The First Step
The bad news and the good news is the same news. The bad perspective is this process takes dedication and work. You must decide each and every day that you are going to commit to your financial sobriety. Yup. Each and every day.*
Here’s the good perspective; you don’t have to decide today what you are going to do tomorrow, one week from now, one month from now or years from now. You don’t have to decide that you will practice financial sobriety for the rest of your life; you only have to decide on your course of action for the day.
Deciding to take things one day at a time helps alleviate the overwhelming thought of giving up an addictive habit. It’s much easier to think of tackling one day vs. all the rest of the days of your life. The “one day at a time” concept is from Twelve-Step Programs.
The Triple WTFs
You have decided you are going to be financially responsible for the day. Congratulations! But, what does that even mean? If you recall from the process addictions post, shopping is a behavior that isn’t realistic to completely quit for most people. So, a day of financial sobriety may include shopping. Sobriety comes from being intentional and deliberate. Here is an overview of my structure for shopping:
What: Be very specific and intentional about what you intend to purchase.
When: A specific day of the week? 4x per year? Plan when you will shop.
Where: Be it brick and mortar or online, know where you will shop.
Time: Plan how much time will be spent obtaining identified items.
Funds: Your budget for what you plan to spend on an item or per shopping period.
I call this process the Triple WTFs (see what I did there?). I will go into greater detail on each of these points in upcoming posts. I will add here for clarification that my plan includes only shopping 4x per year on non-essential items. This means most days my WTFs are going to be blank or 0. You will see what I mean when we get to the second step, Document.
Fill the Gap
Not shopping? Ok, cool. Now what? Following this process means most of your days are going to be absent of shopping. This can leave a gap that needs to be filled. I have found I am most successful when I have a deliberate “something” to fill that gap.
First, if you are not focused on shopping and propping yourself up in artificial ways through material objects, you need to prop yourself up by being aware of what qualities or values you want to embody throughout the day. Perhaps you want to be more mindful and present in your interactions. Or, maybe want to bring your creativity forward? By not focusing on consuming allows you to be more focused on what actually matters to you.
Second, if you are anything like me, a lot of time gets opened up when you are not shopping, especially online browsing. Again, this gap needs to be filled with something intentional. Instead of browsing and purchasing books, read from the pile of books you already own. Or, instead of buying yoga clothes, go to a yoga class. Go for a walk. Play a game with your kids. No doubt there are a countless number of valuable things you would do if only you had more time. For many of us, the time is there, it’s been slipping past us through unintentional consumption.
As you will see in the next post, the steps “Decide” and “Document” somewhat blur into each other. You are documenting as you decide. The act of making a decision is the vital first step in the process. Your decision to live intentionally is the foundation for taking responsibility over your life. This isn’t a decision that’s made just once, but over and over again on your path to a life well lived.
*I have not done this long enough to know if there will be a shift where I no longer have to rely on this whole process daily. Perhaps in 5, 10, 15, or less years my brain wiring will shift and it is no longer such a struggle. Or maybe that will happen for you, but not for me. Whatever it may be, it’s one day at a time for now.