How Consuming Less is Making Me More Content
By Sasha from one of my favourite blogs, The Life Notes.
"It's nice, but not necessary." These are the words that have kept me on track with money lately.
That top? Nice, but not necessary.
That thing you spotted in M&S when you were in there buying stuff for the office? Put it back. That's not what you came in here for.
Last-minute invite to go out when it wasn't in the budget? Guys, I'll have to catch up with you another time.
Boring it may be, but right now, boring is necessary. It's what is going to get me where I want to be, so I can truly enjoy the wants, while feeling assured that I'm meeting the needs.
But the unexpected by-product of applying this mantra to my money life, has also proved to be invaluable life advice overall.
When you strip back the fluff and the things that we actually fill our time with, how much of that is necessary, and how much of it is nice, but not really getting us anywhere. Or worse, distracting and delaying progress in other areas?
It made me contemplate how well I was using my time:
Forty five minutes on a Tuesday at my favourite gym class, away from a screen, getting them endorphins in and stresses out? Necessary.
Forty five minutes repeatedly entering and exiting the same four social media apps, because it feels like my thumb has been subconsciously trained to do so whenever I pick up my phone? Certainly not necessary. And sometimes, mood dependent, not even nice.
I think the trouble is, is that often what is necessary takes time and effort. And largely, the nice things, the things that can derail us from what we really want, we can have instantly. It takes time to draft and edit a piece of writing or get through a chunky work task, but I know that I can effortlessly procrastinate with various feeds or the lesser important tasks on a to-do list.
It takes an age to build up savings, but the way that mobile app and 1-click shopping is set up, I can spend my money five times faster than I make it.
Remember when your mum used to tell you to do your homework before you went out to play? Apply that to adult life. Pay off your debts, create before you consume, put priority before pleasure.
And it's not that I always need to be constantly on the go, pushing and striving. Sometimes when life gets overwhelming, what's necessary is stripped back to the absolute basics of getting up, getting dressed and eating. In part, what can get us to that state of overwhelm in the first place, is trying to do everything without order, balance or priority. Applying the nice or necessary filter to parts of my life has proved to be an excellent editing tool, promoting focus, even if only to get me through the day.
So if that means a day without social media, so be it. If the TV needs to stay off so I can actually concentrate on something else, well that's just how it is. If I need to hit the sack at 9pm and lie in silence or say no to the event, then that's what I'm gonna do.
Whatever is necessary, and can't be lived without: focus on that. Make those things larger. Those things, whatever they may be, matter in your life. Everything else is nice, but not necessary.