The dangers of Keeping Up with Joneses mindset is well documented in the personal finance community and elsewhere. We know we shouldn’t compare our lives to others, but sometimes it seems impossible not to do so. To an extent, it’s human nature, and there are times when it serves as a positive wake-up call for us too. It doesn’t always lead to us trying to keep up or outdo our neighbors, co-workers, friends and family members. There have been times in my life where taking a hard look at how others are doing has motivated me to make needed changes and believe that I can do it too.
The trick, of course, is to know the difference between friendly competition or a new awareness from the little green monster who makes you believe that keeping up with someone else is more important than focusing on what you truly want. Unfortunately, it is the latter that happens most frequently and causes the most problems.
Here is some food for thought: When you focus on keeping up with whomever, you choose and value their life over yours. I don’t know about you, but I want to put my energy and money into living the life I want for myself and my family, rather than living their life.
Always feeling as though you need to keep up with the Joneses is an unhappy way to live, so let’s break the habit, once and for all.
We are bombarded with advertisements telling the things we “must” have right now, and our Facebook feeds are filled with brag updates designed to make us envious. We face constant temptation to “keep up” and we can feel like a failure if we cannot. Don’t believe the hype. You are not a failure because you can’t buy the latest gadget or spend two weeks in the Maldives. The life you need to focus on is your own and that means clearly knowing what you want.
I’ve shared this with you before, but your goals are your #1 defense against unnecessary spending, whether you’re spending to keep up with the Joneses or as a coping mechanism. If you have something you truly want to achieve to compare against another item you find, it makes it easier for you to say “no” without feeling deprived. Make sure you set authentic goals that you truly want and not goals to impress others or goals that others want for you.
When we talk about the dangers of Keeping Up with the Joneses, most of us immediately think of the dangers of living beyond our means, but we don’t spend much time thinking about why we even feel compelled to keep up in the first place, which may be the more important piece of the puzzle. We diminish our own successes and accomplishments when we play keep up. Their success (or the things they have) seems so much better than our own. We give away our happiness.
This is why I taught my girls to set goals that make their hearts happy and spend a great deal of time working with them to have an abundance mindset, so they feel happy when others have success or have something new. Most importantly, they are learning to not let other people’s success take away from their own achievements or happiness.
To help them build that abundance mindset, I taught them to:
We are quick to judge whether someone deserves something they have or whether they might be living beyond their means. The best thing you can do is not judge. We expend too much energy coveting things others have or feeling superior or ridiculing them for their extravagant purchases because we assume they are living beyond means while we do not. Neither promote an abundance mindset. What we need to do is focus on the things we want to accomplish instead.
Let’s not kid ourselves, we try to keep up with others because we are envious and/or don’t want to feel like a failure. I don’t recommend suppressing those emotions because they will eventually manifest in some shape or form. The more productive thing to do is understand “why” you feel jealous. This may be uncomfortable for some, but it is a necessary exercise. Most likely there is some area of your life where you’re unhappy and need to address.
By having authentic goals and an abundance mindset, you’ll find that you no longer care what those mythical Joneses are doing. When you see someone living it up, whether they should or should not be, you choose to simply be happy for them and focus on achieving the things you truly want for yourself.
How do you conquer your Keeping Up with the Joneses urges?
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