Our world surrounds us with advertisements, convincing us how to consume all that there is to consume, with great rapidity and vigor. Some call this a “materialistic” world, where consumables are consumed with an ever-present desire to have more, be more, make more. This requires planning more. More planners, more planner “things.” More stationery, more office space, promotions, more money, bigger house, nicer car, that next phone upgrade. Moved into a new apartment? New furniture, new decor, throw away the old stuff. “New and Improved” this month is code for “Old and Inferior” next month. If we were true materialists we would wear things out, mend, repair and keep using that “old” phone that was “brand-spanking new” only 6 months ago. The cycle is sadistic. We go to work to earn money to buy the things to live the lifestyle we think we want because that’s what’s been sold to us, so we continue to go to work in jobs we haven’t much thought about because we are too busy going shopping to notice.
In the world of social media, we are the commodity, not the consumer.
In the world of clothes, we are sold 52 seasons worth of clothes, so there is never down time.
In the world of technology, our smart phones track where we spend our time and send the data to marketers under the guise of helping us “manage” our screen time.
In the world of planners, there is always the next planner waiting just around the corner to get you to be the perfect planner whose life is perfectly reflected in that one planner you didn’t know about until now.
What if you could just stop it all? Get off the train. In fact, what if you could cause the train to breakdown? What if the decisions you made today could stop you accruing credit card debt? Have more money than you could want, because you are not spending according to the world but spending according to what you know is right for you? It’s quite possible.
Consider looking at a minimalistic lifestyle. First Rule: There are no rules. Second Rule: Everyone’s minimalism journey is their own. Walk your own walk. Third Rule: You can keep your collections if your collections bring you joy and you can geek out on them. By the way, these are my rules for minimalism. Go make your own.
How do you start? Start with a blank sheet of paper and write down on paper what you value in life. Where would you like to spend your money? What kind of lifestyle would you like? Ever hear of vision boards? Why not turn your planner into a living, breathing LIFEBOARD where you can start living the life you keep wishing you can buy but just keeps evading you. Tabs? Use those babies. Now is a great time. Start tracking how much time you spend doing all the distractions you’ve spent hard-earned money buying. Now, put the distractions away. I’m serious. Why does your phone need to be on all the time? Unless you are a first responder, do you think you could have an hour a day with the phone off? What about TV? Do you watch a lot? Can you shut it off and do the thing you could do that would make you happy?
Guess what, dear reader, there is no happiness in chasing the dreams that society has thrust upon us. The only happiness comes from the dreams we dream and making them into reality. That happiness is not at the end of buying “just one more thing.” I know many in the planning community have a “no buy” month. Imagine having a “no buy” year. Imagine using up and being a real consumer, consuming everything you own BEFORE even thinking about buying. What about borrowing? Renting? I once hears someone say that if they used every item of clothes they owned they would have something different to wear every day of the year for 1 year. It’s remarkable to me now and I am no where near complete on my minimalistic journey. What if the best days of your life are being spent on social media, arguing with people over things that don’t make an iota of difference in the real world? Fast forward to your deathbed, are you going to hand your smartphone over to your grandchildren and tell them to scroll through your social media to see how you lived your life?
Imagine taking control of your life. Right now. Imagine taking control of your job and working where you love. Maybe you need to change your job? Maybe you need to work more hours? Less hours? Maybe you want to try a completely different career and you don’t even know where to start. I specialize in helping people find their path in life. You could reach out to me or to your local career counselor. Start tracking your journey back to yourself. This is it. This is your life. If you are sending the hours and minutes and seconds of the best days of your life down the virtual pipelines of technology, or spending your money, living paycheck to paycheck, what are you getting back?
Planning has its own secret rabbit holes, doesn’t it? It’s the medium through which we can take accountability of our lives and yet it can turn into a massive time and money suck if we allow it to take over. Planners serve the planner, not the other way around. If you’ve gotten in over your head, stick your head out, pick what works and emerge from the noise. I guarantee you there is always going to be something nicer, prettier, cleverer, more practical than what you’ve got. It’s ok. You can ALWAYS switch. That’s what we do at Plannerology. We create our lives on paper. If you get tired of the chase, come join us.
I made the choice to start minimizing my life about 2 years ago. It’s been an interesting journey. Every day is a new discovery and a new challenge of finding out what I truly want to keep in my life. Every discard does become easier but getting to that point of discard is excruciating sometimes. Some of the best moments have been seeing my PayPal totals grow and making (what I consider to be ) huge deposits into my bank account; stacking up boxes by the front door of items that I’ve sold, waiting patiently to be dropped in the next day’s post; having empty shelves where things used to be packed in; cleaning my home quickly and effortlessly because-less stuff; and most of all, knowing I could get up and move at any movement if I wanted to because it wouldn’t take me more than 2 hours to move. Fumio Sasaki said in his book “Goodbye, Things” that he could move in 30 minutes. I was so impressed by that statement. I like not having to think about the things in my home. It frees up my mind to think about the book I’m writing.
None of this is easy. If it was easy everyone would do it. But you are not “everyone,” are you? Our purpose in life is to live our best life and help one another out as much as we can. If you are on autopilot, finding yourself absorbed in your phone along with everyone else at events, while waiting in line or walking down the street, come join the rest of us who have said “enough, we want to get busy living our lives, not charging technology at the next charging station.” Step up into it. It’s waiting for you.
Karine Tovmassian is a Language Subject Matter Expert at Plannerology and Senior Advisor to Military and Law Enforcement for resume writing and career coaching at Throat-Punch Resumes. She spends her time hassling Steve Morton during their HitchHiker’s Guide To The Plannerverse podcasts, the first and only planner podcast out there in the Plannerverse. You can find her virtually on Instagram @KarineTovmassian, on Facebook at Plannerology or Throat-Punch Resumes and plannerology.com and ThroatPunchResumes.com respectively. You can find her in person in Williamsburg, Virginia.