Thursday, March 11, 2010

Saving For Tomorrow

At a macro level, I've been anti-Killing-Time for years. I had an epiphany a few years ago that all that flippin' education and career development and denial of immediate gratification in the name of future happiness and success was basically building up to NOW. And if I'm not happy and successful now, I really ought not keep taking hits for some indefinite success in the future. 

Doing that is basically... waiting. Being in an uncomfortable situation in anticipation of a definite or indefinite future state in which you hope to be happy. And somehow, being a VP or having a husband or having a baby or a house or whatever it is - should make you happy. And in theory, that's why you graduate high school and college and grad school. And why you save money and don't spend it on a shopping bonanza at H&M when you're 22. And it's why you go on unfortunate blind dates in the hopes of meeting Mr. Right. It's a present day penalty for future joy.

But here's the thing: This is the future. Now, perhaps you're 18 reading this embittered blog of professional 30-somethings, but if you're not - newsflash. You're in the future. Are you happy?  

I'm not advocating a life of reckless spending (hey, I am saving for a new kitchen), or career suicide. Or dabbling in narcotics. Or other non-productive behaviors. But, I am saying that if you can make decisions today that are sane and also make you happy TODAY, that should be a consideration in the math. Take a job not just for it's career prospects, but also for your present quality of life. Buy a sweater because you love it. Don't discount today's happiness in the name future joy. 

For most of us overachievers, that mental state has been a default for too long in our lives, and we have to actively switch it. I have to remind myself every day. I like to save. In a recent conversation with Friend Of Thongcharm SJ (Hey girl!), we learned we are BOTH calorie savers when we diet, suffering through a day of dry salad in order to have 1000 left  for dinner and dessert. And while that may help you drop a few pounds, it certainly isn't a broader life philosophy.

Think about it. You're an adult now. What are you waiting for? Isn't that... NOW?

1 comment:

Priya said...

I wholeheartedly agree! You once told me this and it's helped me immensely ever since. Dreams and goals can be intensely energizing. But happiness as a result of a goal is rarely attainable. There's always some new goal to take its place that's required before happiness is achieved.