The world Instagram travel bloggers and fashion ‘influencers’ and ‘look-what-I’ve-got’ frequent-flex’ers are selling a life that is not only unsustainable but unfulfilling – that’s clearly not a life to chase – these people are often unhappy, often unfulfilled, and seldom as excited about the life they live as they make out that they are online. Everybody knows it’s not ‘real’, but it still makes a significant impact on how we perceive success. It’s meaningless.
But what about just ‘normal’ success? What about just keeping up with the Joneses, not the Kardashians?
What today’s corridor conversation told me is;
that everyone (no matter how ‘successful’) can benefit from exploring a life with less,
that even ‘normal’ success is not the answer to the problem of how to live a meaningful, fulfilling, life, and,
that no one is immune to the dull hum of mindless, pointless, compulsory, consumption.
There is probably a ‘happy’ medium. There is probably a way to have both. The problem comes we we forsake our values and beliefs to chase things we don’t need.
Yes, money is awesome – it opens doors, fuels change, and provides a great incentive for forward movement – and success is good too – it allows us to promote our peers, use a skills to help a wider audience, and implement our ideas, but if we forget about the ‘why?’ of life, those things mean nothing.
“You can’t take it with you.”
When I left London and moved north, I took a big pay-cut. My younger brother replaced me at the company I left, and is now earning nearly twice as much as me because of the affect your postcode has on your salary, but I am happier, freer, and more fulfilled here than I would be back in the spare room at my parent’s house. I had to remind myself that being closer to my kids was more important that living comfortably, and that money and success are ephemeral, nonsensical and finite – when I die, I can’t take my money with me, but I can take the memories I have made along the way. Taking a pay cut meant a more fulfilling life.
The real issue comes when we live a life never experiencing ‘success’.
It’s easy to say that success and fame and glory and money aren’t the answers to your problems when you’re not worrying about bills, or budgeting to afford petrol to get to work, but the answer to this issue is to reframe was success looks like.
– For me, I would love to see my boys grow up to be polite, respectful, hardworking, open-minded, passionate men of honour who live their lives with integrity, honesty, fearlessness and vigour. I’m not bothered about how much money they make.
– For me, I would love to see this minimalist message we are spreading grow to a place where we can help change the lives of millions of people all over the world, build a community of people being intentional about their choices and forming habits that will benefit themselves and the world for generations to come. I don’t care if we get a million plays on the podcast.
– For me, I would love to become more creative, more well-rounded, more responsible with my money, more able to contribute to my local community, a better father, a more loving partner, a son that makes his parents proud and a man of fierce passion for change. I’m not worried about a legacy of success.
I want to live simple, but I want to live successful too. Just not the type of success that ‘the world’ would have you believe is required.
A minimalist’s idea of ‘success’ is not what you’d expect, but I promise you this, it’s definitely more meaningful than the dream we’ve been sold.
No one is immune. We are being sold a dream that does exist. And everyone is at-risk. With every thumb that touched a screen, with every mouse that slides across a desk, with every word that spouts from the mouths of the people in charge, we are pushed towards a life of consumption. Ffs, even our country’s ‘value’ is based on how much we make, sell, export and trade. Not on our relationship to joy and fulfilment and meaning.
If the dream we’ve sold doesn’t lead to meaning, I want a refund.