Am I saving enough?
What does it matter? I can’t predict the future, so I might as well spend what I want.
It’s easy to get caught in that cycle, flipping from one extreme to another, from panic to passivity, over and over again, never stopping long enough in a place of confidence to make those good choices that we know we should.
The good news is that the solution is 2000 years old. If we listen to the message of one ancient and unlucky Mediterranean man, the change to our perspective is going to make us happier and better prepared for our futures in 2015.
Epictetus was a Greek philosopher, born a slave, made a cripple, and ended up living in Rome through the later years of Emperor Nero. If that last detail doesn’t mean anything to you, try to imagine living in Washington with a Kardashian President. When the chills in your spine die down, think about how it follows that Epictetus would reject high emotional drama. Why a man once sold might not value material items for it’s own sake. And why both those ideas are still very important concerns today.
Epictetus teaches us to stay calm. As a rational philosopher, his belief is that in order to get the life you want, you absolutely have to plan for it. Likewise, you can’t get it if you don’t actively plan and move towards it. But most especially he emphasizes; you have to identify what you can change, and stop spending your energy agonizing over future events no one can predict or control.
Budgeting and future planning according to Epictetian philosophy boils down to two ‘i’s;
Intend: Have a plan. Know what you want and don’t get distracted by jealousy. Unless having the same shiny objects as your neighbours is a part of your life long goals don’t worry about their new car, and go confidently in the direction of your intent. DO make conscious decisions about what you actually want out of your life. DON’T let your own nerves get the better of you.
Interact: Control what you can; don’t stand back and let the chips fall. Crossed fingers are always a bad retirement plan. Epictetus doesn’t teach lethargy, his philosophy is grounded in action and interaction with a hopeful world that can be shaped by the person who dares to step up to the plate. DO get involved in your own plan for the future. But DON’T be afraid to change it based on your current circumstances.
If you do keep your two ‘i’s open, you can move forward on your path to success with confidence and peace of mind.