Friday, January 24, 2014

Want less. Experience more.

I'm always curious what people's New Years resolutions are so it's fun to hear what my friends are up to. My philosophy about resolutions is to only set goals I want to and can realistically achieve. I didn't set them around New Years; I just set a goal whenever I felt like I needed to set one. And I stopped when I felt I got enough out of it. When I decided I no longer wanted to be scared to travel alone, I set a goal to travel once a month for a year. I did it for 36 straight months. I wanted to be able to do a pull-up and after training for about a year I'm now able to do a few in a row!

This next resolution got a lot of positive feedback from friends. I got a ton of questions about how I did it and about the boundaries and scope of it. I'd like to think I got a few friends to contemplate embarking on a similar resolution for themselves. I'm still waiting to hear how it turned out and what they learned. You guys know who you are! :o) So by semi-popular demand... Here goes:

In 2010 I made a resolution to buy only 12 material personal items that year. I accomplished it and it made me realize how little I actually need. That in fact, I already had everything I needed. I focused less on material things and more on experiences and relationships with friends. In 2011 I upped the challenge and only bought 10 items all year.

My rules:
  • Toiletries did not count (i.e., toothpaste, lotion, shampoo)
  • Food did not count (you have to eat!)
  • Digital goods did not count (I purchased a few songs on iTunes)
  • I could buy gifts for other people
  • This didn't mean I couldn't spend money, it just meant I couldn't spend it on stuff. I traveled, dined out, and kept my gym membership and Netflix account.

What I bought in 2011:
1. a pair of skinny jeans
2. cardigan
3. hat
4. dress
5. tank top
6. tank top
7. disposable camera for a mud run
8. a pair of socks for the mud run
9. running shoes
10. ring
Grand total: about $250

Some of the items I bought in 2011: cardigan, socks, ring

What I did:
  • I would think about if I truly wanted each of the items. I could only buy 10 things!
  • I altered clothes I hadn’t worn in a while. It was like having new clothes!
  • I created “new” outfits by wearing clothes I already had in new and different combos.
  • If something broke I tried to use something similar I already had. Or if I didn’t, I just tried to live without it.
  • I checked out all my books from the library.
  • I spent my money on experiences (concerts, dining out, travel).

What I realized:
  • I had less clutter. My apartment is about 390 square feet so it’s not like I have a ton of space for things anyway. By the way, my husband and I both live in the apartment now and it’s enough space for us. :o)
  • I never window-shopped when I went out. It’s like I freed up a bunch of time so I could do other things with it.
  • I didn't look at catalogs, marketing emails, or even shop online. Again, more time to do other things.
  • I devoted more time to doing things with people.
  • My relationships grew stronger.
  • I appreciated experiences and looked forward to creating more memories.
  • I already packed pretty light when I traveled - a regular backpack is enough for a 3 day trip. I realized I didn’t need much more when I traveled for longer. You just can’t be afraid to re-wear things!