I don’t believe there is one single person that actually wants to be miserable in the midst of their current reality. But such is life. You may be finding it impossible to enjoy life right now. It’s a frustrating state to be in but I’m here to encourage you and make you own up to your part in it.
The truth is that you are choosing the frustration. So, the odds are stacked against you (or so they seem). You have debt out of your you know what, you hate your job, your house is always a mess, you’re not able to save money, etc. The list can go on but the fact remains the same — you wish you could enjoy life now and you’re frustrated with the “limitations”, so to speak.
I didn’t realize I was waiting for happiness and I was, in fact, choosing to be frustrated with life. However, something earlier this year made me say, “Screw this ish.” I was literally done. I was tired of waiting on happy. I realized happy could be had right here and now in this moment, but first I had to choose to change the way I felt about my circumstances.
So, that’s exactly what I did. I shifted my focus, changed the way I felt about things like debt and took a vow to start planning for the future life I wanted while still finding a way to enjoy life now. Wanna hear how you can do the same?
Good. Keep reading.
How to Plan for The Future While Enjoying Life Now
Before we get into these things you can do to plan for the future while enjoying life now, I want to emphasize one thing. You have to CHANGE your feelings. Your feelings won’t pay the bills or help you knock out those student loans. Why?
Because feelings are fleeting. One moment you’re happy. Next moment you’re joyful. The next you’re angry AF. If we depended on those feelings to manage the money and pay the bills, it would not be cute.
For example, I used to feel like my student loans were suffocating me. I felt like they were holding me back from a better life and that’s far from true. Staying in those feelings wasn’t helping me to change my situation. I was paralyzed with doubt and anxiety on achieving the things I wanted to achieve in life.
Now that I’ve changed the way I feel about my debt, I can actually start taking action. I’ve stepped outside of those feelings and determined they were simply an indicator of something being wrong. No, I didn’t feel good when I thought of my debt, and that indicated to me that my perspective about my debt was all wrong.
So, that’s all I mean by allowing your feelings to fall by the wayside. If your feelings about something are negatively impacting your life, take a look at your perspective. Nine times out of ten if our perspective shifts into a more positive state, we gain the clarity and tools to defeat whatever it is we’ve been frustrated with in the first place.
Okay, sorry #lifehack rant over. Let’s get into these practical tips, shall we?
Know how much you have going out versus coming in (aka your cash flow)
Want to eliminate the stress of not knowing where your money is going? Start focusing on your cash flow. Many of you are stressed about your money because you simply don’t have an idea of what’s coming in and where you’re spending it.
Understanding your cash flow gives you some critical insight on whether you’re going into debt every month. If you’re spending more than what’s being earned, you’re not setting yourself up for the life that you want.
Not only that, it’s pretty impossible to enjoy the life in your present if you don’t feel financially secure. You ultimately want to be financially free, but first, focus on being secure. Your security is in positive cash flow and commas in your bank account.
Say no, with a purpose.
Think about the things you would enthusiastically say yes to. Those are the things you should focus more on while learning to say no to things that are insignificant to you.
Just because your co-workers ask you to lunch doesn’t mean you have to go. And it makes it a lot easier to say no when you’re focused on all the things you can say yes to instead.
Despite what society has led you to believe, it’s okay to be selfish when it comes to taking care of you. Know what you want your lifestyle to look like. Don’t hesitate when it’s time to say no to anything that doesn’t align with what you want.
Think of all the things you’re paying for right now that don’t bring you any type of joy or satisfaction. Now, write them down.
Anything you’ve written down is up on the chopping block. They can either be reduced or eliminated altogether. For instance, why are you paying the cable company all this money every month for sports and movie channels if you’re satisfied with your weekly fix of Grey’s Anatomy?
If you don’t consume it – it’s safe to say it brings you no joy or satisfaction. Those are expenses you can eliminate. You’re trying to enjoy life now which means you can stop doing things you don’t enjoy. Like right now.
Automate your long-term and short-term savings goals.
There are some short-term and long-term goals you can set up today and allow them to handle themselves automatically. Of course, some goals may be aggressive and require your time commitment to earning more within certain timeframes. But for the most part, your goals can be set up once through your bank.
Let’s say you want to experience New York City at Christmas time. I’m talking going all out like Kev’s parents did in Home Alone. All you need to do is figure out what Christmas in NYC will cost you and create a savings goal.
Once you know your savings goal, set up automatic deposits or transfers into a separate savings account (I personally use Capital One 360) for a specific timeframe. When it’s time to take your trip, your savings will be there and all it required was a one-time action from you.
Of course, the same thing can be applied to long-term goals like retirement. Maybe you’re already contributing to your retirement through your job, but you want to open up an IRA outside of work. Do it! No matter the goal or timeframe, automation can help you plan for your future while enjoying life now.
Plan for life, but don’t neglect fun things.
I’ve tried that whole I’m not doing this until I’m debt-free thing and it ain’t for me. Some folks may be about that life, but I’m not. See, I’m just not set up that way and many of you may not be either.
That’s why it frustrates the hell out of me when some people pull out their little bible of personal finance do’s and don’ts and try to thump you over the head with it.
Not everyone is alike and there’s no need and trying to force one way of thinking on everyone. I’m with the whole debt-free movement and all, but not at the expense of my happiness. If going on a vacation with $80ish grand in student loans is going to make me happy, damn it, I’m going.
Now don’t get me wrong, if I don’t have the cash to pay for that vacation, that’s a different story. But if I’m not taking on any additional debt and I have an opportunity to do something fun every once in a while – I’m doing it.
There are plenty of thoughts on living frugally and I’ve shared a few here at LAAB, but I want to make it clear that you can build for the future, pay off debt, and have a damn life at the same time. What worked for Suze and Dave ‘nem is awesome and the plan is to get like them. But, I’m at liberty to take my own path and so are you.
Now Go Enjoy Life
See, that wasn’t painful. Life is about choices and right now you might feel like you don’t have any, but rest assured you do. You always have choices in spite of any mountain that may be standing in your way.
You can plan for your future and enjoy your life now simply by focusing on your perspective and less on your feelings. Remember, feelings will keep you caught up in a never-ending cycle of wanting something. But your perspective will help you unlock the doors to getting everything you could imagine.