I finished the last book on my ginormous pile on Sunday.
Thus endeth my book-buying ban! On January 1, I stopped buying books – acquiring them in any way, in fact (no borrowing, gifting, or librarying). I took all the books off my public Amazon list to avoid accidental acquiring. And I told everyone that I didn’t want to get any books.
My plan was to go without for an entire year – or until I got through the 50+ books in my pile.
I encountered a lot of people who said, “I could never do that!” I got a lot of crazy looks. I also got a lot of support, but as far as I know, no one else took the plunge at my hardcore level – though I know several people who did similar things on various levels.
Well, I made it. I haven’t acquired a single new book since January 1st!
But, man, the last few weeks have been tough! The closer I got to the bottom of the pile, the harder it became to resist. But I resisted – and I am extremely proud of myself. Whew!
As far as the stuff-buying ban, I forwent it. Gifting is my primary love language, so I found myself pretty miserable by mid-February. But I lasted six weeks! Heh.
However, I did become a far more conscious consumer. I stopped engaging in retail therapy, finding other ways to alleviate my depression or frustrations (like art or reading or walking or quality time with friends). I found new ways to give presents or deliberated before purchasing something. I curbed my impulse spending – I decided that I wouldn’t buy anything without sitting on it for at least 24 hours. And a lot of times, I never went back. Occasionally, I did – and those are the purchases I’m still enjoying!
And I saved a bunch of money. My own little personal savings account has a nice cushy number.
I found myself learning a lot about myself and my habits and my wants vs. my needs.
I learned that I can be happy without new stuff.
I learned it’s nice to have enough money to buy new clothes when I really want them to suit my changing tastes – several new things at once, instead of a trickle.
I learned that my needs change over time. Money ill spent on books I later decided not to read because I no longer need them. This taught me to take more advantage of friends, book swaps, reused book stores, and libraries.
I learned that, if I don’t start a new book within 15 days, I’m not going to ever start it. If I don’t pick it up in the first two weeks, I’ll never pick it up. (That means I can take it back after 10 days or so, if I haven’t touched it, because most bookstores have a 15-day return policy.)
I learned to save money.
I learned that I don’t need stuff. Yes, I want stuff, but that’s a whole different camel.
I learned that most of my purchases are impulse buys, and if I wait just 24 hours, the desire passes and the money doesn’t get spent and I don’t end up with unwanted stuff.
I learned that I really fucking love to read. I love love love reading. But my book quality bar is very, very high. Life is too short to read a book that doesn’t grip me, thrill me, entertain me, excite me, or move me. Many of the books on my huge pile went mostly unread because they didn’t hit the bar.
I learned that I can tell within the first 20 pages whether or not I’ll ever read the rest. (This means I can sit in a book store for 1/2 an hour and decide whether I’ll ever read the rest of the book before I drop money on it.) Sidenote: Authors, this means make your first 20 pages the best of the whole entire book.
I learned that I can do without. It’s hard sometimes, but I can do it. I’d walk through a bookstore with Pace and just itch to get a new book. Eventually, I didn’t even care what book; I just wanted new books! But I held out, and as a result, I now have room for new books – that I’ll actually read.
I learned that I am strong in ways I didn’t realize.
I learned that I am powerful.
I learned that I am stubborn.
And now, my coffee table is clear, my book shelves are empty, and I have a whole world of new and exciting books to read – and an arsenal of tools to help me get the books that will most enrich my life.
I call that wild success!
So, now I’m holding up a mirror. What have you got piles of, that you could go without acquiring for a while? Clothes, books, movies, music? Earrings? Toys? Knick-knacks, plants, kitchen stuff, office supplies? (Do you really need a billion post-it notes?)
How can you raise your bars, so that you only acquire what you’ll truly love and use and treasure?
Life is too short to fill it up with junk. Our resources – time, money, and attention – are limited, so choose carefully and wisely. And of course, I’m here to help and support you!