What motivates you to make changes in your life? How do you evaluate what is most important to you where you are at?
From my experience, it seems that in order to make a change, we must first recognize where we are at. This can tie into making changes in so many areas – taking care of our health and well-being, our ability to get things done, our budgets… Once we recognize how we are doing something already, we can begin to effect positive change to be who we want to be in that area.
I’m living on a tight budget. I’m a single woman living in an expensive city, and I have to be extremely conscious of how I spend my resources. It’s important for me to know that I can take care of myself while also providing myself options in the future. Though I’ve been fairly budget conscious for the past year or so, some upheaval in my life helped me recognize that my budget was no longer working for me, and I needed to reevaluate my spending behaviors and make some changes.
That said, my needs are pretty straightforward. Shelter, food, savings, and steadily reducing my debt. It’s the wants that make things more complicated. It’s only my own needs and wants that I have to consider – why can’t I just spend my disposable income haphazardly? (Answer: Because that means that when I do have others’ needs to consider, it’ll be much harder to make a change than it is now.)
Identifying what’s important can really help to prioritize my spending. Beyond my needs, I want to be able to indulge in ways that really bring value to my life. Adventures with friends leave me feeling relaxed and happy and connected – so that is up at the top of my list. Supporting local businesses helps me connect with the people who live and work in my community. Putting my money where my heart is means that I need to be self-disciplined in terms of material purchases – I’ve been carless for almost a year because the associated costs of transport mean I’d sacrifice future savings, and so I focus instead on putting my meager disposable income (after savings) toward experiences that reflect my values. When I do purchase goods, I make a conscious choice to spend money on items that I’ll get a lot of use from and some joy. (For instance, my birthday present to myself was four place settings of Fiestaware dishes. Every time I use a dish, I smile at its color, and think, “This was a good buy!” I’d like to have that feeling with every item I own.)
This renewed focus on how I’m spending my money has translated into also evaluating my use of time and energy – all my resources are interconnected, and of these, time feels the most precious… So when I have time that is mine alone now, I’m trying to spend it in ways that are refreshing and fulfilling to me. This means a lot of physical and creative activities, many small adventures (even going to the grocery store is an adventure!), and sharing time with people whose company is uplifting and rejuvenating. That brings me the most value for the time and energy I’m blessed to have. And often, they come with little to no impact on my financial bottom line, while boosting my pleasure in life.
So, what changes are you considering making in your life? If you’re like me, it’s not always easy to make changes, even while recognizing their worth. That’s because it can be uncomfortable to examine my life and recognize where I am holding myself back from becoming that person I’d like to be. But just today, I heard the best question from my friend and coworker Barton that gives a good ground to start from: What is it I value so much about my lifestyle that remaining the same is more important than making a change in my behavior?
It’s an excellent question, one that I’m posting in places I’ll see it often. What motivates you to change?
Sasha may be the shyest social person you’ll ever meet. She joined Verity in 2009, with a couple years in the Credit Union Movement already tucked under her belt (amidst coffee-making and bagel-slinging, running a non-profit, and trying her hand at farming).
An eternal optimist (except, you know, when she’s not), she enjoys exploring her surroundings and having adventures with friends; yoga, running, reading, writing, and good food. Though not a remarkable cook, she is nonetheless a sincere one and admits she’d be better if there were three more hours in every day. When not doing one of the many activities mentioned in the previous two sentences, she counts herself lucky to be peacefully at home, cuddling with her partner and their cat.