Crazy, isn’t it, that we purchase or consume what we don’t really need?
I’ve often wondered how is it possible that only moments after I have said to myself, “NO, Joan, you do not need that!” There I would be buying it and bringing it home!
I’m pretty sure I was absolutely clear.
What is with that?
What is it that has us wanting stuff that’s truly not good for us, holds no real purpose, and goes against the very thing we do not need? Maybe even harms our financial objectives.
That’s a question I have asked many times over the years since I counseled folks on money behaviour. They would make a great plan to follow, absolutely clear on what they were going to do. But by their next appointment, only a couple weeks apart, they would have done exactly the opposite of what they planned.
Why did they sabotage the most dedicated and clear targets and plans that they created?
And, yet, there they sat with the results. Not to mention, along with an unplanned purchase, came a flurry of additional purchases they didn’t need.
Costly items which they hadn’t even planned to buy.
Was it the act of producing a plan? Did the program feel like limit or deprivation?
Or, was it something else?
Good question. A question where there are many answers. However, for today, let’s focus on both sabotages I see most often when we do the contrary of what we planned to do.
Let us use the example of making a PLAN. Whether that’s a written monetary plan or an affirmation you made on your own, let us look at what happens when we do this.
First, we do not really believe it. The reason is that most often when we make a plan, aim, or affirmation, we tend to choose things we believe we SHOULD do or not do — the behaviors we would like to change that we aren’t pleased with — and hang our hats on those. And, though we really need to change things up, we don’t truly believe it. Yet…
We insist we can do it. Whether to spend less, save more, or not eat that food that is banned, we set our sites on attaining that change. EVEN though, as mentioned above, we don’t truly believe we can. But then…
A really cool thing goes on sale. Or, your best friend got one. Or, you saw a great promotion on tv about it.
NOW you need to have it. You convince yourself you want it. Even though it totally sabotages your strategy.
You say to yourself, “Who knew I’d want that when I made my plan? I work hard for my money, certainly I deserve it.”
Thus, you ignore your plan and you buy it anyway. You convince yourself that you cannot live without it. And, the excuses and reasons pour forth.
But, comes the second sabotage…
Once you’ve purchased a brand new thing (yes, that buy you had no idea you wanted), suddenly everything else looks shabby or forlorn in contrast.
The new deck furniture today needs new cushions, a cool outdoor rug to set off it and an awning for shade. Or, the new car now needs designer plates, floor mats, and luxury chrome wheels!
These reactive purchases, the urge to buy new things to match what you just bought, is known as the “Diderot Effect.” The natural inclination to accumulate, add, upgrade, or build upon what you bought.
How do we overcome both of these aspects which sabotage the best of intentions, plans, or goals?
There are numerous methods to overcome these sabotages, like reducing your exposure to what pushes your buttons, possibly a 30 day period (or more) without purchasing anything new, or when you buy one, you get rid of one.
Take your pick, mix it up.
Just keep in mind that this very simple fact — “… wanting is only an option your mind supplies, not an order you need to follow.”
That’s right. Just because it pops up as something you unexpectedly WANT, it’s only an option you don’t have to follow.
Oh, and by the way, this doesn’t just apply to your money behaviour. Keep your eyes and awareness open to how it shows up in other behaviors like your diet!