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How Bartering Helps Increase Energy and Connection

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

We can’t do it all, and quite frankly, we aren’t meant to. Some of us high achievers and perfectionists certainly try to, but sooner or later we understand that the outcome of doing so leads to poor quality output, and a whole lotta’ stress.

As our world shifts towards Unity, a key to our collective growth will be to honor our strengths and utilize the talents of others.

We need to cease efforting through things that we are not passionate about or are not especially skilled at. Just because it has to get done, doesn’t mean you need to be the one to do it. It’s important to acknowledge the things we don't do well, the things that are taxing and distracting to us, and celebrate letting someone else (whose strength and talent aligns with those things) be responsible for them.

A wise rule of thumb in the recruitment world is to “hire smarter than you”. Doing so saves money, time, and energy; it aligns specific problems with expertise, thereby making room for growth and expansion. The beauty of this rule is that it can be extended to our personal lives as well. There’s no reason we should be doing it all, especially when we have friends, family, neighbors, and an expansive online community of experts as reliable resources.

We are so caught up trying to tackle everything ourselves because society has normalized the behavior. This unrealistic need for stubborn independence makes it near impossible to simply Be: to live our lives fully in the present moment, joyfully and gratefully. It’s time to halt this unsustainable, high-pressured, capitalistic, segregated way of being.

Let’s make more room for the things in life that bring us joy, energize us, and raise our vibration. So ask yourself:

  • What tasks in my daily, weekly, or monthly routines do I wish I didn’t have to do?

  • What am I procrastinating over and why?

  • Am I really the best person for this chore, activity, or project that needs to be completed?

  • If I could give up my undesirable responsibilities, what could I make room for?

  • How would I feel spending more time doing the things that energize me, rather than the things I experience resistance towards?

Reflecting on these questions will illuminate the tasks in your life that you deem necessary, even though tackling them burdens or depletes you. Do you appreciate a clean and organized home but struggle to stay on top of it? Do you love the idea of meal prep and home-cooked meals, but most nights throw out rotten, unused produce, order from a food delivery service, and eat way too late?

You can certainly hire help if you have the cash, but most of us aren’t in a position to do so.

The solution?

Establish a bartering collective - a community among friends and family whereby services are exchanged, utilizing each others’ strengths and passions for the benefit of all.

You undoubtedly have skills to offer others and you can exchange these for help with the tasks you’d rather not do. Just imagine:

  • Getting your kids’ haircut in exchange for a nutritious home-cooked meal or two.

  • Swapping a yoga session for an oil change. Hemming for lawn care. Home renos for pet-sitting.

  • Tackling your bookkeeping in exchange for a couple hours of babysitting for the single-mom friend you haven't seen in longer than you care to admit.

  • Coming home to a clean house in exchange for running errands for your friend who doesn't drive.

  • Repairing your dishwasher in exchange for cleaning up a virus on your neighbor’s laptop.

Stop wasting your energy on the things that exhaust you, especially when your next door neighbor would love to help. Trust me, for everything you dread doing (shopping, repairing hinges on cupboard doors, organizing the garage, building Ikea furniture, filing taxes, running errands), there’s someone out there that lights up at the task.

Here are three simple steps to fast-track bartering into your daily life so that you can feel more energized and connected to your community:

  1. Grab a pen and paper and write down a list of things you are better at than others, things that come naturally to you, are passionate about, that you are trained in, or that you simply enjoy doing. What lights you up? What do your friends typically ask for your advice on? These are your Offerings.

  2. Now make a list of all the things you seem to never have time for, the things you procrastinate over or that bring you frustration or stress. This could be anything, from filing your taxes, to tutoring your kids, to tackling the repairs around the house. These are your Needs.

  3. Next, link your Offerings to your Needs. Who in your community is an expert at the things you’re not? Who do you think you can help out with a specific task because you know you’re more skilled at it, or you simply enjoy doing it more than they do? Reach out to those people and make your proposition. Find your match. I guarantee you’ll receive some enthusiastic responses and you’ll likely start a chain of bartering: it’s contagious, and for good reason. By nature, people love to help and “free” is fun!

The opportunities for bartering are endless, and are not limited to personal services.

Note: The key here is personal services. I am not mentioning professional services here due to potential tax implications. Be careful with this one and be aware of your government’s tax laws around bartering in relation to professional goods and services. That being said, there are a number of exchange services like Bizx or Simbi that may be worth checking out.

One learning from this past year centers around just how crucial it is for us to slow down global consumption. Walk through your home and garage, peer into the depths of your closets and storage; what do you have in excess? What's sitting in boxes collecting dust? I can guarantee you’ll find a grateful new home for these unused, neglected, and otherwise wasted items, and in exchange, receive something that will improve your quality of life. Like Marie Kondo teaches, if it doesn't serve a defined purpose and/or bring you joy, ditch it.

But remember, just because it is no longer aligned with how you desire to live your life, doesn’t mean that it won’t improve someone else's.

And while donating unwanted items may elicit warm fuzzy feelings, more often than not, donations to the second hand store ultimately end up in the landfill or incinerator. You can do your part in reducing waste by gifting the things you no longer need, and looking to your community for the things you want.

Make bartering your default instead of Amazon.

There are plenty of online groups and platforms that are built on this idea of exchange reducing consumption. Here’s a few global, primarily goods based platforms that I’ve come across:

  • Buy Nothing Group on Facebook - local groups offering items, services, and advice for free; a fantastic way to get to know your neighbors.

  • Freecycle - a grassroots, non-profit movement aiming to keep stuff out of the landfill.

  • Bunz - a bartering platform supporting sustainable trade and community.

The beauty of bartering is its simplistic ability to foster connection while aligning you with your unique form of service to the world.

Beyond that, bartering reduces waste headed to the landfill, saves time and money, and ultimately brings more happiness into your life. If you pay close enough attention, you will notice that your energy levels increase when you choose to focus on the things that are aligned with your individual passions and purpose. And the ultimate bonus of a bartering system? Deeper human connection and a greater shift towards Unity.

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