This post is from my Happiness Project series. I believe that I will have achieved something great if I live a happy life. I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about how to improve your career, but a successful career that you are passionate about is only one facet of a happy life. To learn more about what a Happiness Project is, and why I chose to pursue one, please read my first post: Why I’m Starting a Happiness Project.
During the past month, I focused on choosing experiences over things. My focus over the past month certainly paid off, but I will continue to be mindful of the temptation to choose things over experiences. Here’s an update on my five choosing experiences goals from part one of my happiness project:
- Go one month without shopping.
I didn’t do this perfectly. I’ll admit that I ordered my new Simplified Planner and I’m not sorry about it. My planner was the exception because it’s one of the few things I use every day and it allows me to plan for my valuable experiences. Without it, I surely couldn’t make time for meals with friends, weekend trips, or remember to get experience gifts for friends and family in time for their birthdays! I think it was helpful to take a spending break and to focus on using that money toward experiences for myself and others. I didn’t really miss buying “things” and had way more fun at dinners with friends and reading four fantastic books: The Heart and the Fist, The Husband’s Secret, Do the Kind Thing, and Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future. Note that as I began this project, I decided to treat books as experiences. I learn so much from every book I read, and I’m certainly not going to make a habit of depriving myself of those learning experiences.
- Use the money I save toward experiences.
I thought about documenting the things I thought about buying, but I found that thinking about it all the time made me unnecessarily stressed about money and that isn’t the point of a happiness project. I’m fortunate enough to be in a stable, financially independent position, and this practice made me worry about money more than I needed to.
Further, choosing experiences over things does not need to mean choosing delayed gratification. I choose experiences with friends and loved ones now, that I may not get the chance to have later. Attending my first Nationals game with friends on a beautiful spring day was worth way more to me than buying a new dress this month.
- Book a trip.
I booked a very exciting trip with my fiance that is sure to be unforgettable! Stay tuned for more about this adventure on the blog soon.
- Give two experience gifts.
I gave two experience gifts this past month. One of the gifts, however, I felt had to be coupled with a small physical gift. Next time, I’m aiming to feel confident enough with the experience gift that I’m giving to not have to supplement it with a physical gift. The other gift, I also coupled with a physical gift, but it was a book that I felt the person would find to be an extremely valuable learning experience. Gift giving is a way for me to practice what I preach, so I’m hoping through this practice that I can pass along the value of experiences to my friends and family.
- Eat out only with friends.
I stuck to this one pretty well. There were a handful of times I ended up grabbing food out alone: a long drive, a busy Sunday when I didn’t have time for meal prep, etc, but I’m not going to beat myself up about that. Life happens. Overall, I thought this was an effective way for me to choose experiences over things and a practice I’ll continue. I learned two things through this goal: I think a meal is always best enjoyed with great conversation, and it’s not worth beating myself up over arbitrary goals…sometimes Monday mornings are hard and I need that Starbucks latte.
Thanks for checking back to see my Happiness Project journey.
Want more? Read Happiness Project Part 2: Lighten Up.