"But it'll make commuting so much easier..."

I’m so guilty of this. Buying new trainers thinking I’ll run more as a result. Subscribing to a photography magazine thinking I’ll make me take more photos. Getting an mp3 player thinking I’ll listen to more music.

Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. The trainers I have aren’t broken. Going out and taking more photos is the only way I’m going to take more photos. I didn’t listen to music much before getting a mp3 player and, surprise surprise, that didn’t change after getting a mp3 player.

Gretchen Rubin talks about this in her ‘Beware of the Expensive-Gym-Membership Effect‘ video. I also think it’s linked to what Leo Babauto talks about in his post Possessions!=Security. He suggests that we buy things to make ourselves feel secure. If we get ourselves a pair of roller blades, then we can be ‘secure’ in the knowledge that we have the freedom to roller-blade whenever we want, regardless of whether that’ll happen all that regularly.

Most likely you’ve got enough stuff, or you can borrow a specialist item, like a tent, from a friend. If you enjoy the experience then consider buying your own. You could even make an offer to your friend that you borrowed from so you don’t have to buy it new.

No matter the endeavour, there are going to be people out there making it work ‘MacGyver-style’ with just an elastic band, empty yoghurt pot and some pencil shavings. There are also going to be folks rocking up for the first time with ‘all-the-gear-but-no-idea’. Who would you rather be?

It’s much more gratifying to be able to make it work with the bare necessities. Many clubs and organisations will provide newbies with the equipment needed to have a go. Plus starting out with nothing will quickly show you what equipment you actually need to have fun in that particular activity. If the activity involves specialist equipment, see if you can get by without owning it yourself for a year. That way you’ll know whether owning that piece of kit will greatly enhance your experience or not.

I started doing triathlons with a very cheap, very old mountain bike and second hand helmet. It wasn’t until almost a year of being very involved that I bought myself a road bike (second hand for about £100). By then I was confident that would continue to participate in triathlons regardless of equipment. At that point I think it’s fine to start investing in your passions.

I don’t start an activity in order to own equipment. I doubt you do either. We do activities because of the enjoyment within the experience, separate from whatever gear you may need to do it. However we often get caught up in the idea that you can’t do something properly if you don’t have the necessary equipment. We want something with all the bells and whistles attached before we know how to use them. Better equipment does make life easier. My digital SLR gives me a much higher degree of control than a point-and-shoot camera. However I am only able to take advantage of those advantages because of my experience, which certainly didn’t start with a digital SLR. My camera doesn’t make me a better photography, it just allows me to express my photography how I want to.

Don’t buy things to motivate experiences. The stuff you end up with will just remind you of your failed endeavours.

Share with us some of the things you’ve bought but didn’t use as much as you thought you would.