How Success Keeps Us Trapped And Our Great Mind Shift

Mr. FE and I both grew up in the same small town along the 128 beltway, about 20 minutes outside the city of Boston. We both attended the same high school, yet we didn’t meet until after we both graduated. In fact, we met each other on a blind date at the Hard Rock Cafe in the city.

Yet, despite not growing up together, I found it odd that we were expected to follow the same dream –

  1. Graduate and go to college
  2. Buy a car
  3. Get a job
  4. Get married
  5. Buy a house
  6. Have a family
  7. Work until retirement

Regardless of the order this is the standard protocol most of us were told to strive for. It’s a clever design because when I read between the lines I see a glaring and sinister element – debt.

  • Student loan debt
  • Auto loan debt
  • Credit card loan debt
  • Mortgage loan debt
  • Medical debt

And on it goes…

It’s a trap that keeps you trapped in a cycle of debt. This is Keynesian economics at its very core. A system that requires us to participate in the endless work/spend cycle to keep the economy strong and healthy.

We are convinced that our excessive spending habits and debt burdens are a normal part of our existence. We are made to feel as though we are indebted to society, and that we must make a contribution in order to keep the economy going for the good of our nation.

And despite the illusion of our economic sovereignty, we are constantly reminded that we must do our part for the benefit of the world and for the sake of globalization.

Society depends on us to be successful, because success by its very nature keeps us on the wheel of consumerism.

Here are some of the things we are persuaded to buy in order to show that we are successful:

  • Fancy degrees – We are led to believe we must have a degree to succeed.
  • Outlandish weddings – Gone are the days of a simple wedding. Today the average wedding costs $20-30k.
  • Supersized homes – McMansions are everywhere.
  • Luxury cars – We are convinced that our car says everything about us. Leasing a brand new luxury model every two years proves just how successful we are.
  • Lavish vacations – We feel we deserve to treat ourselves to expensive vacations because of how hard we work.
  • Designer clothes – We feel it’s important to impress everyone around us and show that we can afford a $600 handbag or $1100 dress shoes.
  • Restaurants – We don’t think twice about eating out where we work so many hours. We feel we owe it to ourselves to indulge on these shortcuts in pursuit of saving time.

I realize that our way of thinking may appear as though we are going after success with a pitchfork, but we must digress. We have worked to achieve success in our own right, and feel as though we owe it to ourselves to improve our standard of living. But we must not lose sight of the cycle we were born into, and do our best to avoid its inherent pitfalls.

In fact, we appreciate our success, because it enabled us to experience a great mind shift in how we view success.

Looking back on our financial behavior, we now realize just how much the people around us influenced our financial decisions. It didn’t seem wrong for us to spend our money as though we were rock stars because everybody else was doing it. We wanted to prove that we were just as worthy.

But, now that we don’t care what other people think, and we have freed ourselves from the material competition brought on by success, we are much better for it. We know that one day we will have the answers to all of our questions which will eventually lead to a new path, our path, and not the path that mainstream society dictates.

Do you find success to be financially draining? How do you feel about the path that mainstream society dictates?


Post updated 2-16-2019


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