Some of my friends may tell you I’m an obsessive information-seeker. I’m frequently asked questions about healthy eating (Should avoid eating excess soy?), natural remedies (What essential oils can I use in wart removal?), healthy living (What chemicals should I avoid in my toiletries?), and distance running (How many calories do I need to eat per hour when running 4+ hours?). My friends know that, if I don’t readily have the answer, I’ll stop everything I’m doing to research the question and come up with a logical response. I’m known so well for this obsession that friends occasionally bombard me with questions just to wind me up…
This obsession began in 2011 when I made a significant lifestyle change. As I’m sure you can guess based on the list above, I improved my overall well-being with more holistic practices. I’ve demonstrated to myself that I am capable of reevaluating my decisions and making significant changes for the better.
I’m ready to do this again.
After recently reaching the tipping point of my current situation, I have a list of new goals and, yes, new things to research.
At some point over the last few years, I absentmindedly plunged my feet into a nutrient-starved bog, and I’ve only recently realized that, if I don’t make drastic changes soon, the water will continue getting deeper, and my ankles will remain entangled by the moss below.
In other words… debt. I have it. It sucks. It keeps growing. I feel trapped. I need to do something about it.
Finances are obviously tied to my consumption, but when I consider my consumption, I am considering the cycle of consumerism and materialistic ideals my society promotes. Reducing consumption will clearly improve my financial situation, but I’d like to focus on consumption as a separate battle of materialism vs. minimalism and what benefits I can reap by living more, owning less, and learning from the greats who’ve made this movement so popular.
When I made significant lifestyle changes in 2011, I was led down the rabbit hole of holistic practices, and I stumbled upon a slew of books, documentaries, and articles about the impact our lifestyles are having on the environment and lives of others. The documentary No Impact Man was one of the first that really forced me to change my perspective on how I treat the Earth. This discovery led to many more, one of which includes Annie Leonard’s groundbreaking The Story of Stuff. Of course, my impact is related to my consumption, which is related to my personal finances. When focusing on impact, however, I am attempting to realign habits to lessen my impact on the finite resources we have left on this planet.
A few years ago, I ran across a picture and phrase that really moved me. It said, “Kids don’t remember their best day of television.” Reflecting on my own childhood, I remember building sandcastles at the beach, playing dress up with old Halloween costumes, climbing the cherry tree in the front yard, riding my bike to the edge of the neighborhood and back, playing angsty music in the garage… The only vague memory I have of television involved the Saturday night family ritual of ordering pizza and watching the line up of shows on SNICK. Even then, I don’t recall the television as much as I recall the time spent with family.
When I was a kid, I never thought to myself, I should really spend more time on meaningful experiences. I just did what made me happy. In fact, I fought for what made me happy. We all did. Think of how many times you said, I’m boooored to your parent/guardian, looking for something more exciting to do. Now that we’re adults, we don’t have an adult who helps dictate our lives like we did when we were children. When we’re bored, it’s up to us to find something more meaningful. Luckily, I had family who encouraged my imagination and exploration, rarely leaving me asking for something to do. Unfortunately, as an adult, I’ve found myself settling for boredom.
I’d like to realign my priorities. Instead of negating a chance for something memorable, I want to prioritize that which makes me happy. Instead of flopping down to watch repetitious episodes on HGTV, I should be steeping a cup of Rooibos tea leaves and escaping into a book. I should be playing music unabashedly, hiking unfamiliar trails, camping in uncomfortable weather, and making friends who would be willing to follow me (or let me follow them).
Everyone’s priorities are different, but none of our priorities should be negating the opportunities for memories. And since my list to realign appears to be intertwined, I hope that, by focusing on my personal finances, consumption, and impact, my priorities will sort themselves out in the process.
Keep an eye out for future posts on my personal finances, consumption, impact, and priorities.