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Why You Can’t Enjoy Your Money or Your Life

by Shawanda Greene

If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. Doesn’t that always seem to be the case? I’m not talking about mishaps, setbacks, trials, or tribulations. What I’m referring to is your inability to relax. Why can’t you just bask in your glory?

Even if your money isn’t right at this very instant, I’ll bet you’ve achieved several lofty non-financial related goals in your lifetime. I know I’m not the only one who struggles with Chronic Malcontentedness Syndrome. The instant I accomplish one goal that required a great deal of time and sacrifice, without pausing to take half a breath, I’m off to the next one.

I think it was around the time I entered middle school that I adopted my life’s theory of “if you’re not reaching for the stars, then life isn’t worth living.”

That’s crazy isn’t it? And here you thought sharks were the only ones who risked their lives by staying still.

When I was in grade school, I wanted to go to a middle school for the gifted and academically talented. I went.

When I was in middle school, I wanted to go to a college preparatory high school. I went.

When I was in high school, I wanted to attend a four-year university and have my tuition paid for because my mama didn’t save any money for me to go. I went to college and received a 100% scholarship for my tuition. (I had to foot the bill for room and board. Grrr.)

When I was in college, I wanted to graduate summa cum laude and work for a Big 4 accounting firm upon graduation. Okay, I fell a taste short of the summa cum laude accolades, but I did work for a Big 4 accounting firm upon graduation as well as during a couple winter internships.

When I went to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers I wanted to become a CPA, so I studied my fanny off and worked like heck while accomplishing that goal.

And on and on I went. On and on I go.

When is it okay to do nothing? To not strive for anything? To kick your crusty heels up, unbuckle your pants, and say to yourself, “I’ve done good by me?”

I don’t have an answer for you or myself for that matter. The post title may have been more appropriately framed, thru pouted lips, as “Why you can’t enjoy yo’ money or yo’ life, Willis?

Well, Willis….why can’t chu?

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Barb March 4, 2010 at 1:34 AM

Shawanda, First, congrats on ALL you have accomplished!!! Your post really made me stop and think. I am totally guilty of not being able to relax! In fact, its really important to enjoy one's accomplishments and have time for fun too…Thanks for the inspiration!

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Shawanda March 7, 2010 at 10:20 PM

Thanks, Barb!

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me in millions March 4, 2010 at 3:42 AM

It gets to the point where you're always looking toward the future and not living in the present. Or at least that's how it is for me… Sometimes I hate being a type A personality!

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Shawanda March 7, 2010 at 10:24 PM

Living in the present. That's exactly what we're not doing. I used to get together with a friend who was even more consumed with self progression than me. We'd complain about how content some of our deadbeat family members were with, at least what we'd consider, their unsuccessful lives. One thing we agreed on was that they sure seem happy.

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ModernHippie March 4, 2010 at 3:57 PM

Damn good question! I suppose we don't feel like we've "arrived" until after we end up on Oprah's couch and because that doesn't happen for so many of us we just keep strivin' and pushin'.

I'm learning to just "be" in my life, my accomplishments, and perceived failures…though it's very difficult when you are a Type A personality (I hear you me in millions)!

You've done so many amazing things Shawanda, my hat's off to you. Be proud of that and relax GF!

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Shawanda March 7, 2010 at 10:26 PM

Thanks. After I wrote this post, I didn't feel any more like relaxing than I already did. Matter of fact, I added another goal to my list that I've already started working on. I couldn't help it. :)

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ModernHippie March 8, 2010 at 2:10 AM

As long as you're enjoying the process and the journey…

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Kim March 4, 2010 at 4:12 PM

Good lord, this is me to a T! I'm trying to turn it off….by encouraging my husband thru grad school. Which is the same bird of a different color.

I too don't know when enough is enough. The only thing that semi-helps is to find a lesser brass ring (CrackerJack box ring?), like hone a new talent (gardening, martial arts, scrapbooking). So if nothing else works for you, maybe a hobby?

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Shawanda March 7, 2010 at 10:30 PM

Excellent suggestion. Hobbies give you an opportunity to work on something that you can be proud of even if no one else ever sees how great you are. Well, that's how I see hobbies any way. Of course, you can always take them to the next level by entering competitions. If you're a hopeless Type A personality, nothing is sacred.

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Jolyn@Budgets March 4, 2010 at 5:14 PM

Well, that depends: Are you working so hard because you enjoy it? Or because you're afraid of what you'll be if you don't?

The first one — no problem!
But since you're asking, then it's probably more akin to the second? In which case: Just play the What If game. You know, "What if I lost my job?" "What if I lost my ability to work?" "What if…?" Answer the question yourself; you might be surprised what priorities are highlighted for you!

Just my two-bits ;)

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Shawanda March 7, 2010 at 10:38 PM

Both. Ultimately, I want to meet the end of life with no regrets. There are times when I feel like I could've lived a better life thus far and other times, I feel like I'm on the right path. Regardless of how I feel, I have to keep moving. Primarily because I think there's always something better. I don't know if I'll ever reach a point where I say to myself, "this is as good as it gets."

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ctreit March 4, 2010 at 8:58 PM

Sounds like you have a very hard time to sit back and relax; and so do 'me in millions', ModernHippie, and I. Why? Heck, I don't know. But I sure have enjoyed the ride and I continue to enjoy it.

I have been running faster and faster marathons. Let me tell you how this happens. Right after the finish line I feel great that I ran another fast marathon, then I say to myself "never again" – you know, too much pain, just to think about the next one, oh, about 5 minutes later. Right now I am not really training hard for the next marathon, but I am pretty sure that I will run my fastest ever in 6 weeks. How come? I am enjoying the training and it comes so easily to me this time around. Why would I want to be content with the objectively very good results I have under my belt? The marathon itself is kind of incidental. The real joy lies in the months of training. I suppose that is how it is with other things we pursue in life, too.

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Shawanda March 7, 2010 at 10:42 PM

Hmm. That's interesting. It could be that we love the ups and downs of the journey. There are times I get really close to accomplishing a goal, and then just quit. I completely lose interest. It's weird.

Btw, congratulations on just running a marathon. But still, I hope you hit your personal best in your upcoming marathon.

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Tia March 4, 2010 at 11:13 PM

Funny I feel like some ot the other guys on here, where the pastor is talking right to you. Thanks for validating that its just ok to be.

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Shawanda March 7, 2010 at 10:44 PM

Hehehe. I felt like that in church today. However, I don't think you're capable of just being. It's not in your nature. Deal with it.

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Mr Credit Card March 5, 2010 at 10:29 AM

if you never strive to be better, someone else will! And eat your lunch.

Enjoy life? More like be grateful..when you are a CPA and can enjoy a nice meal at a swanky restaurant, be grateful that you can afford it…cos many folks can't.

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Shawanda March 7, 2010 at 10:49 PM

Although I'm grateful for the life I have, I have to acknowledge gratitude comes only with conscious effort. With so much lack in the world, I never feel like I inherently deserve anything. I feel blessed to have had opportunities given to me and grateful to have the determination to create an opportunity when one didn't exist. But living in a country with so much prosperity makes it easier to focus on what you don't have.

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bloominglater March 8, 2010 at 7:48 PM

Wow – what a profound idea – "living in a country with so much prosperity makes it easier to focus on what you don't have." I agree. Thank you for this.

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LeanLifeCoach March 5, 2010 at 5:03 PM

What are you talking about? I bet there isn't a day that goes by that you don't find a list 5 minutes to just drift off and ponder life or bask in the glory of solitude. Isn't that enough for us all?

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Shawanda March 7, 2010 at 10:53 PM

I guess it's enough if you're living a life that fulfills you. It's important to achieve balance. Although I work far more than I play, I do feel pretty good about taking a break to drink a glass of wine and watch The Real Housewives. Which strangely enough, makes me feel like I need to be working instead of relaxing in order to make more money. Why do I feel the need to make more money? So that I'll have more time to relax. It's a vicious cycle.

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Shannon March 8, 2010 at 2:32 AM

Because people are living their lives based on other peoples/societies definition of success. If people were blind would people really care what type of clothes, homes, or cars they drive. If people are honest with themselves the answer would be NO! Who cares about job titles, nobody know unless you tell them and the only reason you would tell them is to let it define who you are, ie I'm vice president of Big Ole Bank, I'm corporate relations director of who gives a $#(&$ !

It's simple to have more time to relax …. WORK LESS! Create the kind of lifestyle that enables you to do that. Nobody says you need a flat screen tv a car a kindle a iphone etc to be happy. Just do less have less and you will have more time to do nothing or whatever it is you really enjoy doing. Life isn't that hard but people complicate the issue why would working 60hrs a week give you more free time ? Time is definite, and people that live the deferred lifestyle like "i"ll work hard for 10 years or until I retire, then I'll relax" says who? Who say's you will live to retire why wait until your 65 to do something you can do now.

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Lakita (PFJourney) March 8, 2010 at 9:50 AM

I’m kind of the same way. I call it the struggle between contentment and complacency. I’m driven and always challenging and pushing myself…but when do you take a step back and say “ahhhh”

If you asked me when I was 8 years old what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would tell you “join the army and work with computers”. Well I went AF, but not far off!

I believe in having goals and visions, but there needs to be a balance with being content as well

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bloominglater March 8, 2010 at 7:46 PM

Great article – I was just thinking of this today. When do you just stop, accept yourself and not care about the bullsh@t? There comes a time to say, this is who I am – no more self-improvement to my personality – just my habits. Take it or leave it.

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Patrenia March 9, 2010 at 1:41 PM

This is a great post! I guess we were both having the same vibe last week because I wrote about a similar concept. Reading your story is almost like reading my own. I challenged myself academically as well at every level and achieved all that I wanted (including the full scholarship). I always try to challenge myself to reach that next level. Not that I'm perfect, but I definitely try not to let myself get caught up with the disease of complacency.

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Farhan April 9, 2010 at 10:06 AM

You know, coming from an Asian family, I have grown up with this horribly ludicrous idea that you can't relax and be happy until you have a high end job with lots of money, a huge house, a multitude of incredible cars and rest of the BS. I'm just about to graduate in Economics from university and I'm now on this crossroads of money vs satisfaction. At this moment in time I'd choose satisfaction everyday of the week. Sure, money is important, but once you have enough to survive with relative comfort then for me personally, excess money is just there to feed your materialistic needs. I am not a materialistic person. I'd rather pursue my hobbies that I genuinely love.

Also, as a side note, I think it's disgusting how I have been raised in a culture where you are taught to look down on those who don't define life by an unending pursuit of status and riches. I feel sorry for people like that. The way I look at it is when I am on my deathbed and I evaluate my 80 years of existence, I imagine I would ask myself this one question: "Was I true to myself, did I live the kind of life that made ME happy?" If the answer is no, then that in my opinion would be a very sad outcome.

So in summary, satisfaction > excess money- not a doubt in my mind.

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Goran April 15, 2010 at 5:26 PM

Plus you have an awesome blog!

Maybe you enjoy pushing yourself just to see how far you'll go?

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Haynes September 14, 2010 at 2:53 AM

Wow, congratulations for all your accomplishment, I truly envy you. I've always been a dreamer but sadly, I was not able to reach some of them. I was able to study in the top school in our country, but finding a job is hard even though I've graduated a four year course with high average. Anyways, sometimes, I also think of that, to just stop and enjoy my life. to not to think about cars, house, future, but as always, I wake each morning thinking of stressing myself again. Its a hard habit.

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Haynes September 15, 2010 at 10:07 PM

Hi! I have also wondered like that after graduation and after my first job. Just like you, I have been the kind of person who seeks for the best. Then it hit me, and though that maybe, I should also enjoy my life. After two months of doing that after graduation, I got bored so I went into finding a job. When I realize that my job sucks, I quit and traveled around different beaches in the Philippines. Right now, I have a job because I wanted to buy a car. It is like I am challenging myself because I want to earn and spent that earning in something that I would love.

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