Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Being Happy With What Is

I am a big believer in setting goals, something I've repeatedly blogged about in the past. In fact, this entire blog's reason for being is because of our goal to get out of debt and become financially free. I think goals keep us moving forward, keep us on track, and keep us positive. But there's a problem with focusing too much on goals.

A goal is something that you plan or intend to achieve at some point in the future. By definition, a goal is not met until later, or next month, or 10 years from now. A goal is intangible, even theoretical. While we're wrapped up in plans, and distracted by the ultimate prize - whether it's a new house, a better paying job, or a paid-off credit card - real life is unfolding around us now, whether we're paying attention to it or not. How can we expect to appreciate a realized goal if we can't appreciate what we have already?

I read another article the other day, about the state of the housing market in the valley. It warned about an even bigger crash, still to come, due to what's called the "shadow market," the number of homes soon to be listed due to foreclosures, short sales, and fed-up homeowners simply walking away from their mortgages and their responsibilities. For months now, the predictions have been changing... Home values will start leveling! Home values will start rising! Home values will plunge even more! I don't know what's going to happen in the next several years, but this much I know:

1. Goal : to eventually move out of this house and into something better suited to a family of six.

2. Reality : the market is not going be favorable to our being in a position to sell anytime in the foreseeable future.

We can plan, we can crunch numbers, we can save, we can dream.... but what good would any of that do if it prevented us from living in the present; prevented us from enjoying the lovely, safe, and warm home we have now; prevented us from living in gratitude for Mike's job, for our health, for our families, for lungs filled with air and two legs to stand on?

Compared to many, we live simply. Compared to many others, we have an embarrassment of riches! From computers and cell phones to game systems and large screen TVs. I never want to find myself in a place of needing more stuff to make me happy. I never want to find myself in a place of taking anything in my life, no matter how large or small, for granted. I want to enjoy where we're at and what we have, and be at total peace with what is: We make a fine income, much of which is sucked up by way-too-much debt and payments on a house that is worth a fraction of what we owe on it. We buy clothes - and furniture and cars and toys - second-hand, and it's rarely in our budget to do things like go out to eat. Some of those things may change in the future... and I hope and pray that they do!... but in the meantime, I'm happy.

Today I choose to be thankful.

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