December Report and End-of-Year Reflection
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, generally speaking:
- 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 delights;
- 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: failed;
- 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: