Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed

Now, I've read a lot of articles about the whole travel vs working, working sucks your soul, etc. And to be honest I stopped reading them after a while. But I thought this one was quite well-written. Not in your typical inspirational I-quit-my-job-to-travel-3-years-and-never-looked-back kind of way. He's not trying to convince you that your life is unfulfilling and preach to you that you need to change your life immediately. I think what he says is just grounded in some pretty simple logic and observations.You can give the article a go here Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed or just look through some quotes I've pulled out below which stood out for me in particular.

  • For the economy to be “healthy”, America has to remain unhealthy. Healthy, happy people don’t feel like they need much they don’t already have, and that means they don’t buy a lot of junk, don’t need to be entertained as much, and they don’t end up watching a lot of commercials.
  • You may have heard of Parkinson’s Law. It is often used in reference to time usage: the more time you’ve been given to do something, the more time it will take you to do it. It’s amazing how much you can get done in twenty minutes if twenty minutes is all you have. But if you have all afternoon, it would probably take way longer.
  • Most of us treat our money this way. The more we make, the more we spend. It’s not that we suddenly need to buy more just because we make more, only that we can, so we do.
  • We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing.
  • I don’t think it’s necessary to shun the whole ugly system and go live in the woods, pretending to be a deaf-mute, as Holden Caulfield often fantasized. But we could certainly do well to understand what big commerce really wants us to be. They’ve been working for decades to create millions of ideal consumers, and they have succeeded. Unless you’re a real anomaly, your lifestyle has already been designed.

I think this particularly hit me because it was something I was just thinking about today. Like I've realised I have started to spend a lot less money now. I keep track of my money with an app: I spend about $60-$80 a week usually on things such as transport, eating out (usually once or zero times a week), entertainment (around once a week), exercise. And I realised that whilst I do need to earn money to sustain my life, I don't need to earn that much.

The article continue's with the author's own experience:

  • One of the most surprising discoveries I made during my trip was that I spent much less per month traveling foreign counties (including countries more expensive than Canada) than I did as a regular working joe back home.
  • I had much more free time, I was visiting some of the most beautiful places in the world, I was meeting new people left and right, I was calm and peaceful and otherwise having an unforgettable time, and somehow it cost me much less than my humble 9-5 lifestyle here in one of Canada’s least expensive cities.
  • This seems like a problem with a simple answer: work less so I’d have more free time. I’ve already proven to myself that I can live a fulfilling lifestyle with less than I make right now. Unfortunately, this is close to impossible in my industry, and most others. You work 40-plus hours or you work zero. My clients and contractors are all firmly entrenched in the standard-workday culture, so it isn’t practical to ask them not to ask anything of me after 1pm, even if I could convince my employer not to.

Another thing this article made me think about is that, recently, I've been pretty lucky in that I have a lot of time to myself and can choose how I spend it. I have two days a week of university, am not working so I have the rest of the days free. Honestly I admit I'm lucky that I had a little bit of savings, but I've only managed to sustain not working so far because I've just spent a lot less. And I know that I live with my parents so I'm lucky in not having to pay for rent and food. But for me it's about taking little steps and I am trying to take more.

People keep asking me - but what do you do with the rest of your time if you only have uni two days? And honestly I never ever know how to answer them precisely. Sometimes I feel like "yeah, what am I doing with my time"? Cause well it honestly just is different each week and I don't keep tabs.

I guess I just do what I really want with the rest of my time.

And it's been making me really really happy.