Monday, May 13, 2013

Living for the Now vs. Living for the Future

My other-half Mike and I have two different systems for managing life goals and immediate gratification. We both have the same dream: to build a largely self-sufficient permaculture site on our block in the country; we just have different methods for getting us there.
Mike believes the best thing for us to do is to work as hard as we can in full time positions, to pay off our house mortgage in the city. Once this is paid off we intend to keep the house for rental income to subsidise our (lack of) income when we move to The Paddock (our block in the country).
This is a good and sensible plan, which is why this is the action we are currently taking. However, I have an issue with this approach which is what I call ‘living for the future’. By committing to working full time in jobs we don’t love for another decade (which is how long it will take to be able to pay off our mortgage), aren’t we selling-out our ‘now’ for a good slice of ‘maybe’ in the future?
Life doesn’t offer guarantees, so perhaps in a decade Mike or I will be too sick to move to the country or build a house. I have used this “what if?” style of thinking, that I call ‘living for the now’ my entire adult life. If I’m not happy somewhere, I leave. If I’m not happy with myself, I try to be a better person. If I don’t like my job, I look for a better one.
I’ve always thought of myself as proactive person, without too many attachments; I can easily sell all my belongings and move country, I find it liberating. What I really have trouble with is staying put. I’ve discussed my inability to 'finish' in a previous post but I what I didn’t say there is, this has been an ongoing issue repeated throughout my life.
Before Mike, my longest relationship with anyone was two years. I’ve never stayed with any company for more than two years; in fact I’ve had three separate career changes over my lifetime! I’m nearly forty and I still haven’t found a job I’d be happy to do for the next ten years of my life.
My plan for moving to the country would be to do a kind of “MoneylessMan” and move into our tin shed, eke out a living with a few hours work at the local pub while we scrape together enough money to attempt to build a house while still paying off a mortgage. You can see why we’re doing it Mike’s way…. his is the only plan that makes sense.
Maybe that’s why we’ve lasted as a couple for over 11 years; not only do I love him but I think he makes sense. If it had been up to me I would have quite my job, sold my house and moved to the country years ago (of course, I would still be in an unpowered, unwatered and uninsulated tin shed years later). 
Luckily, I have Mike to remind me that sometimes it’s OK to work towards something in the future. That there are no guarantees for your planned future coming to pass, so you make today as good and as happy as possible, WITHOUT throwing away the plans for the future.
"Two friends building a house together"

What is your method for balancing future goals and happiness today?

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