Life is too damned short. And yet people seem to be so focused on making the inconsequential things bright and shiny.
In my experience, there is an upper limit in the utility of certain actions and things in life. If you pour all your energy on something that doesn’t really give you or your life much value, you’re left with little to spend on the other things that really matter.
We all have a limited amount of time and energy per day. Nobody is immortal. Your life is finite.
Unfortunately, this lesson is not widely known.
If you want to skip the story then just skip ahead.
In the company that I work in, we have snacks every week on Fridays. And by snacks this basically means fixing up an array of food that people can munch on while beers and wine are consumed.
The current arrangement is that two people are assigned to take care of snacks per week. I was picked last week as one of the two.
Usually, snacks are a simple affair. The routine was to just buy stuff in the nearby supermarket, plate it, and then you’re done.
The options are as much as the supermarket can provide, and most people opt for the easy, ready-to-serve stuff like cold cuts, specialty bread, antipasto etc.
There have been instances where teams went the extra mile and went with a theme like Mexican, or Greek, etc. But in those instances, the ingredients were just laid out on the table and people would just construct them on their own.
My teammate had a different idea.
When we started planning what to buy she was overflowing with ideas for appetizers, mixed drinks, and serving it up with themed music.
While chatting she listed down the 4000 ingredients we needed to buy then sent several recipes for the mixed drinks that she wanted to serve. She wanted to actually construct single serve appetizers.
From how it looked it seemed like we were going to be shopping and prepping for 3 hours. That’s too much time for unimportant crap! And all this for a budget of NZ$100 (US$64)!
I jokingly reminded her that it was still a regular workday and we still had other things to do.
But she still went on and on.
It was great that she was doing all the thinking saving me some valuable brain space, but it was getting ridiculous.
I had to admire her optimism and that she was having fun. But she was trying to do too much with little time and resources. She was confident and wanted to recruit other people to do some of the prep work.
Now, remember, we’re a design/IT shop and not a professional kitchen. So this was outside of our expertise.
Perhaps she just wanted to create the best experience? I think this was her first time taking care of the snacks.
But is it really the best use of paid company time to spend several hours doing something that’s unnecessary.
Perhaps I was just being lazy. I didn’t really care for the laborious task of preparing single-serve appetizers especially since we had several ongoing projects we had to work on.
But that’s just it. In the end, does it really matter if we took the time to prepare the food and serve mixed drinks? Not too much.
Even if we served something similar to the usual fare of ready-to-serve food, we could still get the same camaraderie effect by focusing on creating the ambience rather than manual labouring our way.
Yes. But only in the short term. Sure you’ll serve something different but I don’t think people will really enjoy it significantly more than serving the usual stuff.
The clincher for me is that this was not really part of our jobs. We had other projects to work on. There was billable work that we can do.
Not really. If it was, though, it would be a completely different story. This would have been like practice.
Like for example, why do I write on this blog without getting paid? I write because I enjoy writing and see it as a nourishing hobby. It helps me exercise my creativity, organize my thoughts, and learn to write content that people can enjoy and hopefully learn from.
I also see myself eventually writing as another source of income. I have in fact been paid for my first writing gig.
But I don’t want to go into the catering or food business. I don’t think she does too. So this excessive food prep won’t really do anything for either of us.
Yes. Yes it is.
This experience led me to reflect on the utility and the amount of happiness things can give us. Not all tasks can give you the best value for your time.
Sure we will forever raise the bar and will always be known as having served the best food and drinks. But does that really have any lasting effect in our lives?
Some things improve our lives, while others just distract from it.
Click To Tweet
Are you spending time in an endless loop of unfulfilling crap?
Click To Tweet
Maybe you should stop and take the time to find your direction. Sometimes we get so caught up in what we’re doing that we don’t really notice that our life has passed us by.
Without direction and intentionality, you can spend decades of your life in the distractions that don’t really matter.
We’ve been on our FI journey for a year now and one of the most important things from that experiencing is learning what’s really important to me.
I’ve found that a lot of the things that seemed important before are really just unimportant crap if I look at my personal values.
It doesn’t really matter if we have a nice big house, a fancy new car, or if we get to eat fancy dinners every night. I learned that the most important thing to me is my family and spending time with them.
We want to reach FI as soon as possible, or at least live that FInancial Independent lifestyle while semi-retired (Semi-Retirement is an awesome concept I discovered through Mr SR at Semi Retire Plan).
And given that we want to reach our long term goal of FI as soon as possible, we were forced to take a second look at our spending and see what we really need and what’s really important.
The desire to reach FI forced us to identify what’s truly important in our lives.
Click To Tweet
Some things really aren’t worth spending too much time OR money on. Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar says to be super cheap with the things that don’t matter. Our two-step combo here is Minimalism and Frugality.
If you’re completely honest with yourself, there are a lot of things that you own that don’t really matter in your life. With minimalism, those things are discarded.
Put simply minimalism is about reducing your possessions to only what’s essential to you.
Click To Tweet
Each person may be different and one minimal may have more stuff than another.
Although we are not pure minimalists, we get the concepts and are applying some of them to our lives. We’re a work in progress though.
Snap decisions are a problem if you have credit cards. It’s now so easy to buy things and stuff we’re interested in actually follow us around through online ads.
Without any discipline or mental framework around finances money so easily slips away. And not just current money, but future income as well through debt and recurring expenses.
One of the most important lessons that we learned in the FIRE community is to avoid lifestyle creep.
Our default spending decision is to NOT buy. We always remind ourselves if our potential purchase really has any true value. An easy tool here is the 555 rule, whereby asking yourself just 3 questions, you can avoid most unnecessary purchases.
Embracing frugality made avoiding lifestyle creep easier by making the 555 rule a pre-purchase habit.
Click To Tweet
We choose to prioritise now because we want to have the ability to choose where to spend our time in the future.
The Poor Swiss says that Financial Independence gives us freedom of choice because time is limited. And that’s true, we are all finite.
Fritz on the Retirement Manifesto shares the story of Boyd, a leukemia survivor who now does endurance events like marathons and biking for charity.
A Purple Life says that we should also retire early because death is coming. And not just our death, but our elders. Your life may be short but our parents remaining years are even shorter.
Time spent on the things that matter is never wasted. Time spent on trivial things is slowly killing yourself.
Click To Tweet
I decided to let things play out so I just went with the flow. I was also getting burned out working on this intensive project that I appreciated the break.
We spent $250 on food and drinks and 2 hours shopping and preparing everything. It was a good thing there were volunteers that helped with all the prep work which I think saved us an hour or two.
Everyone was impressed with the spread, but who wouldn’t with that huge expense. Hahaha!
Why we didn’t get any reprimands for almost tripling the expense, I do not know. But everyone seemed to be happy and we had leftovers for the next snack session.
It all worked out fine in the end but I still think it was way too much effort. My teammate looked like she had a lot of fun.
Not everything in life is equally important. Sometimes you can get so caught up in the process that you can forget to stop and reprioritize the things that really matter.
There are high-effort, low-reward things that can seem important at first, especially if a lot of people can be impressed. But in the long run, if it doesn’t align with your goals it doesn’t really matter.
Life is short enough as it is to waste on unimportant crap.
Click To Tweet
Find what gives you the most value and focus on that.
Have you spent too much time on unimportant crap? How have you prioritised more important things? Comment below!
The post Are You Putting Too Much Effort In Unimportant Crap? appeared first on Pikiliving.