When are you “done” financially? Are you ever “done”?
When do you kick back, sip lemonade under a shady umbrella and just relax?
I asked myself this question after reading a post by Frugal Dad several weeks ago.
You may remember the post. FD wrote about his family becoming debt free. And he mentioned that his next mission is to work on savings and retirement. He said that he planned on dealing with these issues with the same fervor that he did debt.
I, along with all the other faithful readers and supporters of FD cheered him on.
But that post really got me thinking. At certain points of my life, I’ve been convinced that once I accomplish a certain goal, I’ll be able to relax. But I soon find myself with a new goal and I often approach that new goal with the same intense energy. I’m convinced that this new goal is mission critical – just like the prior goal. It creates a lot of stress.
Let me give you a few personal examples:
When I first got married, I was certain that if I could just hold on (financially) long enough until my daughter grew out of diapers, I’d have it made financially. (Do you know how much Pampers cost?)
Then, when we bought our first home I borrowed money from anyone who could fog a mirror to do it. I told myself that if I could just repay those people, I’d be in great shape.
Within a few years – I had a different goal. I wanted to save a certain amount of money in an emergency fund. I was sure that once I achieved that goal, I’d be satisfied.
Now, the goals are bigger. But I’ve approached each one along the way with great determination. I stayed focused-which is good. But I didn’t relax until my goal was accomplished. And I only enjoyed that relaxed state for a very short period of time.
I think I’ve been way off on this.
The truth is, nobody is really ever really satisfied – and that’s a good thing.
Heck, even Bill Gates and Warren Buffet work full-time. They probably actually work more than full-time. Maybe they aren’t trying to acquire more money, success or power for themselves, but they are still striving for something. Right?
It seems to me that the trick is to enjoy the progress and process rather than focus on the end result. At least that’s what occurs to me.
I don’t really know how to do this. I’ve always been “bottom line” focused rather than “process” focused.
I believe now that the only way any of us to be truly happy is to understand that their will always be another hill to climb and we have to learn to focus on doing the best we can and enjoy the process because that’s really all we have.
Am I happier now that I can afford Pampers and I’m out of debt? Absolutely. But I just don’t want to tie my peace of mind to achieving yet another financial goal – because it’s a lie.
Do you struggle with this like I do? How have you come to terms with the long list of goals you have? Are you waiting to be happy until you’ve checked those off your list or have you found a way to enjoy the journey?