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I want health, wealth, and happiness, the defaulted American dream. The catch is vague and lofty dreams aren’t instantly achieved. If that were the case, they wouldn’t be dreams. Instead, I could order them as a one-time purchase that comes with a free toy.
Little choices matter because it’s dream’s currency.
Tiny, daily choices on repeat with enough time and consistency, they turn into habits.
A habit is more powerful than thought, motivation, or propaganda.
A habit carves a legacy.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”Aristotle
Long Lasting Effects
Sue is a titan I adore. Along with retaining her wit and wisdom at 86, she has an impressive legacy, including a stint with the CIA and early retirement.
Recently, we were chatting away an afternoon when regrets percolated to the top of our conversation. Being curious, I asked Sue about her regrets.
She said, buying art.
Sue’s home is an art gallery with vibrant paintings dripping from every wall.
I asked what she would have done with that money instead. Her thoughtful response was travel.
Little choices matter. They sure did for Sue.
Her, and her husband’s choice, to buy art created lifelong habits that gave no room for anything else including travel.
Since Sue’s husband passed away, she has been downsizing her art collection. The process seems long and laborious from my perspective, but there is a lesson there too.
No matter how precious my stuff may seem, in the end, it’s all going to be pitched, unlike memories.
No donating, selling, or pawning stuff to unsuspecting family members when it comes to travel memories.
The Freedom Expense
The most expensive purchase I’ll ever make is my freedom.
My freedom from work. The money I need to certify that I’ll never need to work again is massive. The younger my freedom, the higher the cost, similar to a car.
The most expensive car is a new one. Whereas, the older car with a few more dents and dings is deeply discounted.
The retirement price tag is a sticker shock worthy of sitting sweats, but like any lifelong dream – it doesn’t happen overnight.
For the average human, and statistically speaking I fall into that category, little choices over a lifetime matter.
For those who wonder why some save for retirement like their life depends on it. Well, it’s true, a life does depend on it.
A life that is intentionally unemployed and travel-saturated.
Little choices matter even with a decision.
“What people don’t realize is that things that have very little impact on our lives can actually take a lot of decision energy,” Explains Joe Martino, a licensed counselor from Healthline.
To limit decision fatigue and maximize habits, I remove options.
I create artificial barriers like a parent covering an electrical outlet to prevent curious appendages.
I do that but with less plastic.
My barriers look like:
- Spending restrictions by creating cumbersome automatic retirement contributions
- Avoiding isles with sugary treats and salty delights. Instead, spending my time in open spaces flowing with fruit and vegetables
- A list is made of wants and perceived needs, I do not stray from the list. Not even for expensive, but cute ankle boots
- Limiting in-person shopping to one day a week to reduce temptation
- Scheduling hobbies and self-care because if I don’t nobody else will
- Using 3 hours per week for work-approved exercise
- Having a bedtime and wake-up time seven days a week
- Soda is not an option. Water is
- I bring my lunch to work and eat what I bring (spoiler alert: its healthy food)
As with most barriers, it will contain many but not all.
All is a level of perfection that as a recovering perfectionist, I’m trying to unhook from the addictive drip.
Little Choices Matter
I’m grateful that little choices matter.
If only big choices mattered, that would leave a life bleaker than Mordor. There would be so much waiting and worrying over a few choices, that when the time came, I’d probably make a poor choice because I rarely practiced.
When little choices matter, I move towards a brighter future in small, cute, and non-threatening steps.
Each stride forward is an investment in a habit. Habits are how a foundation is built. A foundation with a vague and lofty dream of health, wealth, and happiness.