The Tyranny of Stuff
I have written before about what I refer to as Lifestyle Addiction™. Simply put this is an addiction to a Lifestyle to the point that, just like any addiction, if you were forced to no longer have that lifestyle, you would experience symptoms of withdrawal. I’ve seen this happen first hand when people live one way during their working years only to be faced with the realization at retirement that the future has called their bluff. The paychecks stop and the lifestyle goes way down. Emotionally it’s very difficult to handle for people who haven’t prepared for it.
Lifestyle Addiction™ can be healthy or it can be destructive. This is true of some (not all) addictions. An example would be an addiction to eating healthy, whole foods vs. processed foods. A healthy addiction to this lifestyle would be a positive thing but if you make the addiction the DEFINITION of who you are then you are in trouble. I’ve coached people who take the nutrition to the extreme and when they eat something like a slice of birthday cake, they feel like they have failed and they can’t handle the emotional swing that brings. That’s not a healthy addiction…that’s a lifestyle that is tyrannical. You can’t live free if you are under tyranny. Tyranny occurs in many areas of life: political, emotional, nutritional, spiritual, and even financial. I call the financial tyranny, the “Tyranny of Stuff”.
What is stopping you from living the life you really want? I mean, let’s assume for a second that your current life isn’t exactly what you desire for you and your family (if your life is how you always dreamed it then stop reading right now…you’ve already WON!). Maybe you hate your job, or at least you just deal with your job. Actually, let’s stop right there. Your job. I can say with relative certainty that most people don’t love their job. If they did, they wouldn’t be talking to me about retirement all the time. No one retires from vacations or playing golf (except me because I can’t stand golf) or going to sporting events or movies, etc. No one retires from the things they LOVE. So why is it that so many people are doing a job they don’t love? It’s because they suffer under the Tyranny of Stuff.
The Tyranny of Stuff creeps in (like most tyrants do). You graduate college and with your first decent check you might get a nicer apartment. With that apartment you head to Target or Wal Mart and you load up your cart with shower curtain rods, soap dishes, lamps, towels and on and on. You love your new place. After a while you get a raise and you buy a nicer car. Another raise and you buy a house. After a while you get married and now you buy a bigger house, bigger car, more trips to Target. Then the kids come. They “need” all the greatest toys and clothes and private school. You begin to worry about college and spring break vacations and…I mean this is exhausting me just to write it let alone live it. “Keeping up with Jones’” is another way of making the Tyranny of Stuff exponential. You aren’t just being held hostage by your own stuff, but now you are held hostage by your neighbors’ stuff.
I’ve experienced this myself. I’ve gotten caught up in looking at what others are doing for spring break vacation with their family and I’ve compared that with my family’s plans. Why? Why would I do that? Why would anyone? I don’t know for sure. It can be due to a competitive spirit or it can be something else. But no matter what it is, it will lead you to serve the Tyrant of Stuff.
Most people are stuck in jobs they don’t love. Jobs they spend most of their time thinking of not doing someday. They are stuck not because they live in Soviet Russia or Red China. No one is telling anyone they have to do a specific job for a specific time. No one that is except for his or her own Lifestyle Addictions™. People are stuck because they are serving the Tyrant that is the stuff that’s in their homes and garages.
Try this exercise: imagine taking the roof off of your home. Turn the home upside down and spread all of its contents on the front lawn. Take a mental inventory of all that stuff. Add up the amount of money that you’ve spent on stuff that will just wind up in a landfill someday. I’m not saying it’s not necessary to have this stuff. I’m asking you to look at it critically. Is the stuff worth the time you spend all day at your job? Away from the things you do and the people you love? Is it worth your freedom?
Nothing I’ve written here matters one bit if you don’t take action around it. Maybe you don’t agree with me that there is such a thing as Lifestyle Addiction™ or possibly you don’t think you are living under the Tyranny of Stuff. If that’s the case, I wouldn’t argue with you. I’d be genuinely HAPPY for you! But if what I have written resonates with you, it’s not enough just to agree or to feel something right now. You have to ask the “so what?” question. “Ok Joe, I agree. I’m in that camp or in danger of living under the tyranny of stuff…so what”? The So What moment is the moment where you decide to do something about it:
First, make sure you place yourself in one camp or another: you both love your work and would do it for free OR you are doing it because it pays you enough to continue a certain lifestyle.
If you are in the second camp, make a pact with yourself and your spouse that you will begin to set up a plan to make a change about how you handle your resources.
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or PM me at my Facebook page, or go to my website (www.joedelisi.com) and send me a message and tell me that you are in the camp where there is a Tyranny of Stuff.
Nothing can be fixed overnight. It will be a long process for most people who are stuck under the Tyranny of Stuff. But the good news is this: time passes anyway…would you like to arrive in the future under a heavier burden or would you like to arrive in the future with as light as a burden as possible? Anything you dream up IS possible but you need help along the way. Let us be your coach. Together we can do amazing things!