One of the things that I’ve been striving to do is to create a lifestyle that I can enjoy with my family. While it takes time to get to the point where you are reasonably happy with your lifestyle, it’s worth making that a goal. Many of us, when we look at our lives, wonder if something is “missing.” Are we doing what we want? Are there ways to improve the quality of life? It’s important to look at your spending, and your lifestyle, and figure out if you could bring your spending in line with your lifestyle goals.

mime in guanajuato

What is Important to You?

As always, when figuring out what lifestyle you would be most happy with, it’s essential for you to figure out what’s most important to you. Talk it over with your family, and figure out what kinds of activities, expenditures, and other things are most important. One of the things I liked about the documentary I’m Fine, Thanks was that those shown figured out what they wanted to do, and decided not to worry too much about what others around them thought they were “supposed” to do.

In my family, we have relatively few wants. We live in a modest home, and don’t care much for designer items. We like quality, well-made things, but we’re choosy about which things we are willing to spend money on. We both feel it’s important to give to our church and to charity. We also both enjoy eating out, and spending time with good company. I like to travel, and going on trips is important to me. My husband is a homebody who loves to collect action figures. We like our son to be able to participate in extracurricular activities that he enjoys, including Cub Scouts, 4-H, piano, and baseball.

A couple of years ago, we decided to re-arrange our spending to fit what’s actually important to us. We realized that we were spending money on things that we didn’t really care for, and that it was causing a little strain on our budget. We took a look at what we most wanted to do, and cut out other spending. We still give to our church, and we set up a regular, recurring donation to the local food bank. He buys action figures (that he displays on a rotating basis to avoid cluttering up the house), and my son and I go on a couple of trips a year. My son only does the activities that are most important to him, and we all eat out together a few times a month.

By identifying what we really cared about, we were able to cut the things we don’t care for from our budget. This leaves more room for spending on things that we actually enjoy.

Decide on a Work Situation

It’s true that not everyone can pick their work situation. We have been fortunate, though, that we have been able to arrange our careers in a way that we both like. My husband loves teaching, so he is an adjunct. While he is looking for a full-time job, being an adjunct hasn’t been bad. He has been able to largely set his own schedule, and, of course, he gets lots of time off. He’s working with ambitious students, and he enjoys interacting with them. He likes social aspects of his job.

I, on the other hand, prefer to work from home. My freelance business allows me to work from home — or from the road (when I’m traveling). Plus, since I can do my work from anywhere, when my husband does get hired as a “regular” professor somewhere, I can go anywhere. My work situation provides me with flexibility. Additionally, my husband’s situation as an adjunct for two nearby universities is fairly secure, so he can be picky as he looks for work.

If you aren’t happy with your career path, take a look at the options, and consider what you can do to make changes. Education, knowledge, or skills can help you change course if you aren’t happy. Try to decide how you can create a situation that you like, and that works for you.

You can’t make lifestyle changes overnight, but you can improve the situation over time. Figure out what you want your life to look like, and then identify what you need to do to get there. Make a plan, and start making the gradual changes that can lead to your desired lifestyle.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.