I don’t recall where I drew inspiration for this rule, if any source in particular, or if I derived it on my own. However, in solidifying the mentality for producing value rather than consuming products (or willingly disposing of money), I recommend the Plus One - Minus Two principle. The principle dictates the following.
For every non-value-producing element you incorporate into your life, you must eliminate two others in the respective category.
|Newly installed application||uninstall two|
|Article of clothing||donate/sell/eliminate two existing|
|New subscribed YouTube channel||unsubscribe from two|
|New blog followed||unfollow from two|
|New account||delete two|
|New unhealthy addiction||eliminate two existing|
|New gadget purchased||sell/donate/dispose of two|
|New commitment||eliminate two|
|Newly watched TV show||abandon two|
|New hobby||abandon two|
Before you crucify me for the above suggestions, carefully reread the principle definition.
The Main Idea of this exercise is to cultivate a critical-thinking mindset with respect to what you acquire/undertake. Assuming you are interested in replacing consumption of products that produce no value towards your priorities, with actions directly contributing to your goals, you will want to analyze such decisions. If you lack priorities, goals, or a mission, then this post doesn’t apply to you.
Develop the habit of always questioning hard the net value an element would contribute to your life. I emphasize the net value, not the gross value. I believe masses of people get misled in this regard, so I’ll clarify:
The gross value of an element to your life is the intrinsic value an element carries, arbitrarily and independently.
The net value of an element corresponds to the overall effect of incorporating the new element into your life (with regard to what you already have).
For example, the gross value of signing up for a Tango course is whatever you make of it, considering the price of the course, the time commitment, and your interest in Tango. The net value is a function of what impact you anticipate this will have in your life, accounting for what you already have, and what you would abandon to make space for the Tango course. If it causes you to neglect something of an even greater priority, than the net effect to your life will be negative! If, on the other hand, the impact of Tango prevails that of other less-important activities of yours, than by eliminating the less-important elements and incorporating Tango, you will produce value to your life. If you simply undertake Tango but maintain everything else as is, feel free to regard this as controversial, but you either
- deceive yourself in believing that you can manage all activities, which will conflict with each other, severely reducing the overall quality and impact
- Tango might result from a simple impulse, and not be that crucial to your life
- you overestimate your capacity
- you have more hobbies/commitments to abandon than you imagine
A value-producing hobby is not the same as a non-value-producing hobby, irrespective of the gross value each carries.
Questions and Answers
How do I know if the element is value-producing? That is for you to decide. But you should always weigh a potential new undertaking/acquisition with regard to the net effect.
What if I don’t have two respective items to eliminate? Then eliminate one. But you want your average rate of acquisition of non-value-producing items to be negative over the long run, that is, if you wish to cultivate a producing, not a consuming mentality. This pertains specifically to non-value producing items. I’m not suggesting you abandon your existing children for adoption to create space for a new-born.
What if I can’t eliminate anything? Then don’t acquire the new item. Evaluate your premises. It can’t be that important with regard to the existing respective items. This is usually the case. Or, upon some critical thinking, you’ll find something to eliminate.
This sounds extreme! Powerful and impacting decisions often are. But that wasn’t a question.
Over time, in critically and constantly analyzing whether a new item in your life really is necessary and value-producing, which, it often is not, but otherwise eliminating even more items to make room for the new inhabitant, you will reduce the inclination to mindlessly acquire, consume, and fill space.