There are very few people who have the courage to pick up the life that they have created for themselves up to this point and change it dramatically. Most get caught in the rut of however they are living now and just don’t make a switch. Plenty of people talk about how they would like for things to be different, but there are precious few who are actually doing anything about it. That is why it felt like such a radical idea to me when I found myself calling local moving companies to obtain quotes for moving myself from away from my home and the routines I had grown so accustomed to. What I would soon discover was that I was not alone in these desires.
Changing Attitudes About Worldly Possessions
There are numerous quotes from holy books of all faiths that talk about how it is an unwise decision to tie up one’s life and preoccupations with worldly possessions. Those books encourage the faithful to drop the concept of worldly goods as the source of happiness in favor of looking for the spiritual and moral goods that truly bring lasting happiness to human beings. This is great advice even for those who don’t necessarily think of themselves as spiritual or religious in any way. What we know really makes us happy is when we take care of our bodies and minds.
I spoke with a life coach before deciding to leave it all behind and move far away from home. I wasn’t just looking for a rubber stamp for what I already wanted to do. Rather, I spoke with her in the hope that she could provide me with some insights about the decisions I was thinking of making. In all honesty, I also hoped to hear a few counterarguments for why the choices I was considering might not be as wise as I had built them up to be in my mind. To my surprise, the life coach encouraged me to make sure to prioritize things like exercise and getting a clear mind about what choices I would make before jumping right into them. One recommendation was something called the tombstone exercise.
This exercise with a morbid-sounding name has been popularized by the likes of Amazon found Jeff Bezos and many other powerful and influential people as well. The purpose of the exercise is to get into the mindset of thinking about how others will view you once you are deceased. What will your loved ones have to say about you? What accomplishments have you made in life that can be noted and remembered by others? These are the types of moments that stop people in their tracks and help them decide if they are making the right life choices as things stand right now. It might be time for them to re-evaluate how they have structured their entire existence. If that is the case, then maybe it is time to make some dramatic changes to that life.
The Great Resigniation
We live in a particularly interesting time in economics. We are actively living through a time known by financial reporters as ‘the great resignation’. This concept holds that more people than ever before are leaving their jobs to pursue other opportunities. The statistics bear this out with a record 4 million Americans leaving their jobs in April 2021. It has left many scratching their heads, wondering why people are looking to leave their jobs all at the same time. Economists and scholars offer a few of the following potential explanations that are valuable to think about, but I would also like to offer my own at the end:
- The COVID-19 virus has kept many people sick and unable to work.
- Many fear contracting COVID-19 at work if they are being forced to work in the office or with the public.
- Unemployment benefits have been boosted during this time, and some make more on unemployment than they would working.
- Record job openings make it easy for people to job hop from one place to another.
- Wages are beginning to increase somewhat at the lower-end of paid work as employers compete for the labor that is available.
Each of these factors is valid and likely to explain at least some of the trends towards people quitting their jobs, but they are not the complete and entire story. The truth is, there are many people who have simply decided that they are done working a dead-end job that is no longer satisfying for them. They don’t want to continue to try to push a rock up a hill, so to speak, only to keep up appearances with other people. Instead, they have decided to live a life with fewer possessions, but more experiences.
Some people have decided that the best way to continue to achieve what they really want is to get a waste removal service to literally help them clear out some of the debris and clutter that has accumulated in their life and start to spend more time and energy getting those things cleared out. Sure, it is not the easiest thing in the world to get rid of some of your possessions, but if you are being completely honest with yourself, do you really need to be hanging on to those funny t-shirts that you got from a vacation you took a decade ago? The answer to this is, of course, not, but many of us allow silly possessions such as these to get in the way of the things that make us truly happy. We quickly fall into the trap of thinking that these little things have sentimental value that we must hold on to at all costs when they are really far less meaningful than what we attribute to them. Instead, we should try to surround ourselves only with the possessions that truly matter to us, or those that spark joy in our lives, as Marie Kondo might say.
Finding Living Accommodations Elsewhere
One of the more interesting and more challenging parts of what I had to do when moving far away from my home was to speak with real estate agents about what my options were when I got to where I was going. What I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt was the fact that I did not want to purchase a large home that I would immediately fill up with trinkets and other possessions that I just did not need in my life. I knew that this would be wasteful and counterproductive to what I was trying to accomplish. Thus, I found the idea of potentially buying a mobile home making a lot more sense in the circumstances that I was in.
Some people still have an outdated idea of what a mobile home is. They assume that these homes are only for very low-income people who honestly cannot afford to house themselves in anything else. They also create some other gross stereotypes about people who choose to live in homes like this. I knew that there were people out there who would undoubtedly judge me for the decisions I was making about how I would live, but it didn’t bother me nearly as much as the idea of living in a home where I simply collected possessions I did not need, such as diamond and gemstone pendants with no specific purpose or utility to them. To me, that was the more offensive idea. Instead, I decided that I was going to invest in a mobile home for myself and make sure that it was large enough to handle my genuine day-to-day needs without being oversized, so as to make it unwieldy and creating problems for me in other aspects of life. It was a delicate balance that I knew I was going to need to strike with this one, but I firmly felt that I had the ability to make it work, and I was dead set on making that happen.
Speaking with real estate agents, I came to find that there are a lot of people just like me who are asking them some of the very same questions. People are beginning to realize that much of society in America is living in homes that are far too big for what they really need them for. These homes are wasteful because most of the space in those homes does not get used at all, and the larger homes require more energy to keep them powered and operational all throughout the year. It is definitely not an ideal situation, but it is what many people find themselves in because they have tried so hard to keep up with the stereotypes of what they think they are ‘supposed’ to do when it comes to housing size. In reality, there is no ‘correct’ housing size and anyone that suggests that there is simply puts their own priorities on you and assumes that you will have the exact same worldview as them. You can decide on the proper size for your own home based on your needs and your financial situation.
Freeing Myself From Financial Worries
I will not say that I have completely freed myself from all financial worries at all times, but I have certainly made it a lot easier to cope with the ones that do come up. I don’t have the same kind of housing payments that used to weigh me down so greatly, and I don’t have to worry about purchasing items just to try to impress my neighbors. Instead, I focus on using my resources to help benefit me and my ability to enjoy every day of my life. What I realize is that we each only have a certain number of days on this planet, and I don’t want to spend any more of them chasing after someone else’s dream. Instead, I believe that the best thing I can do for myself and for the planet is help reduce my carbon footprint and just spend more time truly enjoying the world around me.
The tradeoff is that I don’t always have the latest gadgets or always stay up to date on the latest shows on television. However, in exchange for that, I receive the ability to be the director of my own life and to paint a picture of it in the way that I want to. People don’t set my schedule for me, and I don’t have to stress as much about where my next paycheck is coming from. Instead, I just live day to day the way that I want to and savor every moment.
I want to end with a reality check. It is not for everyone to pick up their life and move far away from home as I did. I fully understand that there are people who have much more intricate lives than I do, and many have obligations that I could not even dream of. I also know that there are plenty of people who are comfortable and happy with the life that they live. Some are quite pleased with the work that they do and feel no need to pick it all up and move away. There are even some who simply love the place that they live and couldn’t imagine calling anywhere else home. Those are all valid reasons to continue doing what you are doing.
There are plenty of challenges and growing pains when it comes to doing what I did. I felt adrift for some time, and it was certainly not always easy to make friends. There were definitely days and nights when I wondered if I had made the right decision at all. That said, I certainly think that for me personally, it was the right decision. I don’t feel regret nearly as much as I thought I might, and the additional freedoms that I now enjoy are something that I will treasure forever. Thus, it just makes sense in my case that this is the life I want to continue living far into the future.