Wanting what you have.

Years ago, before i got on the FI bandwagon, i would buy unhealthy food. My favorite salty snacks are Cheetos and Fritos – i even named my cat Cheeto! After unloading my groceries and storing them away in the pantry, you’d think that i’d be stuffing my face. In fact, the opposite happened. They just sat there.

There’s a psychological phenomena about wanting what you don’t have. Essentially, people want something that they don’t already possess. I want that fancy purse because I don’t currently have it. This can apply to food, material possession, even people. It’s a juvenile feeling that can be defeated with discipline and training. Being a minimalist also helps in this arena, assuming the object is a tangible thing.

There’s another phenomena that is somewhat tied to wanting what you don’t have – the thrill of the chase. I recently experienced this exact thing and didn’t even realize it until i was well into the task. If you’ve read the first few posts, you’ll know that i retired from my advertising career in July. A new person was not hired until it was very close to the end. I excitedly contemplated an offer to train the newbie at 1.5x my regular rate. Is it too much? Am i worth it? Would they laugh at me? Would they reject the offer, which would mean that i thought way too highly of myself? Or, more frighteningly, would they accept it???

They accepted it. In hindsight, i should have increased my rate. After the initial excitement of having my proposal accepted, i started to drown in thoughts such as “why did i do this?,” “this is going to suck,” “what have i done???” It was a thrilling chase for those few days when i hadn’t yet pulled that trigger, but once it became reality, i didn’t want it.

On the flip side, wanting what you already have is liberating. I can find delight and enjoyment from things that are at the tip of my fingers. It’s exhilarating to wake up, brew a cup of coffee at home, dive into the books that are just waiting for me, or prepare a lunch (Fritos go with lunch!) with stuff i have. Wanting what you have is a game changer. 

The lesson i’ve learned is to really think about what I want and why I want something. These days, i think twice and thrice before making commitments. Do i really want it, or do i just want to see if i can get it? Is it the chase? Will be be happy with my sparkly new toy if i manage to get it?

While i still struggle with all of this (wanting what i can’t have/not wanting what i do have, thrill of the chase), i’m happy to report that there is no longer a Cheetos problem. =D

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