The Real Cost of Living


Cost of living may be defined as the amount of money needed to sustain a certain level of living, including basic expenses such as housing, food, taxes and health care. As reflected in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price, it’s a measure of what typical consumers pay for retail goods and other items.

But the real cost of living is far higher. Beyond our teen years, few of us our live our dreams. Our aspirations. Our goals. That symphony you conceived. That killer app you thought up. That design. That song. That marathon. That painting. That book. That achievement. Even that trip or nest egg.

The 99th percentile are not just the hyper rich. More often they are the hyper focused. The ones who shed family and friends on the way toward their goal, be it success, money, or fame. The rest of us–we compromised.

Allen Saunders wrote, “Life is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans” more than twenty years before John Lennon put it into a song. (Typical. Someone famous gets the credit.) Because paying the rent, changing the diapers, mowing the grass, washing dishes, even hanging out, solitaire or Facebook or Snap Chat all come first.

That dream, that image, that goal fades farther and farther away. Eventually we lose sight of it amid the clutter of life. We settle for … less.

The cost of living is your dreams.

6 thoughts on “The Real Cost of Living

  1. The cost of NOT trying something you really want to do is very high. Even when you compare it to the cost of actually doing what you want. Several times in my life I’ve paid that high cost of doing what I wanted, and I’ve always been satisfied. Maybe it didn’t turn out perfectly, but I got the PhD in nuclear engineering, homeschooled 3 kids Pre-K to senior year in high school, and got the first novel published. I applied to the astronaut program – and made it to the final selection process in Houston. I have dealt with illness for many decades now, but, as my mother said, ‘Lo bailado, nadie te lo quita.’ (what you have already danced, no one can take away) Wish I had done a great deal more dancing.

  2. One of my dreams was to become a pilot, specifically a fighter/combat pilot, which was really difficult to do back in the 80s when women weren’t allowed that career path. But I never even learned how to fly a small slow plane, let alone a super fast one. With any goal or project, the stakeholder (me) really has to buy-in to it, or you’ve basically failed to launch (pardon the pun/metaphor). But despite my dreams never getting started (which is all on me), I remain content in my life and have few regrets (not to say I don’t have regrets, but that is the cost and compromise of living). I still have much to be thankful for and family who love me.

    And as I was reminded last week . . . “The reason why people give up so fast is because they tend to look at how far they still have to go, instead of how far they have come.” If I’ve learned one thing in over twenty years of project management, it starts with breaking the overwhelmingly huge goal down into manageable and achievable tasks.

    • Yes, the difference between a dream and a goal is often a plan–even if only mental–to realize the goal.

    • True, but we normal people usually opt for short-term survival over long-term self-actualization.

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