Buy land and build/refurbish a very small house.
I've been depressed, stressed, overwhelmed, overjoyed, excited and so much more over the past five years. In that time, there have been months that have gone by that I haven't thought about the goals I set down in 2013. Even so, I've still managed to get out of debt, save money, increase my 401K contribution, and remain living within my means.
How have I done it?
It's not a secret, and it's not willpower - willpower is how I stay skinny. And guys, I'm not skinny. Willpower only works when I'm actively motivated and thinking about it. The thing that has completely changed me is my mindset. My lifestyle. The things that make me proud and excited and tickled to be in this world.
It used to be Starbucks Coffee and carefully mismatched plates, and cute finds from Marshalls, and a great deal on shoes.
And now, I've become proud of being more minimal. I'm proud of needing less, and wanting less, and having less. It's not willpower that makes me want less. It's just that I don't see the value in those cute little knick knacks I used to love.
A lot of things fed into this. Youtube and articles about minimalism. Documentaries. Seeing how minimalism aligns with what is important to me. Seeing the benefit of shopping less and having less to clean. Having a calmer experience living with less. It's not the 'less' you'd typically associate with minimalism, but it's a 'less' that I really enjoy. And there is that 'keeping up with the Jones' feeling for me, but it's more of a 'reducing with the Joneses'. The people I follow and admire are now people who have less, and when I have those moments of envy, they're not related to wanting more.
This tendency - that in my weak moments, I typically want less, not more - is my secret. And I don't know how you get there. Maybe you don't get there, exactly, but a little self examination while you're motivated cannot steer you wrong. Find what's really important to you, and you ask more questions about what will get you there. For me, it was a true change in my priorities, to the point that my moments of weakness no longer lead to buying things. And it's not 100%. Of course I still have small hiccups. But they're much smaller than they used to be - fabric instead of a T.V., for example.
For me, it was the environmental impact - having a lighter footprint on the earth, causing less harm. And the other thing was money. Freedom. After being diagnosed with MS in 2010, I realized that there were things I was counting on that were not guaranteed - my health, my ability to work for a living, my status as an able bodied and minded person. There is a great amount of privilege that we all have and take for granted if we are basically healthy. When I was diagnosed, that rapidly became apparent. My vision was affected, and I wasn't sure if I could work blind. How would I walk my dog? Keep my apartment? And while I realize this is absolutely possible (people do it every day), it broke through the veneer of safety I had, and opened me up to the idea of hedging my bets and making sure I'd be okay No Matter What.
Today, MS is significantly less scary. I'm not constantly reminded that the security of my job, my health insurance, and my life as I know it is fragile. But, I have retained the desire and drive to save money and to avoid things that don't matter in the long run in order to save for that unforseen rainy day
There are any number of ways to the lifestyle you want to start. But find something that resonates with you on a deep level. Something more meaningful than how you look in a mirror or what the people next door think. Something central to the you-ness of you. Set those goals down. Think about them. Think about what they mean. Find people who think the same way, and can normalize that mindset for you. And be proud to be you, pursuing a better way to be completely yourself. And then you may find, as I have, that it's actually pretty easy, even when you're not thinking about it.