Stop Browsing Life

Sometimes we browse, literally bouncing around while going through life. We just take things as they come, rather than making things happen.

There’s good reason to be mindful of how much browsing we do. We could be ‘sold’ on a different life than we ever thought we would have, without even realizing it, and it might not be the one we wanted.

To be clear, this is different than purposefully exploring new things in life. When we do so, we broaden our horizons. That’s a good thing. Instead, I’m talking about doing things without a purpose in areas of our lives that could substantially impact the future. You may already know what I mean. But let me give an example.

Think of it like going to the mall and consider the following two scenarios:

Scenario A

More things to want...

More things to want…

If we don’t know what we need when we go to the mall, we’re browsing.

We don’t really ‘need’ anything — assuming we have a roof over our heads and food to eat. But as we walk through the mall we ‘discover’ new things to ‘want.’ We see a new jacket, or shoes (ladies!) or a new accessory for a GoPro camera (me!). If we’re not protecting our attention and focus, we’re actually allowing ourselves to be sold on these things.

Consider the alternative in scenario B.

Scenario B

I’m at home and I break my only cooking dish in the house. (Note: This is a realistic scenario for me. I don’t cook a lot, so I don’t have a lot of dishes.) So I actually do ‘need’ something at the mall now.

I get in my car. I drive to the mall. I walk straight to the store I need to go to and directly to the section of the store with cookware. I see the options and grab the best one available. I walk straight to the register, past all of the other cookware, clothing, jewelry and shoes. I buy my replacement dish and I’m gone. I’ve avoided browsing.

How does this apply to our lives?

Well, if we don’t define what it is that we want — at the mall, or in life, we could easily be distracted or sold on something without even knowing it was taking us further from what we actually, ultimately desire.

In a word: focus.

One timeless quote I heard many times during my sales job when I was 19 years old was, “People don’t buy what they need, they buy what they want.” I don’t believe this is entirely true.

I believe some of us buy what we need. Individuals that are focused buy what they need — because they know what they need and place it above shorter term desires (what they ‘want’). So they are not browsing, looking for new things to ‘want.’ They know what they ‘need’ so they focus all of their resources on it and eliminate the possibility of getting distracted and fragmenting their focus.

I also believe some of us buy what we want. People that are not entirely clear on what they need versus what they want we’re much easier for me to sell as a salesman. Because their convictions were blurry or undefined, I could lead them towards a new shiny object to ‘want.’ I could see it clearly in each sales call. Those that knew what they needed stayed right on target in price and size — I couldn’t sway them with my sales pitch.

Truth is, we probably all lean one way or the other depending on the situation. But the more we lean towards what we need and limit unnecessary things to want, the more focused and fulfilling our lives can be.

“People don’t buy what they need, they buy what they want.”

So whether it’s a trip to the mall or how we apply our focus to life in general —  we should plan on what it is we want, so we don’t get bounced around while browsing. Remember what we ‘need’ — the carefully chosen vocation, the time with our families. Stay focused on those things instead of finding something random that creates a distraction. Doing this actual helps to find more time, money and long term happiness instead of a brief moment of pleasure.

After all, we all know that sometimes what we want isn’t always what we need.

Think we have plenty of time to browse through life? Check out this great video, it really puts things in a great perspective. It’s not a guilt trip — just an observation:

I’m always looking for feedback on my posts so I can improve and write about the things that actually can have an impact on your life. If you have thoughts, suggestions or comments — please don’t rob me of the opportunity to hear what’s on your mind!

Leave a comment below or reach out to me in the ‘contact’ section of my blog.


Author: Jason Small

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  • Jeanette Duden

    Great insight. Thanks Jason

  • Eric Sasso

    I think we tend to fool ourselves into believing we have more time than we really do. Having browsed a lot in my life, the shopping analogy this time of year could not be more relevant! I think we are taught at an early age the difference between “wants” and “needs” but lose track of it sometimes in a consumer-driven society. Focus, discipline and self-empowerment are tested daily and this article really puts that into perspective. Thanks for sharing Jay!
    p.s. I have extra dishes if you need any…