Back in January I caught myself scrolling and favorite-ing a lot of products on Amazon. And I though to myself - what if I decide to do a month without shopping?
But first, some rules. It’s easy to say “I’ll just do a no shopping February”, but you can’t simply commit to a challenge without setting some rules. Are you going to buy groceries? Gifts? Medicine? What about self treatment procedures like gym visit?
You need to have rules. Rules makes your challenge way easier to follow. For me, February is a special month because it has 3 important occasions: My Birthday, St. Valentines Day and Dating anniversary. So I defined the following rules: I’ll avoid any shopping with the exception of the following -
- Birthday present for my self
- St. Valentines day present for my wife
- Dating anniversary present for my wife (should we decide to give gifts this year)
- Replacement of a broken / damaged item that was previously in use at least once during 2021
- Groceries and Food take away
- Up to 1 book
- Anything for self care (so medical treatments, haircut, gym etc)
I’m glad to report that I was able to follow the challenge through entire 28 days of February but with one exception. I’ve broke the rule once.
I use a comfy slippers to wander around the house. However, since they are made of synthetic, medium grade quality, materials - they became stinky. So stinky, that by the middle of the day my socks were stinky as well. So I decided to replace them. Looking back at my rules, they fall under rule (3) - I did use them daily, and the fact they started to stink can be categorized as “damage”. I went to an online shopping store, found the slippers I want and was ready to order them. Then I realized that the shipping price was almost half the price of the slippers and more over, if I’d add another item to reach a certain sum - I’d get free shipping. Damn you marketing!
I did cost benefit analysis and came to a conclusion that I’d rather pay for another item I need than for shipping - so I’ve decided to order pants but I’ve told to myself that they will replace an existing pants I already have (a rule I try to follow to minimize clutter introduction in my life - for every clothing item I buy, one should go away).
So yes, I’ve broke the challenge. But I’ve realized something.
I’m not a addicted to shopping. I don’t spend countless amount of money to hoard items. I could improve my impulsive buying habits, but I was not doing this challenge to cure some addiction or cut on expenses. I did it purely for educational and “scientific” knowledge. And I’ve learned two things.
Control your impulses
I did have impulsive buying habit. When I’ve decided that I want or need something, I usually went to buy it. Which then lead to buyer remorse since by the time this item arrived (I usually buy online) I already was past the initial dopamine rush from the purchase and I was wondering “why the hell did I bough this”. Doing this challenge, I’ve realized that nothing is really that urgent. I was aware of instant gratification, delaying your purchases and etc, but somewhere during this pandemic - I’ve lost it. This challenge served as a restart for me. A restart to remind me that I have everything I need and nothing is urgent to buy.
I’ve stated in the beginning of this post how important it is to setup rules. Rules define the boundaries in which you can operate. They define your actions and prevent you from having the feeling of being a failure because there is a difference between “No shopping” and “No shopping except for…“. I don’t believe its correct to change your rules every time you encounter a road block, but it’s also not healthy to never change your rules. Life is dynamic, and adapting to it is one of the best traits you can develop in yourself. Adaptability is what helps us survive. And this challenge reminded me of this important lesson.
By settings strict rules and promising to never adapt them - you are doomed to failure because at some point, life will kick you to the floor and you will need to adapt. On the other hand, by constantly changing your rules every time you face a difficult situation, you will end up as a weak person who has no moral stance, no rules, to beliefs to live by.
Doing this challenge reminded me of two important lessons: Delayed gratification and Adaptability in life.
It’s already March and I’m 4 days to my new challenge. Stay tuned for March end to find out about it :)