Ways My Life Has Changed in Four Years

I suppose birthdays are always an entertaining reminder to look back and reflect on where we are and where we have been. It always surprises me how much our lives change. Even over short periods of time. Have you ever thought about how you have changed in the last few years? What is the same? What is different? Are you happy with where you are? Are there things in your life you would like to change?

For those who do not know me, four years ago I was just getting married, finishing graduate school and traveling around the globe. Since then, I’ve worked a little, read a lot, seen a few things and have gone though a surprising amount of intellectual growth. There are plenty of things I’m still working to improve upon but a few of the changes that I’ve made will stay with me for the rest of my life.2013-02-02 06.34.35

I think one of the biggest realizations I’ve had over those years is that stuff was getting in my way. I enjoyed ‘collecting’ things my whole life and ended up with lots of those things scattered around different closets/houses/garages. I think traveling (especially in the 3rd/2nd world) reinforced my ideal that, in America, our stuff often gets in the way of our happiness. We have so much that it is easy to put our time and trust into what we have (or don’t have). I’ve flirted with aspects of minimalism over the last few years and I’m working towards a happy balance. I think the biggest thing for me has been removing commitments that were not bringing me value and replacing them with things that do add value to my life.

Ways my life has changed since 2009:

  • Moved from 1,200 sf condo to 400 sq condo to 850 sq house
  • Sold Car, Moved down to one family car
  • Got rid of half of my clothes
  • Sold my old collections of “stuff” – Games, SW, MTG
  • Sold our desktop computer, laptop, share a family computer
  • Cut paper books 90%
  • Sold all CDs & DVDs
  • Finally parsed my “Cord’s bucket”
  • Combined – Ipod, Remote, GPS, cell phone, PSP, Camera, To-Do List, Paper Calender (Iphone)
  • Got rid of disposable batteries
  • Cut the cable TV
  • Got rid of 95% of our paper
  • Stopped tracking all exercise
  • Stopped paper subscriptions to magazines & newspapers
  • Combined bank accounts and email addresses
  • Stopped drinking alcohol
  • Got rid of disposable plates/cups/paper towels
  • Started using reusable water bottles
  • Started recycling consistently
  • Traveled a lot
  • Had a baby
  • Bought a house
  • Punched debt in the face
  • Got a pet
  • Decreased our spending every year
  • Finished School
  • Started School
  • Stopped watching hours or sports every week on TV
  • Started growing food
  • Started listening to sports on the radio
  • Got married
  • Read a lot of books
  • Started riding a bike

I think it can be fun to look back on our lives. I’m sure next year I’ll write the obligatory and cliched 30 Things in 30 Years. Reflective posts tend to be pretty entertaining to authors and they also serve as a benchmark for contrast.

I’m looking forward to the next ten years of my life. Each of the past four years have been the respective best year of my life. And it is pretty cool. I think growing up is pretty fun. I’m looking forward to some major changes in the coming years but I’ll be content with the progress I’ve made so far. It will be entertaining to do a little more working, schooling and traveling. I think I’ll have even more free time in the coming years and I’m loving watching my ladies grow up.

8 thoughts on “Ways My Life Has Changed in Four Years

  1. those are some awesome changes!
    I’m 20 so in 2 years, I know my life is going to be majorly different once I graduate. it’s a bit scary…

    • I think what was surprising for me is how much of my life was the same after graduation (admittedly, I did go to graduate school). I actually have found the changes to be pretty enjoyable. I still love school and work for a university but I still wish I was thinking a little more when I was turning 20!

  2. It sounds like you have really downsized and simplified some things. I had made a lot of similar changes over the past 3 or 4 years and all of it has been very freeing! I love having less stuff to take care of and throwing less away.

    • Absolutely! We have simplified a lot and I’m actually enjoying almost all of it. It is surprising to me how little I miss. I’ll be curious to see what it looks like in the next 3-4 years!

  3. Stephen, one thing I love is when people take control of their lives and live with intent and direction. People who let life wash over them like a tsunami struggle all the way through and often flit from crisis to crisis. My hat is off to you, sir!

    • I think you are right. Simply taking control of you life is probably the biggest first step. And what surprises me is how few people ever take this step until a crisis hits. I think living with intent and direction is also one of the most important things we can do.

  4. Wow down to a 850sq ft. home. My wife complains with what we have. You list looks a lot like mine. How has the cable tv been for you? That is the next thing I need to cut. Ten years will fly by!!

    • It is funny because it actually feels really large after living in 390sf for 2 years! The first place my wife and I lived was actually 290 but it was in a major metro area. I like our house now because we can walk to work and downtown/university area. I really like the size, it was be interesting once we start having more kids. It always cracks me up because someone in NYC thinks 800sf is huge and someone in the Atlanta suburbs thinks 3500 is tiny.

      I don’t miss cable all all. My wife still watches some broadcast TV through the antenna and we do stream several things. I watch some of the larger sporting events on TV but I mostly listen to the radio or go to the games (we have season football tickets to our universities team). Here is a link to our exact setup: http://simpleeconomist.com/the-cable-less-tv-setup