Wildly Imperfect

Writing. Learning. Living.

10 Months of No Clothes Shopping

I’m currently 10 months in on not buying any clothes. At the beginning of the year, I casually decided to see how long I could go and had no idea that it would last this long. 

I hate shopping, why am I spending so much time doing it?

A few years ago I didn’t buy clothes for 3 months.  What I learned then and now, is how much time I spent shopping for clothes. I don’t enjoy shopping, but was spending too much time doing it. I could never find the right clothes. The ones that functioned the way I wanted them to and fit my body in a flattering way. My solution was to continually keep trying to find them. 

This led to a lot of time shopping for perfect clothing. I would look online for the best deals, read all the reviews, try to figure out my size, etc.  I became frustrated and would try shopping in stores. This was worse, I became overwhelmed with all the options, unable to narrow in on what I was looking for as I was distracted by all the other items. When I made it to the dressing room I found it hard to decide in the moment if the item was worth the cost and if I liked the fit.

I decide to not buy any clothes

In December 2017 I bought a few pieces of clothing and made the determination that I could get by on what I already owned for a while. I decided to see how long I could go without buying new clothes.

I have a few items I can technically still get use from but are worn out and ready to be replaced. I included these on a short list of items that were ok to buy if needed. But as the months have slipped by and I haven’t bought anything I wonder just how long I can go without replacing them? How long can I go with no new clothes? Can I make it a whole year?

I love not having the stress of shopping. Anytime I considered shopping for clothing I thought about the stress, and consumption of time and energy and decided against it. I did try to find new winter boots on sale this spring. I kept my search narrow to avoid overwhelm and decision fatigue. Unfortunately, I started my search too late and what I wanted was sold out. I will most likely try to pick up boots at the beginning of this winter.

10 months later and I’m still not buying clothes!

So I keep going, and it feels good to not spend my time shopping, stressing, and worrying about making the best purchase. Its become easier to not do it at all. My competitive goal-oriented side wants to achieve the challenge of not buying clothes for an entire year, and if I don’t truly need anything – why buy it?

The exception will be footwear. I need new winter boots as mentioned above, and new running and hiking shoes that I will be picking up on sale soon.

This won’t last indefinitely as I didn’t start with a particularly large wardrobe. If I make it to the end of the year, I don’t plan on going crazy with the opportunity to buy new things, but it will be time to replace a few items.

What will happen next?

Taking up this challenge has allowed me to discover how little I truly need. Prior to this I always felt my wardrobe was deficient which resulted in my continually looking. The biggest takeaway may be that by simply stopping, I could see that I had all I truly needed. 

I’ve been thinking ahead to what my clothes shopping strategy will be going forward. Instead of shopping all the time, I can just replace what I have when it wears out, or plan on shopping a couple times a year at strategic times (end of season sales). I might not always find what I need on sale or miss the perfect item by not looking constantly, but since shopping causes me stress and anxiety – it makes sense to limit my shopping experience. Even paying full price for some items, could be cost-effective by only buying what I need when I need it. Not to mention saving me time and energy.

With the exception of needed footwear, my plan is to carry this through to the end of the year ~ just 2 1/2 months to go!

Have you ever done a shopping ban? Clothes or otherwise? What did you learn and did it change your shopping habits?

*my original 3-month shopping ban was inspired by Cait Flanders who did a full shopping ban for two years – and wrote a book about it!

3 Month Blog Writing Update

3 months isn’t very long, but when I add in the months of work I put in prior to publishing, it feels like a long time. I haven’t published anything new in over a month, yet the blog remains on my mind even as I haven’t tended to it.

Prior to publishing, I had 6-8 pre-written blog posts. My intention was to continue to stay that far ahead. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. I slipped far behind and currently write complete articles as I go. I do have partially written posts that hold ideas I plan to explore at some point.

How did I slip so far behind? The short answer is “summer”. This is a busy time of year in both my work and personal life. I am away from home a lot and have short weeks in which to find the time to write. In early spring and the months before I published I had more time and had maintained a (mostly) daily writing practice. As life got busy, that went out the window. 

Preparation for my big backcountry trip also derailed my writing intentions. Because I wanted to be prepared and ready for this endeavor, I traded writing time for planning and prepping for the trip. With everything else going on in life, something needed to be compromised and that became writing.

I’ve returned from my trip feeling rejuvenated and inspired. As I shift into a fall mindset I’m excited to put more time and energy into writing. I’m working out a new morning routine that I hope allows me to stay consistent. With that said, I’m also tackling some new projects, so how this balances out remains to be seen.

In the months I’ve been writing I have learned a few things:

  • I enjoy writing. It’s still scary and intimidating to sit down and focus, but when I do I enjoy the practice of starting with something rough and crafting it into something better. 
  • I have to stay on top of writing and be consistent or I will fall far behind. I had a writing routine in the spring, but that was not sustainable through the summer, so I am working to create a new routine I can sustain.
  • I continue to learn the nuances of publishing posts and utilizing WordPress. I still have a lot of work here, but as I’ve mentioned before my current focus is writing and that remains true.
  • My writing is gradually getting better and the process has gotten easier (not easy, just ever so slightly easier). I’m still not sure of my niche or audience but I hope as I return to consistency, I am able to dial into what resonates most. 
  • I’ve experimented with different ways of structuring finished pieces as well as how I start them. 
  • Its okay to just get some words down and start with a “shitty first draft” and then tweak and craft from there. Its a struggle to start with something awful. I’ve found that if I stick with it, having something written down creates momentum that eventually carries me through.
  • I can’t write anytime or anywhere. I’m able to journal as I travel or am away from home, and I often jot down some ideas, but to write a post I need full focus and to be sitting in front of my computer. This is why I believe I need a consistent writing practice. 
  • I have to stop editing and hit publish. As someone who hangs onto the notion of perfection, at some point, good enough has to be good enough. I could tweak an article forever, but eventually, it just has to be done.

What have you learned from your writing process or other new to you endeavor? Have you ever stalled and needed to find new methods or processes to restart?

Managing Pre-Trip Anxiety

In a few weeks, I’ll be heading out on a 7- 8 day backpack trip. I’m super excited for this trip as I haven’t done a long backpack in a while, however, I’ve found myself working through some pre-trip anxiety.

Things I’m anxious about:

  • My longest backpack trip in recent years was 6 days – so adding the weight of 2 more days of food seems substantial.
  • The majority of this trip is off the trail, in challenging terrain, in a mountain range I have only visited a few times. I have concerns about getting lost or misdirected, getting cliffed out, having to turn around and try a different route, etc.
  • Covering the mileage needed each day to complete the trip. We are starting at one point and hiking through to another with our vehicle shuttled for us to the end.
  • Having all the right gear I’ll need, without having a heavy pack that slows me down.
  • Weather conditions and snowpack are always a concern, as is injury and wildlife (grizzly bears occasionally frequent this area).
  • There are only 2 of us. The dates we were able to schedule this trip didn’t work out for our friends. This takes the pressure off of having to keep up with others, however, it reduces the amount of experience and input on route finding and decision making. If one person gets hurt, they are left alone as the other one hikes out for help. 

When I am anxious I become overwhelmed and often procrastinate on planning which does not make anything easier. In fact, it makes everything harder and works against me by only increasing my anxiety. For a long time, I didn’t realize that I was doing this and would be in a panic, scrambling to be prepared at the last minute. Fortunately, I am now conscious of this and am working on planning well ahead of time. It is still a struggle and I’ll admit to not being as far along in my planning for this trip as I would like. Our trip is a few weeks out, so I still have time to be well prepared if I stay focused.

Using pre-trip anxiety to my advantage:

My awareness of pre-trip anxiety is an opportunity to be better prepared and to have contingencies in place if needed. Here are some of my strategies to increase my own confidence and alleviate anxiety (most of which is just good planning for any big adventure):

  • A fallback option that gives me peace of mind is that for most of the way, we can bail out of the off-trail route and get on the trail instead. Part of the challenge and adventure comes with not just hiking a trail but navigating a cross-country route – yet there is comfort in knowing we have the trail option if needed.
  • We should be able to do the trip in 7 days but are allowing for 8 days in case extra time is needed. 
  • We are doing a practice trip. Unfortunately, I have not already been backpacking this year. In the next week, we will get out overnight with the intention of fine-tuning our packing, plus reacquainting ourselves with wearing a full pack.
  • Relying on lists. I have a general list of items to carry backpacking, plus itemized lists from previous trips. This, along with the upcoming overnight trip will help me feel confident I have everything I need.
  • We are doing our due diligence by reading all the trip reports we can, familiarizing ourselves with the map and route while planning our contingencies. We have all our maps, but I need to spend more time going over the maps and other trip reports.
  • Putting together all our food ahead of time so it is well thought out and organized. We need to start this very soon!
  • While going in well prepared is important, most of my anxiety is self-created, so I continually remind myself of the skills and experience I have that are capable of carrying me through this adventure. I work on my mindset by focusing on the fun and the real reasons why I love doing this! To be fully present in the scenery, remoteness, and adventure; and the desire for a challenge and accomplishment.

I can’t anticipate everything that could possibly happen and some things are simply beyond my control. Doing all I can to be well prepared and having contingencies in place goes a long way towards easing my anxiety.  I’m excited for the moment I step on the trail and am committed to moving forward with only the items I am carrying on my back. When the anxiety slips away and the fun and adventure begin!

Do you experience travel or pre-trip anxiety? Do you have strategies for coping with or managing or your pre-trip jitters?

My Social Media Sabbatical: Part 2

Does social media add to or subtract from my quality of life?

This question is at the heart of my taking on this challenge. I had been utilizing social media off and on for a handful of years, with Instagram use significantly increased over the last year. Now it was time to evaluate what my life might look like if I completely stepped away. My sabbatical has continued for almost 4 months and here is what I’m learning:

Life without Social Media:

  • I occasionally wonder if I’m missing out on information. Instagram helped me plan a trip to Banff a few years ago and inspired me to find new backpacking destinations. I’ve found strength training moves to add to my routine and support when I did a Whole30. Social media isn’t all bad and while this information and support were at times helpful, it also became overwhelming. My head would spin as I tried to stay on top of and process all the information I was consuming. Of course, this information can be researched when needed as opposed to bombarding myself with it daily.
  • I absolutely had feelings of anxiety and discontent from social media and it is a noticeable relief to no longer subject myself. I am less concerned with the lives of others and how my own life might compare. I am more focused on and engaged with the life I’m living. Life is simpler without social media to manage and extra information to navigate. 
  • Scrolling through social media can fill moments of boredom or be a way to numb out when we aren’t comfortable with the present moment. Out of habit, I find myself picking up the phone as a way to distract myself. Without social media, I’m double checking email or the weather, and scanning blogs. Smartphone use can be as habitual and addictive as social media. Fortunately, I am noticing this and use it as a reminder that I should put the phone down and fill this time with the activities I’d most like to engage in. Reading, writing, meditation, or getting outdoors for a walk or working in my yard. Redirecting my attention towards something beneficial when looking to escape continues to be a work in progress.
  • Building focus is a skill that takes time to develop and I am still in the early stages. In addition to giving up social media I have a meditation practice, and most days I set aside time to work on writing without distractions. At times I feel that I am better able to concentrate, but there have also been days (or whole weeks -ugh!) when focusing on writing has been a difficult challenge. As I continue to work on cultivating focus and concentration I suspect my ability to do so will fluctuate but I hope steadily increase over time.
  • I occasionally miss the connection I had with others. Liking a post or dropping a comment is easier than connecting by phone or email. I had reconnected with friends who live far away and enjoyed seeing snippets of their lives and dropping an occasional note.
  • I have opened up more time in my mornings and I mostly use that for the writing I want to do. Small moments during the day that I used to fill with scrolling Instagram are spent redirecting myself toward more important tasks or simply being present in the moment. Time well spent feels nourishing and doesn’t always mean being productive.

New Discoveries:

With this challenge, I discovered that I am better at abstaining vs moderating. I wish I could moderate my use of social media in a healthy way, but have found that I am better off abstaining from it entirely. Moderating use requires considerable energy as opposed to the hard line of abstaining. In this and other areas, I am facing the reality that abstaining is a better choice for me.

Going Forward:

This challenge confirmed that the way I was using social media was costing me time, causing anxiety, taking away from my ability to concentrate, and complicated vs simplified my life. For now I plan to continue with my social media sabbatical as the benefits are too great not too, and the negatives too detrimental. 

However, I have yet to completely delete my accounts. Social media can be positively used as a tool and I’d like to find a way to selectively and intentionally use social media in a way that adds value to my life. 

  • I’ve found Facebook to be the source of the most up to date information on businesses and events and occasionally find it to be a source of practical information. 
  • I am considering selectively using Facebook to see photos and events in the lives of distant nieces and nephews. Positively connecting with others is a benefit of social media 
  • Many advocate that social media is an important part of blogging and connecting with your readers. My intention is to join in this blogging community without the use of social media but will evaluate as I go if this could be beneficial, and if I can connect with others on social media in a way that is healthy for me.

The heart and intention of social media is connection, but unfortunately how it is designed and how its used can have negative impacts. 

Just to be clear, I’m not advocating that everyone abstain from social media. For some, it may be a vital part of their business or critical to their sense of community and connection with others. As individuals, we should be aware of our use and its impacts. Technology, smartphones, and social media should be used in ways that add to and improve our lives, not detract from them. Ultimately we each have to evaluate for ourselves what does and doesn’t work.

For now, I plan to continue to abstain from social media, but I am open to limited use in the future if I am able to use it as a tool that adds value to my life.

What does your social media use look like? Does it add to or subtract from your life? Any bloggers out there who have built an audience without using social media?

My Social Media Sabbatical: Part 1

I like to undertake personal challenges that question assumptions, help me discover more about myself, and dive into finding out if the activities I engage in and lifestyle choices I make are adding to or subtracting from my quality of life. I plan to share more of these, but this is the first and its a big one (for this beginning blogger) with two parts – tackling a social media sabbatical and what I’ve learned from it.

I started a social media sabbatical at the end of March and so far it’s still going strong. 

How my use of social media started and progressed:

I was late to join Facebook, eventually signing up only so I could have a business page. At first, it seemed fun and I liked seeing what others were up to as I attempted to keep my personal (and business) feed current. Then, it started to feel like one more thing, and interaction became stressful: do I “like” everything, or “like” selectively? If I don’t comment or “like” am I snubbing someone? I slowly drifted off and eventually became a lurker, watching but not participating. This didn’t feel great either. When I ran into someone was I  supposed to say – hey I saw x,y,z on Facebook or wait for them to tell you in normal conversation?  I struggled to negotiate this. Eventually, I rarely went on as it caused me awkwardness, anxiety, and became filled with things I didn’t want to see (adds, politics, too much information), and it became a place where I left not feeling so great (FOMO, comparison, etc). 

I did join a handful of groups on Facebook (professional and otherwise) that had a narrow focus and provided current information and interesting discussion. While I did gain knowledge, I also became overwhelmed with information overload. Some posts would have 100’s of comments that I felt compelled (or sucked in) to read. This is one place FOMO (fear of missing out) started to surface – I never wanted to miss what might be a critical or important piece of information that could further my interests.

Eventually, I found Instagram and Instagram is what I thought Facebook would be (and possibly once was), photos and updates on peoples lives. I like photography and enjoy beautiful photos. I found myself not just following friends but others who I found inspiring, whether it be where they were or what they were doing, learning tips and getting ideas. This was mostly in the realm of outdoor adventure, health, and fitness. I felt more relaxed on Instagram, I posted often and liked and commented on other feeds.  

As I added more feeds, my time on Instagram began to increase. I’d start scrolling while drinking my morning coffee, then I might check again at lunch or between appointments, when I came home from work, and finally before going to bed at night. I initially thought this was a harmless few minutes here and there but when I started to pay attention, those minutes added up. It was probably 45 minutes to an hour a day.  I’ll be honest and admit I never tracked an exact total as I didn’t want to know beyond what I had already discovered. 

Discontent Starts to Creep In

I don’t think social media is all bad. On the positive side, I had found inspiration, information, and engagement. However, with the realization of how much time I was spending on social media – I knew I had to make some changes. I wasn’t comfortable with the possibility that I was spending 365 hours or about 15 days a year on Instagram, not to mention the occasional forays onto Facebook.

I began to limit my use of Instagram to morning and evening only. Then I further cut back to evening only and culled accounts I wasn’t getting “value” from. 

With increased awareness of how much time I was spending on social media, I started to notice that it wasn’t always as inspiring as I had initially found it. A sense of discontent had started to creep in. Most social media posts show the best events and happenings in our lives and the whole picture of real life isn’t always seen. It’s easy to start comparing yourself to the perfect moments of others, leading to dissatisfaction or a sense of not measuring up.

Further Drawbacks of Social Media

The drawbacks of social media when it comes to creativity and focused work started to surface in books I was reading, podcasts I was listening to, and blogs I was following. Creativity doesn’t naturally come to me and I’ve found it challenging to focus and write. I wanted to do all I could to set myself up for success. 

Cal Newport is the author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World and has a great TEDx talk summarizing his research. Newport argues that social media doesn’t provide significant benefits and in fact use of it brings harm. Social media is made to be addictive as we continually seek out novel stimuli, fragmenting our attention and reducing our capacity for concentration. Additionally, there is documentation that use increases feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression, and has been correlated with an increase in anxiety disorders.

As I strive to live simply and attempt to eliminate extraneous things that don’t add value to my life – this truly resonated. Listening to Newport and discovering others that eschewed social media made it feel possible or legitimate to do so myself. It became clear that giving up social media could support my intentions of focusing time and attention on what matters most and gives me the most value in life.

One day near the end of March, as I continually became more aware of the many drawbacks to social media I decided to just stop. With the exception of looking up business and event information on Facebook, I haven’t been back. 

In my next post, I’ll be sharing what life has been like without social media and what use might look like going forward.

Do you use social media? How do you feel about it? Have you ever limited your use of social media or taken a social media sabbatical?

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén