By Mike Aux-Tinee.
Someone comes along and proclaims that this thing, activity or lifestyle is either ‘in’ or ‘out’. You know what I am talking about, it starts off with, blank…blank is the new happy, or this color is the new black and XX is the new twenty-thirty-forty. So many of these proclamations are posted on the internet or crammed into an article in some (ahem)… fashionable magazine. The writer for some reason believes they are the epicenter, the know-all-be-all, an oracle whose every word is an earth-shaking philosophical revelation.
Yea about that.
You would think, after being exposed to so any of these ‘opinions’ that we would become numb to them and pass over them like we do articles about how this or that presidential candidate is leading in some poll.
Ah! Wouldn’t that be nice! Then maybe whoever is wasting their precious productive time would get the hint and move onto something that society could really benefit from (like coming up with a solution to this nation’s run away deficits!). Well, in reality, that does not happen. Instead, the mindless masses just jumps on the bandwagon and rides off into oblivion…
What is even more confusing, as independent as so many pretend to be, no independence is exerted, not one time is any self-reliance displayed and our own list of what is ‘in’ and ‘out’ is consulted.
So…this is not going to surprise you much, I think those who bellow out these statements and many others like it are full of the hot and steamy stuff that the cow leave behind.
One of the things that I wanted to accomplish when I was going through my debt elimination program was to develop more self-reliance and independence. More specifically, my goal was to not rely on others for financial help, use their talking points as my own or change my opinions because someone I have never met says so. Humm.. can anyone say halo effect?
I needed to make these changes if my life was ever going to get out of the Grand Canyon sized rut it was in and onto something better and different.
So… drumroll please… I came up with my own ‘in’ and ‘out’ list!
As I will share with you, this list was not about mindlessly following along with the rest of the pack. Rather, it’s about defining who I am, who I wanted to be and more importantly, how I wanted to live my life. Because after all, it is my life, not anyone else’s.
I stated off with a little day dreaming and came up with all of the things that I wanted ‘in’ my life; from being healthier, spending more time with my family and friends, having a career that I liked to traveling the world, just to name a few. Once I had my ‘in’ list, I then spent time thinking about the things that I wanted to eliminate from my life. Coming up with my “out” list was rather easy. The things that I wanted out of my life included: debt, my not so great eating habits, negativity and anger.
With those lists in hand, it was time to set the wheels of progress in motion. But before I began making wholesale changes, I needed to come up with a plan to adopt what I wanted to do. It was better for me to make a small change rather than go the cold turkey route and risk it being around for a little while and then dying on the vine.
As we all know, Rome was not built-in a day and adopting a new behavior is going to take some time to incorporate. Not only does the old behavior need to be scaled back, but the new one phased in to take its place.
I know, a lot of hard work and the uncertainty if this is worth the trouble.
The first change I made, changing the what-when and where I ate. Over time, I phased out eating at fast food restaurants. I was too dependant on eating at them and there was an inverse relationship between weight and money. The more I ate there, the bigger my weight was getting and I had less money for other things.
It was time to start heading back home to eat or to bring my lunch to work with me. When I did bring my lunch, I would exclude things like potato chips and include items like organic greek yogurt and fruit.
The second change was to stop relying on other people. While there are times we need another person’s help (like when we move), there are so many instances where that help can come along with strings attached (think of your parents paying for your wedding!).
I did not want to be put into a position where someone could control and exert influence in my life because I needed their help. So, I decided to pay off my debt, saved my money and learned how to do things myself. It was also time to turn off the television and not listen to the pundits and so-called experts to tell me which way I should think on a particular subject. I know what is right and wrong and will not accept those beliefs to be altered by anyone (especially politicians, musicians and special interest groups).
The third change I made, was to recognize that my life was too complex. It needed to be simplified, down-sized and reorganized.
I noticed that I was running around, always doing something else. There was always more on the to do list than I could actually accomplish in any day. What always happened, my list from yesterday would be commingled with the list from today and doing so was keeping me from having a life.
I took off the rosy colored glasses and decided what was important, how I wanted to spend my time and what I could really live without. One source of inspiration came from Henry David Thoreau and his book Walden. Simplicity is a theme throughout the book and he explained where he made cuts in his life and why. The outcome was to spend part of his day working and being able to spend the rest of his day doing something else. He was able to do this because he understood what he really needed and didn’t. Having more was not making him happy and it required him to work more, expand his life and take on more debt.
Following Thoreau, I cut my expenses, paid off my debt and recognized that I did not need to have the latest and greatest version of whatever gadget that required me to sit in line for weeks to buy.
Making these changes were not easy and there were many times I thought about tossing in the towel and giving up. Each time I did that, I took a look at my life and could see things getting better. I was moving a way from my old life and towards my new life.
Alright, no more towel throwing! I wanted something different and you can have a different life too. It’s not something to be afraid of or worried what others will think of you. Rather, having your own in and out list will provide more clarity, simplicity and you will not spend every waking moment chasing someone else’s ideal life and try to incorporate it into yours.
Trek off and see what your life can be like on your own terms!