Thursday, August 27, 2009

When you have what you want, stop looking for it

Do you know that story that goes around the Internet all the time about the fisherman? You know, the one where the businessman comes down and basically tells him that if he would just work harder he could build a multi-national conglomerate which in the end would allow him to retire, hang out with his friends, and fish a little in the morning. Kind of like he already is.

I don't think I've quite learned that lesson yet.

I'm in a very strange stage of my life. I left my full time job in May, my husband finished his PhD last week, and we're moving at the end of the month. Everything about our financial situation (along with most of the rest of the details of our lives) is completely turned upside down from what it's been for the past few years. My husband makes about twice as much this month as he did last month, and next month when he starts his job he'll make more than we've ever made combined, even when I worked two jobs.

And still I find myself chasing the pennies. On the saving/frugal side, that doesn't bother me because to me frugality is a moral choice as much as a financial choice. On the earning side, however, I think I'm crazy. When I'm home during the day, I find myself trying desperately to be "productive," which often means doing things that add very little benefit to my life. I'm researching ways to make extra money, I'm taking surveys and doing GPT offers, I'm worrying and obsessing over every penny that comes in. I think that if I can just work hard enough, build some income streams, pay off more debt, than I'll be happy. I'll be able to afford to just work part time, to live a simple life, to have more time to cook, to read, to write, and to take care of myself.

Y'know, like I do right now.

The more I reflect on it, the more I realize that the lifestyle I've wanted, the lifestyle I've been scrambling for for the past three years, is the one I already have right now. And instead of enjoying it, of taking advantage of the opportunity - even if it's temporary - to really take time to relax, I'm spending all my time still chasing the money. They say that if you don't articulate where you want to end up, you'll never know when you get there. But I have said it, and I still didn't notice I was here. I don't know if it's just habit, or if it's my fear of change and the unknown, but I have not been willing to accept that I met this goal.

There will be time in the future for more financial goals. We want to have kids, to buy a house, and of course eventually to retire. But there's time for all that. Right now, this month, I want to revel in the simplicity of my own desires and enjoy my small and quiet apartment before the chaos of starting another new stage begins.

Because if I don't enjoy it when I have it, what's the point of working towards it?


April said...

"Because if I don't enjoy it when I have it, what's the point of working towards it?" Nicely, nicely put. Enjoy your days before the next stage starts!

Tracie said...

The secular culture also makes false appeals for how to be prosperous by working hard ,earning as much as possible ,then hoarding ,saving investing it. Life isn't about much money we make or what can we afford.What is really important is the things that makes us smile ,our loved ones and family.learn to maintain a balance.

Janette said...

Amen! Sometime we forget we work to enjoy instead of living to work.

Donna Freedman said...

Thanks for making me think.

Kim said...

I'm kind of in the same situation, although we have some debt to pay off. Still, we can live quite comfortably with me working part time and my husband's current job. I guess I'm still in panic mode.