Let’s Stop Trying to Keep Up with the Joneses
Written by Tara McKenna
When you scroll through social media, have you ever caught yourself thinking:
- “I could use a bigger house”
- “I need a new kitchen”
- “I could go for a car upgrade”
- “I’d love some new clothes”
- “I wish I made more money”
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these aspirations, it’s important to take a moment to consider if you’re seeking these life improvements because you genuinely want to, or because you’re trying to keep up with the Joneses.
Who are the Joneses, anyway?
The Joneses are people around us who make us feel like we need to step up and have more: more money, more material possessions, more updates, more fashion, more house(s), more cars, more vacations, MORE, MORE, MORE!
The Joneses can be friends and family, people in our neighbourhood, social media influencers, and even celebrities (Keeping up with the Kardashians, anyone?).
Unfortunately, trying to keep up with other people in such a superficial way can leave us feeling unhappy and unfulfilled, not to mention broke or in debt. Chasing more in this context is a superficial goal that doesn’t leave much room for self-reflection on what could actually help us to live our best lives.
It’s time to break up with the Joneses and define the good life for ourselves. Here’s how:
1. Define enough for yourself
If we keep looking to others to determine what the good life looks like, we’ll never have enough. There will always be more to aspire to being, becoming, and having. Instead, take a moment to determine what enough looks like for your life.
For example, many people aspire to have a big house and 3-car garage. Sure, that might be useful for some people, but it might not be ideal for you. Maybe you don’t even need a garage! Like, ever.
So, decide what’s enough for you. Perhaps that’s a condo in the city, or a tiny home in a small town. It’s up to you. When you set the parameters for enough, it’ll feel more authentic to set goals and reach them!
2. Develop your personal style
Keeping up with trends is a losing battle. After all, they seem to be changing every week! Even furniture and home décor styles are changing too quickly to keep up. From fashion to interior design, it’s easy to take one glance at social media and then look around at our own lives only to feel like crap because we could use a refresh in every department.
If you define your own style based on your personal taste, then you don’t have to worry about upgrading all of the things on a regular basis to keep up with the Joneses.
My tip? Keep it classic and timeless when possible. But if your personal taste is more eclectic, go for it!
3. Decide what success looks like
Is it a university degree, a high-flying career, single-detached house with the white picket fence, happy marriage, 2.2 children, a dog, and one vacation per year? That might not be for you. University isn’t for everyone, and nor do you need to go to university for a great job. You can have a corporate career if you want, or do you want to be an entrepreneur? Not everyone wants to get married and have kids. Perhaps a vacation each year isn’t what you’re looking for, maybe living abroad is where it’s at for you!
Success isn’t a one-size-fits-all definition. You get to decide what success looks like for yourself.
4. Live within your means
Constant consumption can cause us stress and put us into debt. Keeping up with material aspirations set by someone else can have us living above our means by regularly placing new purchases on credit.
Instead, choose to follow a budget that meets you where you currently are with your income. Leave some room to save and invest, too! If you’re in debt, work to pay it off.
5. Love your life
At the end of our lives, we are the ones who determine if we lived a good life. Do you love your life right now? Maybe you love some of it, but some areas of your life could use some extra attention or improvement.
I like the saying that “the grass is greener where you water it” instead of “the grass is always greener on the other side.” Work to love your life. If you aspire to make changes, do so on your own terms by living your best life, not the life of the Joneses.
People often waste a lot of time, energy, and money keeping up appearances and living lives that don’t feel authentic. With that comes a life of chasing after possessions and the next best vacation to show off material wealth. This excessive consumption comes with an environmental cost.
When we define what our best life looks like, we’ll consume better and waste less, and that is better for you and the planet.
For more tips on going zero waste, read the book and head to zero waste 101!