I totally lost track of and did not appreciate the importance of living a simple life. Because my life became so complicated and busy, I lost track of a lot including my life's own meaning.
For many of us, when we become professionals, we move farther and farther away from living a simple life and more and more towards living a life cluttered with stuff, payments and obligations.
Unwittingly so many of us end up pursuing a lifestyle of “keeping up with the Joneses.” I know I did without even realizing it.
Who are the Joneses anyway?
Some people call it keeping up with the Joneses, others call it the consensus reality, and others call it our western cultural values.
The Joneses are not necessarily specific individuals. The Joneses are an idea or that represent the main stream of what success means in our culture.
Does this scenario sound familiar?
We spend our early years and young adulthood gaining the credentials to become self-supporting, hopefully in a career we find rewarding and in my case, a career that will give us some prestige. We graduate from university or college with huge student loan debt and we obtain our first job. Although the student loan debt is scary, we get our first job and are able to cover our basic necessities like food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and make our loan payments.
Although we are not living a simple life the way we did as students, we are pleased that we are on the path of “success.”
Within a year or two we may obtain a raise at our job so that we can now buy better things. We might buy our first condo, our first car, and better clothes. We certainly buy a great phone and laptop. We are now well on our way of the lifestyle of being a successful professional.
As our careers progress so does our income increase at which point we get continued raises in our chosen career path. These successions allow us to then upgrade again to better clothes, a better car, and increasingly higher-end, albeit much shorter, vacations.
We likely meet someone to marry and pool our assets and incomes and buy a larger home. Our workout schedule has decreased significantly. We no longer bicycle or take public transportation everywhere as driving is so much easier, particularly since the kids arrived.
Depending on the level of our “success” our children may or may not go to private school. We eat at great restaurants and work to pay for our ever-increasing expenses.
We purchase and consume. We fill up our homes with furniture, appliances, pretty things, and lawnmowers. We buy more stuff over the holidays. More other stuff gets given to us and we quickly find our basements and attics are also filled with stuff. Very few of us question, I mean, really question the whole process.
Life is busy busy busy with rushing kids from one activity to the next. We consider buying a second home to vacation in. Some of us do that. If we don’t buy the vacation home we vacation in resorts with high-end amenities and entertainment.
Due to the ongoing stress of making it all work and the continued sense of being overwhelmed, many of us start to self-medicate by using alcohol or drugs. Others start taking anti-depressant medication. Meanwhile we work and work, putting in long days with minimal vacations to make it all happen and to afford everything.
This is the life that being a success leads to.
Couples who fell so much in love no longer have the time or energy to continually build and create their own relationships. Many end up dividing the assets in half that they worked so hard to accumulate due to the divorce or separation.
We then work day in and day out to pay for everything and try to squirrel away a bit of money for our golden years.
All the years of business success are to pay off, so we think.
We then begin to simplify our lives by downsizing (getting rid of the home with the stairs), empty out our attics and basements of clutter and downsize into a smaller condominium once again (the garden was way too much work anyway).
We spend years and years amassing all of these things only to then drastically reduce the amount of things we own later in life. It seems like a lot of work, time, energy and stress for no good reason. We need to ask ourselves what the whole point of this exercise is.
We convince ourselves that this is just simply “the way it is” when really it is just a result of us falling into the expectations of our society including our own.
There is, in my view, a better way.
Living a simple life has its own built in beauty and reward. When we are living a simple life, we have more opportunity to live a life that we design We are more likely to live a life on purpose with true meaningful experience rather than living a life on autopilot.
The life of a professional, a nonconforming professional can be full of health, happiness, prosperity and simplicity. It is possible to have it all.
Join me as I share my journey in Doing Away with my Inner Jones. Hopefully I can help you do away with yours.
Written by Val Hemminger, the nonconforming professional