38 Comments

  1. “In a world that makes so much noise about big dreams, remember it’s fine to dream smaller, too.” I love this sentiment and have been thinking about it for some time now. It’s amazing what technology allows us to do. We can connect with people in ways never possible before and we have access to so much more. This is all great for dreaming big, but I found myself missing the life that was actually happening before my very eyes – my neighbors walking by, the cashier asking how my day was, the football game happening in my backyard with my boys. Realizing this made me want to live a smaller life. Sure, it wouldn’t make headlines or get retweeted, but it would be filled with significance. Good reminder, Penny.

    • kim domingue

      I enjoy those moments. I never realized how much until I had to quit working because of back and leg issues. When I was working full time at a career type job, my days were too full of to-dos to do more than rush from one task to the next and fall into bed at the end of the day, completely exhausted, and wake up the next day, still exhausted, and do it all over again. My big dream would be for my husband to be able to retire early. That’s likely not going to happen. In the meantime, I try to take care of everything outside of his job and the lawn so he doesn’t have to do more than his job and cutting the grass. That way he has time to enjoy those kinds of moments as well. Since I quit working, we have less money but a better, more balanced and enjoyable life. My “small” dream? I’m living it.

    • You’re right on, Ernie. Sometimes I get so busy, I forget to enjoy all that I have. There’s much to be said about the simpler things.

  2. I agree with you. It goes back to that that whole concept of well enough.

    There are some people who would like to be able to afford any random thing on a whim. There’s nothing wrong with that. But they think you’re silly if that’s not what you want for yourself. What’s wrong with being content with what you have or striving just a tiny bit higher than where you are? It trips people up. Alas, I’m glad we have you to inspire my mornings!

  3. Retiring early is our big dream, but the LAST thing we want is to be famous or have our lives change (except for not working). We don’t want to move to Mars or even New York. We just want to do more of what we’re already doing when we’re not at work.
    We’ll play with the family kids, garden, hike, travel, try to be good friends and neighbors, and have as much fun as we can doing it.

  4. Not everybody can be a celebrity or big genius or powerful CEO. Change and influence can be created within your own sphere of influence–whether you’re a nana or a business-owner. Celebrate every victory, big and small. Hell, some days it’s a giant freakin’ victory that I get a home-cooked meal on the table. To other people, it’s no big deal.

    As far as goals, my big goal is to grow the blog into a full-time gig. A small goal is making time to clean the toilets tonight.

    So glamorous, I know!

    • This mom-to-be has a new-found appreciation for clean toilets, let me tell you! HAHAHA! Gross, I know.

      And I cannot wait to see you kick butt with your blog!

  5. “We also need to champion, celebrate, and congratulate on a smaller scale.” This! If we don’t, we miss so much good in our lives.

    My “big” dream is for my husband to walk away from the 9-5 – while FI would be great, I would love to engineer his “retirement” from his job even before we reach FI.

    My smaller dreams happen every day – as long as I pay attention. To realize these dreams usually involves relaxing, enjoying life and the wonderful people in it.

    • I love both of your dreams, Amanda. And it’s a great way of thinking long-term and short-term, right? There’s so much to delight in!

    • It’s been on my mind a lot lately. Glad it made you smile 🙂 I think we all have more to smile about than we realize at least some of the time!

  6. I think this is great. One of my dreams has always been to be more philanthropic, but I thought I’d never have enough money to make a big impact. However, several in the PF community have Shown Me The Way!! (Including you!) Being more frugal has allowed me to plan my giving more effectively, in addition to giving more than I would have thought possible just a few years ago. This month, with part of my UFM savings, I chipped in on a friend’s fundraiser to take her students to see Hidden Figures. It may be little, but it doesn’t cost me much in the long run, and it might make a big impact on a kid.

    • I feel like the very best part about giving back to kids is that they have this incredible ability to invest and pull dividends beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. Does it always happen? Absolutely not. But if one kid in that audience really identifies with someone in that movie, look out! The future is wide open. I love this!

  7. I agree that small dreams are definitely worth having and celebrating. I’m never going to retire early (barring the use of a time machine) but that doesn’t mean I can’t get rid of debt, save some money, and help others to do the same. A small dream for me is to get to the gym 2-3 times a week. A bigger dream would be to make enough improvements to my health so that I’d be in good shape to travel (I’d love to see Rome).

  8. “If you want to stop personal finance bloggers in their tracks, tell them you’re not interested in retiring early; you just want to have a little extra money and a little more freedom.”

    Ha, this is so me. It’s funny how dreams change. You could say mine have shrunk. I used to want to be famous – for music, for writing books, something like that. Now I’m happy to have a job, house and pets that I love and that really is all I need.

  9. I’m all about the small daily actions, and small habits. But then I also know how when you move in the right direction day after day, it’s starts to get big. I think “big” just looks different for everyone. The Mr. and I are coming up on 15 years of marriage. And I am over the moon. It’s literally been 5,475 days of intention, good habits and showing up. I honestly never thought I would have a relationship this amazing. But all those little things start to add up into bigger things.

    Our net worth went up $50,000 last year, while we weren’t working!! I was like, “Say WHat?” But it wasn’t anything we did last year. It was all the little things we did 15 years ago. Those habits and daily actions. You walk in the same direction long enough. It’s true in my friendships, my giving, my family, even my writing. Now only 25% of what I write is utter crap. =)

    So I love to celebrate the small wins. Just for what they are, but also for where they are taking me. =)

  10. I could hitch my wagon to this theory, Penny!

    My “big dream” is early retirement (shocker!); that’s my destination. The ability to enjoy the journey is my “small dream.” Being able to find joy in the small daily victories means that even if I never make it to my destination, I will have enjoyed the journey. So either way, I win!

  11. Some times the simplest things make the biggest difference. Sure FI was a big dream of mine. Yes it made a big difference when I made it. But a smaller dream is making my sons smile and have a great day on any given day. Which one brings me more enjoyment?

  12. I love this. Most people will never reach big dreams, but most people will have small personal victories, and it’s counterproductive to ignore those small personal victories. The American Dream is not Zuckerberg. It’s safety and security for yourself and your loved ones. It’s a strong community, and a connection to both past and future. These little dreams may not be earthshaking things, but they’re the somethings of a life well lived.

    • And when I hear people talk about the American Dream, I often wonder which dream they’re referring to, you know? It’s possible that it’s an impossibility in any iteration now, but I’m not so sure.

  13. I will probably never retire early, in fact I may need to work until I’m 70, at least part-time. And you know what? That’s okay. It keeps me busy, and for the most part I actually enjoy my work. I work 2 jobs actually – 1 part-time online contract one, another full-time in the office one. And I’m paid very modestly. I’m okay. I’m almost debt free, I’m saving for a down payment on a house with my fiancee, for retirement, etc.; we have 4 cats we adore, I get to travel to California and New York once a year to visit family, and I’m good. Reading, blogging, writing, and books are my passions; my small dream would to be able to make a semi-living through my blog (a long way off yet – I’ve made .23 cents so far!). A big dream would be to retire early (like 60). But if the big dream doesn’t happen, that’s okay! Here’s to enjoying life’s little moments with those we love.

    • I’m so glad you shared your story, Lisa. I’m swinging by your blog this weekend for sure. I love how fulfilled your life is right now, and how you’re still chasing your big and small dreams at the same time. <3

  14. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I needed this reminder. My husband and I are working to find this balance of workworkwork toward goals while also trying to live and enjoy life. You’re so right, some will never achieve headline-grabbing game and ‘success’ but their smaller achievements and things that matter to them are still impactful. Thinking about it now, while professional/academic successes have been amazing, time with family is always when I’m truly happiest. You’ve made me think about some more well-rounded, people-focused goals…thank you.

    • You’re so welcome, Lindsay. We all do such amazing things. Sometimes, we’re just so busy chasing the big dreams that we don’t pause on the little ones enough.

  15. Big dream: become a multi billionaire who secretly counteracts all the evil that current billionaires are doing to unduly influence the world.
    Small dreams: get sick less often so I can enjoy our current life together, make 100% more money so I can both live and give the way I want to.

  16. My little dream is to keep my house tidy. It’s small and it’s easy to try to keep up with the Instagrams. 😉

    I have an ongoing pile of things to give to Goodwill or donate to people who have incredible need. We’ve been given so much and it’s so easy to give out of that excess. It’s just doing it!

  17. My small dream is waking up next to her every day and having our coffee. That dream is not currently within my control, but those are my favorite moments. Surrounded in love and support and funny conversation. Our career milestones and adventures are great, but the way she smiles in the morning is the best.

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