EVER SINCE I FOUND BLOGGER LISA JANSEN, I’ve appreciated her take on Life Done Differently, as she calls her site. Yet, in outward ways, she and I could hardly be more different than each other.
She’s a 30-something single woman. I’m a 60-something married-almost-40-years man with 8 children and 4 grandchildren.
My Different lifestyle started when I moved from the city to the country where I settled (21 years so far) in a peaceful place to raise my kids. Hers has been to purchase a way-cool, live-in van and roam the countryside.
She loves kitesurfing at the beach (I must admit it looks pretty cool). I’m a hiker of mountains.
We also seem to have alternate approaches to worldview: I base mine specifically on belief in the God of the Old and New Testaments while she appears to draw from a more eclectic range of spiritual perspectives.
We even live on opposite sides of the planet. I’m in the American state of Tennessee. The countryside she roams is New Zealand.
Yet these very differences reflect the significance of a powerful thing we have in common:
We both believe in the “pursuit of happiness” through boldly discovering what really means the most to us in life—and then going and doing it.
Two of Lisa's posts have particularly resonated with me. In her different way, she’s picked up on truths of doing Different that have been significant for me as well. Under the title of her blog post below, I’ll give you my perspective.
You’ve heard the cliché “Money isn’t everything,” and it is certainly, literally, true. Yet, too often, we act as if it is. People say money isn't everything, but then submit to working their best hours every week to get money.
It’s not just “filthy rich” people who don’t seem to know when they have enough. None of us are very good at saying “this is enough” in order to be free to pursue a life of our dreams.
So, many people get stymied about pursuing Different because they can’t figure out how to keep up their financial lifestyle after quitting a job to start their own business or to take a more satisfying but lower-paying job.
The answer to the keeping-up-the-financial-lifestyle question is: You may not be able too.
That’s the nature of a trade-off. You give up one thing to get something else that's more valuable to you than what you gave up. But . . . it still means you have to give up that other thing. (I talk more about my own shift from corporate job to self-employment in “Having a Mid-Life Non-Crisis.”)
Why retire if you’re doing what you love?
People assume retirement is the doorway to being able to do what you really want in life. But “not having to work” is an inherently negative goal (see the word “not” in there?).
You’re working toward not doing something? How about working toward something positive that you really want to do, instead? (Check out my post “Young, Old or In-Between—Now’s the Time to Do Different” for more on this.)
If you get on a path that suits you, whether you work or not is a non-issue.
That’s how it is for me. I confess that I’m not in a financial position to retire in the traditional sense, but 20+ years ago, I launched into a lifestyle I’m happy to continue as long as I live. Yes, I love what I do, but more important, I love how I live. (For a few tips on how I’ve managed this, check out “Seeing What Others Miss: Discovering Different Right Under Your Nose.”)
These two ideas—that your hope for a satisfying life may not fit with keeping a full-time job or with planning to retire early—have a common bottom line. They help you:
Break free from constraining beliefs about what makes a satisfying lifestyle and what truly makes you happy;
Figure out what's best for you, and
Envision your own best Different.
I’m currently reading Lisa Jansen’s just-released book, One Size Does Not Fit All. Her excellent premise is that no single formula for finding happiness works for everyone. Each of us must discover what suits us. We don't find happiness by mimicking what we see working for someone else or by following one particular path taught by the happiness guru du jour. Lisa's book is a thorough, hopeful, and helpful manual on self-discovery and bold planning for making what you want out of life. The comparison I share in this post between Lisa and me is exactly what she helps people discover about themselves: Do you want to cash in and hit the road in a van, sell the neighborhood house and buy a farm out of town, or some sort of Different in between? Check out Lisa’s book, and you’re on your way to figuring that out for yourself!
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