Although financial independence is high on my list of things I want to achieve. It’s slowly been re-prioritized lower and lower. After several major life events happening to people close to me, I’ve come to the realization that money is important but far from the most important thing in life.
After dealing with the aftermath of losing someone as well as seeing family friends diagnosed with Cancer it’s become clear that we don’t live forever. None of us know when we will pull the shortest straw and be diagnosed with an illness, get in a car accident or have some tragedy in our lives. When any one of these things happen, no one cares about money anymore, except to pay bills. What we care about is living happy lives, filled with people we care about. We need to realize that our time to do this is limited, therefore we need to prioritize the work involved with attaining the things that are truly important to us.
While money plays some role in the above, investing in our health, mental well-being and friendships are far more important. If you become financially independent and have no friends, you’ve lost the game. If you have all the money in the world and are sick and unhealthy, you’ve also lost the game. If you lose track of what is important and get caught up in the many trappings of modern life, you will lose the game. The goal is to be healthy, happy, wise, balanced and have great friendships and loving family. If you happen to also be wealthy because of a lifelong dedication to saving and investing wisely that’s the icing on the cake.
Now I know everyone has different ideals and different circumstances so take the above with a grain of salt. These are generalizations in what I consider important to me at this point in time in my life. Do your own evaluating and ask yourself what is important to you to live the kind of life you want to live.
We all need to do the thought-work required to find out what is important to us individually. These findings will change our priorities and what we consider to be a good, balanced life. Always make sure you’re thinking for yourself, neither I or anyone else should be making decisions for you.
Where to begin? It’s always good to start with health. Prioritize sleep above all. Then dedicate yourself to some activity or activities you enjoy. Walking is a great start. Doesn’t have to be anything crazy either. Commit to the process and build time into your days specifically for exercise. If nothing else, start with 5 minutes and increase your time weekly from there. The key is to start small so you don’t overwhelm yourself, get frustrated and quit. I cannot stress the importance of starting small. I have a decade of failed attempts at things due to doing too much too fast. Slow and steady wins the race.
Slow and steady wins the race.
Once you’ve got a start on changing healthy habits change your diet. Get rid of the toxic junk that pervades our diets. Get rid of processed foods. Eat simply. Eat real, whole foods. This isn’t nor does it have to be complicated. Use your head, read labels. If there are ingredients you can’t pronounce don’t eat it. If you’re achy, lethargic and tired I’d recommend getting rid of all refined carbohydrates, sugar and sodas. At the very least try removing all sugar from your diet. I promise you’ll feel better.
If you can stick to the above recommendations you’re going to surpass the majority of people and be well on your way to living a happy, clean, fantastic life. Again, start small, commit to the process and never give up. It’s a marathon not a sprint. Take your time.
Another aspect of a balanced life is Friendships. Friendships are also hugely important and a large determiner of longevity and lifelong happiness. Do not neglect them. If you don’t have many friends, work on yourself. Learn to be generous. Share with people. Offer advice. Give compliments. Be nice and genuine. Be on time. Be consistent and dependable. Be helpful. Be a person of your word. Join a group you are interested in. Join an exercise class or a community garden. Volunteer if you can’t think of anything else. Find something you like and find a group of people who also enjoy it. This will give you something in common with others and an easy opportunity to converse and make friends. Pro tip: If you are doing something new or in a group of people you don’t know, ask for help with something. People like to feel helpful and allowing yourself to be a beginner and be vulnerable enough to ask for help breaks down barriers and allows others to feel the satisfaction of helping another person. This is also a great and organic way to start conversations because now you have something to talk about.
Think of health, happiness, exercise and friendships as investment buckets. Fill them weekly. It doesn’t have to be a massive amount and shouldn’t be in the beginning. Start slowly. Track your progress and commit yourself to the process of investing in these. The quality of your life depends on them. To continue with the financial independence/savings metaphor, we all know that consistent deposits of even small amounts of money over long periods of time add up to incredible wealth, if we apply this same mentality to our health, fitness and happiness buckets, over time we will find that the dividends paid back from investing in living a healthy, happy life are worth more than any amount of money.
“So many people spend their health gaining wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health” A.J. Reb Materi