As some of you may recollect, I had committed to a year-long shopping fast in 2020 which meant no new shoes, clothes, or accessories for myself this year. Little did I know the adventurous year this was going to be but in hindsight, it was a very good experiment and I am here to report that I was able to stick to my commitment and honestly didn’t miss it much except for a few moments when I felt retail therapy would cheer me up on a gloomy evening. I did spend an hour or two over the Thanksgiving holiday window shopping online and added a lot of things to my cart but didn’t go all the way to checkout. This didn’t mean I didn’t buy anything – there was some make-up, home spa and skincare products, Thinx underwear (that I highly recommend for women who get periods), and of course a lot more grocery shopping. A heartfelt thank you to the people who knew this was going on and indulged me in some new clothes for my birthday this year!
There were a lot of life, parenting, and leadership lessons learned along the way and here they are in no particular order.
- Your story has an impact – I know so many of us struggle with sharing our story. It can feel indulgent, or the critic can remind us who are we to say something, or we can confuse telling our story with giving advice (which are two very different things) and that can trigger emotions. And yet, as we all know we are all drawn to stories of other humans when they are shared with integrity. I was pleasantly surprised with the number of texts and emails I received from people after I publicly shared this on social media and my blog telling me that they wanted to do something similar even though I hadn’t asked anyone to join me.
- The why is important – For me, the most important driving force behind my actions is the why. I can be rarely convinced to do something if it doesn’t align with my values. For this experiment knowing that it was deeply aligned with my values had a huge impact on my ability to follow through to the end. Note to self – Be clear on the why and when there is tension with big and small tasks, ask myself what’s the purpose behind this task or which value is not being honored? I still haven’t succeeded with NOT eating French fries but I am digressing now 😊
- Timing matters – I was able to do this because it was time-bound. I don’t think I am ready yet to commit to this for life. Having a goal or a project with an end date can help you get through the hard moments.
- Clarifying needs and wants – While my project didn’t distinguish between needs and wants, it made me think critically of what is it that I want vs. need. The answers aren’t always straightforward and my point isn’t to say that wants are wrong or bad and there is absolute value in indulgences but it helped me look at my choices (even beyond clothes and shoes) with more awareness.
- Power of constraints – I had this constraint of not being able to checkout and it simplified so much in my life. I didn’t have to look for deals, allocate time or budget to shop, and that created space for other things.
- Savoring – This exercise made me savor and appreciate the stuff I already had. The pandemic meant there were few days of dressing up and going out but I dressed up on many occasions even if I would just be staying home or going for a walk around the block and I had more appreciation for the stuff I had and was able to enjoy it more.
- Parenting wins – And finally, my favorite – This experiment gave me so much to talk to my kids about. I told them how we can’t always have everything we want right away, the power of patience and delayed gratification, the environmental impact of all the stuff we buy, and more.
Now to 2021, I am torn about what changes I will make. I am currently leaning toward giving myself a few weeks to stock up on what I need (and a few wants!) and maybe do another fast for 6 months? I am still not sure but will keep you all posted here once I decide.
Also, I recently completed 100 hours toward my coach training certification and am now working toward the next 500 hours. If any of you is curious or about coaching, please reach out. I have space for 1 more client including a scholarship/heavily discounted spot for the next 4 months.
Photo Credit – Becca McHaffie