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  • Writer's pictureLisa Rousseau

Lately I've been taking some time to reflect and figure out what I want to do and how I want to live my life. There are so many elements to the question, "How do you want to live your life?" I think about my work, I think about my personal life, who I choose to have in my life and spend my time with. I think about my future and how I want to live my retirement years and where I want to live when we retire. I think about all the things I want in every aspect of my life and ask, "Am I doing what I want?" If I can't answer that question then I need to look at that part of my life a little closer. The first thing we need to do is set goals and make some lists to figure out how we want to live our life.

Setting Goals: When setting goals, think about every aspect of your life. Your job, your house, your friends, your partner, your future, how do you spend time off, your expenses/money situation, your hobbies, your passions, your health, are you happy, content, inspired, fulfilled, etc. How do you want to life your life? Do you want to be truly happy? Do you want to be inspired? If you are unhappy do you want to be unhappy for the rest of your life? If you are unhappy, angry, frustrated, you need to look at what is making you feel that way, how are you going to get happy and inspired? What is weighing you down from living the life you want? Here is what my list of goals looks like.

How Do I Want to Live?

My Goals

#1: Work

  • Make a change

  • Important: No weekends/holidays

  • Need to have work/life balance: shorter commute/work days

  • Need to feel appreciated, inspired, challenged

  • Salary in-line with current

#2: Spend time with husband, friends & family

  • Weekends/holidays off

  • Working days vs nights

#3: Continue to be in the here and now:

  • Less time on phone

  • Stay in the present, not the past

  • The beauty in every moment

  • Disconnect

#4: Live debt free

  • Pay down debt

  • Look at spending habits

  • Freeze/cancel credit cards

  • Build up savings

#5: Retire at 50

  • Invest in my 401k (15%)

  • 5% to Savings

  • Pay off our house early

  • Get a fun part time job when I retire

  • Think about where we want to live

  • Where do we want to travel?

  • What do we want to do?

I set my goals and then I made a list of how I was going to achieve those goals. I took a dive into what was important to me at this very moment and I've known for sometime my first priority needs to be my job. I've acknowledged that I'm unhappy and I've acknowledged that nothing is going to change so I'm going to make that change for myself. I started thinking about all the things I'm missing out on and all the things I want to do and it all comes down to finding a job where I can work days, have weekends and holidays off and maybe have a shorter commute. Most important, a job that I enjoy and feel appreciated. I miss out on a lot of time with my friends and family because I work wacky retail hours and I work just about every holiday and three out of four weekends a month. When I finally have a day off to hangout on a Monday, everyone else is working.

My list is still a work in progress and that's okay, it's not going to happen over night so I have plenty of time to work on it. Let's talk about work life and why it's important to get it right.

Work Life: I think this is one of the most important areas to focus on and get right in our lives. For most, we spend more time at work then we do at home. I referenced this in my last blog post about speaking up for ourselves. Sophia Bush couldn't have said it any better. When your alarm goes off and the first thing you think is agh and the very thought of going to work or class or whatever makes you utterly miserable then you are not in the right environment and you need to start making your exit strategy. Again ask that question, "How do I want to live my life?" Do you want to live it being miserable everyday or do you want to make a change and find a different job where your alarm goes off and you can't wait to go into the office or class. It's also important to make a list of what you want as well. Do you want to work days or nights? How much money do you want/need to make. Can you sacrifice taking a pay cut? Do you mind working weekends/holidays? Again, "How do you want to live your life?" Do you want weekends off so you can spend them with friends? Or going to the beach or focus on your hobbies? You want to get this part of your life right because like I said before most of us spend more time at work then we do at home, you want to make sure you are happy and feel fulfilled.

Your Future: We need to be thinking about how we want to live our lives when we retire now. The reason being, you need to start saving for that future right now. I had a huge wake up call when my husband and I started planning our retirement. I say all the time that I want to just be able to live life off the grid, away from the busy, hectic everyday life. I want to live off the land and just write and be able to just do whatever I want. I've come to realize this can only happen when I retire so I thought how can I get to this goal faster? By saving. I looked at our expenses and I looked at how I was spending money and I knew if I continued to live that way I would never be able to retire at a decent age.

The first thing we looked at were subscriptions, some of them we realized we didn't use, like some TV subscriptions we joined to watch that one show. We saved $75/month by cancelling subscriptions we no longer used! We then make other cuts in our budgets and by taking a deep dive into our finances and talking about it, in the end we ending up saving $400/month. That's $400 a month we could put into our savings.

The next thing I looked at was paying off my credit cards. I've been working overtime since January and I decided that since I really wasn't relying on that money I made the decision to never see it. I put my overtime pay into a separate account and that account I use to pay off my bills. I take my paycheck and minus what I was getting paid when I was salaried and find what my overtime pay is. Say my check is $1000, I minus what my salaried pay was say $600 and I get a $400 difference. I take that $400 and pay it towards my debt. I have a chart/plan that I stick to and already I've paid off all my credit card debt and a loan I took out. It feels so amazing when you pay something off and I have to say I'm kinda addicted to paying down my debt, and I think that's a good thing. I now hold myself accountable. I now think before I buy and more times often then not I don't end up buying that thing I thought I wanted.

Getting back to retirement, think about how you want to live your life when you retire. Do you want to travel? Where do you want to live? How much money do you need to live the way you want? Are you going to have enough money? I looked at what I had in my 401k and I knew that I needed to invest a lot more annually if I wanted to retire early. I have around $30,000. I did a lot of calculations and looked at what my expenses would be in retirement. My husband and I then made a goal to pay off our house early. As it stands we will be fifty-five when our house is paid off. If we can make a few extra payments each year then we can have it paid off much earlier.

The other part of retirement that I realized doing my research was that I can't touch my 401k until I'm sixty-one, so I would need a large nest egg in our regular savings to live off until I'm sixty-one. I then figured out how much I would need to save each year in order to do that. So after I get my bills squared away I'll be putting 15% of my paycheck into my 401k and then 5% of my paycheck into a savings account. If I can start this in the next year I will have enough money in retirement. Again, this is important to me because my retirement years are important to me, I can live the life I want, but right now I need to work hard so I can do that.

Your Time Is Too Precious to Waste: Do not settle for anything. Live the way you want, spend your money the way you want, not how someone else wants. Do what you want to do, not what someone else wants to do. Hold yourself accountable. Don't waste your time being miserable at a job you hate. Spend time doing things you want to do. If you get invited to do or go somewhere you don't want to do or go, don't do it. Use that time and money to do something you want to do. So often I hear one of my friends say, "I want to do this." or " I want to go here." That's great for you but I don't want to. So often I think we feel pressured into saying yes and it's hard to say no. I've been working on this myself, learning to stand up for myself and say no instead of yes. It's okay to say no. Sometimes I'm too exhausted to hangout and I realized that I had to start listening to my body and listen to what my body needs, and sometimes it needs to rest. In the end it's your life.


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