In spring 2008, I bought a nice appartment near the beach. I was moving back to The Netherlands after living in London for a few years. Just a few months before my work in London ended, I had sold the place I owned in Holland, because my then-girlfriend and I were going find a place together in Amsterdam. That is when the relationship abrubtly ended. So, I had to find a roof above my bed and find a new project to work on in the country that I had not lived in for several years. It sucked for a while, but also made me realise that Square One was not such a bad place to be. I built a new life; bought the appartment, got a new job role and met a great girl! That summer was awesome!
All was great and at the start of 2010 I moved in with her. Still caught in the global financial crisis that had sent the real-estate market into a nosedive, we gave ourselves a year to sell the 'old' appartment, while renting a small house in the east of the country.
It is now June 2015 and we sold the place last week, coming up short €53.000 on the original mortgage. And it is awesome!
Having to pay the costs for two houses (before selling the appartment), has lead us to continuously and consciously edit our lives to cut out what is not necessary and spend our time and money on what is important to us. Now that the place is sold, the mortgage is replaced by a loan, but that is a much clearer goal than a house that has been for sale for years and you just do not know when it will sell.
Spending some time every now and then to figure out what is important, results in self-imposed limitations. Those limitations provide a mechanism to test your decisions against. For example, we would fantasize about a nice big house we would buy once the appartment would be sold. But, living in this small(er) house for several years now has made us really appreciate it. It houses our family comfortably, provides us with the amount of space we need (although we still have way too much stuff), but nothing extra that needs upkeep or gets filled with junk just because there is room for it.
I love how liberating this mindset is! No longer do we contemplate a bigger TV. We are no film buffs, nor do we watch a lot of TV and we hardly play video games. So, even though the 65 inch 4K curved supersmart tv may look tempting superficially, it does not solve a problem we are having nor does it contribute to something important. That is a lot of money saved, right there.
Coming up with the goals is an exercise in self-reflection. What is really important to you? What really makes you happy? Focus on that! To me, my family and friends are most important. Followed by getting rid of that loan, music making, making things and finally I would like to travel if possible.
What is your mechanism to keep focus on what is important to you?
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