“Make every day your masterpiece.” – John Wooden
I have a really simple standard by which I live my life.
At the end of each day, when I’m getting ready for bed, I try to write an entry in my journal, which means I reflect on the day that just passed.
Mostly, I ask myself a single question about that day. What did I do today that really mattered?
What did I do that I’ll remember in five years? I don’t expect that I’ll remember something specifically about each day, but I do expect that I’ve done something that will be a big part of my memories in those years.
Did I actually accomplish some things? Did I knock some things off of the things I ought to have done beyond the mere minimum?
To borrow from Jim Valvano, did I laugh? Did I cry? Did I think?
Am I truly tired from the exertion of the day in as many ways as possible? Mentally? Physically? Spiritually? Socially?
Did I show some of the people I truly care about that I love them?
Did I try something new? Did I try to get better at something I’m already familiar with?
The better my answers are to those questions, the more I feel I’ve lived that day to its fullest.
I’ve been told many times that by choosing to be frugal, I’m somehow denying myself things and, perhaps more ominously, I’m denying my wife and my children things.
Yet, when I reflect on my day, none of the things I really care about have anything to do with spending money.
Frugality isn’t the goal of my life. Most of the goals and ideals of my day-to-day life have nothing whatsoever to do with money at all. When it happens that those goals and ideals do involve money, I’m not afraid to spend it if I need to, but very few of the things I actually want to spend my time and energy and emotion on involve money.
Living life to its fullest, for me, does not involve opening my wallet. It doesn’t involve buying expensive things. It doesn’t involve buying cheap things. It simply does not involve spending money at all.
It involves learning. It involves running around and wearing myself out. It involves learning something new and doing something new. It involves stretching my emotions and trying to understand things through the eyes of others.
The only role that frugality plays is that it makes living life to its fullest as easy as possible.
What does it mean to you to live life to the fullest? When you have a truly great day, does it involve opening your wallet? Or does it involve accomplishing things and spending time with people you love?