. I went to the dealership and drove two cars. Went home and did research on the cost and then negotiated my deal. Simple, easy, quick.
To be totally honest, it is also true that every once in a while when I see one of my friends in their BMW’s, I feel a twinge of envy. The envious part of me wants to live someone else’s life. The grounded part of me wants me to stay focused on what is important to me. When envy comes up, I stop for a brief moment and remind myself, hey Mackey, for you a car isn’t about prestige. It’s about function and you are getting that in spades. Stay the course, and live your life.
My point here isn’t that there is something wrong with wanting an expensive car. To the contrary, it is about aligning your choices with your personal intention, values and goals. The tiny house movement isn’t for everyone. But it is perfect for some.
At the end of the day, how you spend your time and money is a choice. You make those choices on a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum your focal point is the external world. On the other, are your personal intentions, values and goals. The more you focus on the personal and the less on what others around you may or may not be choosing, the closer you live to The Intersection of Joy and Money.
One life, lots of choices. Why not choose for you?
In joy and prosperity,