Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Instant gratification- I want it all

The New Year brought such an impetus of things I wanted to do to simplify my life even further so I thought I would write out those resolutions and got a bit overwhelmed with all the changes I intended to make.

January was used to look at those and I chose the sustainable wardrobe as my major project and then there was the garden, locally sourced produce in season, work goals, health, relationship, financial, energy efficient goals etc. Knowing full well the energy to achieve all of those would exhaust me and make life less simple to begin with. Some of these goals warranted investigating.

  • Why did I choose this goal
  • Is it aligned with what I believe is important
  • Am I willing to commit time to it and if so how much
  • What are the consequences of this decision.
  • Is it in line with my major life goals or a distraction?

Lets say your goal is to go and ski. Skiing happens at a certain moment when snow is available, so is time limited. This means travel and staying somewhere other than home. Requires a passport , special gear, toiletries and is going to make a dent in your budget. Now if its is in alignment with your authentic self( a need)  you will go and find a way and have the satisfaction you have achieved something important with meaning. If however you go because you need a break from the rat race or the impulse came from a glossy brochure or advert, you may feel very discontented at the outcome.

Despite wanting to live a simpler life a downshifting path to simplicity the inflow of information we get every day to flex those consumer muscles is so great that our brains get more hits for consumerism than to simplify life.

In my goal setting I found that although I thought I had mastered the skill of differentiating between what is an important task and what is a want in my buying habits, this had not followed through in my personal life. And the most important habit to break is that of instant gratification so deeply engrained sometimes we are not aware of it.

To reduce the impact of consumer messages we have a system to deal with the post, reducing the amount of junk mail, recycling the paper as the post comes in and ending up with  the important mail that requires a response.Those pieces of paper then get devided into home or business and get dealt with when I give the home or business folder allocated time and attention. It can wait.

If only it were as simple as the post. We are regularly receiving
  •  post
  • email messages
  • twitter messages
  • facebook messages 
  •  pinterest
  • adverts
and most of them incite us to buy something and influence our choices.

Every time you buy something in the high street or online, it triggers a marketing campaign sending you emails whenever your profile shows up as a potential customer. You get asked for your postcode and what number you live in and there you are added to a mailing list. Every time you buy something the messages enticing you to buy increase. Companies are fighting for your buying power especially in a challenged consumer environment as where most people are tightening their belts after the spending spree for Christmas or for fear of losing their job. I know its a controversial issue because at the heart of it, we are asked to consume to create and keep jobs.

To counteract that we simply physically stop shopping but then turn online for our shopping needs. The consequences of shopping online brings you boxes and materials to recycle as well as the item you ordered plus a daily amount of emails which thankfully are easier to unsubscribe from and delete virtually. Many a purchase asks you to set up an account which when you do means another password to remember and more email messages for account holders.( including special offers just for you)

A few years ago my son was waxing lyrical about the benefits of a certain washing powder, how it would fulfill my need etc. We are open to receiving these buying impulses and clever though they are they diminish our personal power to make decisions about what we need and want. Add to that the trigger of instant gratification, and we impulse buy because we want it, and we want it now.

This was brought home to me while testing a new organizational app called The Habit Factor which as it happens  accompanies a book , available tomorrow in hardback or instantly to a kindle and enabled me to list all my goals and then told me I could only concentrate on 3 of those goals. Three? The question I pondered this weekend was whose decision I follow when I want to achieve a goal, my own need or did the thought for that need originate as a marketing ploy?

Therein lies the differential and unhappiness between the goals our authentic self chooses and the ones we often pursue implanted by a clever marketing campaign.

Another app that brought me some insight was Astrid which enabled me to transfer those goals into steps I needed to take to achieve the goal and then allocated time in my schedule to do the tasks necessary.  Three goals are sufficient to fill a whole diary and both these tools have been instrumental in helping me choose my three most important goal allocated to the three most important roles. By the time I consider my health, family and work I have my three major areas of goal-setting.

I am not proud of the fact that I still want it and want it now as an impulse, knowing that consciously means I can set myself the task to wait, 24 hours, one week etc. A wishlist is a great tool as it gives me the instant gratification of acknowledging I want it now, but tomorrow I can delete the item knowing I really don't need it,

What drives your life?

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