|Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash|
One of the ways that advertisers keep us buying is by creating the feeling that we could be the people we want to be if only we had a new car, a better phone, more stylish clothing, a sexier perfume, or an exotic vacation. We are constantly encouraged to look for change and improvement outside ourselves.
We want to believe that our next purchase will solve our problems. And it's so much easier to swipe a card or click-to-ship than it is to do the hard work of changing ourselves. I know this first hand, because I keep losing the same 30 pounds over and over again.
But you can't buy change.
Change only happens when you figure out the motivations and habits that got you where you are, and create new beliefs and practices that get you where you want to go. This is the only way to achieve change. It can't be found in a store.
How many purchases have we made hoping they would make all the difference?
- Cookbooks and diet plans we thought would help us lose weight.
- Gym memberships and fitness apps we thought would help us get in shape.
- Clothing and hair styles we thought would make us look thinner, younger, or more successful.
- Big screen TVs and gaming systems we thought would create more family time.
I'm not saying these things are bad. Some of them could be valuable tools, but only if we actually put them to use. We can't buy our way to health, thinness, or happy relationships. It's an inside job.
It's not what I own, but what I do, that really matters.
The good news is that I can make these changes if I choose. I don't need an exercise bike to get in shape; I have a body in decent working order that can stretch, lift, walk, and become stronger if I just use it more. I don't need special diet food or a stack of cookbooks to get thinner; I know that eating more fruits and vegetables while cutting out desserts and snacks will result in weight loss. I don't need more tools; I have the ability within myself to become the person I want to be.
Dear aspiring minimalist, you are enough! You have enough. You don't need to buy something to improve your life. You need to tap into your own desires, creativity, and determination.
What's holding you back? Is it your belief that you aren't enough, that you don't actually have what it takes to make a change? I've had the exact same feelings: "I've been obese for a long time; I'll always be obese." "I'm in late middle age; I'm too old to make a change." "This relationship is already distant and cold; probably nothing I do can improve it."
There are a million excuses for avoiding change, because change is hard. It means leaving our familiar comfort zone. It means risking failure.
But if we never try, we've already failed.
Start by establishing a small action to complete every day -- something that, over the course of a few weeks, has the potential to become a strong habit.
- Make a big green salad your go-to lunch.
- Do five minutes of stretching as soon as you wake up.
- Replace your customary venti Frappuccino with a tall latte.
- Pleasantly greet that problematic colleague every morning.
- Take a short walk at the top of every hour.
- Refuse to bring your phone to the dinner table.
- Declutter one item.
You may think that such a small action won't make much difference. But if you keep taking those tiny steps, you will eventually move closer to your goal.
Buying stuff will never make you something you are not. But you are enough. You can achieve your goals, a step at a time.