The features for the Galaxy Note 2 were compelling. Five and a half inch screen! Wow! A Quad core processor? Unbelievable! A smart stylus pen for notes and drawing? Pentastic.
I had big plans for my big new phone:
- My old phone was too small and inadequate for taking notes. That’s why I was disorganized.
- My old phone didn’t have a stylus. That’s why I never brainstormed or sketched ideas.
- My old phone was slow at times. That’s why I hesitated to do productive things on it.
- My old phone screen was too small. That’s why I never read books on it.
The Galaxy Note 2 would change everything. I would use it for all of my ideas and notes, I would read books on it (at least one a week), and my productivity would soar.
Not All Stories Are True
I worked out a deal and used my parent’s upgrade to get the contract price for the phone. I spent $300. I believe in making strategic investments, and this seemed like a winner. The Galaxy Note 2 arrived in the mail in late November.
It’s March now, three months later. Not a single one of my theories about organization, brainstorming, or reading was correct. I use this phone exactly like I used my old one. Sure, at first I made a few sketches and even read a book, but then I reverted back to how I always use phones.
Doh! I thought buying a phone would change me. I thought that the new features would draw me in and make me more productive. That’s the story Samsung told me and I believed it.
Every piece of technology is a tool, and we are the operators. But just because a tool does something, does not mean the operator will use it effectively (or at all). Anyone who sells anything tells us the same story – this purchase will improve your life. Everything from pizza (true story every time, highly recommended) to a new house comes with this message of satisfaction.
Results, Regret, And Minimalism
I bought the phone, thinking it would solve a problem, but the problem was inside me. I don’t need a new gadget, I need to focus better and form healthier habits. In many ways, having a distracting phone makes those goals more difficult.
Each time I catch these purchase mistakes, some random choir sings the minimalism song. It’s a beautiful song. I don’t need this phone, and it’s too big. Seriously, this thing is a monster. People don’t believe me when I say it fits in my pocket.
Minimalism is deeper than having less stuff. It’s deeper than the freedom of being able to move anywhere in minutes. Minimalism directs your precious cash towards better purchases.
What do you spend money on if you’re a minimalist? Information products (digital, of course), traveling, quality food, getting a mole removed, skydiving, and three copies of every Deep Existence product (still working on the first one :-P). When you don’t buy stuff, you invest in yourself and others. It’s a much better use of money because the returns are greater.
What if I used that $300 to attend a life-changing seminar? What if I used it to purchase speed reading lessons? What if I used it to pay for professional voice acting for the product I’m working on? What if I used it to buy Rosetta Stone software to learn Italian before I go to Rome in May?
I’d be happier with those decisions. But instead, I have a fancy phone. Maybe I’ll downgrade to a dumb phone. That would save me $360 a year.
I’m not bashing all gadgets; I’m pointing out the problem with superflous, unnecessary purchases. For some, the Galaxy Note 2 is a very useful device. I personally don’t need it and should not have paid so much to get one.
One technology purchase I am very happy with is my Kindle, because it has replaced all of my physical books and it is a pleasure to read on. It improves my quality of life and lets me own zero physical books. At $69, it’s not a huge investment either. I tried using my Note 2 as an e-reader, and sold my Kindle, but I strongly preferred the e-ink on the Kindle (which looks just like real ink on paper), so I bought it again.
Don’t be fooled into splurging for the latest technology (I’m looking at you, Google Glasses). It probably won’t be as useful or life-changing as you first think, and there are a lot of incredible non-material alternatives to spend money on. If you want to buy it because you think it will make you happier, resist the temptation and buy a pizza.
I really want pizza right now. I’m afraid it bled through in my writing.
Can you relate? What has been your best material purchase? And your worst?