How can we earn the freedom of our time and mental capacity?
“To be free, to be happy and fruitful, can only be attained through sacrifice of many common but overestimated things” – Robert Henri
When is it all enough?
When do we have all of what we want? For me, and most people I know, the answers to these questions are a struggle. My wants constantly continue and in response I will continue to order the things I “need”, with 1 click. It is easier than ever before to continue this cycle of consumption without being fully intentional about buying.
What does this do to our lives?
We now have the choice of not shopping in a physical store for 99% of our needs. This is a liberation of time for those who can harness their consumption. It also means that we need to be more intentional than ever about how we make our buying decisions.
What questions should we ask ourselves before we make a purchase?
We may ask ourselves, is it convenient? Or can I afford this? I would say that these are the wrong questions to be asking ourselves. Here is why. It depends on how you are defining afford and convenient. Let’s say we work 40 hours a week. Would we rather be spending 20 of those hours doing something else? Like on a road trip, enjoying the park, or rock climbing with friends. We work those 20 hours because we need the money to pay for the things we think we can “afford”.
Our new definition of “can I afford it?”
If we are not currently saving at least 50% of our take home pay, then we can’t afford it. That 50% is what we are saving for our freedom.
We will have to continue to spend on things like groceries, transportation, and our passions. That is the key for me. I need to raise the bar on what I am willing to buy. It needs to be a hell yes purchase! Like the $300 bicycle that contributes to my happiness everyday and reduces the amount of money I spend driving for the rest of my life. That is a hell yes!
Not Buying Challenge
This is something that I am working on in my life. Cultivating the habit of “not buying” has made me more resourceful and appreciative of what I have. When someone asks if they can borrow something from me I get excited! It feels great to help out a friend and know that we have each others back. Let’s give that same gift to our friends and borrow something every once in a while. Every dollar that I don’t spend is an asset that is purchasing my freedom of time and choice. There is even a great “not buying” challenge. This is a challenge of how long you can go without buying anything other than basic necessities. I am starting my not buying challenge today, and I will keep you posted on how long my streak lasts.
I listened to a great episode of the Hidden Brain Podcast this week titled “Tunnel Vision”. The podcast features research that has been done to show that our brains become hyper focused on scarcity in our lives. When we have this scarcity, like time or money, it is taking some mental bandwidth away from other areas of our lives. Constantly we have that scarcity as a distraction which hinders our focus on any other tasks. If we can be content with what we have right now, we will have more mental capacity to solve problems, create, or engage in a deep and meaningful conversation. Those are the activities I want my brain to be focusing on.
What are you going to not buy this week?