Black Friday used to be a wonderful time of the year where you could do your online shopping and pick up a few items at a cheaper price. It was the perfect way to reward yourself for another year of hard work and get ahead of the game for Christmas.
Nowadays however, the whole event has been supersized – with sales now going for more than a week, Black Friday is but a shadow of its former self. It’s no longer the pleasurable experience of bagging a few bargains, but rather a gruelling test of willpower.
There’s just something about that simple action of “Adding to cart” that feels SO DAMN GOOD! Especially when you know you’re getting a deal on it. And even though you would never do it at any other time of the year, for some reason on black Friday it just makes sense to buy three of everything.
The prices are so good, it’s basically like you’re saving money…right?
When online shopping takes over
Of course, for many of us this online shopping obsession isn’t just isolated to Black Friday, or indeed sales. “Adding to cart” is a hobby. It’s a way of switching our brains off and taking ourselves away from the pressures of daily life.
Is there anything wrong with that? Not at all! If that’s what you enjoy doing and it makes you feel good – go nuts! However, if you start to experience any of the following then I would suggest it’s time to get your “hobby” in check:
- You’re using online shopping as a form of procrastination and it’s taking you away from performing your tasks
- It’s making you feel more anxious and stressed than calm and relaxed
- You’re spending beyond your means
- It’s causing tension amongst your loved ones
Take control of your online shopping obsession
The easiest way to take back control is to pull yourself up to the bigger picture. Ask yourself:
- What are my goals, in business and life?
- What matters to me most (what do I value)?
- Will shopping right now allow me to achieve these things?
Sometimes the answer to the last question will indeed be “Yes”. If you’re buying something that will allow you to achieve what you want more quickly and efficiently, or put you in place where you can serve what matters to you better (by calming you or making you feel good about yourself for example) then DO IT!
If however it’s doing the opposite – that’s when you know it’s time to stop. All you have to do at this point is stand up and physically take yourself away from your device. This is called “pattern interrupting”.
When you’re in the “shopping zone” imagine you’re like a train on a one-way track to self-loathing and regret-ville. The only way to get to a different destination is to change tracks, which you can do by pulling a lever.
Taking yourself away from the situation is essentially you pulling that lever. It’s interrupting the one-way track of your thinking and allowing you to create a different outcome. Other ways you can pattern interrupt might include:
- Put on a favourite song and rock out for a few minutes
- Watch a funny animal video on YouTube
- Go for a stroll
- Go to the toilet!
- Make a cup of tea
- Call a loved one
The possibilities are literally endless. The ones that have the biggest impact though, are those most related to your values. So if you value creativity, for example, maybe you pattern interrupt by doodling or colouring something in. Or if you value fun, maybe you watch a short comedy clip or play a practical joke on a colleague or loved one!
This will also make you feel calm and content, meaning you’ll be operating from your logical brain (rather than the emotional one) so you’ll be able to rationally decide which action to take next in order to best accommodate your goals and values, and move forward with ease.
Of course, as with everything, building your pattern interrupting muscle can take a little bit of time as your brain adapts to make it a natural behaviour. So go easy on yourself if you don’t manage it every time – the goal is not to be perfect, but to make small consistent changes.
If you catch yourself a little earlier each time and have fewer occurrences – you’re winning.