How To Develop A ‘Quality Over Quantity’ Mindset

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“Quality over quantity.” It’s a pretty common phrase that speaks toward a particular way of living your life.

The idea is that it is better to focus on depth rather than width; to aim for fewer things that bring more to your life rather than many things which each bring less.

Quality over quantity is the implied answer to questions such as:

Is it better to have ten casual friends or one best friend?

Is it better to eat loads of unhealthy food or a smaller amount of nutritious food that will satisfy you?

Is it better to work two low skill jobs or focus on gaining the skills to build one career?

The philosophy of quality over quantity can apply to several different parts of life, from relationships to hobbies, from skills to entertainment.

It can even be extended to the stuff you buy: It might cost $250 for a quality pair of work boots, or you can buy a lower quality pair for $50. The quality boots will last for years if they are well taken care of. But a $50 pair of work boots are going to be worn, damaged, and ready for replacement after six months. The $250 is a deeper investment, but you won’t have to buy new boots every six months.

Why choose quality over quantity?

Quality is usually the better choice because it will last and provide more meaningful benefits for longer.

You’re also not losing yourself to superficial time wasters that pick and pick at the minutes in your day.

Those $50 work boots? You have to take the time to realize that you need new boots, order another pair, wait for them to arrive, break them in, and wear them out again in six months to repeat the process.

But let’s step away from the material for a moment.

What about friendship? All that time and energy that goes into meeting a person, learning who they are, sharing who you are, trying to figure out how well the two of you fit together. Then you have the whole process of dating, which is an entirely different minefield of its own.

It takes a lot of emotional energy and time to go through all of that.

And time is, by far, the biggest reason to focus on quality over quantity.

The thing about time is that you only get twenty-four hours in your day, no more, no less. That time is just gone when it’s gone. So why be wasteful with it?

By focusing on quality, you conserve your most precious resources – time and energy – not to mention money.

Using quality over quantity in your life.

The hard part about using quality over quantity in your life is making the choices that will help reinforce the habit.

It’s easy to fall back into old patterns of negative behavior when you aren’t paying close attention to your choices.

The following examples are some practical steps you can take toward embracing a quality over quantity mindset.

1. Learn to say “no” more often.

The ability to choose what is right for your life often comes down to your ability to say “no.”

There is always something going on, always something to be done, someone always needs help, and people will line up to take your valuable time if you can’t tell them no.

Saying yes often feels right to people-pleasers because they think agreeability helps reinforce and strengthen their relationships, which can sometimes be true.

It may also not be true. Other people may have just pegged you as someone that won’t say no or that can be guilt-tripped into doing things they don’t want to do, making you more of a convenient resource and less of a valued friend.

There are many problems with this kind of behavior, but in the context of this article, it’s hard to develop anything of quality if your time is constantly being wasted by people who don’t have your best interests in mind.

The people who genuinely value you and care about you don’t want you to overexert yourself for them. They want you to be happy and healthy. They may want help, but they don’t want to uproot and screw up what you have going on in the process. They respect a “no.”

2. Clear out the clutter.

Stuff – we have a lot of it. There is stuff all over the place. Stuff in boxes, stuff in storage, stuff in the attic or basement, stuff in closets. Physical stuff, digital stuff. All kinds of stuff that is no longer being used or is of any real, present interest.

Get rid of it!

The more stuff you have, the more time, effort, and energy you have to devote to managing it.

If you haven’t used it in five years, you probably don’t need it anymore. Donate the stuff you’re not going to use to a charity or give it to a friend that will use it so someone else can benefit from it.

And don’t just replace that stuff with more stuff. Be mindful of the purchases you make and what you choose to bring into your home.

Is this something you will use regularly? Is it of good quality? Don’t just buy things to buy things.

The same is true for entertainment too. That game looks fun, but are you actually going to play it, or is it just going to collect virtual dust on your hard drive?

3. Audit your friendships and relationships.

There is a lot of generic, not well thought out advice about auditing one’s friendships and relationships out there.

The most significant piece of that advice is that all friendships and relationships somehow need to be these super deep, ride-or-die arrangements for them to be valuable. And if they aren’t of that deep quality, then they must totally not be worth it! Kick that person to the curb!

But that doesn’t reflect life very well, and it’s a good way to end up alone if you don’t make the right choices.

The reality is that most of your friendships aren’t going to be ride-or-die. We are continually moving through life and brushing past people as we go. Sometimes those people are there for just a minute. Other times they will be around for a while.

What’s important in auditing your social circles is that everyone values those relationships in the same way.

That coworker you get along well with at work may not be interested in an outside of work friendship – and that’s okay so long as everyone understands that.

But you may also have someone that you feel a deep kinship with, but for some reason, they never answer your calls or only show up when they want a favor. That’s an unbalanced relationship.

Maybe you have a circle of friends that you just go out and have a good time with, but they aren’t really the people you’d call on for an emergency. There’s nothing wrong with that.

What is wrong are unhealthy or destructive relationships. You can’t be close to people that cause you harm, eat up your time, and leave you with negative emotions.

If you can’t cut them out, you can at least minimize the amount of time you spend with them.

4. Embrace gratitude and use it as a guide.

Gratitude is a powerful tool for finding peace and centering yourself in a moment. It’s a way to pull your eyes away from the bright lights and distractions of the world to focus on the most important things in your life.

But gratitude can also serve as a powerful tool to help you identify what is worth investing your time and energy in.

Common language around the subject is to be “grateful for the blessings that we have.” Well, what if you look at a “blessing” but realize that it’s not a blessing at all?

What if it’s not something you can find or feel gratitude for because you feel like it doesn’t belong to you?

And what about the new things that you want to bring into your life? Does it feel like something you can be grateful for in the future?

If the answer is yes, then embrace it.

If the answer is no, well, then maybe it’s not meant for you. Or maybe it’s just temporary for you to experience and let go of. Not everything you will experience in life is meant for you, and that’s okay!

Once you learn to identify and not overinvest in the quantity of life, you’ll spend more time developing the quality of life.

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About The Author

Jack Nollan is a person who has lived with Bipolar Disorder and Bipolar-depression for almost 30 years now. Jack is a mental health writer of 10 years who pairs lived experience with evidence-based information to provide perspective from the side of the mental health consumer. With hands-on experience as the facilitator of a mental health support group, Jack has a firm grasp of the wide range of struggles people face when their mind is not in the healthiest of places. Jack is an activist who is passionate about helping disadvantaged people find a better path.