As I look back on my early 20s, I think about all the ways in which my mindset has evolved since then. While I think of many things differently, I wanted to include a few of the ways my mindset has changed in hopes that it helps you to think more critically about your current states of mind and whether it is time for a change.
I’ve come to value spending my money on experiences over material things. – In my early 20s, I was still living at home while I had a corporate job. That meant that I had a lot more disposable income. When I think about how I spend my money now and how I spent my money then I realize the difference is that I used to spend my money on things. Yes, I was guilty of going shopping every few weeks for clothes. I wanted to stay on top of the latest trends. I wanted to look good.
As I’ve gotten older, I realize that trends are constantly changing. What you perceive to be cool today will inevitably change. Now, I tend to spend my money on experiences. I often find myself asking, “What will actually improve the quality of my life?” For me, the answer is new experiences. It’s about visiting new places, making new memories, enriching my relationships, or developing new ones. It’s about buying or investing in anything that will teach me new skills. I would much rather spend my money on a vacation, lesson, instrument, computer, or book then on clothing. This does NOT mean that I don’t care about or pay attention to my appearance. I still enjoy a new outfit from time to time, who doesn’t? I just don’t spend an excessive amount of money while shopping as life has taught me new experiences tend to help me grow and in turn make me happier.
I’ll leave you with this quote from the compound effect – “ Life is simply a collection of experiences. Our goal should be to increase the frequency and intensity of good experiences. Once a month create an experience that has some memorable intensity. It could be driving up to the mountains or going sailing in the bay. It should be something out of the ordinary that has a heightened experience and creates an indelible memory.” I found this quote after writing this post but I feel it’s a good exercise to keep in the back of your mind when you feel life getting stale.
I’ve come to realize the importance of relationships – About 2-3 years ago, I learned about a longitudinal study conducted by Harvard researchers that was focused on examining what helped people to lead healthier and happier lives. Researchers tracked a group of 268 college men for nearly 80 years and this study is one of the world’s longest studies of adult life. As time went on Researchers began to include the men’s offspring and the group became larger. The group included men from all different types of socio economic backgrounds. The men went on to become wealthy businessmen, doctors, or lawyers and others ended up depressed, alcoholic, or mentally ill. The study revealed that “Our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health. Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too.” In other words one of the key findings is that close relationships keep people happier throughout their lives, more so than money or fame. According to the Harvard Gazette, “Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes. That finding proved true across the board among both Harvard men and inner-city participants.”
Even more interesting, the study found that “people’s level of satisfaction with their relationships at age 50 was a better predictor of physical health than their cholesterol levels were.” The researchers go on to say “Loneliness kills. It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.”
Ever since I’ve learned about this experiment, it has always been in the back of my head. I’ve seen countless situations where people have sacrificed their relationships because of their careers, which essentially boils down to sacrificing your relationship because of money. I’ve seen so many movies about successful individuals who have to miss their children’s play or soccer game because of a big meeting. I’ve seen situations where individuals neglect their spouses in order to secure a promotion or raise.
I understand that being successful means working extremely hard. It also means having to sacrifice short term pleasure for long term gain. However, this study has put a lot into perspective for me. If relationships ultimately keep us healthier and more fulfilled, how much of our time with our family and friends should we really be sacrificing? I’ve started to pay more attention to nurturing the relationships I have with people in my life and I have seen the quality of my life improve tremendously.
I have found myself to be a lot more patient in my relationships. I have found that I do my best not to let petty arguments affect the dynamics of my relationship. I have become a lot more giving and my friends have been more giving in return.
I learned about the 100 vs 0 principle. This principle suggests that the most effective way to create and maintain rich relationships is to take full responsibility for the relationship (100%) and to expect nothing in return (0%). This is something that I’m still working to understand and embody but becoming aware of it in the first place has been extremely helpful.
The point is relationships are more of a priority in my life. I don’t like missing important “life” events. If I can do something or say something for another person that will make them happy, I try my best to do it. Although I am not a mother yet, I have decided that I do not want to be the type of mother who will miss out on her children’s activities or growth. I think it is just as important to excel in my career and grow as a person, as it is to spend time nurturing relationships.
I’ve learned that time is truly THE most important commodity – When I was younger, I was taught to study hard in school, so that I can go to college, and to study hard in college so that I can get a great job (“great” in this case meaning a job where I made a lot of money). I was a good little girl and did exactly that. I landed my “dream” job when I graduated from my Masters program.
I was working very very hard. I was trading my time for money. The problem was, I was trading LOTS of my time for money. I was working between 60-80 hour weeks. It seemed pretty normal. But then I realized, I was trading my time, something irreplaceable for something replaceable. As I looked up the ladder, it seemed that although you can make triple the money at the top, it still seemed as though you still had to devote an overwhelming amount of time to staying connected or reachable.
I simply realized or came to believe, that having more time or more autonomy over your time is better than having more money. (This ofcourse is my opinion, you may not agree with me.) Put in a more objective tone, time is the MOST important commodity, as it is irreplaceable. My only advice is to make sure you are using it wisely.
This is just a short list of a few of the ways my mindsets have evolved over the years. Let me know your thoughts. Feel free to share the way your mindsets have changed in the comments!