In my younger, more acquisitive years, I had a problem with “wanting to want.”
I subscribed to several magazines, and would page through them for ideas on new clothes to wear, new beauty treatments to try, and new things to decorate my home.
I received a mountain of catalogs each month, and would scour them for products I never knew I needed.
I would stop by the mall on my lunch hour and browse the racks, waiting for something to catch my eye.
The cycle went something like this: a particular gadget/outfit/book/decorative item/piece of jewelry would capture my imagination; I’d spend a few days or weeks wanting it; I’d acquire it; and then I’d look for something else to want.
Where did that leave me? With too much stuff and too little money. Not to mention a lot of time wasted that could have been spent on much more productive pursuits.
When I embraced a minimalist lifestyle, wanting to want was one of the first bad habits to go. I attribute this change in attitude to the decluttering process—after spending countless hours and much energy undoing my consumer decisions, I had no desire to start the cycle again. I canceled my magazine subscriptions, removed my name from all catalog mailing lists, and never set foot in a mall unless I absolutely had to.
When I stopped wanting to want, I experienced a wonderful feeling of lightness and freedom. The pressure to look for, research, desire, save for, and shop for new things was suddenly removed from my life. My stress decreased, my free time increased, and I became a happier person as a result.
In fact, after some time, I could once again look at magazines, catalogs, and stores—but with a completely different perspective:
“How many things are there which I do not want.” ~Socrates
I no longer saw a stuff-packed store as a treasure trove or minefield, but rather an unappealing (and sometimes overwhelming) place of excess and waste.
Such a change in thinking, of course, is easier said than done. Unfortunately, in our consumer-driven society, wanting to want is almost ingrained into our psyche—and reinforced every day by the countless ads, commercials, and marketing messages we see. It seems like everyone wants us to want something, and will go to great lengths to spark that desire.
How do you resist it?
Ignore it. In the beginning, it’s easiest to simply tune out the ads, commercials, and other temptations—which may mean turning off your TV, giving up magazines, avoiding retail websites, and not shopping for entertainment.
Analyze it. Recognize the techniques that marketers use to get you to buy—like making you feel inadequate or insecure, and positioning their product as the cure-all for your problems. Once you understand their tactics, you’re much less likely to fall victim to them.
Subvert it. Here’s where my love of consumer disobedience comes in! Do like Socrates, and take pleasure in discovering all those things you don’t want. Stick it to the man, and keep your hard-earned dollars out of the hands of big corporations.
If you’d like to reduce your clutter, save more money, and gain the time and energy to pursue your dreams, the solution is simple: stop wanting to want. It’s a tiny piece of advice that’ll transform your life!
Have you ever found yourself “wanting to want”? Do you consider retail environments a temptation or a turn-off? Please share your thoughts in the Comments!