In my quest to live a slower and more thoughtful lifestyle, I find myself thinking and talking a lot about the work-earn-spend-waste-repeat cycle. It’s all too easy to get caught in this cycle. Ok, I’ll come right out and say it. I think that many of us are way too focused on earning money. Some of us aspire to live the sort of consumption-focused lifestyle that we believe will bring happiness. Others are already living it, and need to work to maintain it. This comes at a considerable cost to the individual’s wellbeing. But the other impact is an environmental one. This impact can be seen everywhere. Discarded coffee cups from the morning’s drive-through fix. Toys and gadgets that entertain briefly then in no time at all become landfill. Larger ticket items that are manufactured with in-built obsolescence and are cheaper to replace than fix. One only has to look at the number of blogs with posts about decluttering to see that ‘stuff’ is dominating the lives of many.
My wish for us all is that we can start to define quality of life in other ways. Not by the amount of money earned and the material goods that money has bought. This lifestyle is simply not sustainable for us or for the earth on which we all live. Living a consumption-focused lifestyle supports an extractive economy. Shifting the focus away from this and toward more sustainable and meaningful activities has at least 2 benefits. It has the capacity to improve quality of life and it will most certainly help the environment.
Over a decade ago I walked away from a permanent full-time job. You can read more about why, what I did next, and my rationale for choosing to be part of the casualised workforce on this guest post over on the Lifestyle Fifty blog. What I have noticed in this time is that the less I work the less I spend. Now I’m not so deluded to think that the money saved by not working is greater than what could have been earned. But by endeavouring to be a thoughtful consumer and by doing things to reduce my spending, I have given myself more options regarding where and how much I work. This gives me more time to do some of these things:
Now I don’t want everyone thinking that I do nothing else in my spare time but sit around with my feet up and a book or craft on my lap! Reducing expenditure means spending time growing things and cooking from the garden, and making things myself rather than buying them. This contributes to reducing my grocery bill. Click on the link to find my 5 tips for spending less at the checkout. I hope that you will be influenced to implement as many of these as is possible for you.
Do you feel caught in the work-earn-spend-waste-repeat cycle? Would you like to get off this treadmill, and spend less time in paid work? Or are you contemplating stepping out of the paid workforce altogether but fear not having enough money? Shifting your mindset away from a consumption-focused lifestyle and reducing spending where you can is as good a place as any to start.