Lighten Up On Life's Luggage

Mary Hunt

As flights go it was ordinary. Still, the trip stands out in my memory as one of my all-time favorites. That's because I traveled light.

I flew to Dallas in the morning, participated in a luncheon event, saw the sights in the afternoon and returned home later that evening. It was so simple. No luggage, no baggage check, no carry-on, no umbrella, coat or duffel bag. No computer or bag search. No straining to hoist all of that heavy stuff into the overhead compartment.

I was free to just walk on, strap in and relax. I was unencumbered and carefree. It was fantastic and the best way to travel. I was free to experience everything around me without having to lift, carry, drag, claim, unpack, repack, guard and be concerned with all of my stuff. It was just me, my handbag and boarding pass. I guess one would call this "travel lite."

There's something to be said about traveling in such a way. For serious cyclists the difference between winning and losing can come down to a simple matter of weight and quite possibly the reason we don't see Lance Armstrong towing a little trailer filled with snacks and cold beverages. Travel lite.

And how about those climbers? They go to great lengths to keep their backpacks as light and compact as possible. Imagine anyone attempting to schlep a matching set of Samsonite to the top of Mt. Everest.

Lighten Up

My point-and yes I do have one-is savvy cyclists and climbers are keenly aware of the weight they're carrying and are always looking for ways to shave a pound here, an ounce there. They know the success of their endeavor depends on their ability to reach their goals without delay and to finish the course.

And so it is with you. The heavier the load you're carrying, the more difficult will be your journey and the more trouble you'll have reaching the goal. Heavy burdens make it difficult to keep up. They can make the journey of life more of a trial to be endured than an adventure to be enjoyed.

So are you enjoying your journey or are you about to break under the weight of all of that luggage you're trying to maneuver down the road of life?

Review your load. You can divide everything you are carrying into two categories: tangible and intangible. Among your tangibles might be too many possessions, heavy debt, dozens of credit accounts, mountains of clutter, an overcommitted calendar and so forth. Under intangibles you might need to list perfectionism, fear, doubt, guilt, worry and regret.

Release what you cannot control. It is possible you're trying to manage burdens you were never meant to pick up in the first place. Take that big load of regret. It adds nothing to your life and only wears you down. The past is over, so lay it down and let it go. Look your fears and doubt in the face and make a decision to leave them by the side of the road. And that trunk filled with worry? It's not yours! Set it down.

Reevaluate your possessions. While it's true that possessions mean all the stuff you own, it also refers to your debt. Your secured debt is less problematic than unsecured because if it gets too heavy you can just sell the security (the house, the car ... or what ever represents the collateral) and let it go. But the unsecured debt cannot be cast off as easily. But you can start immediately to reduce the heavy load. Every dollar of debt you repay equals weight you will no longer have to carry.

Consider your other possessions and the weight they represent in your life. Dozens of pairs of shoes, drawers full of jewelry, closets packed with clothes, shelves overflowing with collectibles-all of that represents heavy stuff you're carrying. Maybe it's time to have a sale as a way to pare down and lighten your load.

Renew your mind. Every day you chose your attitude and the way you will respond to every aspect of your life. Elaine St. James in her book, Simplify Your Life, says, "Wise men and women in every major culture throughout history have found that the secret to happiness is not in getting more but in wanting less."

Even when you feel as though your life is completely out of control, you can be sure of this: You alone have control over your mind and your thoughts. You can choose to live under your circumstances or to rise above them. And if you want to soar high, you need to take a serious look at all the baggage you're carrying. Then do whatever it takes to lighten up!

© 2004 The Cheapskate Monthly. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

 "The Cheapskate Monthly" was founded in 1992 by Mary Hunt.  What began as a newsletter to encourage and empower people to break free from the bondage of consumer debt has grown into a huge community of ordinary people who have achieved remarkable success in their quest to effectively manage their money and stay out of debt.  Today, "The Cheapskate Monthly" is read by close to 100,000 Cheapskates.     Click here to subscribe.

Seeking financial harmony in your marriage? Read Mary Hunt's book Debt-Proof Your Marriage published by Revell.