It’s tax time, and that means statements arriving in the mail for everything from interest income to student loan interest expenses. And yes, that means, for 9-to-5 employees, the arrival of the annual W-2, showing the wages we earned last year.
In August, I turned 35. And this month, for the first time, my W-2 showed a 6-figure income.
In my 20s, I had a goal to make more than $100,000 by the time I was 30. And I probably came close, but there were years where I was overseas, or changed jobs mid-year, or whatever…and so, my W-2 never showed that 6-figure number.
And you know what? I thought making 6 figures would make me happy somehow.
You’re probably smart enough to realize it didn’t. That, in the same year I recorded the highest W-2 earnings, I also recorded the least satisfaction with my job I can remember. For nearly all of 2017, my job was embroiled in constant changes, management changes, acquisitions, and confusion. My passion and creativity were buried under all of the uncertainty.
In addition, my own personal focus was shifting toward our own goals, around debt payoff, eliminating stuff and living aboard a boat.
There were highlights in 2017, as we got married and made a serious dent in our debts. But overall, I’d say it was the year with the least inspiration, the least joy, the least adventure. But the most income?!?
I’m writing this post on a day when I am singularly discouraged, tired, and unmotivated. To be totally transparent – I’m barely motivated to finish this blog post. And yet, by almost every measure of “success,” I’m winning with flying colors.
What. the. hell.
The trick here, I know, is to morph my discontentment back into motivation for changing our lives. That is, after all, why we’re writing this blog. But today, my motivation is at a lull.
It’s actually partially because I now see the material achievements as so meaningless. Money, at least in the form of salary and by-the-hour exchange, no longer motivates me at all.
Freedom. Adventure. Time at the beach or in the water. These things motivate me, and right now I’m sorting through how to increase these things even in the midst of our focus on paying down debt and getting rid of stuff. Lately, I’ve been so focused on making progress in these areas that I haven’t made any time for fun. A day without external responsibilities is a day to make progress in cleaning out stuff, or other chores…and the joy has gotten lost in the shuffle.
So this week, we spent a day at the beach. We walked in the sand and collected seashells; brought home some driftwood for our aquarium. And I felt like I could breathe again, in a way I haven’t for a long time.
It’s not enough, yet, but it’s a start.
What motivates you to keep pushing toward change?