Realizing that my previous post is more of a rant than anything, not leaving much for anyone to take away from it, I am now following up. I am hoping this time around to provide you with at least an encouraging direction to go.
I was uncomfortable in my skin after starting to analyze my consumption levels. This led to me lashing out at the world at large, blaming it for my woes. Truth is, I have complete control over my consumption and so do you.
If you never stop to take a breath and look at your life, it is easy to gloss over and simply miss just how much we consume and waste. This includes everything from the amount of water we use brushing our teeth to how much we both eat and throw away at each of our meals – and each of our snacks too! It also includes the time we waste, both ours and others, as well as money.
Analyzing every aspect of your life is not easy, but if you sit down and begin to write out your daily routine in fine detail you will start to see just how much there is each day.
Was it cold that night and you had the heater on the whole time? Did you re-wash a cup because you dropped it? How much of the banana did you toss, and did you just throw it away or compost it? How about your clothes, are they new because you needed new cloths or because you wanted new ones? Were the old ones re-purposed, recycled, or gifted, or thrown away?
What did you buy today, did you get a bottle of water because you forgot to bring your own container? Did you get an extra snack just because you decided to spend some time looking at magazines and felt obligated to grab something? Did you get an extra shot of espresso because you didn’t sleep well last night? Did you spend more on an expensive salad at lunch because you felt guilty for the breakfast burrito you had in the morning? Did you spend 2 hours of your day looking at Reddit or Facebook without realizing it, time that could have been used at work or to work on your own projects instead?
The list goes on and is daunting, but it is worth it to really dig deep and see what you are doing in your day-to-day. Where your time and money goes. What you put into your body and what you put into the trash. Where you contributed to your health and your future and where you contributed to your demise and regrets.
Keep in mind that this extends beyond you, to your loved ones and those whose lives you touch daily. Did you waste their time or money on useless conversations or things? Did you waste your company’s time and money? Did you contribute to companies that do not care about their footprint on the earth? Are you raising your kids to be better than you in all these categories or are you possibly setting them up for failure?
It hurts to answer some of these questions, I know! Especially when you start to do it each day, back to back.
There is absolutely nothing more damning than wasted potential, and that is what I found when I analyzed consumption in my life, which is why I felt it to be vile and decided to write about it.
So what can you do?
Make a list!
Well for starters, make a list, start an excel sheet and categorize and log everything you can imagine in your life each day for at least one day, but preferably a week. Yes, it will take time and effort, but really give it a try. In the process you just might find yourself starting to question each action and if it is worth it or not. Where is it’s value to you and your future and the future of your loved ones? This alone can help you immensely.
Make cover-all decisions!
Make decisions once that will make future decisions easier or obsolete all together. Concrete things like, “If I forget to bring my own drink, I will not buy any drinks to replace it for the day.” This will do a few things. First, it is a punishment for forgetting. It also saves you time and money to go get a drink. You will save some waste by not having to trash the bottle that doesn’t need to be used in the first place. Most importantly, you will not have to think about things like this in your day to day life. You’ve made this decision once and can forget it and just follow the rule. Eventually you’ll find yourself no longer forgetting to bring your container with you.
Another great decision would be to set time limits on your phone for specific apps. iPhones have the Screen Time setting which allows you to do just this and I’m sure there is an Android equivalent somewhere. Decide to set these limits and stick to them and you’ll find you have a lot more time in the day to apply to other areas of your life. But the trick here is to stick to those limits! Adjusting them is fine if it is needed, but do you really need to scroll one more time in the hopes that the next re-post will be sufficiently funny for you to finally stop scrolling? All this will do is reinforce your want to scroll again. Instead you could spend that time investing in the future of you!
This takes time but doesn’t have to necessarily eat up your money. Find podcasts or blogs of people who have great advice and successful lives and try to understand their messages and filter them and apply them to your life. If you are a health nut, listen to great podcasts that dig into these topics which can help you save time in deciding what direction you want to go by letting the professionals filter out the dribble. If you are a frugal person, find a blog about personal finance or financial independence and start applying lessons. If you are saving time and money elsewhere, you have it ready to invest in other parts of your life!
Another form a value to seek is in how you think. And I mean this in the most literal sense. Grab some philosophy books and actually learn about the different ways humans think. Analyze what you are and ‘why’ you are and you will find it all the easier to start picking apart your life of consumption and changing things for the better.
Now obviously you are not going to turn around in a week and suddenly have a zero-footprint life on earth with all your free time going into only smart future self-investments in your physical and mental health and skills that will improve your lifestyle and income, etc.
But you can take that first step today by starting your list and seeing where takes you!
Get to it!