Avoid 3 common mistakes while shopping the Labor Day sales

These 3 common mistakes while shopping are easy to make year-round. But, when pumpkin spice returns along with the back-to-school season and Labor Day holiday, it is a good time to remember to avoid them.

Photo by Markus Spiske

My husband has a motto that has served as a good guide for my daughters and me:

People before things.

It’s simple and straightforward and comes in handy especially when I shop–especially online and during holiday sales like over Labor Day weekend.

Because I am the world’s worst online shopper. I’m slow at it and I make mistakes…like buying 7 boxes of peaches instead of 7 peaches.

So, here are the three mistakes I personally make often and how this rule helps me avoid making them.

Mistake #1: Spending too much time researching for the “best”

The more time we spend shopping or hunting, the less time we have to deepen our relationships with people.

Moreover, researchers have found that the more time you spend researching the less likely you will be satisfied with your choice. In fact, Barry Schwartz wrote an entire book about this!

Instead, figure out up to three important criteria are for any given purchase. Once you find something that fits those specifications, buy it and don’t look back.

Mistake #2: Believing that the right gear will help you embark on a new life journey

When I was pregnant with my first child, I actually sent out an extensive survey to all of my friends who were mothers. I asked them what I should buy or put on my baby registry and why. I wanted my list to be perfect, fool-proof.

But no amount of baby gear could have prepared me for my firstborn. Not even an advanced degree in early childhood education and care, and not even my years of research on the subject of work-family conflict helped me. I was aware of inevitable sleep deprivation, but never understood what it would feel like to have an infant that refused to sleep and then a young child who woke up at 4:45 a.m. every day even when we were in an opposite time zone visiting my parents in Seoul.

Last week, our family dropped her at college. Checking things off her college dorm list and searching for the perfect mattress topper were failed attempts to distract myself from the range of big emotions I was feeling.

Instead, pick just a few people (again 3 is a good number here) you admire who recently went through the journey you are about to embark on. Talk to them, simply ask them open-ended questions about what it felt like, and what they did. Don’t ask them for specific advice, let them share their story.

Mistake #3: Believing that a thing will create a habit

This one is particularly deceptive. And, I will be honest I get duped time and again. Just last week I heard a writer on a podcast go on and on about her Neo2. She espoused how it helped her to write every day because it was just a keyboard with a tiny screen. It was a single-function device with no connection to the internet.

I, of course, jumped online and spent hours on eBay looking for one. I not only made this this mistake but mistake #1 too!

Thankfully, after an embarrassing amount of time had passed, I finally remembered: “People before things.”

And, in this case, I needed to put myself before that shiny new object.

What I needed to do was to consider what is it that I truly wanted.

In other words, ask yourself: What is the emotion I want to feel?

When I was honest with myself, I knew I wanted to write first drafts more freely without editing myself. But, if I don’t give myself permission to do that or make it a priority to do so, no device will get me to do it.

So, instead of purchasing the thing, I invested in an experience with other people.

More specifically, I signed up for another set of writing workshops. I needed to be accountable each week to a group of writers. Where I could learn from my teacher and my colleagues’ craft and habits in a community of support.

Your turn

How have you made any of these 3 common mistakes while shopping? And, what could you do to fix them?

If you would like to take a class or join a community of like-minded women, check out these upcoming workshops and courses.