Lance’s fantastic blog post about how accomplishment makes you more attractive really got me thinking. I feel like what he says is relevant to the negative effect of the BF’s job on his health and decision-making, which has really got the BF and I revisiting a lot of things.
See, he went to grad school for a terminal degree in his field because he knew that he could become very wealthy working in private practice in that industry. What he didn’t bank on was:
He won’t even be on the road to wealthy until he’s paid off the debt he accumulated earning that degree. He earns over $90K per year and has the same standard of living that he did when he was a student – two years later. And his credit card debt won’t be paid off for 3 more years. Then there’s the loan for his new car. And although he doesn’t have any plans to pay it off aggressively, there’s the $100K in student loans. Now he’s in a job he hates, but he can’t leave at least until his credit cards are paid off, because he needs that level of salary just to make the payments.
He also didn’t anticipate the toll that the hours and stress of his job would take, not only on his health, but on the quality of his relationship with me. Cheating concerns from his recent actions aside, the earliest I can ever expect him home is 7:30 p.m. Frequently it’s 9 p.m., and he often goes in on at least one weekend day (he put in over 20 hours last weekend, and he’s going to California this weekend for some work that can only be completed on-location). This means that even if he did have oodles of money to spend on things like creative, expensive dates and vacations – guess what? He wouldn’t be able to get the time off to go.
So what’s left? The main reasons people want to be wealthy are to give their kids a better life and to own a nice home, car, and all those trappings. Well, we’re not having kids and we don’t ever plan on owning a home. So, really, he’s working himself to death so that he can own a huge HD television set and an assault rifle, and eat lunch out every day? Sadly, there aren’t going to be any huge changes regarding his work/life balance anytime soon (3 years from now, minimum). But we’re working on reprioritizing our long-term goals to reflect the things we really want.
The fellows Lance encountered at the 21 Convention were focused on gaming chicks as an end-goal rather than as the byproduct of a life richly led. Similarly, the BF is discovering that his past focus on wealth as an end-goal doesn’t really get him the time and health necessary to do and enjoy all the things that he had planned on using that money to buy in the first place. That’s what happens when you focus on the trappings of success rather than the substance.
Although I’ve never cared about being wealthy (my mom was a quadriplegic and so my dad was the only one working – they raised my sister and me on $35K per year), I haven’t done as good of a job avoiding the trappings as I’d like. It’ll take me at least a year and a half, maybe two, to pay off the credit card debt I accrued in grad school, and I’ll be making payments on my own $100K in student loan debt for a long, long time. But I didn’t want to move out of my tiny Flagstaff apartment, I drive a car I paid off years ago, I brown bag it to lunch except for maybe once a month, and I don’t care if we own a bigger TV (though I’m not giving up Direct TV anytime soon).
I measure my success by having a 40-hour workweek and a 3-mile commute that lets me pay all my bills while still letting me sleep in until 7 a.m. and get home at 5:45 p.m. This means that I have time to spend with our (rescued) pets, write this blog, and cook delicious homemade vegetarian meals from scratch on an almost daily basis. I can take freelance work on the side and travel to visit friends. And while I am taking that freelance work to improve my own financial situation, my immediate goal is to free up enough funds in my budget to join a yoga gym again. After all, how can the BF and I find our center again if I haven’t even found mine?
How do you measure your success? Let us know in the comments below. Then, you might also enjoy these fine posts: