As I travel and speak to various groups about simplifying their lives, I always mention the easiest, best way to be happier, reduce stress, and save money. It's not an easy or quick fix (nothing of value ever is), but it will change your life for the better: Shorten your commute.
I told you it wasn't easy. You may need to move. Or find different work. Or beg someone to let you work from home. But, the verdict is in. Changing your commute could change your life.
The facts are these:
- Long commutes are bad for your health.
- If you're driving more than 45 minutes to work, you need to make 20% more to justify it, just from a cost standpoint.
- Because we all hate commuting so much, cutting an hour off of it has the happiness equivalent of earning an extra $40,000 annually.
- The longer the commute, the higher your stress and the lower your sleep quality and general health is.
- Better yet, a short commute can actually lower your stress.
- Companies take note: the longer an employee's commute, the higher rates of absenteeism. Let them work from home a few days a week already.
Like losing weight or writing a book, this change isn't easy. But, I suggest you start with small steps. Before you call a realtor or give your two weeks notice, try these easier steps:
- Ask to work from home. It could be good for you and your employer, even if it's one day a week.
- Carpool. Being around other people can make us happy and can make a terrible situation at least a little better.
- See if you can change your work hours slightly. Going to work an hour earlier/later and leaving and hour earlier/later could make you miss rush hour entirely.
- Find something to listen to that makes you smarter or broadens your perspective. There's only so much talk radio and morning DJs you can listen to.
- Take the leap. When it's time to move or quit, you'll know. Even if you have a drop in pay or your house shrinks, you'll be way happier than stuck in gridlock.
Do tell: have you shortened your commute and become happier or less stressed as a result? Or, do you have any other tips for improving the daily drudge into work?