Many people – and we’re not saying that this is you – want very much to let go of society’s addictive consumerism and buy and have less “stuff”. However, like many things in life, there can often be a disconnection between wanting to do something and actually doing something. We all have things that we want to do but can’t quite get started on. We don’t want to sound like we’re at a corporate board meeting, but in actuality one of the best ways to ensure that you consume less is to think strategically before you leave your house. (Yes, of course another option would be to never leave your house, but we don’t advise that!).
One of the best ways to think strategically about how to curb your consumption is to just take five minutes before you walk out of the door to walk yourself through five simple questions. Eventually, you will have mastered the art of consuming less and you won’t need to do this anymore. But while you’re training yourself on less consumption, these five “pre-leaving” questions can help you keep your eye on the goal … strategically.
1. Do I Have Enough Cash? One of the best ways to avoid buying more than you need is to pay for everything in cash rather than credit. Rarely is using a credit card the right decision for a healthy wallet and a healthy mind. Ask yourself before you leave if you have enough cash to cover what you need for the day. If so, leave the credit cards at home entirely and avoid temptation.
2. How’s My Mood? Like it or not, we’re more likely to shop when we’re depressed or unhappy. “Retail Therapy” is a very real and existent thing. If you’re feeling down or depressed (or stressed) on a given day, then you should “own” that before you leave. Simply being aware that you’re more likely to buy unnecessary “stuff” because you’re not feeling sunshine bright that day will make you less likely to do it.
3. Am I Going Somewhere that Puts Me at Consumer Risk? Headed to a downtown shopping hub? Meeting up with friends near a mall? The better idea (if you can make it work) is to try to avoid scheduling events that put you in “high risk” places. But life generally doesn’t work that way. If you do know that you’re going to a place where your chances of slipping off the postconsumer bandwagon are high, prepare yourself mentally.
4. Do I Have a Book or Podcast With Me? One of the most frequent ways that people fall off the postconsumer bandwagon is to simply become bored during some down time throughout the day or evening. When that happens, consumer places to browse and shop are often all too accessible and before you know it there’s a bag of “stuff” being carried along. Making sure that you always have a book or other way to occupy free time can minimize boredom shopping.
5. Turn on Adblock! One of best ways to avoid constant consumer messaging is to avoid advertising and marketing. In some cases, there’s no way to do this. Even if you use a DVR for your television you’ll still subliminally get the advertising messages beneath. However, you can dramatically reduce your exposure to online advertisements by turning on your browser’s AdBlock function. While AdBlock options exist for most browsers today, the easiest solution is to switch to the Chrome browser and use the Chrome AdBlock application. Yes, we know. There’s lots to be suspicious of with any Google product, but that’s true of essentially any web browser you use. At least with this option, you can decrease ad views and exposure.
Most good things in life require some work and “self-training” on your part. Learning to embrace postconsumerism is no different! We promise that when it is all said and done, you will be happier after you have kicked the cultural addiction to “stuff” and the idea that you are what you own. Getting there, however, may require you to slow down and actively participate in your choices in a way that you haven’t been doing for a while. The best part? You’ll find that when you train yourself to think strategically about falling in love with your idea of enough, you’re then able to apply the same techniques to other areas of your life that you want to make changes in.
Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker via Flickr