A good part of the quest for ridding possession is controlling
the intake. December tends to be a challenge.
It seems that no matter how
insistent one is that they’d like to receive no gifts
some people have a hard time respecting that.
I don’t fault them; it’s tremendously difficult
to go against the tide, against all the societal
pressure that has long established that birthdays
and Christmases be celebrated primarily through two
means: food and gifts.
To be fair, I also didn’t prepare properly. I should’ve
had this insight earlier on and provide a solution
that would meet both minimalist requirements as well as
the needs of the givers: ask for gifts of experiences
rather than … things.
Examples of what I would consider experiences are,
- entertainment tickets, be they to a movie, a concert,
or a sporting event;
- culinary outings: a new cuisine, a new restaurant,
or even an old haunt that hasn’t been visited
in a while;
- wellness experiences – a massage or some sort
of transient pampering like a spa day;
- things that get reasonably quickly exhausted;
for example, a bottle of wine or perhaps
a bottle of hot sauce;
With the latter point I would also include
certain “supplies”, although they’re a bit weird to gift,
when properly chosen they may be extremely
welcome even to a minimalist: a perfume,
make-up, a bottle of ink for someone
that’s into fountain pens, or say drawing
paper or paints for an artist.
The final tally for December, taken even though there’s
still a day left, puts me at: 17 items in, 28 items out,
for a total of -11.
Overall, I ended 2020 with 231 fewer possessions
than I started at the beginning of this journey,
twelve months ago.
A promise kept.
I also had some secondary goals:
- reduce my consumption of alcohol or even give it up altogether:
accomplished - from a drink a week I think I reduced it
down to a drink a month or so;
- attempt to reduce snacking and
stress-eating - accomplished, although it waxed and waned
throughout the year, overall it’s been reduced and healthier
items (fruits and veggies) swapped for more caloric intense
- spend less time playing video games: under 10 hours/week:
kind of accomplished – overall reduced, but the release
of Borderlands 3, a favorite series, put me back into
north of 20 hours per week for a couple of months;
- spend less time on social media, mostly on Reddit:
- spend fewer days and weekends indoors and more out enjoying
the wonderful parks my state offers:
accomplished, but not to the level I would’ve liked.
A tertiary goal has been to reduce the reliance on single-client
income and develop some alternately streams of income. Ultimately
this failed. Although it’s something I intend to revisit
in the future, I have eventually come to accept that the
fastest path to FIRE - Financial Independence/Retire Early
is to maximize my consulting income in order to achieve
a half-retirement or a lean FIRE position
(retire before 60 with less than $40k in planned yearly household expenses),
which would be a good place from which to dedicate myself to
building these alternate income streams.
Looking back at it all, I’d say it’s been a great year
and the things that worked to make it so have all
been underpinned by the SMART goal system:
- Specific - reducing possessions, reducing consumption;
- Measurable - the 10 things a month challenge;
- Attainable - much thanks to Goodbye, Things
for providing a good template on how to;
- Realistic - 10 things per period seemed and was reasonable;
- Time-bound - monthly periods and one overall year.