Our Resources are Limited. And It Matters.

“There is just one life for each of us: our own.” – Euripides

Four years ago, we removed the unessential physical possessions from our lives. At the time, the decision was based on two surfacing realities: First, I didn’t have enough money to sustain my current lifestyle. Second, I was beginning to fully realize how much of my time and energy was being given to my possessions. I understood my resources were finite. And I simply didn’t have enough to be wasting them mindlessly chasing possessions. Removing them proved to be an entirely life-giving decision.

Since then, I have begun to understand even more the reality that we are indeed finite creatures on this earth. We receive only one life to live with a limited number of days and a limited number of resources with which to accomplish our purpose. Almost all of the resources we consume during our journey are limited:

Money. Time. Energy. Attention. Physical Space. Relationships. Mental Capacity. Body. Talents. Natural Resources.

This reality of our finiteness is an incredibly important truth. It is one we should intentionally choose to focus on each day. Because when we do, it changes our actions, our motivations, and our pursuits. It changes us.

On the other hand, when we lose sight of this fact, we are far more apt to squander our resources. For example,

  • when we lose focus on the limits of our money, we sink deeper and deeper into debt.
  • when we lose focus on the limits of our time, we let it slip away day by day… year by year.
  • when we lose focus on the limits of our energy, we spend it on foolish pursuits.
  • when we lose focus on the limits of our mental capacity, we fill our minds with trivial facts.
  • when we lose focus on the limits of physical space, we fill it with unnecessary things.
  • when we lose focus on the limits of relationships, we miss opportunities right in front of us.

But those who live in light of their finiteness choose to trade up. They become more thankful for the resources at their disposal. They seek to intentionally develop their gifts and invest them into worthwhile pursuits. They attempt to remove the distractions and the clutter holding them back. They simplify life to focus on the most important. They begin each day focusing on its potential. And they reorient their lives for lasting impact.

This is an important truth. Our resources are finite. And that should change everything about us.

Image: NASA Earth Observatory

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    I needed to read this today. It’s my heart’s desire to make each day filled with purpose, but it’s so easy to lose sight of the fact that we are only given so much time/energy/resources to make each day count. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. says

    While I appreciate the intent of this post, I can’t help but think this is the same scarcity-based thinking that gives more power to the competitive corporate consumer culture. If resources appear scarce, were more compelled to compete for them; hoard them even. I’m all for prioritization, but a positive angle such as cherishing the present moment may be a more powerful argument.

    • says

      Thank for the comment Billy. This reality absolutely fuels much of the competitive consumer culture that we live in. Not only are our resources finite, but they are actively being competed for from voices all around us… which helped form the motivation behind the post. We need to be intentional and thoughtful about the allocation of ours (our attention, our time, our money). And just because this reality helps motivate some of the foolish pursuits in our society doesn’t mean we need to participate. I was intending my final paragraph to provide the alternative, positive agenda.

      • Sean Archer says

        I have to agree with Billy. Our culture of “owning” and the endless pursuit of gratification through acquisition or envying those who “have” is driven by the marketing of scarcity (fear of loss). “Get your’s now before we’re all out!” … But perhaps there is a different way to look at this. Although our soul’s are infinite, we are in this physical experience of a finite world to learn something. Those of us who learn that there is really no such thing as “ownership” will let go of the fear and stress of this constant pursuit and then will be open to their true purpose. There is a reason someone once said “you can’t take it with you” …

  3. says

    Thank you for addressing the issue that simple living and minimalism are connected to both the planet and natural resources as much as it is to individual choices, debt and consumerism. While simple living is a great lifestyle and provides great freedom and peace for those of us attempting to practice it–it is also part of a much bigger issue of sustainability. What is the saying? “If everyone lived like Americans we would need five planets to keep up our lifestyle.” If we are practicing minimalism from a purely self-serving perspective–then we continue to encourage a materialist perspective–even as we say we are reducing “material goods” from our lives. We are all in this together and one of the best things (IMHO) about simple living is the fact that we appreciate, honor, enjoy and take care of everything we do have (including the environment and the world around us.) Just as we take care of our bodies and minds–the planet needs our support as well. Again, thanks for pointing this out to your readers!

  4. says

    I think this statement of yours resonated the most with me: “when we lose focus on the limits of our time, we let it slip away day by day… year by year.”

    It sickens me to think of how much time I have likely wasted by pursuing things that ultimately don’t matter, have little to no significance in time or eternity, and may even be bothersome to the people around me.

    Thanks for the reminder to be more diligent and perceptive!

  5. says

    I think I understand where Billy Durnell is coming from and I certainly appreciate his input and insight. I have certainly seen plenty of that “zero-sum game” scarcity thinking that leads to wrong-intentioned competition.

    But…I think there’s a remarkable difference between “seeing things as scarce” and “recognizing things are finite”. And I think that difference is rooted in emotional and spiritual maturity.

    Thanks for a great post, Joshua. And thanks for a great comment, Billy.

  6. says

    I totally agree, the finite amount of time we have to live has always inspired me to live everyday in a way that I’ll be proud of. I have a keen sense of what wont always be here and it doesn’t drive my life in anyway towards the negative, if anything it’s encouraged my positive nature. Fiona,x

  7. Iguana Bob says

    It took living on a boat for 2 years to really realize how very little one can “get by on”. I to was absolutely caught up in consumerism/capitalism (and don’t get me wrong, capitalism is what has made the U.S. strong..) I think my (and America’s) infactuation with minimalism started with the SURVIVOR reality shows… gave a us a small insight of what it would be like to actually live a totally minimisitic life….. Afterall Jesus Christ was a minimalist, as were his Apostles…
    Thanks for your comments/insights as well…

  8. says

    We spend a couple of weeks each summer camping around the country as a family. We bring only the absolute necessities and live very simply; it isn’t a vacation as much as an experience. When we get home, the reality of all we’ve accumulated (both time commitments and possessions) comes fully into focus. Your post encouraged me to bring that calming, clarifying, minimalist mindset to the other 11/12th of our lives. Thank You! I hope you don’t mind if I reference your site in a blog that I’ll be writing shortly (only in a glowing fashion, of course).

  9. says

    Great post Joshua! For me the start of changing everything came with the simple understanding of the finite number of time we have. I am young, I have the time – I always though, but the time is only flowing in one direction only and not using it properly is never a good choice…

  10. Cathy says

    If you want to make a difference on the planet and its people, this is it:

    Have nothing in your home or life
    that you do not find to be useful,
    believe to be beautiful,
    or know that you will strive to keep in your life forever.

    Just some nice words to live by when cleaning the cobwebs!!

Sites That Link to this Post

  1. We Are All Minimizing Something | September 27, 2012

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