Whether we realize it or not, in the last 150 years human progress has catapulted beyond the wildest dreams of our ancestors. Simply consider regular living in today’s age with indoor pluming, central air and heating, modern travel, modern communications, and the list goes on. Those of us living in developed countries have a standard of living far beyond that of kings and queens of centuries past. For almost every reader, we are part of a collective comfort class. Materially, our lives are very comfortable on a historical scale. This comfort has its obvious benefits, while also bringing a softness that must be recognized, less it become an unseen parasite to our progress.
Many of our financial goals are tied to material gains. Homes, vehicles, clothes and jewelry are a few examples of material goals sought by having certain financial means. Yet, if we are all in such a state of material comfort, how do we get beyond our material level of success? Human progress depends on desire. Financial desire drives human progress. Innovation if often not borne by the hobbyist or government bureaucratic. It is regularly crafted, developed and introduced by the innovator and entrepreneur. Part of the fire that drives such innovation is the desire to succeed financially. In other words, the ability to increase one’s purchasing power to obtain tangible and intangible goods and services.
When comfort creeps into our lives, it provides a certain support that did not exist before. To a certain degree this is a great benefit for human progress. Having to worry about your next meal constantly forces us to concentrate our physical and mental capacities on hunting and farming. While these activities are critical for survival, we have seen the freedom large scale farming and the modern grocery store as brought. Having relatively inexpensive food available to us around the clock enables our focus to be channeled to other activities.
At what level of comfort does the benefit of comfort lead us to become more lazy than productive? Is it when we have a certain good or service at our disposal? Is it when we have reached a certain salary? The truth is that for each of us the answer is different. We all have different goals and we all have different personal desires to achieve. Part of ensuring comfort does not lead us to languish in life, is an awareness of how our personal comfort has reshaped our life.
If we can reflect on our state of being and our life goals at some regular interval, then we can take a figurative inventory of where we want to go, where we are now, and what is preventing us from advancing to the next stage. Upon this assessment, we can actively evaluate whether our past success is one of the factors keeping us from advancing. Progress is not an accident, but a process of focused and forethought actions. This is true both for personal finance or any other aspect in life.
Don’t let comfort be your king.