soul food friday ~ redefining "I need..." and a 100 day challenge

on Thursday, June 9, 2011

Soul food friday posts are written mostly for help me get my head on straight about things that concern me, or sometimes just a bit of fluff about things I've been thinking about. But I do know that sometimes they strike a chord with some of you. Maybe this one will too. See what you think.
I read an article a little while back called 60 small ways to improve your life in the next 100 days. You can find it hereIt's a bit of false advertising if you ask me. I'm not sure that all of those 60 things could be classified as small. For example, keeping a log of your mental chatter (both positive and negative) for the next ten days is not a small ask. It's huuuuuge. Especially if you talk to yourself a lot. Who, me? Don't be silly.
But one of the 60 caught my eye.  It was this: don't buy anything you don't really need for the next 100 days. 
I'm big on concepts. I work with them all the time in my day job. For me, the 'concept' of not buying anything you don't need for 100 days is fine. Will it improve my life? I'm not sure what the evidence is to support that, but I'm happy to give it the benefit of the doubt. But as with all strategies, it's the execution that's the killer (ooh, I think I just made a clever, but unintentional pun!) The execution...and the definitions.
To be more precise, the definition of 'need'. For certain, there are things that we absolutely, positively, definitely need in our lives: love, affection, shelter, food, clothing, appreciation, someone to lean on. But the kitchenaid that I so admire? Perhaps not. Especially when I don't bake.  Which is why I painted this one.
So I thought about whether I would take on this challenge. If I were to examine my possessions closely I'd have to say that I don't really need much of anything. I have furniture, clothing, a reliable car that gets me from A to B, a reasonably equipped kitchen, nice things to look at, good plates to eat off. So, on the face of it, not buying anything I don't really need for 100 days seems an easy enough challenge.
I would have to say though, that all my life I have been, and continue to be a 'consumer' (although probably to a lesser extent now). I have lost count of the number of things that I have bought (and brought into) my life that I didn't need, and perhaps as a result, no longer have. I have bought things out of desire, want, maybe if I'm truly honest, even competition. And many times I've bought things out of need...not for the thing itself, but for the hole in my life I thought it would fill. It invariably didn't.
Why do I want to undertake this challenge? A couple of reasons: to save a bit of money; to not bring anything else into the house until I've had a chance to donate things that I no longer need...and if I'm honest (twice in the one post!)...just to see if I can do it. I've always been ever so slightly competitive :) But probably, most importantly, to find that line between spendthrift and savvy. To know, without question, what purchase will bring pleasure way out of proportion to its cost. Because, there are of course 'things' that can lift us up simply by looking at them. And why would you deny yourself that. That's just crazy talk. It's also probably about defining 'what is enough?'
Here's what I've decided fits into the 'I don't really need' category for me for the next 100 days:
  • magazines (other than the ones I've already subscribed to which are therefore 'free'!!);
  • books (this will be very, very hard for me)...but as I have an entire shelf of books in my bookcase waiting to be read, and I'm a member of the library, and I have friends with books...I think I can do it. Just.
  • appliances (unless it's to replace an essential item that has given up the ghost);
  • clothing, shoes and accessories;
  • music;
  • craft materials (unless it's a gift for someone and it can't be made with what I already have);
  • anything decorative for my house;
  • linen and towels;
  • cosmetics (unless it's to replace a basic that's run out...don't want to scare small children now do we)
  • iPad applications!;
  • anything from an op shop that I don't need even if it is an absolute bargain and I'm helping a charity. If it's that great someone else will snap it up anyway;
  • wine (just kidding...!)
So my friends, it starts from now and according to my quick calculation it will end on 18 September. That's more than a bit scary when you write it down! I'm going to keep a few notes about the things that have enticed me along the way and whether I succumbed or not. Because sure as eggs or little green apples I am likely to fall off the shopping trolley at some point or another!
Caveat: (I'm not silly).. and no, that's not the caveat, although it could be. I'm heading off to Bali next weekend for a writing course run by the Sydney Writers' Centre. It was booked months and months ago so don't go asking me if it's really a need! And in any case, it is. There will be things I see there that I will want to buy. And I will. I know that. Because I have always bought something special back from my travels, and I'm not prepared to stop that for this bit of self imposed nonsense. So, apart from that...let's see how I go. Maybe you'd like to make my list a bit longer so it's more of a challenge. Please don't :) Or just tell me what you think. Or join me if you'd like. I'm happy any which way.
All images found on pinterest. And why all the buddhas? Because that's almost certainly what I'll be buying in Bali :)