A couple of years ago, I was struggling with the fact that despite a growing business and a respectable measure of professional success, I was still just making ends meet financially. It seemed like no matter how hard I worked and no matter how much I earned, it was never enough to get caught up. I never felt secure.
One day, I sat down and made a list of what I actually wanted out of my life. When I’d finished the list, I realized that the only item on it that cost actual money was travel. Everything else I wanted required only my time and attention: writing novels, making art, reading, playing, learning new things, et al.
So if nothing I wanted required cold, hard cash, how come I was working so hard to make ever more money?
The answer is, of course, that I was working hard to make ever more money because that’s what I’ve been programmed to do. You probably have, too. It’s in our educational training, where rewards are tied to numbers rather than personal development. It’s in our advertising, which reminds us constantly that we can never expect to be happy if we don’t have what paid actors in commercials appear to have. It’s baked into my American DNA as surely as apple pie and baseball.
Seeing my secret desires in a tangible list made me realize that I don’t need more to be happier. At least, I don’t need more money. I need more time. As a result of this revelation, I started asking myself radically different questions than I had before. Instead of trying to contrive ways to make more money, I started imagining ways to live on less. That led me to the idea of living on a sailboat, which would reduce our cost of living to a third of what it was on land and give me access to affordable travel, too.
Of course, moving onto the boat meant getting rid of 75% of our personal belongings. It also means doing without a lot of conveniences and comfort as we live and work on our old boat. But it’s created more room for adventure and more time to do the things that I want to do. Wanting less has expanded my horizons to infinity.