We have enough. We don’t make as much money as we would like to; and I often have to remind myself that this is a conscious decision we have made for our family. But– why did we do this to ourselves?
Our priorities have nothing to do with money and everything to do with our daily happiness. Because isn’t that what the bulk of existence is—thousands of days that roll out into a lifetime? There are goals we make, and maybe we could reach them faster with a little more pain right now. But these minutes and hours are everything. And we would rather be poor on our own terms than financially comfortable on someone else’s.
Of course, we learned this through trial and error.
It isn’t the same for everyone. Some people have passions which appear in the form of time-consuming careers outside the home, while a large percentage of our happiness can be realized from the comfort of our living room. The fact that this applies to both me and my husband is both a blessing and a curse, I suppose.
We live in a culture which narrowly defines success and happiness, and it takes time and experience to figure out that one size does not fit all. There is no right or wrong, just a limited amount of time to get the most out of what we’re given.
I am certainly employable in a career which can pay me a higher salary, but I have chosen to quit those well-paying jobs again and again because I was not happy with the balance they offered– a decision that is never easy to make. We choose to live on less to get the balance we want. Lucky for us, what we want is simple.
I don’t put too much on my plate. I’m not okay with feeling overwhelmed, or as if there aren’t enough hours in the day. I won’t let it happen. I will re-arrange my life. I will quit my job, move out of state, create a plan…. but I will not be unhappy as long as there is a choice. Life is too short, and someday there may be no choices at all.
Right now we make less money than what we are used to, and we have never been happier. We celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary last week, and my husband and I still believe we have won the love lottery. We surround ourselves with people we want to spend time with. We make socializing a priority. I work with people I want to work with. My husband has enough time for all his art and music projects, and I am able to work on my own interests. Our daughter is spending every day of her summer vacation with her father, and I am always home for dinner.
I can also give time toward a cause which is very important to me, and I feel like I am giving back in a way I never have before. Does it pay off financially? Nope. But it doesn’t matter.
Maybe I spend a little more time stressing about money; but I never stress about work, or who is going to take care of my kid. Maybe we don’t travel as much as we would like to, but we have time to work on what we love every single day. Do you know what that’s worth?
(We’re still working toward that travel thing, though.)
Our lifestyle is completely intentional…. and sometimes I forget. Sometimes I feel panic for the future, or panic for our daughter’s future. And we haven’t got all the kinks worked out quite yet. But I believe these choices benefit all of us more than anything else we could do, or anything else we could buy. I finally get that, even if those around us don’t always understand. Right now we are more content than we have ever been before– so I figure we must be doing something right.