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Last week we shared an article on our Facebook page from a woman who vowed to buy nothing for a year—and boy did it hit a nerve! People either love this idea or hate it. Some people thought WE were going to do it! Another others said it was barely a step up from being homeless.
Click here to read the article and the comments it spurred on our Facebook page.
No matter what your thoughts on this woman’s decision, it does make for the foundation of a powerful discussion.
Do you have to deprive yourself to create major change in your life?
The very word “change” implies that things are going to be different. But how drastic do you have to get in order to see results?
We’ve made dozens of small and large changes in our lives—many in just the past 10 years. And we’ll admit we’ve tried both deprivation and uncluttering. You’d probably guess that we’d tell you right away that uncluttering is the better method. That is part of our name, after all!
But there is a place in your life for both, if used properly. We’ll talk more about that in the next podcast episode, but for today we want to spell out the difference between uncluttering and deprivation so you can look back to examine how that’s worked for you in the past.
Before you can make a decision on which one to choose, you have to know the basic difference. Because there is one!
Deprivation is normally a hard reset after a period of overindulgence. You eat too much, drink too much, spend too much, waste too much time, or have been way too lax in your standards and let some toxic people into your orbit.
Deprivation is the response to this overindulgence. You seek to restore the balance to your life by going from one extreme to another (An excellent example? That feast meal you prepare the night before you start your diet.)
You LIKE the thing you’re giving up. You like it way too much for your own good.
One of the most famous studies on deprivation was done during WWII. These normal-sized men agreed to go on a near-starvation diet to lose up to 25% of their weight over the course of a year. The goal? To let scientists study how best to combat nutrition problems in soldiers at war. These men were motivated to serve their country, but the side effects were so severe that some were hospitalized and a few had to have psychiatric treatment. The men talked about their obsession with food, and one man decades later said it took a year to fill the gaping cavity he felt inside.
Deprivation isn’t always that extreme, of course, but it points out something anyone attempting deprivation should know:
When you tell yourself you can’t have something, it’s all you’ll think about.”
You typically hit a rock-bottom status when it comes to deprivation. “I can’t stand this anymore!” And that forces the change.
Uncluttering is normally getting rid of something that you don’t like or something that blocks your larger goals. It isn’t always such a chore to give it up like deprivation, but there is also not the driving need that you may feel with deprivation.
You didn’t just come off a holiday season of overindulgence or spend your month’s pay only halfway through the month.
Uncluttering is a harder motivation sometimes because it doesn’t feel as drastic. People equate effort with result and think a strict diet is better than removing a few problem foods, or that a tight budget shows more financial responsibility than cutting up all but one of your credit cards.
Uncluttering is a forward-moving activity that people use to get closer to the ideal life they want: a healthier body, ample free time, a relaxing home environment, positive cash flow, and a supportive network of friends.
You typically don’t like or use what you’re giving up, but you’re so ingrained in doing it that you haven’t considered an alternative before now.
Uncluttering often starts with a statement of overwhelm. You feel like the world is closing in on you and there is too much pressure. Uncluttering relieves that pressure and adds more breathing room and space into your life.
Get the resource guide for this episode in the Resource Roundup—a collection of our best guides to help you gain more time, space, energy, and money asap!
Remember, neither one is necessarily bad, but there are ways to use each one more effectively. It takes a different mindset, plan, and time period to accomplish goals in each method, and we’ll be talking more about that in episode 139.
- Deprivation is a response to overindulging and is generally sought to regain balance.
- Uncluttering is a method of reducing overwhelm and creating more space and freedom in your life.
- Deprivation focuses on what you want to remove from your life, even though you like or love it.
- Uncluttering focuses on removing what you no longer like or use to create space in your life.
- Deprivation often fails because there is no plan for reintegrating the item/habit back into your life in a moderate way. Or there is an expectation that you’ll never allow it back in and have to rely on willpower forever.
- Uncluttering often fails to start because people become used to what they own or what they do, even if they don’t particularly like them. There has to be a motivation stronger than the comfort of the status quo for uncluttering.
- Both methods are useful in achieving your goals if you know what you want to accomplish and use them in the ways that maximize their strengths and reduce their drawbacks. (More on that next week!)
Resources Mentioned in This Podcast
- The study on food deprivation from World War II
- The article about the woman who vows to buy nothing for one year