For many of us, in spite of the fact that we enjoy our jobs, if we could work less we would choose to do so. Why? Because the other parts of our lives are so much better. Unfortunately, we all need money to survive, so that means we have to go out and graft. However, have you ever stopped to consider the ways in which you can do less with your life and still enjoy it? This article aims to take a closer look at some strategies.
It seems a little backwards to decide to work less, doesn’t it? Most of the time we try to maximise our earnings, because that means we can afford houses, and holidays and nice cars. We can drink better wine, wear nicer clothes, perhaps even pay someone to come and do our cleaning. But becoming better off financially, often leaves us time poor. Why work to earn more and more money, if you then have to outsource your chores, and you have less time to enjoy it. If you spend the two weeks’ holiday you’ve worked hard to pay for, asleep on a lounger, isn’t that a little bit of a waste of money?
If this is how you measure success, then fair enough. Many people are praised for earning lots of money, and becoming celebrities in certain circles. But for others of us, doing the washing up, digging up weeds, listening to the washing machine thrum, these are all moments that ground us deeply in our reality and remind us to be grateful for what we have and who we are.
Earning more means being busy, and if this is not for you, here’s some way to rein in abundance and live within your means. You can do less, and have less, and still be happy.
What can you live on? How much income do you realistically need? Once you know that, work within your budget. How much helps you feel comfortable and fulfilled? Understanding exactly the amount is useful, as it means all your money-related decisions can reflect this.
If you go through your bank records periodically, you’re bound to find payments that are a waste of time. We all pick subscriptions and standing orders up for things we rarely use. Cut out the expensive gym membership if you never go. If you feel you need to exercise, switch to exercising in the park, jogging around the streets, or walking in the countryside. It’s free and it’s better for you! Get rid of the house phone if you only use mobiles. Do you really need that box delivered every month? Cut back, and cut out.
For many of us, spending money on ourselves helps to validate our feelings. We comfort buy, the way some people comfort eat. This may manifest itself by hours spent on auction sites, or you may be someone who spends a fortune in bookshops. If you know why you’re spending money, now is the time to do something about it. Who needs a wardrobe of clothes you never wear? Are you feeling lonely? Or sad? Do you lack a purpose in life? Far better to identify the reasons you do what you do, and change your habits. You could save a fortune and be far happier to boot!
If you spend a lot of money on other people, it may be because you are trying to impress them or show them you care. The thing is, you can be generous in other ways, it doesn’t have to be financial. Thoughtful gestures mean so much more. Spend time with people. Help them out with their own chores. Make cards, gifts, cakes or puddings. Hugs cost nothing and they genuinely boost your mood, so give it a try.
Try decluttering. It’s something that many people are having a go at currently, so there are lots of books and articles you can read. There’s a whole psychology around the fact that we feel better if we have less clutter, and that once we realise life isn’t about having stuff, we’re able to let go of it. A decluttered environment is said to leave you feeling free, without stress. You have more room in your life for relaxation, you have more money, or at least less debt. If you’re up for decluttering you can either try and sell your items – there might be a lot of work involved, or cut your losses and take them to a charity shop.
Hand in hand with having less stuff, is consuming less. Once you’ve decluttered, you don’t want to buy it all back again. Consider the resources you buy and how much you waste. Food, clothes, furniture, toys, books, games, newspapers, toiletries. Focus on what you have. Enjoy it. Be content.
Consider your workload, and your other commitments. Is your to-do list too long? How much of it can you drop or say no to? It doesn’t have to be all at once, but ideally it’s time to lose some of the things that clog up your energy and your time. Make more time, to do less.
If you let it, social media and the things you do online, can rule your life. Cut back. Even if you cannot let go completely, have periods of time where you are not connected. Enjoy the silence.
If you lived in a vacuum, with no-one else around you, you probably wouldn’t be bothered about buying the shoes, having the haircut, driving the car. You would be satisfied with what you had access to. It is far too tempting to desire something based on what other people have. Ask yourself, “What would I choose if there was nothing to compare it with?”
Once you have fewer distractions, you can spend more time either with people you love, or doing the things you love. Cut things out from your life, to make room for the things you truly love.
It sounds straightforward, but of course it really isn’t. The aim is to do and have less but enjoy life more, and you have to keep trying, and keep peeling back the layers of your life, until eventually, what you have left is the most beautiful, the most essential.
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