Maximize Your Investment

Be a high-flyer

If you're interested in minimalism, you probably already know that the pursuit of more and more possessions doesn't make you happy.  You may experience a bit of short-term excitement when you acquire that new gadget or outfit, but the enjoyment doesn't last.  Before you know it, the new item is no longer new – it's just part of all that you own.  And while it may be useful, using it becomes part of the daily routine.  And so, when your eye is caught by something "new and improved," your desire shifts, and now you can't wait to own that new thing.

For most people, this pattern repeats itself over and over until our closets and cupboards are full, there's no room in the garage to park a car, and every weekend is spent servicing our stuff.

But minimalists realize that a ton of possessions won't necessarily make anyone happy.  In fact, they might actually prevent our happiness.

I'm not saying that we don't all benefit from having the items we need for comfort.  Of course I want a quality mattress, a relaxing chair, enough clothes for cleanliness and appropriate to my activities every day, and adequate dishes and cooking implements to feed myself and my family.  Yes, I like having books to read and a hobby or two.  I'm not saying we'd all be better off living with deprivation.

But there's a point (and it's different for everyone) where more stuff starts stealing our time, attention, money, energy, and focus.  All of us have a finite amount of these assets, and if they are all directed toward gaining and keeping more stuff, we have nothing left over for those pursuits that actually do bring us long-lasting satisfaction.

Our precious resources could be better spent.

So what should we do with our time, money, energy, ideas, creativity, and enthusiasm?  Each of us will answer that question differently.  Some may want to travel.  Others might want to retire early, having amassed investment income to meet their needs.

What we need to discover is how to maximize the investment of our assets.  How can we get the most value from them?

If we use our time and energy to earn money to purchase a big screen TV, then our life assets were worth that big screen TV.  We get to hang it on the wall in the living room and watch movies or sporting events or play video games on it, and that's all we get in return for our life assets.

Or maybe we use our attention and intelligence to make more money and get a good deal on some new clothes or a designer handbag, granite countertops or a custom front door.  In that case, our life assets were worth the fashion and flourishes we purchased.  We and our houses may be beautifully adorned, but that's all we get in return for our life assets.

Now let's imagine that we use our resources to take a family trip.  We create some new memories around a shared experience.  Perhaps we learn something new or try something different, and now we have a family story we can remember and talk about for the rest of our lives.

Doesn't this increase the value of the life assets we spent?  We enjoy the trip and we continue to share happy memories with our loved ones far into the future.  Ultimately this may prove more worthwhile than a bigger TV or a fancier handbag.

Take it a step further.  How much value results when we share our assets to help a child get medical care, clean water, or an education she would not otherwise receive?  What if we use our money, time, or other assets to help a new immigrant learn English or to provide a financially struggling family with food, transportation, or heat for the winter?  What if we devote our energy, talent, or other resources toward keeping an arts organization financially solvent and available to the whole community?

Now the value of our finite life assets might really soar.  Who knows what that healthy child might accomplish with an education?  What might become of the family you help, and how might they in turn help others?  Who might be elevated and inspired by the orchestra or museum you helped support, and what might be shared or created as a result?

Maybe you have wanted to be able to give generously and help others, but you haven't been able to make that work in your budget.  Or maybe you just haven't had time in your schedule to volunteer.  You've been spending all of your time, energy, money, and everything else on other stuff.

Minimalism can help you create the surplus you need in order to be generous.  A minimalist lifestyle can let you shift some of your finite life resources toward things that have greater and more long-lasting value than another pair of shoes or some new wallpaper.

When we own less, do less, maintain less, and pursue less, we have more to give.  And that brings more satisfaction than the short-term high of another purchase.  Which do you think is the better investment?

Photo by Oleksii S. on Unsplash


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