Prioritize Experiences Not Things

Hello Lovelies!

Today I want to talk to you about prioritizing experiences in life.

I’m constantly grateful for the fact that I’ve done some pretty cool things so far. I’ve bungee jumped, sky dived, snorkeled with manta rays, cage dived with great white sharks, climbed mountains and traveled to some pretty amazing places to do those things.

I’m certainly not rich and I’m not simply lucky… being able to enjoy those experiences took commitment, hard work and belt tightening. I decided doing those things was important to me, I prioritized making them happen and so my life style choices centered around those goals.

What was the main lifestyle change necessary? STOP SPENDING MONEY ON STUFF!

Seek Experiences Over Things

I have never regretted a dollar spent on an experience and I’ve never longed for some item that I passed up in favor of saving for a trip or adventure. I’ve always received more value from the experience (and the memory) of doing something awesome than I could have ever gotten by spending that money on material things.

My partner and I both rank travel and adventure as very important and our household budget reflects that. Our furniture has seen better days, and so have our vehicles. Our budget for new clothing is virtually nil and I even stopped buying books (hard!) and use the public library instead. Ditto for DVD’s.

Sacrifices? Not really. Because we stick to our priorities we’ve managed to travel to Mexico, Banff & Jasper, Las Vegas (with day trips to LA and the Grand Canyon) and St. Maarten within the last year and a half. It took hard work to make it happen, but we leveraged our opportunities and it was absolutely worth it.

Full stop. Period. Worth it. No regrets.

Clothes, shoes, trinkets, electronics, DVD’s… there’s no shortage of stuff we bring into our lives. We emphasize quantity over quality, and have a constant turnover of cheaply made, disposable goods.

Do we have any real memories or feelings of attachment to the majority of the stuff in our houses?

What’s the reward of all this stuff? Are piles of things adding enough value to your life to justify the amount spent on them? Do they provide fulfillment? Or is spending on stuff hindering your ability to do the kinds of things you really want?

Minimalism and mindful consumerism are the answers to this consumption treadmill, and they’re becoming more mainstream. But many people still associate the term ‘minimalism’ with some sort of forced, uncomfortable deprivation. We don’t see it that way.

Minimalism is about prioritizing what’s important in your life. It’s about making room in your life for those important things and letting go of the rest. 

seek-experiences-not-things
Me at the top of Table Mountain after a 6 hour hike up a rarely used route. Cape Town, South Africa. April 2014.

Why Prioritize Experiences?

What is it about prioritizing experiences that is so good for the soul?

They Can Be Empowering and Confidence Building

// There’s a huge range of “experiences”… they can be leisurely and safe or adrenaline pumping and risky. But the practice itself of seeking a new experience is fundamentally rewarding. Successfully taking on a new challenge instills a sense of confidence and empowerment.

// We are pushed out of our day to day bubble. By trying something new we get to learn a new skill set and sometimes even find an unexpected passion or talent. The point is getting out of your comfort zone.

They Can Help You Face Fears and Anxieties

// Adventures can be downright scary! I’ve been scared while doing a lot of the things I’ve done… it’s not about being fearless it’s about learning to DO IT ANYWAY, in spite of the fear. There’s a natural high that comes with overcoming that little voice telling you “No, don’t!”

seek-experiences-not-things
That’s not me, but I did that once! 🙂

// Once you start pushing back your comfort zone you’ll probably find yourself inspired to push it back a bit further, and then a bit further still. You don’t have to conquer your fear of heights by going skydiving, maybe a low zip line is a better first challenge for you. Zip lining was the first scary thing involving heights I did. Then I went on to bungee jump and finally did a tandem sky dive. Just keep pushing back that comfort zone step by step.

You Develop Closer Relationships With People You Share Them With

// Nothing bonds like a shared experience and having something to reminisce about for years to come.

// It doesn’t have to be an adrenaline pumper, maybe try an over nighter at a rented cabin with a couple friends. Try something new together for extra credit! My favourite New Year’s was one spent with a small group of friends at a cottage in Mont Tremblant where I tried snowboarding for the first time. It was 6 or 7 years ago but we still laugh when we talk about that weekend.

Opportunities For Learning and Self Development

// Your unique road map of experiences is what makes you who you are. What you do and see, who you meet… these are the things that develop and shape you. The memories of what you’ve done, the stories you get to share and the things you’ve learned stay with you for life.

Is there anything you can buy in a store that give you that?

Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell not stuff to show.

So dear readers, what could you do if you made some changes? What if you cut your clothing or home decor budgets and put off buying that new TV? What if you kept your car for a few years after paying it off instead of trading it in right away (or worse, trading it in when you still owe money on it)? Do you think having an adventure or two would be worth the sacrifice?

Much Love,

Alyssa

3 thoughts on “Prioritize Experiences Not Things

  1. Andrew

    Travelling or even just experiencing new things “in your backyard” is an interesting prospect. I find, personally, it sounds far greater to aspire to an exciting adventure than to forgo short term enjoyments along the way.

    If you have an adventurous spirit, you can definitely justify the loss of materistic things in the short term for those more lofty and experience driven goals.

    However, if you struggle with the drive or feel anxious to take those leaps or even baby steps toward that goal. Does it really mean one must strive to break those boundaries? I find even materialistic things like video games and movies or books. These things can have great experiences bundled inside them. But they are no doubt materialistic experiences by nature, no?

    I’m curious what your opinions are for those who don’t strive to see the ends of the world? Experiences don’t always have to be several thousand kilometres away; they can be right at home or nearby with friends/family. How do you feel those kind of experiences leverage against say “striving for the next great adventure”?

    Great article, I can see the passion you have for travelling and actively seeking out experiences to fill your life with. Enjoyed the read.

    Like

  2. Thanks for the great points you make here!

    “Experiences don’t always have to be several thousand kilometres away; they can be right at home or nearby with friends/family. How do you feel those kind of experiences leverage against say “striving for the next great adventure”?

    YES! Absolutely, we’re in the process of writing a couple of posts that cover this angle. For the sake of this post my main point is that it’s possible to leverage the ability to do things that are expensive by adjusting your materialistic spending. Since the angle is more about higher ticket items like travel and adrenaline activities I didn’t digress to cover this point, it really needs to be fleshed out in its own post. I absolutely agree that close to home adventures, and low key experiences can be fulfilling, valuable and should be prioritized in your life.

    “…However, if you struggle with the drive or feel anxious to take those leaps or even baby steps toward that goal. Does it really mean one must strive to break those boundaries?”

    No matter where your natural boundary lies you can benefit from pushing it back. There’s no comfort zone that can’t or shouldn’t be challenged. It’s just everyone has their own starting point and their own vision of what pushing it back looks like. There’s no one formula to personal development.

    “…I find even materialistic things like video games and movies or books. These things can have great experiences bundled inside them. But they are no doubt materialistic experiences by nature, no?”

    Absolutely… but the acts of engaging with these items are experiential in nature. Where they can overlap and be materialistic is when you need to buy the book to sit on your shelf instead of renting it from the library.

    I don’t argue that some stuff can’t bring you enrichment or fulfillment. I have books that I love, that are dog eared and highlighted and I re-read them regularly. Those were good purchases. The boxes and boxes of books I donated last time I moved were bad purchases. Most were read once and I doubt I’ll ever desire to reread them. Many were bought because they were cheaply priced even if they weren’t quite a genre or topic I would usually choose. Many of them had never even been opened. The distinction always comes down to fulfilment gained, not the wholesale shunning of material objects.

    Thanks Andrew!

    Like

  3. Pingback: 5 Things My First Year Of Motherhood Taught Me About Living Life Beautifully

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