I know that I mainly write about how beneficial Rightsizing can be from a Baby Boomer perspective. I sure hope that doesn’t turn off Millennials, because I honestly believe that the sooner a person starts rightsizing, the better their life will be from then forward, no matter what their age. So with that in mind, I decided to focus on why I think rightsizing works even more advantageously if you begin when you are younger. And hopefully, it might also remind those of us who waited until we were older, that there is no better time to rightsize than right now!
Of course, as usual there are always new readers to this blog and to the idea of rightsizing so I want to begin by reminding everyone that rightsizing is never about sacrifice. It also isn’t about downsizing or giving up anything important to you. Instead, it is a movement towards what you consider to be extremely important to a quality life. That is a key to why it is so important to those of a younger age—why waste any time at all pursuing a life or a lifestyle that you will ultimately find either unrewarding, unsustainable, or just plain unhappy?
So rightsizing to me is always finding and then doing everything necessary to live your best life—exactly in a way that works most beneficial for you and your family. As I’ve said before, it doesn’t really matter how I do it, your parents did it, or even your best friend. What matters is how it feels to you and fits into your circumstances, the choices you are making on a daily basis, and the quality of life you hope to live in the future.
Once you have an overall idea of what rightsizing means, the next step is to consider why Millennials and others of a younger age should be encouraged to rightsize. Here are the five reasons I think it is so important.
#1 The world we live in isn’t the same one as our parents or grandparents. Even if we want it to be, or we pretend it is, or if our heads are buried deeply in the sand—it just isn’t. The things that we as baby boomers took for granted are no longer certain. Everything from reliance on our government (no matter what country you are in), to reliance on the planetary climate, to economic stability, to even a healthy culture and lifestyle, are simply not the same and changing constantly. From day-to-day, the rapid shifts and uncertainty are the new normal.
While I remain an optimist (did you see my post from last week?) I think it is important for young and old, to recognize all the change that is happening. Staying flexible, resilient and creative are very desirable qualities in this day and age. For that reason, pursuing a rightsized life is perhaps one of the sanest things we can do because it prepares us to always focus on things that really matter—and eliminate the rest. When we focus on community, maintaining good health, contentedness and rewarding experiences—instead of chasing success as defined by others or by accumulating a bunch of stuff, we will likely be okay no matter what the future holds.
#2 Real wealth is good health, peace of mind, having people to love and love you back, and living on purpose. When baby boomers were young, many of us were taught that it was more important to look good than actually feel good. Sure having an impressive occupation, living in a pricey neighborhood and having all the latest toys might look like the life of a rich person, but many times they just mask someone who is running on that hamster wheel as fast as they can just to keep the lifestyle afloat. At some point, especially when health is less guaranteed or something uncontrollable happens—we/they often realize the ladder we’re climbing is leaning against the wrong wall. If we can learn at a young age that pursuing a quality life is far more rewarding than an outwardly prestigious life, then we have found a way to rightsize.
#3 Debt is the new slavery. While it might seem promising when you are young to go into debt to achieve some purpose (a distinguished college degree, that intriguing startup business, or an around the world trip), at some point that debt will likely drain away much of your happiness and peace of mind. Sure you might have a lot of stuff (lots of initials after your name, a big house, an expensive car, designer clothes, or even new boobs!) but if you are buying all those things with money you don’t have, then eventually it will catch up with you and suck the very life out of your one precious life. Staying on purpose and living within your means is a crucial element of rightsizing.
#4 At some point we realize that bigger isn’t always better and that more is not always more. During the end of the 20th Century the clear motto was that “bigger is better” in every case. I think that most of us now realize how unsustainable that really is. There is no Planet B. The National Debt in the U.S. at the time of this post is $22.5 TRILLION and over $68,000 per per person! Buying more and more stuff doesn’t lead to happiness. As we get older it is impossible to live as though there is no tomorrow…because if we are lucky enough to have a tomorrow…all excesses comes with consequences. Even when you think you are doing something good, like exercising to the extreme, your body will often revolt. A good life is usually a balanced one, and there are nearly always tradeoffs and compromises. Anyone who rightsizes learns that it is SMART to let go of “more” and embrace “enough.”
#5 No job is worth selling your soul over. Who among us hasn’t seen a movie or two where the lead character sells their soul to the devil for something they say they want? And yet? Doesn’t our culture and very often our parents encourage us to do everything necessary (in other words, ignore our soul) to find a good job that pays well just so we will be “safe?” Unfortunately that often means going into great debt to do it as well. We all know from those books and movies that it doesn’t turn out well, and I’ll bet many of us know real life examples where people have done the same. Don’t do it! Don’t sell your soul for a job to please others, for the money, or for celebrity. Anyone who rightsizes realizes that being true to themselves and living their unique purpose is a priceless commodity.
Bonus! Our happiness and wellbeing is mostly an inside job. A big side benefit of a rightsized life is the awareness that we really do “get to make it up.” That doesn’t mean we can control others or all the events in our lives—and yes, some of us start out with more advantages than others. But what we do with what we have been given is largely up to us. With that awareness we then realize that our choices and where we go from here really is in our hands. That’s a key to a rightsized life.
Clearly there is more to rightsizing than these points, but I do believe that if they had been taught to me when I was younger it would have saved me a lot of grief. The good news is that, many millennials, having witnessed what their parents have gone through and the state of the world, are already living more rightsized lives. The goal of course is not to do better than anyone else at any age, but instead do the very best for each of us given our unique and current circumstances. The SMART perspective is to remember that rightsizing works for everyone no matter what their age.