My 2018 New Year’s resolution was to go minimalist. It’s been a fantastic and sometimes trying journey. Over the past ten months, I’ve given away, donated, tossed out, or sold hundreds of my possessions, ranging from camera gear to camping goodies, t-shirts to tableware, and nearly a dozen pairs of my favorite shoes. I’ve made incredible progress, my closet is down to only a handful of shirts, a couple of jackets, two pairs of jeans, and two pairs of hiking pants.
For the most part, I’ve stuck to my resolution and haven’t purchased anything, besides consumables or experiences, that wasn’t absolutely necessary to my minimalist endeavor, i.e., a hole opened on the sole of my only pair of Chuck Taylors, so I replaced them. (There was the scooter, but that’s a different story.)
In January, when I was claiming my minimalistic intentions, I hadn’t thought about the terrible weakness that would plaque me nine months down the road: Apple products.
With the launch of the new iPhone Xs Max, everything – my whole plan – fell apart. The previous nine months seemed like a sham. Before I knew what was happening, I was ordering the new iPhone as soon as it was available.
Although, I was gifting my current iPhone as soon as I had the new device in my Apple-loving hands, I realized, technically this was not a “consumable,” like the windshield wipers that had worn out and or the water bottle that had melted in the dishwasher.
Nothing was wrong with my current iPhone. It was in perfect working condition. I just wanted the bigger screen, the better camera, the faster processing. It would be a stretch to say the current device wasn’t really meeting my needs or it was broken.
So what was happening to me? Was this a bad habit? Consumerism at its worst? Me at my worst? Was I being vein? Gullible? Idiotic? I didn’t know for sure. I had gone almost ten months without indulging in commerce, retail therapy, impulse purchases – heck, I’d even gone without altogether when I could have technically replaced an item or two.
But it was an iPhone. My iPhone was my camera, alarm, wallet, email, calendar, messenger, blogging platform, notepaper, dictionary, news source, meditation tool, family connector – the list never ends. It was so much inside a single wonderfully designed, beautiful piece of magical glass.
Images of the larger screen, faster processing, and better battery life danced in my head. Eventually, needing no more convincing, I broke my resolution and bought it.
Being inside a mall was a surreal experience in and of itself. I hadn’t stepped foot in a shopping center in almost a year. There were the bright lights, shiny new goods lining the floor to ceiling windows, and hordes of people.
I had ordered the iPhone online and planned on picking it up at the scheduled time. I showed up, waited in line for about ten minutes, took a call for work, and by the time the conversation was over, I was being escorted into the store. In quick order, the store associate brought out the new iPhone Xs Max, and I left happy as ever.
Ten days later, I’m still loving my choice and the new device. I have not a sliver of buyer’s remorse or guilt. Without a doubt, I’d do it all over again.
My advice to anyone who might be struggling with buying or not buying an item is to run it through a few decision-gates in your own mind.
- Are you increasing your total possessions by buying the new item or is it replacing something else to be donated, gifted, or sold?
- Have you spent less than seventy-two hours contemplating the purchase or is this something you’ve been swooning over for the better part of a month or year?
- Will this new possession make you happy for the next few weeks or will it satisfy your needs and receive daily usage for the foreseeable future?
If it’s the latter options, you might be beating yourself up for no good reason.
The wonderful thing about minimalism is there are no real rules, it’s simply a way of living. The goal is to focus on only the very important and remove anything that is not, so one might live an intentional and richly meaningful life.
If replacing your old shoes or sunglasses or dare I say it, technology, with the latest model is going to make you happy and help you focus on what’s important to you, then stop spending a minute longer on worrying about it, and go get it.