“Relaxed, productive, at peace, happy, quiet, unburdened. This is how I want life to be. Every day a Saturday.” - Ryan Holiday

I was working for the man, becoming complacent and just generally not pursuing my ideal life. The kickboxing training, the writing, the mixology competition, all the books I’d wanted to read ... my goals seemed doomed to remain merely images in my head. I was dissatisfied and most of it was due to a hectic work schedule that left me zapped of energy and motivation.

So, I crunched the numbers and reached a liberating decision: I would “work” only 2-3 nights a week so I could spend the rest of my time pursing my passions.

Here’s the story.

One of my mentors, a Philosophy PhD working in Positive Psychology, recommended a book called A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic JoyI don’t want to get all grand and poetic about it, but it changed the way I think about work, money and the correct use of time (our most precious resource).

This is a what I derived from the book:

Meaningful Work + More Free Time + Less Money > Meaningless Work + Less Free Time + More Money.

If you embrace smart spending and a simpler life, you don’t need to do all of the exhausting/meaningless work that is required to buy things, which frees up your time so you can pursue your dreams.

These ideas guided me as I altered my spending habits. I wanted to prioritize free time and creative work over consumerist impulses and the rat-racer mentality. Cooking rather than eating out everyday. Buying clothes from vintage shops. Ridding myself of subscriptions I didn’t need. Moving to a less prestigious area and cutting utility costs… It’s incredible how much you can alter your cost of living when you stop to manage your desires and learn to spend more intelligently. I’d definitely recommend Mr. Money Mustache to get financially literate and start focusing on happiness over collecting stuff.

"Let the beauty we love be what we do." - Rumi

And by the way none of this means living like an ascetic. I still go out with friends and eat nice dinners. I’ve seen three big name concerts this month and bought myself a giant new hookah for my workspace. It’s just a matter of properly allocating expenditure and doing away with excessive extravagance in the name of happiness and creativity.

The fruits of this life-experiment have been especially sweet. Nowadays I have all the time I need to relax, spend time with loved ones and pursue my real interests. I entered my first mixology competition and even won (but who’s keeping track?). I’ve had the time and energy to become an executive producer for a new chart-topping podcast, The Psychology Podcast with Scott Barry Kaufman PhD. I wrote this article and I’m working on my first book. I joined a kickboxing gym and I intend to get in the ring in roughly seven months. I’m currently helping a PhD at UPenn with a book about the science of creativity. It’s been a liberating and gratifying change.

For all the creative types out there with dreams that they just can’t seem to realize, try re-prioritizing how you spend your money and time so that you can dedicate yourselves to the things you love. Eventually you can even monetize your passions and start making money doing the things you want to do.

To sum it up: I only have a bed, a lava lamp, a TV I got on black Friday, a desk I got from a yard sale and my computer in my new room … and I’ve never been more relaxed, happy or creatively productive.


Taylor Kreiss is the founder of Oughtology, a movement focused on using positive psychology and philosophy to live The Good Life. For more articles like this one and to like Oughtology, go here.

This post was originally shared on Oughtology.

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