Like just about everything else in life, I believe that contentment (or fulfillment) is a skill that has to be practiced.
Think about it like this — that first time you deny yourself something you really want in order to achieve those big goals (think coffee at Starbucks, eating out for lunch) it is not going to feel very good. Sure you will get that feeling of pride that you had self-discipline, but you also may feel a little like pouting. After doing this for a few days, you’ll probably hear those questions rise up in your head:
Why does everyone else I work with get to go out and eat lunch everyday?
Why do all my friends and coworkers drive nice cars, while mine is barely holding on?
Believe me, I hear questions like this in my head all the time!
But what we have to remember, is that every single one of us is making a choice. Could you drink nice coffee for breakfast, eat out for lunch, and drive a car straight from the dealership? Sure you could! But as long as you have financial goals you are working toward, such as building up a six month emergency fund, or getting out of all your debt, those things will only bring you pleasure in the temporary.
You will be sacrificing what you want most for what you want right now.
So you must choose to be content with what you have for now. You have to practice it with every opportunity you get. Every time that you deny buying yourself something that you really want (but can’t really afford), you are practicing contentment. You have to completely shift the way that your brain thinks about money, and I know how hard this can be. Our whole lives we are trained to believe that credit cards and loans are the only way to pay for big purchases. We are constantly being bombarded by someone’s marketing campaign, be it a commercial on TV, a Facebook ad, or a jingle on the radio. It is hard to just say NO!
What you will come to realize, with enough practice, is that what you have really is enough. You don’t need a fancy car to make you happy. Your ten year old car will get you to the same destination just as well as that brand new one. You will still have a full stomach whether you pack your lunch or eat out. Where you are at, right now, is enough!
And when you do hit your big goals? When you pay off all that debt and have some money in the bank? Enjoy all the Starbucks you want. But not because you need it..because you want it.