The quality of life that you have been seeking requires that you take action to reduce your level of overhead.
In business, the term ‘overhead’ refers to the fixed costs and expenses associated with running the business like rent, heating or equipment. These items are important but are not necessarily charged or attributed to a specific product or part of the work operation. Accountants help us calculate this level of overhead through profit and loss statements by comparing income and expenses. Many new businesses do not survive because their overhead is too high. Increasing income while decreasing costs is what results in a greater profit margin and the ultimate goal of successful accounting.
These accounting principles work the same way in our personal lives as they do in business. Our overhead costs include our mortgage payments, car loans, credit card debt and cell phone bills. An over-extended relationship between the ratio of income and our expenses leaves many of us wondering why there are so many days left at the end of the paycheck.
You are not alone with the stress that you feel. The current generations of Americans have dramatically increased the overhead in our lives as demonstrated by smaller percentages of our incomes going toward saving and by carrying greater loads of debt than previous generations. Far too many of us have bought into the cultural myth associated with “more means happier.” This is unfortunate because with the exception of rising from levels of extreme poverty, research demonstrates that peoples’ level of happiness is not dramatically improved by raising their level of income. The solution to greater meaning in our lives is not about acquiring more stuff (quantity) but about having more freedom (quality).
In recent years my wife and I committed to looking at the overhead costs of our lifestyle and realized that more money and a bigger house were not making us any happier. What we really wanted was to experience more freedom and peace of mind. This honest reflection of our overhead costs started us down a path of making some real estate investment decisions so that we could eliminate all of our debts. By having no credit cards, car payments or a personal mortgage we have been free to make choices that were once only dreams. We chose to sell a beautiful home in the country and downsized by moving back into town because of the overhead costs associated with the amount of time we spent commuting the kids to school and activities. I cut my university position to half time so that I could spend more time pursuing my passions of public speaking and writing.
These changes took place for us over several years. It all began with us honestly looking at our overhead costs—where we were spending the energy of our lives. The bottom line result of reducing our overhead costs is that we have increased the “profit margin” on the quality of our lives. We have more time together as a family. I don’t worry at night about making loan payments because we don’t have any. We take more vacations and we are talking about taking a service-vacation to work helping people in a developing country. We have more room in our lives to listen to Spirit. Our family energy is focusing more on what it means for us to thrive rather than survive.
Like all perspectives, “overhead” will manifest itself in different ways in our lives. Overhead is really about how we invest the energy of our life. The soft voice of Spirit can easily be overshadowed against the demands of survival and maintaining your current level of overhead. If one of your goals is to increase your peace of mind, taking action to reduce the overhead costs in your life will produce immediate results.
STRATEGIES: Reduce Your Overhead
1. Are you satisfied with your current level of overhead? What changes could you make so that you could have more peace of mind and meaning in your life?
2. How would your life be different if you eliminated your mortgage and all other debts? What would you do? How would you feel? What choices could you make that you are not able to make now because of your overhead?
3. Decide at this moment to make a commitment to educate yourself through books, speakers and financial advisers who can help you to become financially free and accomplish your dreams.
4. Assess how much energy you are investing just to survive. What is the difference to you between working to survive and living to thrive?
5. At some point you may have to choose between investing in your creativity and maintaining your current level of overhead. You only have so much energy available to use each day. For today, what will you choose?
6. Beyond the benefits to yourself, how will reducing your overhead benefit other people in your life? What could happen in your relationship to your spouse or partner? Your children? Your co-workers?
7. How is reducing your overhead good for the earth, a clean environment and future generations?
8. When will you begin?
(Photo - http://kellybrownpaper.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/week-2-reduce-part-ii/)