Low-Hanging Fruit

“I just don’t know what to do. I’m so broke; I never have enough money for everything, I’m always short at the end of the month and I definitely don’t save. I feel like my health is terrible, and I never wake up feeling good. And I can’t get a date to save my life. I’m at a total loss.”

…he said, lighting up a cigarette.

Sometimes, there are really big, easy changes you can make that will dramatically improve your situation. The low-hanging fruit.

This isn’t a post about smoking per se, by the way, but it’s one of the big ones. Smoking is 100% downside – it costs money and makes your life worse along literally every metric.

When it comes to your life, and how happy you are with it, I’m surprised at how often people are really, really unhappy despite not taking care of the essentials first. I see people trying to find fulfillment in hobbies and projects, but their core foundation is cracked.

Are all your bills paid, with enough left over to keep a savings of at least 6 months of living expenses as a buffer? No? Then guess what, don’t do anything else until you’ve got that handled. Work more hours, get another job, cut out other spending. Stop your hobbies, don’t go on dates. The reason you’re stressed and miserable is because you don’t have that core thing handled. It’s important. That’s low-hanging fruit – it’s a simple, obvious thing that will make your life tremendously better. Get your financial house in order. Everything else you want to do will be easier because of it, if you knuckle down and focus on that right now.

Are you as healthy as you want to be? Can you do all the physical activities you enjoy without getting winded or hurt, are you free of random pain, are you happy with how you look? No? Then get in shape, see a doctor and dentist, and change your diet. Stop drinking until that’s fixed; don’t treat yourself to luxuries like ice cream and pizza.

Not doing things that actively damage you (like smoking), working more, and eating better are surprisingly low-hanging fruit if you get out of the mindset that you need or deserve those things.

Note the BIG caveat here: All of this is advice to help you be happier with your life. If you’re broke, out of shape, and a chain-smoker but you’re genuinely happy, then more power to you. I don’t judge anyone’s lifestyle choices. But if you’re doing those things and you’re miserable – well, now I’m judging a little. Because those aren’t mysteries. There’s no secret. You’re not going to have a rich, fulfilling life with deep, healthy interpersonal relationships and spiritual meaning if your rent’s not paid and you have a heart attack.

Get the basics in order. Once you do, the rest will be so, so much easier.

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