Like you, I’ve made some sacrifices to the New Year gods—more vegetables, a month without booze.
But one of the most important resolutions I’ve made for 2020 this:
To stop selling shit on Craigslist.
Why? Why’s that so bad? It’s not bad, inherently.
Longtime users of this stripped down, early-aughts online garage sale love that you can sell and swap goods for cheap. I know I did.
I’ve conducted hundreds of exchanges on it over the years. I sold earrings. Kitchen appliances. An iPod. An iPad. Not one but two Subarus (my mom’s and mine).
Once I sold a set of plastic drawers to a handsome devil. We went on two dates. I was sold, but he, unfortunately, was not.
Another time, I sold some fake plants to a lumpy guy who—not kidding—sniffed every one of them before handing me a fan of damp cash.
I got a thrill out of selling stuff online. It seemed like free money. And for most of those years, I wasn’t making much, so every bit helped.
But it isn’t free money; it’s a job; it requires marketing, sales, delivery, contending with fickle buyers and no-shows. You’ll always find something for less than you’d expect—and you’ll sell it for less, too.
Here’s what sealed the deal for me and made me rethink this practice:
Just last week, I spent nearly 2 hours of my life coordinating the sale of a nightstand I’d inherited from a friend, and sold for $15.
“You got $15 bucks for that?” my friend said later. “You realize I found that on the street, right?”
What am I even doing?
Unless you’re a supplier running a whole Craigslist business (and plenty do), it’s hard to make your investment of time pay off for the occasional sale.
The instinct to sell is obvious: You have something of value. The thrill of a sale is obvious: Someone else recognizes the value.
But of course, this isn’t just about Craigslist.
Though I do find it troubling that I rearranged my day around coordinating a single, one-off sale for a stranger whom I’ll never ever see again, and for whom my entire value exists solely in a piece of third-hand yard sale furniture.
What I really need to ask myself—maybe what we all do—is: What is our time worth? What investment of attention yields the highest, most impactful value?
I think about my own business, and how my best efforts to grow it have rarely been the low stakes cash grab.
The best investments have been: Crafting worthwhile content; connecting great people; building and serving the right tribe; creating offers that make sense for me and the people I extend them to. Reading. Writing. Sleeping.
If there’s one thing we all do in 2020 that we’ll never regret, it’s getting clearer, and stricter, about what we’re spending our time on.
Because your time is precious. And the high water mark of your work this year will be when you created something of value, not when you wrung it from whatever saleable merch you have lying around.
Your work can and should take you further than a nightstand jammed into the back of a Brooklyn-bound uber. That I can promise you.