You don’t really need a smartphone. Do you?

One night in 2014, I was walking on a covered drainage (which doubles as sidewalk) in Ilupeju, Lagos and didn’t realise that the slabs had gone out at some point. My foot slipped and I fell very badly.

I am forever grateful that none of my bones was broken but I was holding my tablet and it could not withstand the impact. It broke very badly.

Among other things, that tablet was my mobile office. At that time in my life, I was working on a project in Iseyin, Oyo state while reporting to my company in Lagos. My modem didn’t work in Iseyin; internet connection was via hotspot. So I practically couldn’t live without that tablet. Or so I thought.

As soon as I confirmed that I did not break my bones, the next thought on my mind was, “I need to fix this tablet or get a replacement fast!” I didn’t have the money. But before returning to Iseyin the following day, I visited Computer Village and got a brand new smartphone that would serve my purpose. I neither envisaged it nor planned for it but I got it anyway.

Five years later, I’m in a similar situation. My phone falls, and this time it’s a light fall but enough to ‘freeze’ the screen. Naturally, my mind starts working on getting it fixed or getting a replacement. This phone means a lot to me. It’s my mobile library and mobile ATM. Sometimes it becomes a virtual classroom and more importantly, it makes it easy to ‘stay connected’ with family and friends especially via WhatsApp. And I belong to quite a few WhatsApp groups apart from the ones I manage. What about keeping in touch with clients and receiving requests from prospects?

It’s clear that I need to fix this phone or get a replacement fast; right? Wrong! This reaction is simply conditioned reflex. And it is the kind of thinking that pushes people to put themselves under needless pressure. A smartphone is not a need. It never was and never will be. It’s a nice thing to have but it’s not a need for a normal human being. Think about that.

Depending on the kind of work you do, it may be necessary for your work or for your business but it is not a need for you. And in that case, the burden should be on your company or your business, not you.

So, unlike what I did five years ago, I’ve decided not to fix the phone or get a new one until I can conveniently work it into my budget or until my company gets me one. And I’m not even going to worry about it. I have my laptop, modem and feature phone to take care of the really important things. If anyone is concerned that I am not active on WhatsApp or Instagram, that’s their business, not mine. They should take care of it. And it’s really very simple — ask for my account number and make the funds available. I’ll be sincerely grateful.

But to fix or replace a damaged smartphone when I have not planned for it? No way! Wisdom is profitable to direct. And a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. If you’re going to enjoy success and fulfilment, you must learn to separate what you need from what you want. Many people have heaped up debts, sabotaged their health, lost their peace and ruined their relationships because they don’t know the difference.

A need is something that is absolutely required to survive and thrive while a want is something that makes life more enjoyable. We all should enjoy life but we should do it at our level per time. Our needs are generally very basic —food, water, clothing, shelter, security, family, friends, education and other such things. And sometimes, we create problems for ourselves by turning our wants to needs.

For example, healthy food is a need but do you really need to order from the most expensive restaurant in town or do you even need to eat out at all? You need good accommodation but do you really need a large apartment or one in a prime location if you cannot afford it? Do you really need expensive designer shirts or do you simply need good clothing? Will you die or suffer harm if you don’t get that desired item? What is your real need? Are there other ways to get it met without incurring this extra cost?

It’s important that you take time to ask yourself questions like these and answer them honestly every time you’re about to make a new purchase. Consider delaying the purchase for at least one day or much longer if it’s a huge cost, and use that time to really think things through. Otherwise, you may end up wasting your money, heaping up needless debts and cluttering your life with things you don’t really need.

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