I’m on retreat this week and not surprisingly am brimming over with ideas. Getting away from the noise helped me reconnect with my biggest dreams and the overarching purpose of my life. I have a new idea I’d like to try, a way of living that will require some significant financial sacrifices if I’m to put it into action sooner than later.
I also discovered this: to make it happen, I’m willing to eat tuna sandwiches. This may not seem radical to you, but it is to me.
After several years writing/dancing/speaking/coaching from my base in Mexico, I moved back up North a couple of years ago and created a hybrid life blending part-time medical practice with all the other stuff I love to do.
Though this life was lucrative, it was also very expensive; the saying "the more you make, the more you spend" is oh so true. My busy schedule easily justified grabbing takeout or restaurant meals, and the dreary climate and big city pace moved me to constantly treat myself to gourmet coffees or a no-holds-barred grocery binge at Whole Foods, aka "Whole Paycheck". A long list of other things – facials, massages, etc. – also became part of helping me thrive/survive in this context.
Today, inspired by a new juicy and very authentic idea for my life, I’ve remembered that I haven’t always been as high maintenance as I’ve become. To finance this new possibility, I went through all my discretionary expenses and am actually excited about giving up the gourmet habits I’d convinced myself I "needed".
I’ll live off inexpensive healthy groceries such as eggs, tuna sandwiches, and fresh chopped veggies. I’m already doing it, as I’ve spent this retreat cooking for myself instead of going out to eat as I usually do when here (the eggs are on the non-stick frying pan as I write).
If you’ve been squeezing yourself into an inauthentic existence that at least partially if not totally strangles your true dream for your life, here’s how it might be costing you:
1) Buying expensive treats you "need" to make life liveable
These can be expensive foods and food habits like I’ve described, or taking yourself regularly to the mall for a consumer pick-me-up. If you were committed to saving every extra penny to make a cherished dream happen – and were far more satisfied and inspired by your life as a result – what could you do without?
2) The stress impacts your wallet (and your body)
What things do you spend on to balance the stress of the life you’re living? Do you go for regular massages because of constant neck or back tension? Do you regularly down a series of insanely expensive martinis on Fridays because you’re so happy the week’s over? Are you spending crazy amounts of money on high blood pressure or cholesterol medications (and possibly are en route to a heart attack or stroke) because of the high-stress high-fat life you’re living that you don’t fully enjoy?
3) You age faster – and spend money trying to reverse it
I got into the facial habit earlier this year (I’d never usually gone before) because a couple of very busy months and a winter cold spell had left me looking haggard. I know from previous experience that when I live a life I truly love (all the time, not just part of the time) and get plenty of play and rest, I naturally look years younger without anyone else’s help. I know countless women my age who pay thousands of dollars for hormone assessments and all kinds of supplement concoctions, largely because of the effects of too much stress and self-deprivation along with a lack of sleep, good self-care and purpose-driven joy.
4) You need vacations to "get away"
In the early years when I was working full-time as a physician, I spent much of my income on frequent vacations (even going into debt sometimes to spend a month somewhere fabulous, as dangling that carrot in front of me helped me get through my highly stressful workdays). When I lived in Mexico, I didn’t earn nearly as much but discovered I no longer needed big expensive vacations – or vacations, period – and ended up with money in the bank.
Afterwards, when I was back up north but spending much of my time on fulfilling non-medical work activities, I found that I still hardly needed to get away unless it was for strategic writing/reflecting vacations like the one I’m on now. In fact, these days I love my on-purpose authentic work so much that I have a new problem: it’s almost impossible for me to voluntarily disconnect. I don’t want to miss a wonderful new opportunity to do more of the same!
5) You eat emotionally
When I start craving cake and other junk or don’t want to stop snacking in the evening I know something’s up. It’s usually because there’s something I need to change or acknowledge in my life that I’d rather hide from. I’ve been craving things this week as I can sense a big leap coming and the part of me that maladaptively craves security is totally freaked out. Most people will automatically start eating (and usually things that are none too good for them, or make them gain weight) when they feel this kind of emotionally-driven compulsion to snack, rather than recognizing it for what it is.
When you make the choice to live more authentically, it can be accompanied by an initial bout of stress and insecurity, like I’ve just acknowledged. Ultimately though, the delicious and highly fulfilling power behind a dream will render obsolete all those self-defeating habits you’ve developed to help you stay in the life you have now.
6) You don’t have time
When you’re busy living a life that’s not true to you, not only is it incredibly draining but all the time spent on things that prop you up or help you survive this existence means you have even less time to create positive change. Moving yourself forward in the way that you long to requires that you find the time to take the steps you need to take. Identify the things you’re doing and buying that really aren’t necessary, and clean them out of your life. Spending less means you don’t need to earn as much, and that can automatically free up big chunks of necessary time (that’s my personal strategy for moving to the next stage in my life and career).
So tell me – what are you spending time and money and life energy on in order to survive where you are? What can you eliminate, and what steps can you take to get your life going in the direction that you long for it to go?
Thanks so much for stopping by, and I hope I’ve helped you move closer to living a life you truly love!