Are You Creating a Life or a Lifestyle?

If you were to take a poll and ask, most people they would say that they want to live a great life. But, if you observe the way most people live their lives, I would suggest that most people are simply working like hell and busy creating and maintaining a lifestyle. What’s the difference you ask? The difference is like night and day and can mean the difference between feeling fulfilled and terminally empty inside.

A life is built on the foundation of who we are versus what we do or own. It encompasses the things that matter most in this world – love, relationships with others and self, faith (however you define that for you), the natural world around us, and our experiences. It’s those things that you’ll look back on at the end of your life on earth and hope you served well. They are at the core of what most people desire and that is what makes us human.

On the other hand, a lifestyle is all about the stuff. It is about the size of our house, the car we drive, and the fancy toys we “must” have. Lifestyle is a measure of status, keeping up with the Joneses, and appearances.

Now, one is not right and the other wrong. Building a life also involves creating a lifestyle to go with it. And, there is nothing inherently wrong with creating a frugal or elegant lifestyle. Where so many of us go wrong is when we sacrifice truly living by choosing to exist solely for our lifestyle. What do I mean?

Simply put, you put your money and time where your priorities are. If you are regularly struggling and stressing like hell, busy spending endless hours at work, staying in a job you hate, or up to your ears in debt, chances are you have gotten so engrossed in creating a lifestyle that you have forgotten to live. Don’t beat yourself up, though, you have plenty of company. Look at these recent facts and figures:

According to MSN Money:

  • – About 43% of American families spend more than they earn each year.
  • – Average households carry some $8,000 in credit card debt.
  • – Personal bankruptcies have doubled in the past decade.

According to a March 2006 USATODAY report, the nation’s personal savings rate dropped to -.05% in 2005. That’s right, not only are we NOT saving, but we’re spending more than we earn and more than we have.

If the numbers alone don’t make you queasy, consider these simple universal truths:

  • – Nothing you buy will ever fill you up on the inside.
    – You can’t “buy” self-esteem, self-worth, self-confidence, or love.
    – The more you try to satisfy your emotional needs by buying stuff, the more hollow and empty you’ll feel inside.

What can you do? The two most important things you can do to make sure you build a life you love with no regrets are:

  • – Open your eyes to the state of your financial reality and do something about it.
    – Get clear on your values and what really matters to you. Live your life with this vision as your road map.

If you do these two things, the decisions you need to make along the road of life become much simpler and clearer (even if not always easy). Then you can get back to the task of creating a fulfilling life with a corresponding lifestyle that nourishes your soul rather than bankrupts it.

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