Seven hundred and forty seven dollars is the visual price tag the TV. It is easy to get caught up in the great deals of the holidays, and the urge to spend money you earned. Society and marketers make it difficult to make any real decision on need versus want. You get this idea in your head that the TV is a reward for all your hard work. People fall into this trap and aren't allowed the time to see beyond the price tag. They don't realize that it costs the minutes and hours away from family conversation and connection, from lost adventures outside. It costs more than money because you end up getting stuck in this loop of "needing" something better. You begin to find yourself constantly comparing yourself to what others have in their lives, but not appreciating what is in yours. This, my friends, is American materialism. A place where money and the objects you have make you feel more valuable than the relationships you don’t have and the opportunities you missed. People are always chasing after the objects over the emotions. In this world, relationships give the meaning to objects. What is Facebook without anybody else there to see it? What is a car if there isn’t a track to race it at or a road to drive it on?
A couple of weeks ago I watched this Ted Talk by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, the founders of theminimalists.com. They tell their story about finding wealth and then spending it on objects to fill an emptiness. Their goal was to make more money to buy more things in hopes to be happier. It took them awhile, but eventually they realized that these objects weren’t making them feel whole. So, they made a choice to ask a simple question. Does this add value to my life? Never an easy question to answer. How do you do it? Make a list or keep track of what you actually use over a three week period. At the end, get rid of the rest. Sell it, or donate it.
This value of minimalism is applicable in the corporate world as well. It is not hard to walk around any facility and find equipment that is never used, large warehouses filled, and unchallenged employees. A lot of comapnies put practices in place to try and remove this clutter. "Lean manufacturing" is the minimalism theory for corporations. "Lean" is actually an extremely effective tool but it doesn't address the bigger problem. Lean tools are not applied enough to the people spending the money. Lean manufacturing tends to be applied too late in the process. Unnecesasry items purchased which is followed by a consistent buildup. Production lines and office buildings are then slowed down and distracted by items that aren't adding value. "Lean" is a band-aid to the bigger problem, the purchasing of "non-value added" items. Corporate leaders need to ask themselves "Does this add true value to my corporation?" This goes beyond just a simple ROI. Sometimes, you can have an item that has a great ROI but will get in the way of the process or end goal. Relating this back to your personal life, determining what is a "value added" item vs "non-value added" item is convoluted.
I have this number in my head, a max salary I will keep. I won’t turn down more money, but anything made above my number will go towards the community. I’ve got this idea of what a valuable and purposeful life looks like. It isn’t a mansion with Maserati’s and a pool. Yes, it is easy to say this all now when I don’t make that amount. But saying it now is worth more than not trying.
As the Notorious B.I.G. said “The more money we come across, the more problems we see.”