On a recent drive to Mount Macedon I caught myself looking in the mirror: “Ahh these bits of loose hair look really shit” I frustratingly told my fiance. What he said back to me was something I’ve been harping on about for weeks now: “You’ve been sold this false idea that perfect hair exists through great marketing. Your hair looks fine.”
I burst into laughter. Because what I’ve noticed is that so much of society seems to be caught up in this elusion of what success needs to look like. Since social media advertising came into existence we are being sold to at an alarmingly high rate.
What I learnt from previously working at a marketing research firm, is that companies are able to determine not just the logical drivers of human behaviour, but also the emotional drivers of consumerism. Armed with this information, companies set out to market their products in a way which makes you drawn to buy them – without the need for conscious thought. Let that sink in for a second: without the need for conscious thought. The reality being, that despite our best efforts, we are constantly being sold this idea of what our life should be like, and what products/stuff should be in it. This includes alcohol consumption, clothing, home life and what you’ve acquired.
So what does any of this have to do with health? Well, the biggest barrier that I and many of my colleagues see in our clients and the people around us, to make positive changes to their health, is finances. Eating well and looking after our health costs money. But not as much as all the stuff we really don’t need.
Now all of us have different values in life. And I’m not here to try and tell you what your values should be. But most people I speak to do value health and happiness. They just haven’t yet prioritised it.
Recently, we stood back and evaluated our own finances. I encourage everyone to do this occasionally, to see where the majority of your spending is actually going. There is almost always room for improvement. Now if any of the following featured in your last month of spending, then you most definitely have room to free up spare cash to take better care of yourself: clothes, shoes, eating out, alcohol, cigarettes, beauty products, nights out, movies, concerts, parking, or other non essential items. Whilst some of these items are warranted, or can absolutely be enjoyed as part of a fabulous life, the point is to take note of how much you actually spend on these items, and whether this accurately reflects your goals and values.
For us, we’ve decided to cut back on eating out for the next few months, and have swapped cars in order for us to use less fuel. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing: but get real on how much you really do throw at unnecessary items and adjust accordingly. Especially if you find yourself ever scrimping on fresh produce and healthcare. These should be essentials for everyone in Australia.
What else do we do to keep costs down? We got happy with having second hand furniture – or homemade, in order to save more. Having new everything doesn’t do you any favours if you’re not already 100% debt free. I think we often forget this, since so many social media influencers are being paid to promote products that none of us need. We’re being led to believe at every moment, that success = the accumulation of beautiful things. But I believe success = health + happiness + freedom. And this is how we choose what to spend money on. How do you choose?