SET INTENTIONS. NOT RESOLUTIONS: MY NO SHOPPING CHALLENGE EXPERIENCE

Last shopping trip in December 2019 before starting the No Shopping Challenge in 2020

The title of this piece is printed on one of my favorite Calia by Carrie workout tops that I purchased in December of 2019 as I began to think about how I wanted to approach 2020. Every year I pick a word that defines what it is I am working towards achieving in multiple aspects of my life. My word for 2019 was ‘Save’ and while I wasn’t too displeased with myself for how I’d approached the year and some of the goals I’d set out to accomplish, I needed more substance to my word for the year in 2020. After all, it was the start of a new decade for crying out loud and since it is a word that has to carry through an entire twelve months of life – I needed it to be powerful.

Around this time I connected with two working moms in Europe, Sev and Caro, who had done a ‘no shopping challenge’ and later blogged about the experience on their site. Reading their piece, I found myself intrigued and inspired. But what they shared also scared the hell out of me as I read through the prep, the thought process behind it; which I totally understood: we live in a world of consumerism and too much “stuff” so that part resonated with me, but the actual doing of the act of not shopping for one entire year – anxiety central. Doesn’t James Clear state that we need to tell ourselves who we are so we can become that person and frame our mindset around the positive habit we’re hoping to form and actions that follow? Well, I am a shopper. But I feel like that needs to come with a distinct disclaimer and warning that I’m certain James Clear would not approve of this habit. Especially when it is one that needs to change. So…I am not a shopper? Hmmm…

If there’s one thing I didn’t do in 2019, it was save money on not shopping. So as I sat in thought after reading their post while still toying with what my word for the new year and start to the decade would become…I decidedly chose two things that would shape my year. I would do the no shopping challenge and be intentional about it, my word for 2020. I started to reconcile with myself that the no shopping challenge would be therapeutic and also help me become more intentional and purpose-filled about what I truly needed in my closet as opposed to just shopping whenever I wanted to or felt like I needed something, that I really didn’t. I’m not a clutter person. We’re not a clutter family. But my closet was…cluttered.

The thing is…I do love to shop for clothes for myself – and my children. It is fun for me. When I was growing up, a majority of my clothes were either hand-me-downs, from consignment or Goodwill. I didn’t really care or have the ability to care because, well, that was just the way we had to shop. My parents made a lot of sacrifices in order for us to all be involved in sports, the arts and our extra-curricular clubs and actives so there was an understanding that when it came to clothes, we rarely got them new. Shopping for my own clothes became a prideful experience when I started making my own money. I had learned to become savvy in how I shopped, always looking for a bargain and trying to find good quality while at it, which proved to be harder as I got older and began needing nicer work clothing. Needless to say, over the years shopping became a fun pastime and I enjoyed doing so with my mom and my best friend Megan. But just because something is fun and you like it doesn’t mean it can’t get out of control.

In making this goal at the end of 2019 – an intentional goal of not shopping for clothing for 1 year – I needed to identify why this was so necessary and important to me in the first place. It wasn’t just that I read this post one day and thought, ‘oh that sounds fun!’ No. It spoke to me. It resonated with me and it challenged me because I honestly wasn’t sure I had it in me. But if I was going to be intentional about what I focused on in 2020 – and shopping is something I truly love to focus on – then shit was about to get real.

To prepare for this year-long no shopping journey – journey just sounds so much more inspiring – there were 5 steps I took to readying myself so that I could achieve the best possible outcome.

  1. Assessed my current closet
  2. Purged
  3. Identified last minute priority needs and planned ahead for 2020
  4. Unsubscribed from all emails for the clothing chains I like – including my beloved BCBGMaxAzria
  5. Allowed for a few modifications/additions throughout the year – if needed.

Assessing my current closet was rather simple. I take stock and inventory pretty much on the regular so I know what I have and what I don’t. I know what I want and I also know what I truly need. This step in the process was pretty easy for me but if you struggle with this – here are some tips.

  • organize your closet into seasons or styles
  • color block those seasons or styles
  • assess how many pairs of pants/shorts/skirts/tops/sweaters etc. you have for each season
  • review your shoes – organize into work and casual
  • identify areas of your closet where you might actually need to add a piece or two and are heavy in others
  • take stock and inventory of accessories as well

Purging is the fun part – for me at least. My 2019 heading into 2020 perspective was all about getting rid of clothing so I could buy more. So I have always enjoyed a solid purge session, closet included. But here are some reasons why I found this to be helpful and why it’s important to continue to follow this practice even if you choose not to do a no shopping challenge.

  • gets rid of clothes and shoes you no longer wear – with the rule of thumb being, if you haven’t worn it in a couple of seasons…toss it.
  • trying on items you once liked that have sat in your closet for a while to see if your mind changes. If it doesn’t – it goes.
  • clears out all of the chaos and gets down to the pieces in your closet that you love
  • gets rid of like-pieces that are unnecessary and crowding up your hanger space
  • clears out items you might be holding onto for no clear reason. Just because is not a good enough reason. Purge that sucker, my friend.

Identifying last minute priority needs was a simple, non-time consuming aspect of the prep work. Because for me, I always know what is coming in and going out of my closet. But since I had already done steps 1 and 2 in the process I also considered there might be some last minute items that I’d want to pick up before starting this no shopping challenge. Think basics when you approach this step. Here were some of the ‘needs’ I identified during the pre-challenge process.

  • Ladies – assess the condition of your bras and underwear.
    • This could become a need during the year and if so, can be moved to your list of modifications.
  • Do any shoes need to be repaired? Clothing items altered? Buttons sewed on?
  • Are there any staple pieces you might need that are always good-to-have pieces in your closet?
    • For me, that is a white button-down of which I still do not own and it was on my list of ‘needs’ at the onset of this challenge. Spoiler – I made it through all of 2020 without ‘needing’ one.

Thinking ahead and planning for 2020. I am a planner by nature so this was an important step in the process because my anxiety level was cut in half by going through each month of the year and reviewing events I knew were already planned. Now, at the time at which I prepared for this – none of us knew what the coronavirus was so in my mind it was life and business as usual. Also, is this considered cheating? I got asked that question several times during this past year and here’s how I reasoned with putting this on my list of steps. The whole point of this challenge was to help me get better at assessing what I truly need vs. what I want but might already have seven of in my closet. So – it wasn’t cheating because I was planning for what I knew would come up over the course of the year; a wedding we were attending, the fact that we moved from a colder climate to a tropical climate, the fact that I didn’t really have a casual wardrobe and that I’d put on a few LB’s so some of my current clothing wasn’t fitting. I didn’t end up satisfying any of the potential ‘needs’ identified but it gave me a better understanding of what I was going to need and assess whether my closet supported it all.

Below are some questions you can ask yourself when planning ahead for 2021 that might be helpful for you if you decide to do this challenge:

  • Do you have any big events that you might need to have something for that you can purchase now and not have to scramble for in haste right before it’s about to take place?
  • Family photo shoots? Christmas matching pajama party, anyone? Anyone…
  • Do you need a solid pair of flats or do you have plenty already to suffice?
  • Will you need a new suit for a job interview or a work-related meeting or event that you don’t currently own?

Being very specific with this step will also prevent you from going on a shopping spree and aimlessly buying items that you don’t need at all. The biggest aspect of planning ahead is making sure you have a solid foundation of staple items and pieces in your closet that fit you and that you can rely on for last minute things that pop up. We cannot always be prepared for every curve ball but understanding and assessing our needs and the consistent events, meetings, and outings we attend can allow us to become better prepared and buy only what we will need to get us through those many moments.

By unsubscribing from all of the emails from clothing companies and stores you like, it lessens the desire to click on their extremely eye-catching and snazzy email offers like 50% off their entire site + free shipping or their free gift with purchase plus an additional 20% off. This step in the process is also very freeing and satisfying in that you’re getting rid of the temptation while simultaneously decluttering your inbox!

The last step in the process, allowing for modifications and amendments throughout the year if needed, should truly only be utilized if absolutely needed. If you don’t approach this entire challenge and journey as something that is just that – challenging, then you won’t make it through to the other side and be grateful for all it taught you. Be deliberate about this and make sure you’ve followed the steps in the process so that this becomes null and void during your year of not shopping. Below are the two modifications I ended up making during my no shopping challenge.

  • Homebody sweatshirt from Magnolia
    • A dear friend and co-worker of mine visited Magnolia with me post-Sales Rally for our organization in February and I did not plan for the weather to be ridiculously cold so me needing a sweatshirt to stay warm became a necessity in that moment! Plus, it’s Chip and Joanna! Enough said. And it’s become my favorite given the fact that 2020 delivered COVID and lots of time spent at home with my family.
  • Swimsuits from Target
    • When COVID hit and we were being safe at home, I realized that I didn’t properly assess my lineup of swimsuits. I did purchase two new swimsuits from Target since we have a pool at our home and we used it almost on the daily during the lockdown and as we headed into the summer, especially.

What I learned from doing a no shopping challenge in 2020.

This past year, the no shopping challenge was made easier because of being able to work from home due to COVID. However, while many of my friends were ordering sweatsuits and comfier work from home clothing, I stayed true to what I set out to achieve and wore what I already had. As I ventured back into the field in June, I resisted the inclination and urge to shop for new pieces and instead, planned my outfits for each week based on the meetings on my calendar. Here’s what I learned and came to realize in 2020 after reflecting on my year-long journey of not shopping for clothing.

  • When it gets right down to it, I truly need so little.
  • I love the pieces I do have in my closet.
  • While I love form-fitting sweaters and tops, they do not flatter me. Therefore, they had to go and were purged from my wardrobe.
  • I have way too many workout clothes! I do workout almost daily but still…it’s an obscene amount that is unnecessary so I have started to purge.
  • I do need new bras.
  • I don’t need to ever buy anymore winter tights – and could stand to part with a few, or ten, pairs.
  • I do need to shift some of my staple pieces and consistent items to be of a lighter material since we now live in South Florida and summers here are brutally hot and humid – of which I was not prepared for when I started heading back into the field in June in 100+ degree temps and even higher humidity levels.
  • I don’t need to shop as much as I thought I did.

This year also allowed me to shift my mindset, which is not a coincidence that it is my word for 2021, around how I shop and why I shop. The more I reflect on this past year, there is something spiritual, emotional and special about this challenge that truly reshaped my way of thinking about the clothing pieces I pay for with my hard-earned money. We are absolutely a nation and a world of “stuff” and “material things” that clutter our lives and our way of living. Decluttering my closet helped me to declutter my mind, my soul and my perspective on how I progress forward.

I’m continuing this no shopping challenge into 2021 with slight modifications and a few additions to my wardrobe. The benefits were so great and outweighed the initial fear and perceived anxiety I had in pursuing this type of intentional goal that I am excitedly entering into my second year of this mindset shift and challenge to only put into my life – and closet – what I truly, truly, need. After the year we all experienced with COVID, it gives such greater meaning to the whole process.

My favorite @caliabycarrie workout top

~ Confessions of a Corporate Mom

10 thoughts on “SET INTENTIONS. NOT RESOLUTIONS: MY NO SHOPPING CHALLENGE EXPERIENCE

  1. I’m loving your blog. Okay, I am a shopper too, but your blog is very convincing. This may just be the challenge I need. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Beautifully written! I love reading your blogs and this one definately gave me inspiration. I don’t need to worry about clothes shopping because I don’t do that but, deliberately focusing on necessary spending and putting a deliberately effort on saving and debt reducing is my 2021!

  3. This is BGREAT!

    post this sucker on Medium woman!

    On Tue, Jan 5, 2021 at 4:44 PM Confessions of a Corporate Mom wrote:

    > Confessions of a Corporate Mom posted: ” Last shopping trip in December > 2019 before starting the No Shopping Challenge in 2020 The title of this > piece is printed on one of my favorite Calia by Carrie workout tops that I > purchased in December of 2019 as I began to think about how I wanted to ” >

  4. You are much stronger than I am! I tried this in 2018 i think and 2 weeks into January Old Navy had a denim sale and I was ready to give my kid away for some jeans! LOL but good for you!!! I did however do an inventory of my overflowing closet and that helped curb a lot of my “wants!” Great post!

    1. Thank you! I totally get it – Old Navy jeans are the best, especially their jeggings. I did the inventory as well. I was a total over shopper. I had clothes I’d never worn that were just hanging in my closet. Not any more but it’s taken me over a year to get my closet pared down to the ones I love.

      1. That’s amazing! I have secret dreams about having a capsule wardrobe.. The amount of money, time, and stress (just a bit) I’d be saving seems purposeful enough!

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