How Much Time Do You Have?
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The older I get, the more I’ve come to believe, that we’re all just faking this whole grown-up thing. I have no idea what I’m doing, but neither did my parents or their parents. We’re all just doing the best we can with what we have to work with (which some days does not feel like much, but I digress).
I would have thought, surely, by the time I was 39, I’d feel settled and mature and generally have-it-all-together, but as it turns out? I feel none of those things.
The other surprising revelation of late—I think I’m OK with it.
This is new for me and since I just admitted to knowing nothing, I’m sure it will mean a lot when I say, I think this late-breaking realization may just be the secret of life.
So, here it is, in my humble opinion, the secret to life: peace of mind.
There are likely a million ways to define it, but for me, peace of mind is not having to stress about if there’s enough, if I’m doing it right, or wasting time worried about how I measure up.
At this point in life I know what is most important to me. I work hard at focusing my resources toward those things, and then I don’t worry about what could/should/would be or what anyone else is doing/thinking/saying, etc.
Can I change all the imperfect circumstances in my life? No.
Can I turn back time or predict the future, right all the wrongs or avoid all the hard stuff? Nope.
Will it ever go exactly as planned? Probably not.
And it’s all OK. I save and plan and live accordingly, and I don’t worry about the rest. Peace of mind.
It may be different for everyone, but for me it really comes down to just a couple things:
No, but really. I don’t know how life is going to go or exactly what will happen. This isn’t a failure or a shortcoming, it’s just life. All of us “grown-ups” are in the same boat. We can’t control all the circumstances or factors or other people, but we can control our expectations, our reactions, our attitude, and how we plan accordingly.
Giving myself permission not to stress about the things I can’t control is a huge relief. And budgeting my time and money to ensure there is margin to make choices and adjust when life happens, allows me to breathe easy. This is peace of mind.
The more I choose to focus on the things I can control, and let go of the rest, the more peace of mind takes over. Carefully budgeting my time and money to ensure there is margin to make choices and adjust when life happens, allows me to breathe easy. I’m not sticking my head in the sand—I’m making good choices with the information at hand, and I can feel good about that—it’s really all I can do. This is peace of mind.
There is no formula here, no template, because I’m the only person who can decide what really makes me happy. But getting this part right, is a big part of experiencing peace of mind.
If you are chasing someone else’s purpose, you’ll never be satisfied. Your priorities may look different than the people around you. They might not fit neatly into the mold you inherited. You might even have a surprisingly hard time getting to the heart of it. That’s OK. There are no wrong answers.
What is most important to you is irrelevant—the critical piece is aligning your time, your energy, and your money toward whatever it is with abandon. Strip away the unnecessary. Decide what matters most. Focus your resources in that direction, and relax. It will just feel right.
Very little in life will end up going exactly as planned. More often than not it is not going to look like what I thought it would look like or what it looks like on Pinterest. But I’m learning that the less I worry about what it should be, the more I can enjoy what it is.
Do I have it all together? I certainly do not. But I know who I am and what is most important to me. I’m intentional about aligning my precious resources—my time, attention, and money—in support of the things that are most important to me. Knowing I’m taking care of the things that matter most, (and that we’re all just making it up as we go along) gives me the freedom to let go of the rest. This is peace of mind and it is the best feeling.
Remember, budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. You can do this! Today. Right now. What do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress. (Ok, so kind of a lot.)
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