It is always a good time to set positive, attainable goals. Many goals are small, attainable and habit changing, such as volunteering and exercising more, making new friends, or spending time with family.
But this time, I encourage you to add a new goal to your list: spend more of your time and money on experiences than material goods to find happiness in 2023.
Here’s why experiences are more valuable that things:
1. Lasting satisfaction
There’s been research done showing that when people buy or receive something new, there’s an instant but very fleeting burst of enjoyment.
Experiences on the other hand provide much more lasting happiness. There’s the excitement of anticipation, the enjoyment of the activity itself and a memory formed that lasts years, maybe even forever.
2. Better for the environment
Americans have more stuff than anyone else on Earth, and it’s no secret that mass-produced consumer goods have an environmental impact. Indulging in an activity instead of buying a physical item is often a more sustainable option.
This has particular appeal to millennials, who surveys show are more concerned about sustainability than previous generations.
As an added bonus, activities like a round of golf or wine tasting class are more likely to support local business.
3. Quality time
Time is one thing no one seems to have enough of and the most common life regret is not spending enough of it with people we care about. Going on an experience that requires you and your family or friends to carve out time for one another is priceless.
HOW TO PRIORITIZE EXPERIENCES OVER THINGS
1. DECIDE WHAT KINDS OF EXPERIENCES YOU LOVE MOST.
- What kind of experiences do you feel like you’re missing in your life?
- WHY do you want to bring more of these experiences into your life vs. even more ‘things’?
- Why does that matter to YOU?
- What’s the driving force and value behind pursuing more experiences?
- How can you involve your family, your friends, and other loved ones in more experiential pursuits?
If you’re someone who journals, these are some great prompts for you to write about this week.
If you’re a manifestor, you may want to craft some “I am” statements around the experiences you find valuable. Statements like, “I am worthy of taking the time to enjoy experiences,” and “I am capable of slowing down and prioritizing time doing the things I love.” Make it personal and be honest with yourself about what you want.
In pursuing ANYTHING we desire, whether it’s professional goals or a lifestyle change or whatever else—the first step is almost always getting clear on the specifics of what you hope for.
We’re not villainizing material things here by any means—this isn’t me saying sell all your stuff!
More often than not, things and experiences are intertwined! You can’t really go for a seaside picnic without some food and a little cooler, right?
Repeat after me: Material items are not BAD.
BUT I’ve noticed how often we tend to choose to collect more and more things, filling up our Amazon carts or clicking on the link to whatever new and amazing item an influencer shares on Instagram, hoping those things will do for us what only experiences do best. Change us. Enrich us, give us hope, joy, peace, new perspective.
Experiences give us lasting memories and changed perspective, and that sticks around much longer than a high from buying a new pair of cute shoes does.
2. LIST OUT YOUR PRIORITIES HOW THEY ARE NOW.
I highly recommend writing down your priorities in terms of expenses, time spent, and energy spent. Looking at them from a bird’s-eye view can show you where your focus is and whether you’re living out this vision in your day-to-day life.
Everyone gets caught up in times of heavier spending and it can almost become a snowball effect when you start, so whenever I find myself spending in excess on “stuff” that might not necessarily be fueling my true priorities, I try to step back, evaluate what’s going on, pause, and think through any of my unnecessary purchases for at LEAST 24 hours, or even up to a week or more if it’s a larger purchase. This helps me stay aligned with what I really want to be spending my time, energy, money, and resources on rather than just going through life on autopilot, which tends to happen so easily especially in busier seasons.
3. KEEP TRACK OF WHEN CONVENIENCES MIGHT BE OVERSHADOWING EXPERIENCES.
Sometimes material THINGS come into our lives to serve as a convenience and that’s okay! But occasionally, convenience ends up creating a quick shortcut that causes us to overlook an experience.
Think of getting a special coffee drink from your favorite coffee shop. This alone is an experience – going to the coffee shop – combined with a thing – your drink of choice. The convenient way of doing it is as quick as possible: ordering as fast as you can on an app and running through the drive-through to pick it up as you hustle on to your next responsibility.
But… the savored and slower way to do it might be walking to get coffee with a friend and sitting in the shop for 30 minutes to enjoy each other’s company, and catch up, and sip on your coffee in a more relaxed way.
In a day and age where we’re rushing and outsourcing and simplifying, maybe we’re outsourcing the wrong things or that convenience is taking away from our opportunities to have experiences. Take stock of all the things you tend to speed up or shortcut in your life, and ask yourself if there’s a way to slow down and make it more of a quality, meaningful experience rather than rushing your way through it. I’m all about efficiency but sometimes I wonder at what cost? What’s the point of hurrying through everything just to get to the next thing on our list? Why do we feel the need to rush so much of our lives away? Wouldn’t it make our days so much more meaningful and peaceful if we could expand and breathe more life into certain pieces of our routines?
4. CREATE AN EXPERIENCE BUDGET.
Experiences still cost money sometimes, so make a real budget that you can use to honor your finances and that helps you make room for experiences in your spending! This way, money is never an excuse to not prioritize impactful experiences.
I feel like budgeting as a whole is all about pinpointing your necessary spending including your housing, bills, retirement savings, and other necessities like groceries, gas, loans, etc. and then combining that with your desired spending – things like shopping, experiences, travel, home projects, and beyond.
One of the BEST things you can do to remove overwhelm from budgeting is to simply write down all of your monthly spending and what you hope to save for, and then work backwards to create a saving plan and budget for yourself within each category. So many apps out there also make it EASY to save up quickly for extras.
5. START SMALL BY INFUSING SMALL EXPERIENCES INTO REGULAR WEEKS.
Challenge yourself to integrate an adventure day – or even just an hour – into your regularly scheduled programming. You can call it something cute and fun that keeps you accountable to it, like “something new Sundays”.
It’s simply a way for you and your loved ones to challenge yourselves to try something new or do an experience together on a consistent basis. Start with a singular commitment where you simply dip a toe into new experiences or even back into old hobbies you miss!
It’s such a great way to begin to retrain yourself to crave experiences first and to regularly remind yourself of the way they fill up your cup. Find little ways to infuse experiences that you love and that light you up into your schedule every single week.
There are so many small, simple ways to infuse experiences into normal weeks — and by doing so, it can take what might feel regular and mundane and add some spark to it!
You don’t have to spend tons and tons of money or book a trip to the Bahamas to prioritize experiences over things – it just takes some intentionality and planning, and odds are, you’ll feel the benefits of it immediately – both with the people you love, and within your own sense of purpose and happiness. After all, the memory of experiences stick with us long after they’re done, and that leaves a lasting imprint of joy on us that we can relive for years to come.