I realise what is causing me to feel so much dissatisfaction with my day to day life. I have removed myself from the reward game. I am focussed on saving; every spare cent goes into my secondary account from which I cannot easily withdraw it. I don’t reward myself with nice purchases or great experiences. I just go to work then go home and don’t feel the immediate benefit of the money I am making.
What do I mean by the reward game? It relates to an article I read about the 40 hour work which I can’t link here because the mobile/tablet version of Tumblr is horrible.
But here’s how it goes: Modern technology means we are much more productive than in years past so we should, theoretically, be working less. And yet we continue to work 40+ hour weeks. Why? Because of our Western style economy relies on it.
The theory goes, when we’re time poor we’re more likely to spend more. There are heaps of fun things we could be doing but, amazingly, these tend to require time to do them. Reading, writing, hiking, going for a stroll through the park, or a long bike ride. You would have to structure your entire day around some of these. But you’ve only got two free days each week! If you’re lucky.
So instead we reach for items that are quicker to obtain, faster to consume, and provide a more immediate satisfaction. Movies, TV, food, drinks, magazines, clothes, make up, collector items. Things that cost money. (And are often full of advertising to remind you that you need to buy more, more, more!) We are even willing to pay money for ‘me’ time! Vacations, pedicures, massages, pampering.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with any of these things. I quite enjoy a lot of them! Plus these industries create jobs. Which in turn power the economy. An economy that is reliant on people being time poor. So we must keep working longer hours. Chances are the very organisation that is keeping you working 40+ hour weeks is reliant on you and everyone else also being time poor to make them money and to keep you in a job. It’s a funny cycle, isn’t it?
But, in my case, I’ve given up those quick luxuries while still working the same long hours. It removes some of the satisfaction from working.
I don’t partake in Internet shopping (or even browsing sites that would tempt me) and I don’t wander around town with the thought that I could just grab a bite to eat if I get hungry. I no longer buy my daily coffee. I always make it in the kitchen at work. I forgo restaurant meals and going to the theatre (unless someone else is paying, as was the case when I saw Les Miserables last week). I avoid department stores.
My current lifestyle does not make my job “worth it”. Whilst I have taken up reading, writing, and long bike rides on the weekend, I still question if it’s a good idea to devote so much of my precious free time to any of those activities.
I started saving so that I could study. I’m still saving so that when I finish my course I can try to escape the cycle for good. I’m not sure I will succeed. But I’m going to try.
As an aside, I’d like to mention that I have tried to buy myself happiness before. I funnelled my disposal income into collector items and clothes. It just ended up fueling some of the most depressing months of my life.