Don't Buy Gifts This Holiday Season

We live in a culture that is over-consumed, over-stimulated, and over-worked. Here in America, being busy is a badge of honor. We LOVE to tell people we're busy.

But what about "being busy" is so attractive to us?

I think, for many, it's a fake sign of success. If you seem to be busy then it must be important. But if you've ever been busy, you know that's just not true.

I've been busy MANY times: checking Facebook for the hundredth time, checking email for the thousandth time, browsing the web for interesting articles, or running meaninless "errands." It's all a facade. Busy work. Fake work. Meaningless work.

I'm sick of the pride that comes with being busy and I openly reject the notion that to be successful means you have to be busy.

Success takes work. Hard work. Meaningful, intentional work. But it doesn't mean you have to stay perpetually busy. Work doesn't have to include sacrificing your friends and family on the altar of success.

Maybe, at the end of the day, you're simply doing too much.

Because of that, I recommend we all take on a new definiton of success. A new mantra to live by.

Less, but better.

I read a book last year that changed my life. There's only a few books that I would even award that title to, but this is one of them.

Greg McKeown wrote a book called, Essentialism, and it's based on the maxim: Less, but better.

In the book, he helps the reader determine what is essential and what is not. It was liberating for me to flip through the pages and feel the freedom leaping off the paper.

In the States, it's holiday season. A time of overindulgence, selfishness and greed. It's supposed to be a time of thanks, generosity and family. But the marketing and advertising machine has twisted it. Now, instead of sitting down with family over a Thanksgiving meal, we're routing a course for Black Friday shopping or WORSE...we're shopping on Thanksgiving Day!

I think it's time to stop the madness. Our time is more valuable than cheap trinkets.

That's why I'm issuing a challenge this holiday season. If you're ready and willing, here's what I'm asking:

1. Spend time with your family and friends on Thanksgiving and DON'T go shopping on Black Friday.

Now I know what you're thinking, "But Derek, there's incredible deals on Black Friday! What if I miss out?!?"

That's valid. Sort of. But whatever you "need" to buy on Black Friday, you probably don't need at all. Your current TV probably works just fine. That gift you want to get isn't meaningful and will be replaced in the very near future by other cheap plastic stuff.

How do I know this? Because that's the situation so many families are in. We feel pressured to have the latest and greatest. We feel compelled to spend money we don't have, on stuff we barely like, to impress people we don't know. It's madness.

So please, fight the marketing machine and stay at home on Black Friday. Your family (and blood pressure) will thank you.

In the same vein...

2. Don't buy a gazillion gifts this year...if any at all.

Some of you are showing your teeth in anger. And I get it. You want to showcase your love and care for your friends and family with the gifts you give them. It's noble. No really, it is.

But think about your favorite holiday memories. Go ahead, think about it...I'll wait...

I'd be willing to bet a bunch of money that those memories don't have anything to do with gifts. Those memories are flooded with family and friends. Laughs and jokes, hugs and kisses, loving embraces. That time Uncle Joe laughed and egg nog spewed out of his nose. Or that time the cat destroyed all the ornaments on the lower portion of the Christmas tree.

The gifts we remember the most are experiences we have with those closest to us.

I can only name a handful of gifts I got as a kid...and I got a lot of them. But I can tell you story after story of experiencing memorable moments with family or friends. Those are the gifts that can't be returned...and you wouldn't want to anyway.

So please, when you're thinking about the gifts you want to give people this year, think a little differently about them. Try to give gifts that are experiences and not trinkets. Things like concert tickets to see their favorite band or maybe help send them on a much needed vacation. For more examples, read this blog post from The Minimalists.

I could go on and on about this, but for now all I ask is that you think about it. Think about not shopping on Black Friday, gifting experiences instead of trinkets, and spending more time with family than with big box stores. And if you're willing to join me, then leave a comment below! Or if you're not willing, leave a comment to discuss why.