This year, the holiday season is different for me, and many of the people I know. Times are tough.

Did the economy ever really bounce back? Wasn’t the world supposed to end? Is the upcoming year going to be better than the last?

But, most of all, this year is different because I’ve realized that I want more.

I Want More

This past year, I’ve come to an important conclusion: I want more out of life.

I want more out of every day—my career, my relationships, my body. I want better.

I want to feel more—fulfilled, free, happy, significant, healthy.

I want to do more to contribute, make an impact, help others, and exercise.

I want to learn more about entrepreneurship, leadership, technology, and writing.

I want more, but there’s a problem: I’m not always sure how to go about it.  What am I to do?

The answer is easier than you’d image: choose experiences over spending.

Our lives are formed by the choices we make: we choose what to make of our lives, and how to spend them. We choose how to spend our money, and how to spend our time—nobody is taking either of things without our explicit consent. The choice to live a better life can start now—today, during this new year season.

Here’s the choice I’m making today:

I want my experiences to be front and center—not the stuff that piles up around me.

Are you with me?

If you want more out of life, you can make a similar choice today. Choose experiences over spending on stuff and see how quickly things change.

a millionaire

The Ultimate Test: When We Go

I remember that my grandmother liked to repeat a saying that used to creep me out when I was small, but now it has helped to put my life into perspective more than I ever imagined. She’d say:

“You’re not taking your gold with you to the grave.”

I don’t think she meant to say that money isn’t important, but I definitely don’t think she meant we should go on a spending spree. After all, we do need to eat, bathe, and so on. The meaning behind her ghoulish words is closer to encouraging appreciation of what we have while we have it. Guided by this concept, it’s easy for me to make quick decisions on what I want for my life: for example, there are things in life we may consider to be too expensive, but are worthwhile:

I want to meet amazing people, but traveling to a conference costs a considerable amount of money.

I want to have a wonderful night with my husband, but we can’t afford to go to a fancy restaurant.

I want to hang out with my closest friends, but they live all over the world.

I want to see new places, but traveling is so costly.

My dreams about experiences I desire the most are completely quashed due to lack of funds. It doesn’t seem fair—or right.

How about we chuck that logic and find a new way to experience a great life? How about we put money aside and create those experiences ourselves?

I’m Not a Millionaire, But I Want to Feel Like One

When I analyze all of the things I want to do and buy with money, I realize that what I am really trying to chase down is a feeling.

Last I checked, we don’t pay for feelings with money. We pay for them with experiences, so let’s take those examples from above and find ways to accomplish them without spending a dime.

I want to meet meet amazing people, so I’ll organize informal meetups at a coffee shop, and invite thought-leaders in my city.

I want to have a wonderful night with my husband. Who says you can’t break out of the routine at home? I’ll plan an awesome meal at home and have a ridiculously bad dance party.

I want to hang out with my closest friends. If they’re abroad, I’ll videochat with them regularly. Being there for each other and laughing is all that matters, even if it’s not in person.

I want to see new places. I can get to know new areas in my community, while I budget for long-distance trips.

Sure, these modifications require some sacrifices—traveling within my community is not the same as visiting Michelangelo’s David in Florence, but it’s a good start. By focusing on the feelings I desire, I’ve changed my approach: experiences can make me feel amazing—much more than spending money. Being a millionaire must be amazing, but there’s nothing like enjoying the experiences at my fingertips.

The feelings I desire can come true without spending the big bucks. Who knew!?

Featured photo credit:  Young beautiful couple kissing at the sea. Wedding kiss. via Shutterstock

Love this article?