90-Day Challenge of Non-Consumption

March 28, 2016

Today I begin a challenge. I pledge to not purchase or consume anything non-essential for 90 days. I began this as a simple promise to myself about a month ago. It did not have rules or a time frame and arose primarily out of a need to save money and a desire to prevent excess clutter into my life. 

I begin it today as an official, public challenge. The rules are simple, purchase only essential consumables until June 28, 2016.

Consumables Allowed:

  • Food
  • Gas
  • Rent
  • Hygiene products
  • Supplements (only those I take regularly)
    • protein
    • BCAAs
    • Fish oil
    • Greens powder

Not Allowed, including but not limited to:

  • Clothing
  • Cooking equipment
  • Workout equipment
  • Additional supplements (to try out or test)
  • Podcasts - This will likely be the hardest of all
  • Music
  • Audiobooks

The Purpose

My purpose of this challenge is three-fold:

Demonstrate to myself how easily I automatically consume.
It is too easy to reach for something new and shiny, already convinced that we need it before ever asking, “Does this truly add value to my life?” By making abstinence my only available choice I will deepen my awareness of when and how the impulse to buy arises. The purpose of this challenge is not deprivation but rather to increase the deliberation I use when bringing new influences into my life. Even those of us who commit to a choice minimal lifestyle can easily find our home, life, and mental capacity quickly becoming cluttered. My aim is to shine a light on the pernicious little forces that allow this to happen.

Cultivate focus, appreciation, and gratitude to the influences I already have in my life.
Eliminating the possibility of purchasing a new t-shirt brings a lot more meaning and value to my current favorite shirt. I do my best to avoid rampant consumerism but I still feel the discontent that comes when admiring something shiny and new. I want to focus on the value of all of my current possessions; both value they have already brought to my life and the future value they have yet to provide. I want to remember and feel grateful for all the warmth my favorite coat has brought in the past and appreciate all the warmth it still has to offer me in the future. This value is far more meaningful than the luster and excitement of something brand new.

Slow my media consumption and fuel creation. 
I have a habit for incessant media consumption, especially podcasts and audiobooks. I wear headphones constantly, nearly 100% of the time I spend at home. I do not drive without my iPod. I meditate to bring silence and stillness into my life and to build comfort in that stillness. With this practice, I aim to cultivate a meditative state that will spill over into my life outside the practice. I disallow this process by constantly filling the empty space with audio education. Halting my podcast and audiobook consumption will allow me to:

  • Cultivate and appreciate silence and stillness
  • Revisit past podcasts and books that I found truly valuable. I will break my constant seeking for new information. I will listen to only podcasts and audiobooks that I downloaded before March 28, 2016. I will re-listen to the media that I found truly valuable to fully integrate the information rather than moving on to something new. I will not purchase any new books or audiobooks. I have a a stack (both physical and digital) of previously purchased books that I will focus my attention on.
  • Allow more time, space, and capacity for creation. When we are consuming, by definition, we are not creating. These 90 days I will focus on putting forth rather than taking in.

The details and duration of this experiment are unimportant. It could have different rules and a different time line to accomplish the same ends: create a system to foster a deeper consideration of the influences that draw my time, money, (and most importantly) energy, and attention. The challenge is meant to create discomfort, for this is the only place from which we grow. My purpose is to return to consumption with a greater discernment of where I spend my most valuable, non-renewable resources: time, energy, and conscious attention.

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