Do you feel like your life is lacking balance or that it’s hard to be content? It seems that most of us either fall into one of two camps: we play too much or we work too much. Both of these groups have consequential issues related to them: we either spend too much time and money playing or we spend too much time working/planning for the future and don’t enjoy any of the fruits of our labor.
I typically fall into the work too much camp. I would venture a guess that most people interested in financial independence also lean into the work too much camp. It feels like a race to pile up your money as fast as you can. As I get older, I realize more and more that life has to be more balanced in order to be sustainable. Luckily, we live in an age of advanced technology and the gig economy and it has never been easier to explore and pursue new goals. If you’re interested in trying to find the balance between being content while also seeking more, read on.
Here are some of the concepts I think are important to consider when striving to strike that balance between being content with where you are/what you already have and actually living your life while also seeking extra income to pursue big future goals. These goals could be saving to buy something big like a house or car, setting up your emergency/FU fund, or some version of financial independence.
Focus on what you can control
Focus on metrics that you can control. Instead of setting goals like “make an extra $500 this month” which is the output, make the goal something that measures effort, or the input, because that is the part you can control. “Complete 25 deliveries this month” is a goal focused on the effort you put in and may equal $500 (or maybe even more). It is much easier to feel accomplished and like you are making progress towards a bigger goal by focusing on the aspects that you CAN control.
I can decide to go do a delivery on my lunch break today, but I can’t control how much the offers will be. Instead of getting upset and letting my emotions rule my actions here (I may be more likely to call it a day early and tell myself “I guess I’ll just try again another time”– which then may or may not happen), I am measuring the factor that I can control: how long I stay out and my willingness to accept offers. For example: If I only get $5 offers, I am more likely to be frustrated about getting to my $500 goal. But, if I am considering success by how many deliveries I do, it doesn’t technically matter how much the offer is worth- but hopefully at the end of the 25 deliveries, I have a dollar amount that is worthwhile to me (may be less than, equal to, or higher than that $500 goal).
Some basic ground rules will also apply in these situations, though. In the food delivery example above, I may set $5 as the minimum order I will accept so that I am not spinning my wheels on the $2.50 ones that really aren’t worth the effort/gas.
Realize that imperfect progress is okay
I identify as a goal-setter type of person and beyond that I’m the one who likes to set high bars and am guilty of feeling upset about not meeting said high goal and maybe even feeling like I failed if I come in under my expectations. This mentality can create determined individuals who are very hard workers and don’t accept mediocrity, which are all good traits for success in life… but these tendencies also eventually become hard to turn off, or turn down.
I remind myself often, though, that I’m not a machine. I cannot go on continually operating at max capacity or above max capacity. I personally repeat these to myself often:
- It’s OKAY if I don’t optimize/utilize every second of free time as income producing time.
- It’s OKAY if I sleep in on the weekends and turn down a part time Saturday gig.
- It’s OKAY if some nights all I can do it veg in front of the TV after work
- It’s OKAY if I spend money just for fun sometimes
Being consistent is more important than seeking out new ideas
The internet and social media are FULL OF IDEAS. It is incredibly easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole (whether it’s a productive type of rabbit hole or a not so productive one filled with animal videos and dancing). I have realized that I spend a lot of free time looking for that one more great idea. This piques my interest but also drives some anxiety. It’s okay to have a handful of varied gigs that you pursue consistently and don’t always chase the wave of new/better. This is my personal mantra of late.
In all of my years of side hustling, I have learned that I do best with variety. I like some consistency but also some flexibility in my schedule. This looks like a set teaching schedule paired with DoorDash/ Walmart Spark delivery apps and some pet sitting. This scratches my itch for variety and flexibility because I can do the on-demand apps when I want/have time and don’t have to commit to a set schedule. I also like that teaching is online and I don’t have to leave my house to do it, but when I have had too much computer screen – I can leave the house to do deliveries or Rover pet drop ins/walks when those come in.
Be okay with being tired
One of the road blocks for many people when pursuing more than what their job can afford them is being okay with doing extra. I get it: nobody WANTS to work extra. The work force is screaming about quiet quitting at the moment and talking about living a soft life. I understand not wanting to spend your free time doing *more work.* It’s okay to want to rest and to enjoy the free time that you have doing the things that you like doing.
But, I think this is a mindset shift to make: it’s okay to work hard and it’s okay to be tired sometimes.
Life is about balance and you have to listen to what calls you. A part time work life is calling me and so I work extra now during some of my free time to set up that part-time work life for future me. It’s helpful to remember that it’s not a forever thing and that it’s okay to be tired, to be different than the masses, and to strive for more than average.
Edit: One more tip!
Think about how you can squeeze more out of what you already have
For me, this means really optimizing my work from home routine. I am incredibly grateful to work in a company with a laid back company culture and I can choose my start/stop times for the day (within reason). I can also work from wherever I want to since I’m not tied to a phone all day. This means I can work from my couch if I’m feeling a little under the weather or I can cowork with other friends who work from home.
Since I’ve started to optimize the flexibility of my role and really dug into areas that wind me up (not leaving the house for days and only talking to people on screens some days), I realize that my enjoyment/contentment levels have increased. I know not all jobs are the same, but I encourage you to think about your routines and explore ways you can make them work more in your favor or ease some pain points you may have.
If you also find yourself in the place between being content with your life and chasing more, I would love to hear from you. Any extra tips/tricks or just insight into your own life is welcome in the comments. 🙂