There’s a part of today’s consumerist world that drives us to want more, buy more, act on our impulses, hoard, spend to solve our problems, create comfort through shopping, seek thrills through travel, do more, be more.
What would happen if we broke from our addiction to wanting and buying more?
What would life be like if we didn’t need all that?
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My dreams are coming back. Of course, they aren’t the same as the ones I had as a child, but that doesn’t make them any less worthy. In the next couple years, my family and I will travel to the Northeastern United States and spend months exploring the coasts of Maine, the woods of Vermont and Washington DC. Another year, we’ll spend the same amount of time in the Pacific Northwest. I dream of reading and writing. I dream of teaching my children to code.
Financial Independence has a way of taking the pressures and stresses of life away. I no longer worry about money. I no longer have nightmares about losing my job. I no longer care if the neighbors think less of me because my car was made in 2003. I’m a better person.
Best of all, I can dream once again.
Do you still remember the dreams you had as a child?
Serotonin: The Feel Good Hit for High Status
The most important neurotransmitter connected to status is serotonin. Serotonin helps regulate appetite and sex drive, as well as one’s mood. Individuals with low serotonin levels are often cranky, aggressive, and depressed, which is why they are sometimes prescribed antidepressants designed to boost this neurotransmitter.
Serotonin levels are influenced by genetics and lifestyle factors like stress, sleep, and diet. But one of the biggest factors impacting the amount of serotonin in the brain is whether you think others perceive you as having high status. Serotonin feels good, and whenever we experience boosts in our status, serotonin floods our brain, and we become more confident, relaxed, cooperative, and pro-social. That groovy, connected feeling encourages us to seek more status.
Get moving. No you don’t have to do an hour of cardio or run 4 miles each morning (unless of course you want to!). A short, targeted workout, or even a walk with your pet, can energize you for the entire morning — and yield fitness results. Research shows that getting in just 21 minutes of activity a day (150 minutes per week) results in reduced sleepiness throughout the day. Plus, knowing you’ve done something good for your body (and maybe your dog’s too) can set a positive tone for your entire day.
So today I’d like to share 6 things that have helped me – and still helps me to this day – with this destructive and distracting thought habit.
1. Go for good enough.
Aiming for perfection usually winds up in a project or something else never being finished. So go for good enough instead.
Don’t use it as an excuse to slack off. But simply realize that there is something called good enough and when you are there then you are finished with whatever you are doing.
So find a balance for yourself where you do good work and don’t slack off but at the same time don’t get lost in trying to improve and polish something too much.
Overrated: Unrestricted freedom.
Underrated: Carefully designed constraints.
Constraints actually increase our skill development rather than restrict it. We need lines to show us where to add color, not a blank canvas to draw on. As an entrepreneur, I struggled to manage myself until I realized that I needed to add some structure to my day. I began to only scheduled calls in the afternoon. I blocked my email inbox until noon. I required myself to publish a new article every Monday and Thursday. By adding a few carefully designed constraints to my life I reduced my freedom, but actually improved my productivity and happiness. Instead of feeling restricted by constraints, I felt empowered.
…wearing clothes that are easy to slouch in can encourage you to, well, slouch… Put on your favorite dress or smartest blazer, shine your shoes, take time with your hair. Have you heard the saying, “dress for the job you want, not the one you have?” The same thing goes for moods.
If you reach for your boring comfort clothes after a rough morning, it’s almost like you’re waving the white flag for the rest of the day. Don’t give in. The way you feel in your clothing can affect your actions, so think ahead and make a conscious choice about how you want to feel later.
PLAN WITH YOUR PARTNER
Even if you’ve been married to your spouse for years, it’s possible that you have different visions of how to spend your retirement years. That’s what Ellen Rogin, a financial services professional and co-author of “Picture Your Prosperity,” discovered when she learned her husband wanted to spend time on a sailboat in the Caribbean. Once she knew about his dream, they could start planning for it.
Standard Repayment Plan. Payments are a fixed amount of at least $50 per month for up to 10 years. The pro of this plan is that you’ll pay less interest over the long haul than you would with other plans.
Graduated Repayment Plan. Payments are lower at first and then increase every two years or so. You have ten years to pay off your loan with a graduated payment plan. This plan assumes that you’ll be making less money at the start of your career, so the payments are less. For the first few years, you’re just paying the monthly interest on your loan. While the smaller payments at the beginning of the payment term can help with the monthly budget, with this plan you will end up paying more in interest than you would with the standard plan.
Extended Repayment Plan. This is a payment plan for folks with over $30,000 in direct and FFEL loans. Instead of having ten years to pay back your loans, you have 25 years. The payments with the extended payment plan are smaller, but you’ll pay more in interest over time than you would with the 10-year standard plan.
Income-Based Repayment Plan. If you have a partial financial hardship, an income-based repayment plan is for you. Your maximum monthly payments will be 15% of your discretionary income, which is defined as the difference between your adjusted gross income and 150% of the poverty guideline for your family size. You’ll have 25 years to pay off the loan on this plan. If you’ve made qualifying monthly payments during the entire 25 years, but still don’t have your loans paid off, then the remainder of the debt will be forgiven. Keep in mind that you may have to pay income tax on the amount that was forgiven.
What am I going to do going forward from this? No, I’m not going to choose another tiny wardrobe and live with the clothes on my back; I’m looking forward to wearing some new clothes and having some diversity in my life. My style has evolved over the year, even without ever changing my outfit, the looks that I liked last year are substantially different from the ones I like now and it will be fun to get a chance to experiment with fashion again.
I’m not going to enact any strict rules on what I can wear or the number of clothes I can own. However, the way I approach material goods has likely changed forever, I’m no longer interested in hoarding fast fashion or filling my drawers and cupboards with cheap trinkets. I’m going to continue downsizing my stuff, carefully considering my purchases, and ideally buying nothing at all.