mnmlist: avoid new gear

One of the more difficult issues I deal with as a minimalist is taking on new hobbies — they almost all require new gear.

If you want to start cycling, kayaking, yoga, climbing, adventure racing … one of the first things you do is look to buy the gear that’s required.

I’m not immune to this. I’ve done it a thousand times.

I’ve learned to be wary of this urge to buy new gear.

Thoreau once wrote, “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.”

He suggested that if we want to try a new enterprise (or hobby), we do it in our old clothes first. This is good advice.

Want to run? Try it in the clothes you already have. Same thing with yoga, with cycling, with climbing. Try it in your old clothes.

You might need some gear: ropes, a helmet. Borrow or rent them at first. After awhile, if you’re sure you want to do the activity, see if someone is giving it away on Craigslist or Freecycle.

Wait until you’ve changed yourself before you change your clothes and gear.

When you inevitably try something else, don’t get new clothes or gear right away. And when you do find free gear for the new activity, give away your old stuff.

Also consider whether you really need to add a new activity to your life. Can you meet the same needs more simply? When I think about new hobbies, I realize that I can get everything I want by walking, running, playing in the park, going on hikes, reading library books, writing with the tools I already have, spending time simply with family and friends. These require no equipment, no new clothes.

(Thanks to Chris Stott for the post idea.)