I thought a more meaningful life to me meant being able to have the time and the financial freedom to have a few weeks holiday per year with my family but I got thinking this morning about if this is really a meaningful life, It occurred to me that maybe we should be thinking bigger. For example, I spend all week working, whilst counting down the time to get to spend a couple of precious hours with my family every evening and counting down the days during the week to spend the weekend with them as well.
Of course there is always a compromise but this brings me back again to thinking about the principles of minimalism – less is more. To put it simply, the question keeps going round and round in my mind – do we really need to work all the hours to buy a bigger house, to live in an expensive area, surrounded by stuff? Or would we be happier in a smaller house, in a cheaper area with less stuff, working less hours?
I think that part of the issue is that it is difficult to work less hours in a job which is challenging enough for me to be satisfied – difficult but probably not impossible. Even though I fully buy into the principles of less is more, I still feel that I need to have a purpose and challenge myself mentally, and also need to feel that I am adding value in some way. Whether this is success, or success means financial reward to me or recognition in another way, this is something I still need to think about. But meanwhile, I can’t deny that it would be nice to live somewhere closer to the natural beauty of the countryside and spend more time with family.
This weekend we have been talking a lot about getting out of the rat race. I mean, we live in Buckinghamshire, not London, but Buckinghamshire is an expensive county and fairly densely populated because of its proximity to London and rural living in this county comes at a premium.
In Buckinghamshire, we are so fortunate to be surrounded by beauty, with the Chiltern Hills on our doorstep, but to buy something in a village in Buckinghamshire comes with a high price tag (which in turn means you both need to work, and earn a decent salary, potentially in jobs you wouldn’t necessarily choose to do if money wasn’t the deciding factor). However, now that we have our daughter, we rarely go into London, so the premium we pay to live 7 minutes from a direct train line taking us into central London in 30 minutes, leads me to wonder whether it is really worth the premium we pay when perhaps we would value a village and more rural location more.
I think the question therefore is how far we would need to go to still have good career prospects (to have access to jobs we value) and better value for money in a location which better suits us as a family. Our tick list is now geared much more towards good schools, nice views, safe location, less busy, more open space as opposed to items such as close to a town for restaurants, and proximity to a station to get into London.
However, I also think it is good to even question all of these points, as even as I write these, I question why are these now the tick list items – am I conforming to normal standards or limiting us when there are actually endless alternative paths in life – for example people choose to school their kids at home, run their own businesses from home, move abroad, all of which we haven’t really even considered. These paths in my mind come with a higher level or risk, and takes us further out of our level of comfort. Perhaps they also come with a higher level of reward, who knows. All I do know, is that I like the idea of taking our family on an adventure in search of a more meaningful life but have no idea what that might look like.