Invest in Experiences, Not Equipment:
If you want to find new sources of creative inspiration and motivation, invest in experiences, not new equipment.
Consumerism isn’t bad in itself
I don’t think owning more things is bad in itself. Nor do I think that consumerism is “bad”. However I know for myself, owning more things and having more devices and equipment is actually detrimental for me. In fact, to be happiest, least stressed, and most productive– owning less stuff is superior.
You want to fly high. You don’t want anything to weigh you down, or encumber your flight.
I’ve discovered with stuff and equipment, it tends to be a distraction which prevents you from focusing on doing your creative work.
For example for myself, I always have this nagging feeling or thought:
If I only owned [x] then I would be more creatively inspired and productive.
And the problem is that instead of using the equipment and tools I already got, I fantasize about other equipment I don’t own yet. And this leads me to wasting mental space and power, and just leads me to getting distracted. And I belive that distractions when it comes to equipment is the enemy of creative productivity.
The best is never good enough
Growing up poor, I never had access to the best tools or equipment. This I was always curious:
If I had better tools would I be able to become more successful and happy in life?
I’ve learned that the notion of “best” is a philosophical fallacy and is epistemological nonsense. Instead of thinking of the “best” it seems to be more effective to think about what is most simple, frictionless, and effective.
The downsides of owning more equipment
And this is what I discovered to be the problem with owning more equipment:
- More stuff to charge (annoying). More different types of chargers (USB, USB C, lightning)
- More things to update and maintain.
- Paralysis by analysis: If you own more than one camera or device of a certain thing, you will always hesitate a bit before deciding which camera or device to take with you. This kind of micro-stress is just annoying. Easier to just own one camera and one lens, and just to always shoot with the same thing, so you don’t need to waste energy on figuring out which is the most “optimal” camera to shoot for a certain purpose.
What do we really even want from our equipment?
I think we all want to be more creatively productive. To make more artwork. To shoot more photos. To think more, come up with more innovative ideas, and to keep creating new artwork.
When we encounter creative slumps we think that by purchasing new equipment, we will suddenly have a new creative vision or inspiration/motivation.
But this is never the case. Why?
How to truly innovate
To creatively innovate I think we actually need “creative constraints”. The irony:
To innovate, we need LESS equipment, LESS options and we need MORE restrictions.
This allows us to become extremely resourceful, and perhaps this is the source of creative innovation?
Novelty of environment
For myself, I generally find the most inspiration or come up with novel ideas when I change up my environment. For example the last 4 days I was on a cruise, and it gave birth to tons of new thoughts, ideas, and concepts.
Thus if you’re looking for new sources of ideas or inspiration, instead of spending money on a new camera or piece of equipment, invest your money in buying yourself new experiences.
What kind of experiences are the best?
- Buying cruises (I seriously really really enjoyed the cruise experience). It is like a hilarious social experiment (spaceship on water).
- Buying travel experiences: Traveling to new places or places I’ve already been. Leaning new languages, learning new cultures and customs, meeting new people, and pushing myself outside of my own comfort zone.
- Coffee shop: I never regret spending money at a coffee shop, because I enjoy the experience of drinking coffee in public, chatting with strangers, and letting the ambient noise and activity of the coffee shop spur my creative activity.
- Restaurant experiences: I don’t go to restaurants to optimize myself for the best possible meal. I just like having the experience of experiencing a new environment, enjoying the decor and music, and being able to focus on having a nice conversation with Cindy.
I generally think that all novel experiences are good.
When in doubt,
Experience a new experience.
Buy less stuff, live more.
Buying stuff isn’t bad, but I think it is a whack distraction. Let us not get suckered: owning more stuff is often more distracting, annoying, and stressful.
Experiment living with less stuff and equipment, and maximize your creative output.