Finding Success While Living on Less

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Lily Avanesyan finds the practical resources on jw.org help her maintain a positive outlook after changing employment.

JW.org | Contributed

As the manager of billing and accounting for a Los Angeles law firm, Lily Avanesyan was no stranger to stress. But after more than a year of sleepless nights, panic attacks and extreme exhaustion, the mounting pressure finally reached a boiling point for the Glendale resident. She received an intense email from a superior concerning a perceived flaw in her work performance, and the tears began streaming down her face. “I realized that no matter what I did, no matter how hard I worked, it would never be enough,” she recalls. “I just thought, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’” That same day, Avanesyan decided to become one of the nearly 50 million Americans who quit or changed jobs last year in what has been termed the “Great Resignation.” While some did not have a choice about their loss of employment, many made a move in search of better opportunities.

According to a recently-released LinkedIn survey, work-life balance was the biggest concern, topping compensation and benefits. Avanesyan took a year off before returning to work and got to taste the satisfaction of a life spent doing the things she truly valued. Besides enjoying nature and spending more time with family and friends, she was able to increase her share in her volunteer ministry as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “It was such a beautiful year,” she said. “I realized that this is how I wanted to live; this is what truly brings me joy.”

Even without the pandemic as a catalyst for taking a hard look at priorities and life goals, the Witnesses’ emphasis on their volunteer ministry and family has led many in that Christian faith to make similar employment choices over the decades, giving them a wealth of experience in learning to find success living on less. “Living a balanced, simple life protects us, because it gives us more time and energy for spiritual things,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Spirituality has a direct impact on a person’s emotional well-being, which is why Jesus said that those conscious of their spiritual need are happy.

Living by that principle takes constant effort as we each strive to maintain life balance.” During Avanesyan’s year off of work, scriptural principles featured on the website jw.org helped her to keep in mind what was truly important, and make big financial sacrifices. When it was time to seek new employment, those same principles motivated her to forego the elevated title and higher pay she once had. “You can have status, you can have money,” she said. “But in the end, those things don’t equal happiness.” To keep things simple, Avanesyan set the goal to work no more than three days a week.

She took a part-time administrative position for a company that offers audio-video services. “Life is truly wonderful now,” she said. Gail Martin likewise has no regrets about reassessing her priorities more than two decades ago. She left a high-powered but all-consuming job as a systems analyst to put faith and family first. “I can prioritize studying the Bible, my religious meetings and my volunteer ministry,” said Martin of Riverside. “I’m also able to spend three months a year in Illinois with my family and help my brother care for my mom.” The key to long-term success at living on less, she said, is regular life reassessments. “What might work now may eventually not work,” she said. “Sometimes, you have to make adjustments. It’s a continuous process.”

She often goes back to the free resources on jw.org, searching for scriptural counsel on “how to handle your finances, choosing a career, how to be happy and whatever it might be that you need to look at your priorities and your values,” she said. Martin is currently revaluating her life to prepare for retirement. She does not yet know what adjustments she will make to simplify her life further, but she is holding on to what makes her happy. “I feel like if you put priorities first, like family and God, that’s a lot more fulfilling than working yourself to death,” she said.

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