Is Your Vision of How It Is Supposed to Be Affecting Your Happiness?

Lately, I have been discontent.  While we are making great strides financially from where we were a year ago at this time, I still feel discontented.

I am now firmly in midlife, and I do not have a house. 

I used to think I would buy a house in my twenties.

Instead, I have three kids who are growing and still share a room.  Yes, our apartment is large and one of the kids could sleep downstairs and have his own room, but we aren’t really comfortable with that and neither is he.

I wish that they had a big yard and a place to just run around.  Our rental yard is nice, but tiny.

I wish that I had a yard of my own to plant a big vegetable garden and fruit trees to supply us with quite a bit of our fruit needs.

Simply put, my wishing is making me unhappy.

And then, my aunt posted this quote on Facebook, “What screws us up most in life is the picture in our heads of how it is supposed to be.”  Yes, so true.

When I step back, I see so many things to be happy, blessed and grateful for.

  • We are all healthy and thriving.
  • In 8 months, we have paid off approximately $11,000 in debt.
  • My husband has a post-doc position that pays him a third more than he was making last year.  In addition, he is being trained under an esteemed researcher and he is gaining valuable experience.  He is also working on preparing several articles for publication which will help him obtain a full-time job in the future.
  • Though my freelance work has taken a hit, I am still making much more than I was last year at this time.
  • We left our apartment that was in disrepair and moved into a nicer, more spacious apartment that feels like a home.

There is so much to be happy for.  Yes, we don’t own a house as I would like.  But I can take comfort in the fact that we didn’t jump into the housing market 7 years ago when we knew we couldn’t afford it but everyone was encouraging us to buy.  We would have really had a financial disaster on our hands if we had done that.

We recently spoke with a financial advisor about whether we should pay off all of our debt, including student loans, before getting into the housing market.  His answer was a resounding yes.  He also said we would want a healthy emergency fund so the house “will be a true blessing, and not a financial nightmare.”  I agree.

And, I agree with the quote.  I have been too consumed with thinking what I should have at this point in my life to appreciate what I do have.

Have you ever found yourself focusing on what you should be doing or where you should be in life instead of appreciating where you are?

I shared this post at Gratituesday.


  1. I do that all the time. I am someone who had the dream in my twenties.Held on for 15 years.Then the auto industry crashed and burned.We lost it all.We are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.Three days ago Hubby and I closed on a house.A much smaller and definitely a more affordable house.But we are so happy.We’ve lived on cash only since 2007.And saved nearly $8,000 in our emergency fund. Like you,we walked with a heavy heart.But,the important thing is we kept walking.Your family has made tremendous strides.You’ve taught us so much about our situation and how to work through it.We can’t thank you enough.I read about your snowflakes and I am amazed at the things your family is able to accomplish.You are an inspiration to us.Thank you for sharing and showing us how to do it.

    • Melissa says:

      Congratulations on the new house!

      Thank you for your encouragement. I appreciate it!

      • Thank you.It’s not a new house.It’s 60 years old.But it is ours now.It’s alot cheaper than the going rent around here too.We appreciate your daily encouragement too.It means a lot to me to open up my email and know that someone else can relate to money worries.That I’m not alone.

  2. I understand where you are coming from. I am in my middle fortys and nothing seem right. I am the sole bread winner in my house and my husband seems to be completely satisfied with that. But I am not. So i get so depressed with having to deal with everything and work and I am just not happy at all. I am trying to find my happiness again. We live paycheck to paycheck and I am only pay once a month from my job. I would love to have a second job but I am so tired and feel that it should not all be left up to me. Thank you for sharing all your wisdom and I enjoy reading your posts.

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks for sharing, Tracy. I was the main breadwinner for the first 10 years of our marriage, so I know how frustrating it can be.

  3. There is so much to be said about being happy. As long as you are okay with it, why does it matter?

  4. Mary Janssen says:

    Everyone thinks ahead. When my kids were little, I use to wish for a time when they would be a little more self sufficient. I wish I had just lived in the moment more. Time goes by so fast. Be happy. Enjoy now.

    • Melissa says:

      Good point. I am enjoying now, even if it wasn’t how I pictured it would be when I was younger. 🙂

  5. I’m actually auditioning for an open staff writer position at Get Rich Slowly, and I wrote a piece that was similar to this topic – about how I feel like I should be doing so much more with my career (interests, passions, talents, etc) than I actually am. It’s so hard for Americans (for I do think we have this obsession with money, fame, and power) to enjoy what they’re doing, even if it’s not “world changing.”

    • Melissa says:

      Elizabeth–I read your piece and enjoyed it. I would say not to compare to your classmates; they are probably comparing themselves to others and feeling dissatisfied. By the way, I love your writing both of your GRS pieces. You have a flair for words. 🙂

  6. I just wrote a post trying to put all of this into words, and yet you do it so much better!!
    I often feel like I should be out there having fun, enjoying my twenties and traveling but instead we are stuck paying down debt and trying to make ends meet! It sucks so bad!
    And then I think of everything I DO have and I am very thankful, but still it’s hard sometimes. I will email you about some other stuff.

    • Melissa says:

      It may suck now, but once the debt is gone, imagine the possibilities! You are smart to tackle it in your 20s.

  7. Heather says:

    Is my life where I thought it would be when I was 16? No. Am I in a much better place? For me yes but for others maybe not. They don’t count though, I do. I never thought I would get to be a stay at home mom with my 4 kids but I have the dream I never knew I wanted. For that I am blessed. When I stopped comparing myself to the made up ideal that everyone says I should have I became a much happier person. We have debt(that we are trying to pay off), I have health things(but I get up everyday and can take care of my kids), we rent our house(for now though that is great for us) and my husband has a job that is getting him to his dream job. Was I always happy with where I am? No, but I have chosen to be postive because that is what moves me forward.

    • Melissa says:

      Well said, Heather. You have proved my point. 🙂 We just need to stop comparing, not only to others, but to what we see for ourselves in our heads.

  8. Yes! For me it is work. I have a home I love, I finally lost the weight I was carrying around, my family is healthy and happy… but I’m discontent at work. WHY? Well, that’s the question. I make good money, and have a good team who work FOR me, but don’t feel respected by those I work for.

    Not sure what I’m going to do about it, but I’m trying to wrap my head around what I really want before I make any decisions. 🙂

    You’re making great progress on your debts and getting your finances in order, when you’re ready for a house, you’ll know.

    • Melissa says:

      I was there a few years ago with my job–not satisfied but needing the money. Now that I have quit, I never look back and don’t miss the job at all. It sounds like every other area of your life is going well. Best of luck with your decision.

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