Friday thought #49 Money vs lifestyle

I’ve written about this before, but it’s a subject I think about a lot. Whether through choice or necessity, the vast majority of people work either very hard, or an enormous amount, and I would never criticise anyone for the lifestyle choices they make. Everyone is different and everyone has their reasons for the decisions they make. Right from an early age I knew that a standard lifestyle was never going to be for me. The thought of working in an office terrified me and I always leant towards seasons abroad or travelling.

I spent the summer between finishing school and starting university in France, which set the standard for the next 3 years. I think once you’ve had the taste of an outdoor, slightly alternative lifestyle, it’s hard to ever imagine going back to a ‘normal 9-5 job’. I found out that what made me happiest was being outdoors and being barefoot. Whether that was in the mountains or on the beach didn’t matter, it was the fresh air and the outdoors that I loved. I discovered that I was a simple person who didn’t need much, as long as I had the outdoors, I didn’t feel trapped, I was happy.

And I’ve never really looked back, I found ways to make it work in France, and carved out a pretty good life for myself as a teacher in Switzerland. I’m happy to work hard, and when I put my mind to it I think I do a damn good job, but leaving home at 6am every morning, sitting in a traffic jam and driving for over an hour each way just to get to work, wore me in to the ground. Wrong or right, I knew that I wasn’t happy anymore, so after a few years of this I knew I had a choice, accept it or change it. Many people do this for their whole working lives, and I admire them for it, it shows a lot more commitment and dedication than I will ever have, but I knew it wasn’t for me and despite how much I enjoyed my job, I knew this lifestyle was never going to make me happy.

So I chose to change it. Me and my boyfriend made the rather life changing decision to hand in our notices and move to Austria. We knew we wanted to stay in the mountains, but we needed something more, something different. I’ve realised that there are 2 types of people, those who seek the path of least resistance, and those who constantly seek something more challenging. Neither is to be criticised nor celebrated, as both are perfectly acceptable life choices, indeed I often envy those who choose to keep things simple, life is complicated enough without adding in extra issues like language barriers and trying to get your head around an entirely new country’s social system. But I’ve discovered that it’s those extra barriers that keep me going. As much as it’s a very tempting prospect on paper, I’ve had to admit to myself that I don’t want to settle for the easy path. An cruisey job which pays well sounds like the dream, but I thrive on new challenges, on throwing myself in at the deep end and on feeling a bit terrified.

Quitting your job on a whim and moving to another country is never going to be the best decision financially, but you need to decide how much money you really need and what is going to make you happy. My commute has gone from waking up before dawn and a 2 hour round trip in a car, to a 10 minute cycle along a river and flexible working hours. I’m so much happier and I’m so glad we made the decision we did. You only get one shot at life and sometimes you have to stick your neck out and take a risk. If it works, brilliant, and if it doesn’t, well at least now you know!

Welcome to Innsbruck, Austria, where time and lifestyle take precedent over money…

Do something every day that inspires you…

Ok, so maybe every day isn’t possible! Understandably life often gets in the way, but it’s so important to try and do something as often as you can that either inspires you, takes your breath away, or simply makes you smile. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular, it could be stopping to look at a beautiful view, making the effort to watch the sunset, pulling over in the car to admire a rainbow, or simply pausing to appreciate where you are. All too often people find it difficult to look past the negatives in their day, without stopping to appreciate their great friends, their comfortable life, the people that love them, and the food in their fridge!

It is perhaps an old cliché, but I do think the simpler things in life are often the most pleasurable. Daily life is so hectic, juggling the work/life balance, that people often don’t feel they have time to even stop for a minute, myself included, because in that minute that you paused to take a breather, imagine all the things you could have done, the emails you could have sent, the phone calls you could have made… We’ve all felt like there’s just not enough time in the day, but if you take on too much and never pause for breath, you begin to lose perspective of why you’re here in the first place. Money is a huge driving force behind how much you take on, but there has to be a balance somewhere, and I see it as so important that every now and again you sit back and appreciate what you have, and where you are.

Have you ever stopped to think about how much worse it could be? The answer to that is probably ‘a lot ‘, so next time you feel overwhelmed, try and find time in your day to talk to that person you didn’t have time for, or to stop and take a photograph of the light through the trees that you may never see again. In a hectic day at work, take five minutes to get in touch with that friend you just haven’t haven’t had time to reply to, because if you’re anything like me, an e-mail from an old friend is a ray of sunshine on a never-ending day, and a sure way of making you smile!

Despite being tired and with a million things on my mind, I managed to get out for a quick ski tour after work yesterday afternoon, and wow was I pleased I did!

The sun sets over a spectacular vista on the ski down
The sun sets over a spectacular vista on the ski down 

A lonely peak peers out through the cloud inversion
A lonely peak peers out through the cloud inversion