There was a time when we felt stuck. We felt like our dreams and hopes were unattainable. We felt defeated. We struggled during this time in our life (and in our marriage), but we found a way to pull ourselves out of that hard place and into a better financial situation, allowing us to make our dreams a reality. You can do it too - here are 3 steps to help you get started:
One of the first things we did that helped us in our journey was to question everything. When we entered adulthood, we let the world take control of our lives. It told us to focus on our careers instead of our marriage. It told us to impulsively spend our money instead of focusing on our values.
Chris worked long hours and added an MBA program to his schedule. I worked late into the evenings and every other weekend in the fitness world. We spent our paychecks on Pottery Barn furniture and expensive clothing. We never took a vacation or slowed down to enjoy our marriage. Our life became about finding our value in what the world thought of us.
It wasn’t until we became a family of five that we realized we were broken. We had a nice home and a good job. And while we were grateful for this, we found ourselves unhappy. Why? We wanted more time together. At first, it felt like there was nothing we could do. Chris needed to work his 40+ hours. We needed the paycheck.
But what if we didn’t need the paycheck? What would we do? Chris talked about working in a job that allowed flexibility, remote work, and ample vacation time (maybe even entering the world of entrepreneurship). We talked about taking weekday hikes, traveling around the world, and walking our girls to school.
Once we created this vision, a vision that aligned with our own values, we found the strength to question more. Were we handling our money in a way that was leading us in the direction we wanted to go? Were our current possessions helping us live the life we wanted? What changes could we make to our life that would get us closer to the life we wanted?
Don’t Be Afraid To Experiment
After asking ourselves all those questions we realized that we wanted to simplify our life and make room for our dreams. Simplifying can be daunting, especially if the changes are going to be permanent. How would we know if we were making a mistake? But here’s the thing - we didn’t have to make permanent changes right away. We could practice, pretend, and experiment.
We parked our Prius in the garage for one month, choosing to only drive our minivan to see if we could make it work. We boxed up clothes, toys, and other household items, storing them in the basement, pretending we didn’t have them. We experimented with floor sleeping. We closed off parts of our house, pretending we had less square footage and a single bathroom. Chris asked to work from home on Fridays, getting a feel for remote work.
Our experiments gave us the confidence to take action in changing our life. We realized we could live with one vehicle. We sold the Prius and with the money we received we were able to pay off our minivan loan and make a nice principal payment on our mortgage. Most of the items stored in the basement were donated and sold. The money we made was helpful, but more importantly, we realized we didn’t need to buy more stuff, saving us money in the long run and making room in our budget for travel. Pretending to live in half our house turned into selling our home, moving into an apartment, and building our Little White Shack - coming summer 2019. The money we made from selling our home allowed Chris to take a one year mini-retirement and find a remote job he loves.
If you are feeling stuck in life right now, start questioning the constraints you are living within. Then start experimenting with how you can make changes. And after you’ve followed through on those experiments and found answers to your questions, take action to make a significant impact on your future!
What would you accomplish if you questioned the status quo and experimented with a new way of life?