Ideas for how to live a good life.

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Buy less, but buy the best

I try and live a stripped back, simple life. I say try, because it’s not always easy – particularly when you have kids. Sometimes I lose my way and then have to pull back a little.

Life seems to have a way of pushing you towards accumulating stuff and commitments by default. It’s easier to buy stuff, than it is to resist compulsions to buy. It’s easier to agree to commitments, than it is to say no.

If you don’t consciously fight against these things, they build up. And then you end up with too much stuff, and too many things to do. Life gets overwhelming.

And that leads me to ‘buying less and buying the best’.

One of the ways I try and keep life simple is to have less things in my life. It feels awesome. There’s less stuff around you. And less stuff to go wrong and maintain.

My main strategy to do that, is to notice when I start to have feelings of wanting to buy something. That’s half the battle. If you do that, you can put them aside and start to think about the real reasons you might want or need something.

Simply noticing and being aware of what’s happening, stops you buying most things. You realise that it’s just an impulse and you’re telling yourself a fake story as to why you want or need it.

After a few days, if I still think I want or need something, I tend to wait for about 30 days before pulling the trigger. Quite a lot of the time, the desire to buy goes away. It becomes an easy decision to forget about it and choose not to buy.

If after 30 days I still feel strongly about buying it, I do my research and go all in. I don’t skimp and buy the best (within reason).

Some examples.

I spent £1,000 on a fancy hybrid bike. It makes me want to cycle more. And when I do, I love taking it out.

I spent the best part of £1,000 on 3 Sonos speakers around the house. They’re on for a few hours a day and the Sonos app is a joy to use. I love them. It makes my day better, every day.

I wanted a nice watch for a long time. I waited for longer than 30 days on that one – in fact, a couple of years. I eventually bought one and never regretted it. I’ll probably own that forever and love putting it on.

We’re doing some house improvements soon. We’re going to spend a reasonable amount on the open plan and kitchen area. That’s because we particularly value having a nice place to cook and entertain.

I bought a skipping rope a few months back. I’ve had a few people comment that it’s nice and how much did I pay for it? When I say £50, they always act surprised, as if that’s ludicrous. But, it’s so light and nice to use. It’s really helping me get better at double-unders.

I also spent £500 on a vitamix blender. I ended up selling that after a few months because I didn’t use it enough. So, it doesn’t always work out as per above ;-).

If the above sounds braggy, I don’t mean it to be. Remember, I have less things than most people, so it allows me to to go all in on stuff I do value.

For example, we have one car in our family and it’s a 2006 Renault Clio. Most of our friends have more than one car. We have the oldest and crappiest car amongst our friends. But that’s OK. Right now, a fancy car isn’t what’s most important to us.

I tend have a very light wardrobe and I prefer to wear simple, cheap clothing nowadays – mostly Jack & Jones and Zara. I’m just not really interested in spending big money on designer brands anymore.

I didn’t used to be like this. But I’ve found having fewer, really nice things to be a better way to live life. Part of it, is the uncluttered nature of it. And the other part, is how it feels to have some really nice things in your life.

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You know a wise man once said nothin’ at all

You know a wise man once said nothin’ at all – Drake

 

Most of what I write about usually comes to me in one of two ways.

Sometimes I randomly start thinking about a topic. I then start to notice a bunch of related things that enforce or help shape my thinking on it. And then I write it up (which also helps further shape my thinking on it).

However sometimes it works the other way. I notice a bunch of related things over time and I start to think about it more. I gradually realise the importance of it and develop a view on it. And then I write it up.

This post is no different.

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How to be less busy, and have more impact

Focus

I’ve been through a major shift in how I plan my days and get things done over the last few years.

I used to think a good day was getting as many things done as possible. I felt productive as I ploughed through my lists. But now I realise, I was actually just busy. I could get lots of things done, but my impact was inconsistent.

A better way of putting it is, I didn’t get the return on investment for the amount of time I put in, or the number of things I completed.

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Focus and productivity is only half the battle

I’m fascinated with the topic of productivity. For me, it boils down to two things — being able to focus (identify and work on the right things), and then, actually getting things done.

It’s why I think and write alot about goals and the best way to set vision and areas of focus — that’s the ‘identify and work on the right things’ bit. I also geek out on habits, routines and planning frameworks — that’s the ‘getting things done’ bit.

This stuff is important. If you’re not deeply connected to who you want to be and where you want your life to go, you’re more likely to flap around and work on the wrong things. And if you don’t have self discipline and a system for planning, your productivity will suffer.

So, that stuff is super important. But, I realised recently that it’s only part of the battle. And without the other part, you’ll be severely limited and frustrated. The other part might even be more important.

The other part is mindset.

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