This morning my wife commented that I rarely do things in moderation. I guess she probably has a point, and on reflection I can see many examples where not only have I been overly-enthusiastic (maybe sometimes obsessive) about a hobby, cause or new area of interest but also how I yo-yo between extremes. For example, in my pursuit of Financial Indepence I know that at times I’ve been overly frugal but occasionally I’ll randomly go and spend a ton of money. I can go cold turkey with my Coke Zero (habit/addiction) but then revert to drinking way too much. This see-sawing behaviour often negates my positive intentions.
Perhaps the old saying “everything in moderation” has some merit. Those that read my last post about the concept of FILLS know that I’ve been thinking a lot about balance, sustainability and our place in the world.
Does living at the extremes of the spectrum result in long term net benefits for us as individuals, or society at large? Clearly, excessive consumption of food and material goods is negatively impacting our finances, physical/mental health and the environment. Extreme deprivation is equally detrimental. Any such lifestyle might work in the short-term, and perhaps medium-term, but is unlikely to be viable over an extended period. Surely instead we should be striving for balance, in order to realize a more fulfilling, meaningful and sustainable existence.
I’m not suggesting a lifestyle of banal, bland neutrality with no highs or lows, disappointments or successes, huge mistakes or deep learnings. Life is meant to be lived. But let’s recognize where we have unconsciously let the balance slip with what we consume, how we work, what we buy, and in our relationships with things and people.
Areas where some recalibration might be required:
- Work-life balance – Many of us now have the ability to sometimes work remotely or have employers promoting flexible hours and ‘family-friendly’ leave policies. However increased connectivity, endless emails, the demise of long term job stability and unrealistic corporate demands have resulted in chronic levels of stress in the workplace. In the wise words of Dolly Parton “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life”
- Family and friends – Are we spending enough time with those that are important to us? Are we cultivating, investing in and growing these relationships or alternatively neglecting / taking them for granted?
- Technology and social media – Yes, tech comes with undoubted benefits, but also clear downsides. How often do we really need to check our smart phones! Apps, social media, the internet and our devices are designed to hook our attention for as long as possible. Unfortunately, many of us show the signs of tech addiction and it’s estimated that people, on average, engage with their phones almost 3,000 times a day. Technology is influencing how we think, develop and interact with others. Social media in particular feels like it is amplifying the effect of negative trends of isolation, anger and discrimination. Be more conscious about where, when and how often you engage with your devices.
- Stuff – Society at large is on a consumerist treadmill and the unending pursuit of more. Do you really need to keep up with Jones’s? Is credit card debt worth getting the latest pair of fashionable shoes? Be more conscious about the physical, psychological and financial weight of your possessions and the constant desire for more and more.
- Food and exercise – Most of us know what we should be doing, but the reality is that we often eat too much and exercise too little. In this instance, recalibration is likely to mean flipping the equation in order to benefit our phycial and mental health.
- Personal development – If you’re like me you probably watch too much television and procrastinate or get distracted by the endless to-do list of life. How can you make more productive use your time? Are you learning, evolving and building towards your aspirations and goals? The days can sometimes be long, but the decades are short so it’s important to make them count.
Part of my Financial Independence Live Lightly and Simply (FILLS) ambition is to establish a more harmonious existence. That will require me to be more mindful and balanced. It will undoubtedly also require semi-regular resets – stepping back, acknowledging where I’ve gone off track and recalibrating. Our lives and the broader ecosystem we are part of can be easily disrupted and should be nutured carefully. Look after yourself, those around you and the world in which we live.
The key to keeping balance is to know when you’ve lost itAnonymous
Thanks for reading
Mr Simple Life