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 dolake house imagewn 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 mijm imagey favorite sim­ple exer­cise (you will also find it in my book) for dig­ging into your goals:

  1. 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.
  2. Look down through your list and high­light the things on the list that you have the most ener­gy about.
  3. Get out anoth­er piece of paper and write one of the things you want, like a new car, on the top of the page.
  4. Then write the ques­tion, what does that pro­vide for me?
  5. 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,