NOTE: This post was originally published on my previous blog, Recovering Shopaholic.
There is just one month left in the year. Even during this busy holiday season, many of us also start to think about our goals for the year and how well we did or didn’t do with them. I don’t know about you, but I often find myself feeling bad about what I didn’t accomplish over the course of the year. Such ponderings generally leave me feeling bad about myself, which is something I’m trying very hard to avoid these days.
A Different Way of Looking at Goals and Accomplishments
I recently came across a blog post that presented an alternate way of looking at goals and accomplishments. While many people compile “Bucket Lists” of things they want to do over the course of a year or lifetime, this author created an “UN-Bucket List.” As she wraps up 2014, rather than focusing on her failures and the things that didn’t go as planned, she shared the accomplishments she has made since January 1st.
I was inspired to read about the author, Sue Adair’s, accomplishments, especially the first one on her list, that she stopped coloring her hair and went gray! Since I’ve been thinking a lot about my hair since writing this post (and long before that), I enjoyed reading about how another woman in my age group has escaped the hair color rollercoaster. I did have to chuckle at her approximate cost savings of $173 per year, though, as I’m sure my savings would be more in the $1500 range! However, I don’t think I could be as brave as she was in cutting off her hair once she reached two inches of natural hair color. I know that many of you have called me courageous, but somehow it’s easier for me to bare my soul on the internet than to change my hair!
My 2014 “UN-Bucket List”
Hair talk aside, after reading Sue’s “UN-Bucket List,” I was inspired to create one of my own and share it with all of you. I just might make this an annual tradition! Here goes…
I published my first book
Writing a book has long been on my “Bucket List” and I was very happy to finally tick that item off the list this year. The task was both easier and more difficult than I had anticipated, if that makes any sense. It was easier because I basically used my blog posts as a template for the book, but it was more difficult because a lot more editing and organization was required than I would have thought. But I did it, and I’m so proud to have released “UnShopping: Recovery Solutions from an Ex-Shopaholic” to the world. A big thank you to all who have bought my book thus far! I hope you found it both interesting and helpful. If you haven’t bought the book but have been thinking about it, now might be a good time to do so, as I will be raising the price in January.
My second book will be released very soon
My second book, “End Closet Chaos: Wardrobe Solutions from an Ex-Shopaholic” is almost ready to go live. I solicited additional editing help this time around, so I’m currently in the process of incorporating all of the wonderful feedback from my diligent editors. I feel confident that this book will be even better than my first book once it’s all said and done, as a result of my hard work and others’ input. My goal is to release the book before January 1st, as many people want to pare down their wardrobes and get their closets in order at the start of a new year. Stay tuned! You’ll be the first to know when the book is available.
I’ve cleaned up my diet and am now eating much healthier
I’ve often mentioned my health challenges on the blog and I’ve been taking steps to improve that area of my life this year. After giving up caffeine (I used to drink a pot of coffee a day!) last year, I decided to make additional improvements in 2014. As part of that process, my husband and I bought a Vitamix blender this past spring and a juicer about two months ago. I now try to have a smoothie, juice, and large green salad most days (and accomplish this goal more often than not). I’ve enjoyed researching new smoothie and juice recipes and feel good to be feeding myself many more servings of fresh fruits and vegetables than I did previously. It’s also been fun experimenting with recipes for soups and dinner entrees, and I plan to get more adventurous with these in the New Year.
In addition, I’ve dramatically decreased my intake of processed foods and sugar. I actually approached the change from a different angle. Rather than focusing on what to remove from my diet, I instead placed my attention on bringing more healthy foods in. As a result, I haven’t really felt deprived. I’ve just been eating so many good things that I’m not really hungry for the bad stuff anymore.
I also removed gluten from my diet, but the jury is still out in terms of how beneficial this has been for me. I continue to struggle with the same health issues as before (the list is long, but the big ones are migraines, digestive problems, and joint pain). However, I’m going to give the gluten-free diet a longer trial, as I’ve been told that it can sometimes take a number of months before one notices a substantial difference.
I know it takes time for diet and lifestyle shifts to produce major health changes, and I have to continually remind myself that I didn’t get to my poor physical state overnight. I know that years and years of eating disorders and consuming too many “Franken-foods” took a significant toll on me. I’m willing to be patient and stay the course with my healthy eating, as I have faith that I will feel better in time. I already do feel better emotionally, as I know I’m being proactive with my health and treating my body with much more respect and regard than in the past. That’s enough for me for the time-being!
I cancelled all of my magazine subscriptions
I used to have subscriptions to over twenty magazines and I had a very conflicted relationship with these periodicals. I loved receiving them, but was overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of magazines that would accumulate around my small apartment. After learning about an app called Texture that would allow me to read almost all of my magazines on my iPad (for one low monthly fee), I decided to take the plunge and cancelled my physical subscriptions.
I now read magazines when I feel like it and no longer feel guilty when I don’t read a particular issue. I’m saving a lot of money and time in the process, and gone are the piles of unread magazines that used to clutter up my living space. I still struggle with information overload, but at least I tackled one large chunk of it by letting go of the magazine subscriptions.
I’ve significantly improved my wardrobe and personal style
I’m very proud of the continued improvements I’ve made in terms of my wardrobe and personal style. I’m shopping far less often and making better buying choices overall. Yes, I continue to make some mistakes, but I’m happy with a greater percentage of my purchases than in previous years. I’ve let go of about half of my large jewelry collection (see the most recent update here) and my wardrobe is now at a much more manageable size. I love and wear a lot more of what I have and have very few “benchwarmers” at this point (I’ll do another update on that topic at the end of the year).
But the most dramatic change has been in terms of my personal style. Back in July, I started an outfit journal that has helped me to better understand how I really want to dress and why I was dissatisfied with many of my ensembles. Then in August, I had my first of two virtual styling sessions with Bridgette Raes (you can read the whole series here). My work with Bridgette has really helped to take my style to the next level. It was incredibly helpful to discuss my style goals with a professional and receive expert advice on improving my wardrobe, accessories, and ensembles.
I now feel like many more of my outfits reflect who I am and how I want to be seen by others. I feel better in my own skin now and I’m more confident in my interactions. After many years of trying to please others, I’m finally starting to dress more for myself and am feeling much happier as a result.
I’m coming to grips with my other issues besides shopping
I started this blog because I wanted to transform my relationship with shopping and help others do the same. I have definitely achieved those aims (and intend to continue doing so), but through writing my posts and interacting with all of you, I’ve become increasingly aware of the other issues I’m facing. Sure, I knew my health was sub-par, that I lacked close friendships, and that I hadn’t accomplished as much as I’d like in the career realm. Yet I didn’t truly understand what was keeping me from having the full life I desired.
I now have a much better grip on what’s in the way of my trading my full closet for a full life. I’ve steadfastly clung to shopping and wardrobe pursuits as a way of avoiding other, more painful issues in my life. It’s not that I wasn’t conscious of those issues, but I just didn’t realize how much they were costing me. When I created my “Full Life Project” at the beginning of the year, my goals definitely had merit, but I was skipping a really important step in the process. In order to experience simplicity and joy (my theme for 2014) and make other life improvements, I needed to remove some of the barriers that were getting in the way.
A few of my recent posts (like this one, this one, and especially this one) were difficult for me to write and it took courage for me to hit the “publish” button. But these posts have helped me to turn a powerful corner in terms of my recovery. For me to truly experience the peace and freedom I so deeply crave, I have to release myself from the self-imposed bondage I’ve experienced for far too long.
I have to stop trying so hard to please other people and honor myself far more. I have to believe that I am just as important and valuable as others, even if I don’t have children and/or a high-powered career. I have to set boundaries in my relationships, stand up for my needs, and let go of people who deplete my energy and add little value to my life. I have to accept myself for who I am and embrace the aging process instead of fighting it tooth and nail. I have to believe that there is far more worth to me than what I see in the mirror.
I can almost taste the freedom that is mine for the taking once I let go of the rigid perfectionism that has imprisoned me for my entire life. I feel I’m on the cusp of making changes that will take me to where I want to be. I haven’t been able to get to the place that has eluded me for so long because I was afraid of letting go of the tight reins of control over all aspects of my existence. I am still scared, but the fear is no longer paralyzing me. I no longer need to immerse myself in shopping, information overload, and appearance obsession as a means of escaping my demons. Sure, those methods worked, but they also cost me my vitality and my happiness. I’m not willing to pay such a high price anymore.
I could continue to expand upon this “UN-Bucket List,” as I’m sure I’ve accomplished more this year, but I think this is a good place for me to end. While all of my achievements of 2014 have been valuable, I realize that the intangible triumphs are the most significant. So instead of feeling “less than” like usual because I haven’t achieved all of the goals I set out for myself this year, I will hold my head up high and say, “Look how far I’ve come!”
I really enjoyed the process of writing my “UN-Bucket List” and I encourage you to give it a try, too, especially if you have a tendency to sell yourself short and feel bad at not being able to tick off each and every box on your yearly to-do list. If you do write such a list (or have done so in the past), I invite you to share your feelings about its impact on your life. If you’re open to revealing some of your “UN-Bucket List” items to me and your fellow readers, I’m sure we’ll all enjoy reading them and will cheer you on.
More Holiday Links
I hope the holiday season is off to a good start for all of you. I recently came across a few additional holiday-themed posts that you might want to check out: