Simplicity, Free Time and Creativity

More Free Time + Meaningful Work + Less Money > Less Free Time + Meaningless Work + More Money.

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For all the creative types out there with dreams that they just can’t seem to realize, try re-prioritizing how you spend your money and time so that you can dedicate yourselves to the things you love.

I was working for the man, becoming complacent and generally not pursuing my ideal life. 

The kickboxing training, the writing, the mixology competition, all the books I’d wanted to read… My goals seemed doomed to remain just images in my head. I was dissatisfied and most of it was due to a hectic work schedule that left me sapped of energy and motivation.

So, I crunched the numbers and reached a liberating decision: I would “work” only 2-3 nights a week so I could spend the rest of my time pursing my passions.

Here’s the story.

One of my mentors, a Philosophy PhD working in Positive Psychology, recommended a book called A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy. I don’t want to get all grand and poetic about it, but it changed the way I think about work, money and the correct use of time (our most precious resource).

This is a what I derived :

Meaningful Work + More Free Time + Less Money > Meaningless Work + Less Free Time + More Money.

If you embrace smart spending and a simpler life, you don’t need to do all of the exhausting/meaningless work required to buy things, which frees you up to pursue your creative dreams.

These ideas guided me as I altered my spending habits. I wanted to prioritize free time and creative work over consumerist impulses and the rat-racer mentality. 

Cooking rather than eating out everyday. Buying clothes from vintage shops. Ridding myself of subscriptions I didn’t need. Moving to a less prestigious area and cutting utility costs… It’s incredible how much you can alter your cost of living when you stop to manage your desires and learn to spend more intelligently. It’s even more incredible to start focusing on happiness and the good life over collecting stuff.

And by the way, none of this means living like an ascetic. I still go out with friends and eat nice dinners. I’ve seen 3 big name concerts this month and bought myself a giant new hookah for my work space. It’s just a matter of properly allocating expenditure and doing away with excessive extravagance in the name of happiness and creativity.

The fruits of this life-experiment have been especially sweet. Nowadays I have all the time I need to relax, spend time with loved ones and pursue my passions. I entered my first mixology competition and won (but who’s keeping track?). I’ve had the time and energy to become an executive producer for a new chart-topping Podcast (The Psychology Podcast with Scott Barry Kaufman PhD). I wrote this article and I’m working on my first book. I joined a kickboxing gym and I intend to get in the ring in roughly 7 months. It’s been a liberating and gratifying change.

For all the creative types out there with dreams that they just can’t seem to realize, try re-prioritizing how you spend your money and time so that you can dedicate yourselves to the things you love. Eventually you can even monetize your passions and start making money doing the things you want to do.

To sum it up in a metaphor: I only have a bed, a lava lamp, a TV I got on black Friday, a desk I got from a yard sale and my computer in my new room… and I’ve never been more relaxed, happy or creatively productive.

Bio: Taylor Kreiss is a positive psychology writer and coach on a mission to share the art and science of the good life. He consults businesses in how to bring positive psychology into the workplace, coaches one-on-one to help individuals reach their peak performance and he writes for Creativity/Philosophy/Positive Psychology blogs. He also loves connecting, so please reach out to talk about potential collaboration [email protected] And please check out his website if you want more articles like this one

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