“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
Henry David Thoreau
Buy less, work less, need less – this is the #1 resolution on my list this year. In the past, I’ve always strived to earn more and spend more, so it might sound as a backward goal to many. But is it really?
Until recently, I used to wear my busyness as a badge of honour – but being busy didn’t make me feel happy. I was trying to prove to myself and others how valuable I was and lost myself in the process.
We work to achieve greater wealth and well-being: we have goals to accomplish, promotions to earn, exercise regimes to master. We work harder and longer to escape the very routine we’re in.
A recent study found that households with longer working hours increased their spending on housing (larger homes with more appliances), transport (longer hours reduced the use of public transport), and hotels and restaurants. (Source)
Now, that I’m about to shift from a full-time job to my very first part-time schedule, I find myself re-evaluating many things I’d been giving for granted and finding new answers to questions I thought I had figured out.
Instead of working so hard and then compensating by purchasing and consuming items I don’t need, I want to create new and more sustainable definitions of success and satisfaction: a lifestyle I can actually enjoy.
While I’m preparing to live on less – scaling back on my spendings, adjusting the budget, recalibrating my priorities – I’m more and more convinced that we only need a fraction of things we possess and desire.
Meanwhile, I’ve been also offered a job which would allow me to maintain my part-time schedule, but would also require me to travel far and often, making a direct impact on my work-life balance.
While my ego feels flattered and my old self finds that busy lifestyle built on ambition and busyness appealing, I now know that my freedom, space and time are far more valuable to me than anything else.
I want to practice yoga, read books, meet friends and travel on my own terms, rather than spend long hours in the airports, only to be picked up in a taxi, taken to the office and then finally crash in a hotel room.
Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m missing out on an opportunity of a lifetime. At the same time, I’m pretty confident that a simpler, easier life is what I need right now.