So for a whole year whenever I thought of buying or accepting something offered to me, I’d think: “Would I move across the country with it?” Usually the answer was no. So I wouldn’t buy/accept a lot of things using that test.
That question stuck in mind and I never felt like I was depriving myself. My decisions were based on a goal that was real to me – living in the NW region for an extended period.
When you have a real goal that’s true to you, achieving that goal will matter more than what you’ll have to give up in order to achieve it.
Over the years, I’ve realized that goals that aren’t real (or in other words, unproductive) actually hold me back. They are driven by external forces rather than internal. An example of a goal that isn’t real is trying to impress others.
Like taking a job because you think other people would admire it (instead of doing something that you truly love). Or buying clothes based on a visible label (rather than quality or value). Things like that are counterproductive to achieving real goals. Progress on a goal like impressing others can’t be measured. And it’s unachievable because it depends on controlling the thoughts of others, which are incredibly transitory.
What helps me clarify and prioritize my real goals is writing things down. I don’t have a perfect system yet, but every few months I write down the different areas of my life that I want to work on. Then under each heading, I list what I’m doing to make progress in those areas. I can get a full picture of how I’m using my time and energy.
Sometimes you might lose interest in a goal and that’s okay too. I still like visiting the NW region, but I’m not so crazy about moving there anymore. But working toward that goal strengthened my practice of minimalism. It saved me a lot of money from not buying stuff I didn’t really want. And it prepared me well for my next possible adventure: