SG031 - A year of less

On May 1st 2017 - I started my year of less, what this meant for me was saying goodbye to buying clothes (with the exception of socks and underwear) for one whole year.

I started this challenge for a number of reasons.  Firstly because I felt I had too many clothes, and that I had a need to reduce, secondly I couldn't figure out why I always wore the same items (generally the new stuff) yet wasn't ready to let go of the stuff I didn't wear; I figured I'd see what would happen if I stopped introducing new items and thirdly I thought it would be a great way to save some money as well as see whether I could really go a year without buying!

Well as the 1st of May 2018 arrived this week - I was surprised to acknowledge that I had completed a whole year of not buying clothes but more surprised still to learn that I had no desire to run out and start shopping! 

The year of less heightened my awareness of consumerism and how addictive it can be.  Everywhere we look we are bombarded with adverts desperate to show us how we can fit in when we buy X,Y or Z items. 

What I observed over the last year was by putting a hold on buying clothes it changed my desire for purchasing in general.  What that meant for me personally was that I now have a desire for significantly less in respect of material items.  Consciously not buying made me more aware of the level of waste we allow and also how much we don't even notice that our spending is out of habit rather than a genuine need. 

It's really another avenue for a dopamine hit a short lived high, and usually when the high wears off the guilt of spending kicks in.  I used to be one of those people that would have lots of fun shopping and get carried away on a spree (usually when I wasn't actually shopping for anything in particular) and then end up taking half of it back because it wasn't stuff I needed and also because I didn't like the stuff I bought half as much as I thought I did in the shop!  Can you relate?

I learned a number of lessons this last year (some obvious, some I didn't even realise I needed to learn):

  1. That I had more than enough clothes and didn't need more - even after a year of not buying I feel I have too much!
  2. That I was happier with less.  I started to wear items that I hadn't picked up in ages and felt a new level of joy as I re-acquainted myself with some lovely items that I'd forgotten I owned.
  3. Less stuff made me feel lighter and I had more energy - I wasn't overwhelmed by the feeling I had nothing to wear with a wardrobe that was overflowing.  When I knew I couldn't buy anything I found new ways to get creative - mixing and matching.
  4. Knowing I couldn't buy anything forced me to look at the items I had with a new perspective - did those items make me feel good wearing them or was it time to say goodbye?  If I felt anything less than fabulous it was time for those items to go!
  5. That you definitely don't need as much as you think you need - you actually need very little!
  6. That I'd rather have less and love everything I wear than have lots and never feel like I have anything I like.
  7. That ultimately in a nutshell less is more!

What was interesting for me was the knock on effect not buying clothes had on the way I shopped for groceries too - no longer do I stock up on store cupboard items or buy replacement items just because they are on deal!  I buy when there is a need and that means there is significantly less waste - I no longer clear food cupboards and find out of date purchases, essentially items that I'd over stocked on!

I replenish when there is a genuine need, when I've run out (or close to running out) it makes me appreciate fully what needs to be used before I cast away without a second thought - I certainly no longer need several shampoo and conditioner bottles in the cupboard on stand by!  I've saved a small fortune and feel I'm doing more for the environment too by not just blindly making purchases and I having a greater appreciation of what I have.

This last year my view of having 'stuff' has certainly changed - I generally have a lot less and the question I ask myself now is if this item does not bring me joy when I wear it or use it then it is time for it to go and what I've noticed is that I'm in no hurry to replace anything.

It changed my outlook on life in certain other ways too, recognising how attached was I to having material items generally.  I sometime ask myself how many times as a girl did I say "I can't wear that people have seen me in that already".  The question I ask myself now is "do I feel great wearing it and does it really matter if others have seen it before?"  What need was I previously trying to meet? the need to look good wearing something new, was I trying to fit in, or did I have a need to show others I had the means to keep up with the latest fashions (keeping up with the Jones')?  I don't really know, all I know now is that I am more conscious about how I feel rather worrying about others' views.  Rather than having something new I'm much happier just focussing on whether what I have brings me joy - if it doesn't then it's time to go!

There was synchronicity for me that the last day of my year of less was also the last day in my corporate job - it's certainly been a year of letting go and surrendering to who I am and what I am.

Now it's over to you - if you could choose something for your year of less what would it be? Are you willing to try letting go of something and see where it leads you?