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I'm ready to get off the hamster wheel

I'm seeking calm. I haven't always sought calm, but I am certainly seeking calm right now.

I remember originally opting out of calm when I was in my mid 20s, and these past 20 years have certainly been exciting. No, I'm not talking about my career. Nor am I referencing the never-ending duties of parenting. Instead I'm seeking perpetual calm in my personal finances. After two decades of backing myself into a corner in which the only answer was "more money," I'm purposefully seeking a path in which calm arrives on the heels of less money.

Allow me to turn the clock back 10 to 15 years to explain. When I was in my early 30s, filled with ambition, and nearly an insatiable appetite for more of whatever was in front of me, I created a dynamic in which satisfaction and peace only came when my career generated enough financial resources to cover the checks my desires wrote. Oddly, it worked. I say oddly because sadly seemed both appropriate and inappropriate. I could generate an idea on how to spend more and more money, then match that idea to the work accomplishment needed to pay for it. Even though I have set money aside along the way, my lifestyle, like many Americans in that same stage, continued to ratchet-up.

As you might imagine, there's a weird side effect to this sort of dynamic—my career has clipped along at a steep trajectory. I'm not complaining, but I do feel like the hamster wheel of chasing sustainability is in itself neither sustainable nor prudent. Why would I want to participate in a dynamic in which the only strategy is that of heightening stakes? It's an extreme way to operate. It's exhausting.

I want to deviate for a moment to examine the justified allure of moderation. You can take just about any desirable input, tip the quantity a bit too far, and the law of diminishing returns starts to take control. I like bourbon. To explain my point further via this lens seems unnecessary. The same goes for french fries, cabbage, cheese, and even exercise and water. Time and time again, moderation proves to be both sustainable and nearly undefeated.

Yet, my need for income has increased for over two decades. And guess what—yours probably has too.

Please don't take this as me wanting to coast smoothly into retirement, at this point in my career. In fact, the opposite is true. I'm ready to crank-up my efforts and intentionality at work higher than ever before. I just want the gap to widen from what I make versus what I need. Previously, I have addressed this gap by increasing my income. But that has still led to me consistently increasing my lifestyle. Again, I'm not alone. Most of the people I've studied in their mid 40s and 50s are coming to a similar conclusion. They must shed the two decades of the escalating obligations they've gathered, just to feel like they have a chance of retiring in their 60s.

Other than a mindset shift, I do actually have a tangible strategy here. I've identified my opportunities to ratchet my lifestyle back down. I've identified at least 5 major expense areas which will go away in the next ten years. Three of them involve expenses related to my children (college savings, travel sports, and a smorgasbord of others) which decreases our monthly expenses by a significant amount. Then there are the 2 major expense areas related to shelter and transportation. Combined, these 5 eliminated expenses are shocking.

I've said it before, and this won't be the last time you hear or read me declare it—instead of banking my retirement dreams on the idea of having a lot of money; my sincere goal is to not need a lot of money. Having a front-row seat watching countless people employ the "have a lot of money" strategy has reinforced how difficult that strategy actually is, especially in the face of our own wants and needs.

The hamster wheel needs to be replaced. The current model rewards hard work with comfort, and then requires increasingly hard work and success to provide increasing levels of comfort. I want the new wheel to reward hard work with increasing levels of peace and clarity, which is more conducive to great work, which then leads to more peace and clarity. Are you looking for a new hamster wheel too?

Reach out to our team today to how we can help!