Irresponsibility Project: It begins

I’ve rambled on before about how I think I’m too responsible. So I’ve decided to do something about it and grow a little. Behold my Irresponsibility Project.

I’ve decided to start with money, as that’s something I’m super responsible about. I’m taking 1/12th of my 2011 gross income (we can call it a “month’s salary” if that makes things easier) and requiring that I spend it irresponsibly. Part of this money might come from the resolution of this (we’ll find out tomorrow morning) or it might not. Either way I’ll be pulling money from my savings accounts and maybe, gasp, acquiring some credit card debt to pull it off. I’ve already brainstormed some ways that this might be spent. My rough deadline for this is by the end of the year, but who knows, maybe I’ll be irresponsible enough to ignore my self-imposed deadline!

Money is only an enabler of this exercise and not the end-all. The point is to stretch outside my comfort zone as a person, to do things that wouldn’t normally do. Last night over dinner Will had some great insights into this whole exercise. He pointed out that while the bulk of the funds probably wouldn’t be spent acquiring something physical, I need to come away with some item representing this exercise to keep: a totem. He also suggested that I need at least one very memorable event as well: an experience.

Other friends have made suggestions too. Jonobie, Chris, and Nick have already chimed in with great ideas (not all of which involved taking them overseas in business class). Jonobie pointed me to this article which maps closely with what I’d already decided: buy experiences not things; many small things rather than one big thing; spend on others not myself.

In truth, spending money in this manner is going to be really challenging. Not because I don’t think I can do it, I’m arrogant enough to think I can do just about anything I put my mind to, but rather hard to ascertain what things are actually beyond what I normally would do. For instance, I would have no problem picking up the tab for a group of friends at a nice restaurant. My monthly budget (warning: responsibleness!) can fairly readily absorb such splurges. At what point does that count as irresponsible for me? Oh well, nothing like a good challenge!

Also throughout last night’s conversation I decided I needed to figure out which boundaries I am willing to flex and which ones I’m not. I don’t have a good answer for those yet. I think it’s worthwhile for me to do some more introspective work to better understand why I feel this is important and hence what I consider a success criteria. However, I’m not going to wait until I have these things all figured out before getting started (which would be my usual inclination) — instead I’m diving right in!