Remember reading those books where you get to choose the ending. I was always crap at those books. I read every ending. Unfortunately, in life you only get to see the path that you choose.
If you really thought about it, you’d realize how very exciting, overwhelming, and empowering that is. You might also realize (all things being equal) how incredibly difficult it would be for you to go astray or screw up your life.
For those of you whose lives are like ships in a storm because of a health crisis, or another uncontrollable factor, I say do the best that you can. I hope you can find calm in your stormy seas.
For the rest of us, there is no excuse. There are options every day, and our only challenge is to choose the path that leads towards the goal we want to achieve. So I’m always confused when someone decides to cheat on a spouse, or spend money when they might not have their financial life under control. Why would anyone proactively make a bad decision unless someone had a gun to their head.
The answer might be that they were working with their gut and not their brain. Without deliberation, we make decisions to satisfy the animal inside. The one that wants that pretty outfit NOW. Or wants to buy that movie on iTunes NOW because it’s bored. Maybe it’s telling you that your yard isn’t pretty enough unless you spend some money to spruce it up. From the most prosaic decision that you make to the most exciting, you have to control the animal. Without you in control, it’ll pee on the rug every time.
Every decision has a price, or a reward. Nothing exists in a vacuum.
In all the things that I do, I try to be deliberate. Whether it was the decision to have a child, cook dinner at home, or sit down to pen this post. The most important and the most mundane decisions deserve mindfulness. I find that I am – more often than not – pleased with the outcome of the decisions I give my focus to. Times when I have allowed my desires to run away with me, I have tasted regret.
Nonetheless, with all my deliberation I sometimes face an odd unhappy consequence. Interestingly, those do not fill me with regret. I believe it’s because I was so deliberate in the initial decision that I was able to foresee and weigh the possibility of even an unhappy ending. If and when those sometimes comes to pass, I don’t taste regret because I really did my best.
This theory of living segues well into our new frugal lifestyle.
Every day the Grasshoppers must decide to be good parents, good and faithful spouses, and generally good human beings. From a multitude of these seemingly small and not so small decisions we are able to build our lives and keep on the straight and narrow in our journey towards Financial Independence.
On the other hand, my willpower is a muscle that can get tired. For everything that I deliberate, there are also things I automate. For example, every two weeks money is automatically deposited into a Vanguard index fund and my 401k.
Finding the balance between deliberation, and automation is an essential tool in the Grasshoppers arsenal as we journey towards Financial Independence.