“Life is a choice.” ~Unknown
I’m virtually broke, but I’m still enjoying life. How is this possible, you ask?
True happiness comes from having much less than you think you need. Growing up, I wouldn’t say that I had an abundance of toys. By normal standards, my family was just getting by with what we had. The bills weren’t just going to disappear, and there were three other young mouths to feed. It was either use my imagination to escape my reality or die of boredom. Which choice do you think I made?
In escaping my reality, I found myself taking on a whole new one.
No longer was the day boring because the toys I had were old and worn. Suddenly, the little apartment we lived in turned into a massive playground where my siblings and I could play hide and seek. We could build forts. We had water fights using plastic cups and the kitchen sink. Through this I learned that life didn’t have to involve boredom, and it didn’t have to include suffering.
It could be exactly how I wanted it to be.
Eventually, however, I had to face the reality that we all need money to survive. Growing up meant I’d need a career to support myself. It seemed like the right path, but I soon discovered that people generally weren’t happy with their jobs.
They worked long hours for good money and used that money to buy stuff. Was this really how life worked?
So I sat and thought about this conundrum for a bit. Then I came to an astonishing conclusion:
Why don’t you just consume less so you need less?
It makes sense, right? You spend all this time making money, trying to pay the bills for the things you buy when all you have to do is buy less to work less. Make just enough so you can have more free time.
Everyone expects you to do what society wants: find a job and buy the latest clothes or gadgets. There’s a whole world out there. Why waste your time with things you’ll get bored of anyway?
If you want your life to go in a more exciting direction, you have to choose to change it.
Waiting for your next paycheck and getting your spending money won’t make life any better.
I barely spend anything at all. Life is still grand.
Here are some of the best tips to make room for a life where you control how much of it you wish to enjoy:
Only purchase what contributes to your long-term enjoyment, not short-term infatuation. That $300 pair of jeans isn’t going to last you any longer than the $30 set in the discount bin. Going to a fast food joint may be quick, but isn’t it better just to cook your own food?
The problem comes from the fact that people spend way too much on things that don’t matter. If you don’t have to spend anything, don’t spend anything.
Now, I’ve never owned a car in my life, but my sister has. She’s banged it up more times than I can remember and had to shell out quite a bit of dough to fix it. How can you live freely when you have this big metal weight on your shoulders, forcing you to pay for it?
In this day and age, we have public transportation to take us anywhere we want (for a much cheaper price). But if you prefer an even cheaper alternative, buy a bike.
Because I’m a college student, I have fewer responsibilities than you might. My main source of income comes from my blog (which is in the process of becoming a business). This allows me to focus completely on my own projects and monetizing my passions. From my laptop, I can make money online. My life isn’t owned by the nine-to-five workday.
It takes work, but anyone can make money online, or choose an alternative to the overworked lifestyle that most people choose to finance all their stuff.
Wait… you’re just some punk college kid. I’ve got a family at home and kids to feed. How does this help me?
Like I said, you can downsize and choose an alternative career path, too. If you still don’t believe me, meet Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist. His entire family of four practices minimalism, and as a result, live full lives with far less stuff. Joshua’s even written articles teaching other families how to be minimalist.
Joshua defines financial freedom as spending less–not making more–and that’s the way he lives and works.
There are multiple ways of freeing up your life. You don’t have to start a blog like Joshua and I did. Reclaim your time by doing one of four things:
Depending on how skilled you are, freelancing can be quite profitable. From writing to web design, selling your talents to clients anytime you want, anywhere you want is an excellent way to free up time.
In truth, it takes a lot of work to get a good enough reputation so you can start rolling in dough from high-paying gigs. However, if you want a quick buck and are just testing the waters, freelancing is the place the start.
If you want to take reclaiming your time to the next level, try consulting. I understand that some people still want to have personal connections through their work and that consulting over the phone (or even through a web-chat) can be limiting.
Like freelancing, if you’re good at what you do, you’ll be able to charge accordingly, work less, and free up time to do what you love.
Speaking of doing what you love, why not make that into another income stream, too? Whether you love to make t-shirts with funny messages on them or resell old baseball cards, your passion can be monetized. The challenge comes in finding the right audience that would be willing to purchase your expertise (which, ironically takes a lot of time).
But once you find the right audience, setting up an online store and making side-money will be a snap.
How about going all the way and starting a business?
Starting an online business pretty much culminates everything we’ve talked about. Freelancing, consulting, and doing what you love—that’s doing business, in a nutshell.
The great thing about starting an online business, though, is that it’s online. You don’t have to buy building space or pay for expensive office equipment. It’s all in a very cheap virtual domain. Once your business is up and running, you can hire people online to manage sales and customer service.
Time will be at your fingertips.
This choice isn’t for everybody and it takes a lot to be an entrepreneur, but those who can muster the endurance to run a business will be able to completely own their time.
I’ve made these choices in my life because I don’t want to pursue a future other people have chosen for me. I could have been bored as a child, but I chose not to. I could have been in a lot of debt from buying things I didn’t need, but I refused.
I could have accepted my “fate” and gotten a real job. Reclaiming my time proved more important.
Everything that happens in life is your choice. Believe that you can make life better and live it to the fullest.
John is the author of HiLife2B, where he inspires you to do what you love and test the limits of what's possible.
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