“Henceforth I ask not good fortune. I myself am good fortune.” Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman would fit in well with the “simplicity-frugal movement” of today. And the famous Walden Pond, by Thoreau, inspired me to appreciate the simplest pleasures in life. Both Whitman and Thoreau’s writing exude self-possession, contentment, and the joy of living. This may sound a bit idealistic, but in the last reality, isn’t it really what most of us look for; wealth in life, not just money.
Do You Really Need a Rolex, Sharlene?
A friend of mine, Sharlene really wants a Rolex watch. The prices start in the range of $10,000. The one in the image below can be found on sale for less than $50,000, yet retails for over $70,000.
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Owning a Rolex is one of her important life goals. I am not sure why she wants one but if I had to guess, I assume she equates owning a Rolex with wealth, status, and prestige. Now, as far as I know, most watches today keep accurate time. Not only that, but there are some beauties for less than $10,000. In fact, give me $50.00 and I’m certain I can uncover a stylish and serviceable watch.
On the matter of wealth, status, and prestige, there is certainly nothing fundamentally wrong with those values.
Actually, with the prevalence of cell phones’ digital time functions, in some circles, watches are fading away. I’ve noticed that many of my daughter’s friends eschew the watch for the phone. Or, if they go for a watch, they’ll shell out the $300 for an Apple watch. Yet, $300 is a far cry from $10,000.
So, on one end of the spectrum is Sharlene, a woman of middle income means dreaming of owning a Rolex, and on the other, my daughter (and many of her post-1980-born cohorts) relinquishing the watch to the “antique” bin. Well, who really cares? If Sharlene wants a Rolex, it certainly isn’t any of my business. And each of us has the right to choose our own goals and values.
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Do You Really Need a Rolex? The Downside of Wanting Too Much.
“And when it comes to Quality of Life, you need to consider how the watch adds to the quality of your life. I used to earn about $200,000 a year at the peak of my corporate days, but I was miserable. My Quality of Life was poor.” ~Joshua Fields Millburn of The Minimalists.com.
The more things you want, the more difficult it is to fulfill those wants. If you are unsatisfied with what you have, and always want more, you won’t be content. So what is the solution, as there is usually something that most of us want? In life and money, if you are constantly striving and desiring more and more, you feel dissatisfied with what you already have. You divert attention from appreciating what you already have to focus on what you lack. Jean Chatzky, in her book The Difference, offers a wonderful strategy for upping your happiness:
Compare yourself with those who have less than you, not those who have more.
If Sharlene compares herself to celebrities, she feels poor and inadequate. She spends a lot of her mental resources striving for a Rolex watch which costs 30 percent of her annual income.
This anecdote doesn’t suggest that there are good goals and bad goals, or that one should not have any goals. Yet, goals in life are important and need to be self-determined.
If you’re still pining for that Rolex watch, click here for a viable path towards wealth