I went for a walk the other day and saw a squirrel gathering acorns for the upcoming winter. I was thinking about how much easier his life would be if only he could go to Target for all of his acorn needs.

I pictured the sale Target would have in order to attract the squirrels and imagined what would happen.

All of the little gray squirrels would show up in droves and rush around Target. They would each be pushing big red shopping carts overflowing with acorns. The squirrels would shop until the shelves were empty and they had filled every available nook and cranny in their trees.

During the winter there would be more than enough acorns so hunger was never an issue but it came at a price – squirrel homes became so full that the squirrels could no longer stretch out comfortably in their tree homes.

When spring came there were still a lot of acorns left in the trees but there is so much fresh food available – yes, Target made sure of that – that the squirrel leaves their tree and stocks up on fresh food. They decide to keep last year’s acorns…they’re still good, there is no reason to get rid of them…right? And the cycle begins.

It’s a silly picture isn’t it? But this is exactly what happens in our world today.

Marketers know exactly what we crave and provide it to us. They present us with newer, bigger, better all the time.

What we as consumers tend to forget that all stores are interested in one thing…profits.

The way they make their money is quite simple, they provide us with temptations. They pay close attention to both their customers’ needs and what they will buy (two very different things but I’ll save that discussion for another time).

The stores purchase exactly what they predict their customer will buy, put it on a shelf and tell you all about it. They don’t care if you already have another one that’s still good or if you need it or not. All they care about is whether or not you’ll buy it.

If for some reason the product doesn’t sell they will cut the price so it is even more tempting for you. If marking it down doesn’t work they get rid of it. Even though the store spent money on their inventory, they do not waste precious shelf space on anything that is not currently useful for them, that is to say … making them money.

So what does this have to do with you?

First of all, just because a store stocks it doesn’t mean you have to buy it. The store’s goal is to sell their products to you not make you happy.

You do not have to buy the “newest and brightest” just because it is available. Give yourself permission to take control and ask yourself if you really need the product and how you will use it. Ask yourself if there is something that you already have that will work instead. Ask yourself if it will end up sitting on your shelf

Second, imagine you were a store manager and take a few minutes to look around your office. Are there things in there that are beyond their shelf life? Are there things that you already own that will never be used? Are you wasting your space on things that are not profitable for you?

Sure some of the products you have may be “good” and there is nothing to say you can’t use them but if you would prefer to have this year’s model then recognize that last year’s model isn’t worth anything and let it go. The money you spent is already gone, now it’s about shelf space.

Now imagine this… What would your space and life will be like if you only keep the things that helped you reach your goals?

Please share your comments and thoughts below.