My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

NOTE: This post was originally published on my previous blog, Recovering Shopaholic.

Many personal development experts recommend selecting a theme for each year to help guide our focus and direction.   Some even advocate doing this in lieu of creating specific personal and professional goals.   Last January, I selected two words as my guiding focus for the year, simplicity and joy.  Without comprehending the irony in my doing so, I also laid out fairly extensive lists to govern my wardrobe and shopping as well as my overall life during 2014.  That wasn’t exactly simple, was it?

While I experienced some success with simplifying my life and increasing my sense of joy last year, I think I diluted my focus too much by having two themes, as well as a large number of goals.  Thus, I have decided to do things differently for 2015.  In the spirit of both simplicity and joy, I have opted to only have one single theme for this year.   At first, I selected “flow” as my word/theme for 2015, but I soon felt myself inextricably drawn to another word.

2015 Theme

Have you selected a word / theme for 2015?

In today’s post, I share my word/theme, why I chose it, and how I believe it can help me get to where I want to be with both my wardrobe and my life.   If you haven’t selected a word for 2015, it’s not too late!   We’re only a little over a month into the year, so there’s still plenty of time to select and fulfill upon an inspiring and empowering theme.  Check out this post for some guidance on choosing your one powerful word for the year.   If you’d like additional direction, you can sign up for Susannah Conway’s free 5-day email course, which walks you through a thought-provoking and fun process to help you figure out your word for 2015.

A Powerful Word and How I’m Living Its Opposite

As I was reading “Everything that Remains” by “The Minimalists(I highly recommend this book!), one word kept coming up over and over again:  deliberate.  Every time I saw that word, I became more and more acutely aware of how much I was not being deliberate in my life.

There are so many mornings when I have the best of intentions for what I will accomplish that day.  Yet, time and again, I end the day feeling extremely frustrated about all that I didn’t do.   Sure, I keep myself very busy and am pretty much always up to something.  But I seem to be flying by the seat of my pants most of the time, giving in to momentary whims rather than focusing on what’s most important to me.   I feel like I have A.D.D. in that I constantly shift my attention from one thing to another.   I may be working on a blog post, but I find myself periodically checking my email or Facebook or getting up to complete “one quick task” that could probably have waited until later (I must have done those things at least ten times while writing this post!).

The result of my flighty behavior is that I don’t feel very good about myself much of the time.  I feel like a perpetual underachiever, always “busy” but rarely completing what I’ve identified as my most important tasks.   I regularly have over twenty tabs open in my browser, and my blog feed reader and article aggregator are typically seriously back-logged with unread articles.   Although I have managed to let go of my magazine addiction, I still suffer from a serious case of information overload that’s fueled by a grade-A FOMO affliction.

“Too Much” vs. Deliberate Living

I have been feeling very drawn toward minimalist writings as of late because I feel a strong sense of “too much” about my home, my digital information, and yes, my wardrobe.   I truly want to pare things down to only what’s truly necessary and/or that which adds real value to my life.   I want to be deliberate in my actions and with my possessions.  Thus, I have selected “deliberate” as my word for 2015.   To be deliberate means to be at choice and intentional about one’s actions, one’s time, and one’s possessions.

Intentional vs. Accidental

I want to be more at choice and intentional in my life this year. 

When I think of myself living in a deliberate way, I am filled with a sense of peace and calm, which contrasts sharply to the anxiety that is typically percolating within my psyche at any given point in time.   I recently published my second book, “End Closet Chaos,” and I do feel that I’ve gone a long way toward eliminating the wardrobe angst that I used to feel.   I believe I’m well on my way toward feeling peaceful about my closet and its contents.  Yet I feel like I’m many miles away from eradicating the deep sense of chaos in the rest of my life.

I’m not going to set any concrete goals for my wardrobe, shopping, and life this year, but I will paint a picture of how I’d like things to look in those areas by the end of 2015.   I will let my word, deliberate, and my broad-range vision guide my path through the deep fog in which I find myself engulfed.   I am already beginning to see a patch of light at the end of the tunnel and I know that freedom from clutter, information overload, time management woes, confusion, and frustration toward myself is within my grasp.   It all starts with one simple word and an intention to live my life in a more focused and deliberate way.

Deliberate Shopping

Let’s start with shopping.   How does a deliberate person shop?   Well, she knows what she’s shopping for and she shops with a list.  She doesn’t allow herself to get distracted by new, flashy merchandise, big sales, and “amazing deals.”  She looks for what she needs and if she can’t find the right items, she leaves empty-handed.   She’s also willing to spend more money to buy higher-quality merchandise.  While she takes advantage of sales when they meet her needs, she’s also willing to pay full price to obtain the items on her shopping priorities list.   She never buys things just because they are on sale and rarely purchases “multiples” unless it makes good sense to do so, as in the case of undergarments, layering pieces, and other such items.

That is mostly how I shop these days.  I feel like I am almost there in terms of being a deliberate shopper.  However, I still make some mistakes and still feel hesitant to spend more money on certain wardrobe items.   Yet I am also quicker to realize when something won’t work for me.  I’m more likely to return things post haste rather than allowing them to hang in my closet for months and months before I either return them (if I can) or pass them on without them ever having been worn.  I feel that my “Love It, Wear It” (LIWI) challenge and my ongoing outfit journal will help me to realize the deliberate shopping vision I laid out above.   Since I started the journal last summer, I have already noticed a sharp decrease in my shopping mistakes and I believe that I will continue to improve this year.

The Deliberate Wardrobe

What does a deliberate wardrobe look like?  I view a deliberate wardrobe as one that meets a person’s needs for her actual lifestyle, as opposed to an imagined or aspirational one.   All of the clothes in a deliberate wardrobe are valued, suit that particular woman’s personal style aesthetic, and get worn on a regular basis.  With the possible exception of a few formal or specialty items, everything is appropriately utilized.  Such a wardrobe contains the colors, patterns, and styles that best suit the owner’s complexion, figure, and style preferences, but is not overly large.   Everything fits wonderfully, is impeccably maintained, and is ready to be worn (unless it’s in the laundry, of course).  The closet pieces are organized in a logical and intuitive manner such that it’s very easy to find what is needed to get dressed well each day.   The deliberate wardrobe sparks joy and evokes a feeling of peace upon opening the closet doors.

I am a lot closer to the vision above than I used to be, but I see some significant gaps that need to be closed.   I still feel that I have too many clothes and am not wearing many of them often enough. I have also held on to some items out of a sense of guilt and obligation rather than because I truly love wearing them.   Much of my wardrobe is still too formal for my casual, laid-back lifestyle and I still own some garments and shoes that are either fussy or uncomfortable to wear.   All of this being said, I believe I will reach my vision of a deliberate wardrobe this year.  I already notice the strong effects of my LIWI challenge just one month after its genesis.  I’m finding that my definition of “enough” is evolving and it’s becoming much easier for me to let go of things that don’t meet my lifestyle needs or style preferences.

A Deliberate Life

Here’s where things get trickier and where the rubber really meets the road, so to speak.  I could easily divide “a deliberate life” into multiple categories, but my vision is still a bit foggy so I’m going to keep things simple.   I see a person who’s living a deliberate life as someone who is highly focused and in control of her thoughts and actions.  She easily gets out of bed each morning ready to start her day and she knows what she wants to accomplish.   She sets out her key actions for the day and starts working on those things as soon as possible. While she is working on her most important tasks, she doesn’t allow herself to become distracted by urgent but not important stimuli such as email and social media.   She knows what she wants to get done and she does those things, plain and simple.

A person living a deliberate life is in control of the information that she allows to enter her consciousness.  She has taken the time to consider what’s most important to her and she filters everything else out as much as possible.   She controls her day rather than her day controlling her.  At the end of each day, she feels proud of herself for what she has accomplished. She also has a balanced life.  She is not “all work and no play,” but she’s also not “all play and very little work.” She loves to have fun, but she has a clear delineation between work time and play time.   Because she focuses on what needs to get done during her work hours, she is more able to enjoy her down time, as she is free of guilt and negative feelings toward herself.

Not a Utopian Vision

I realize that no one is perfect and I’m not looking to fulfill upon a utopian vision for how I should live my life.   However, I am ready to move on from the chaotic, unfocused, and unreliable (to myself anyway) way of being that has been my modus operandi.  I want to feel proud of myself far more often than I do today.  I also want to feel a stronger sense of peace and calm and, yes, the joy that was my aim during 2014.   I’m not entirely sure how I will reach the vision that I outlined above, but I believe that being deliberate will be a strong guiding light on my way toward the flow that I originally selected as my 2015 touchstone.

I will periodically write about how my focus on being deliberate is impacting my life – and my wardrobe – this year.  I will also share my challenges in this regard, as writing about my struggles always seems to help me find a way out.   I’m also delighted that my journey has been able to inspire others along the way and I hope that continues to be the case.   I’m excited to see how “deliberate” can help me improve my life this year and beyond!

Your Thoughts?

Now it’s your turn to share.

  • Have you selected a word/theme for 2015?
  • If so, what is it and why did you choose it?
  • What are your thoughts on deliberate shopping, wardrobes, and living?
  • What has helped you to be more deliberate and intentional in your actions and with your life at large?

I welcome your insights on all of these topics!

60 thoughts on “Being Deliberate with Our Wardrobes and in Our Lives

  1. Mary Beth says:

    Arrrrrgh… I had a whole reply typed up on my iPad… and my crazy typing index finger got all ahead of itself and I wound up losing the entirety of my response… let me see if I can recapture the essence:

    First of all… what a great piece you have written here! I expected to finish thing thinking all about my wardrobe, and instead.. I am thinking about my life – because I realized, reading your words, that it tied into an epiphany I had about my own self, and my habits, about a week ago. I am planning to write more at length about that, on my blog.

    I think many of your readers come here because this is a style blog. And yet… you really don’t have a style blog anymore, Debbie. This is a *lifestyle* blog. 🙂 But we already knew that, right?

    To answer your questions:

    I love the word”deliberate”, and considered it for myself – but there was another, two-word phrase, that has been clamoring for my attention: “Deep Work”. (“Deliberate” would be a subset of this phrase, as would “Specificity”). I stumbled across Cal Newport’s blog last July, and I got a taste, throughout the late summer into early winter, of what I could really accomplish with a Deep Work mindset – a mindset where I deliberately tune out distractions: Internet browser tabs. Email. Social Media.

    I allowed myself to be side-tracked over the holidays, and have been working to bring my own, rebellious, lazy-minded-self back to the table. “Deep Work” is going to get me there. I have already found myself amazed at how much work I actually get done with this type of mindset.

    With regards to deliberate shopping, wardrobes, and living… this type of thinking has already had a huge impact – when I stay focused – because my mind and body are occupied – and I am not reverting to shopping or accumulating or obsessing over my wardrobe out of boredom, or procrastination, or distraction. I simply get on with the task of getting dressed and moving ahead with my day. Deliberation is a matter of choice, and it has been very refreshing to *choose* to do other, more rewarding things with my energy, time, and money. But make no mistake, my lazy-minded-self is always trying to sidetrack me. 😀

    So I guess that really sums it up (if you can call a five-paragraph comment a ‘summary’).

    Y’all don’t want to know how long-winded my previous, lost reply was… 😀

    1. Mary Beth says:

      (and note to self, proof-read before hitting ‘post’ next time. Random ‘thing’s everywhere 😀 )

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      Sorry you lost your original reply, Mary Beth, but I’m glad you took the time to write again. I love the phrase “Deep Work” as the theme for your year! We seem to struggle with some of the same challenges, but I believe that our words/themes for the year will help us to overcome some of those issues. I agree that being deliberate is a choice, as is being lazy-minded. I know I am much happier when I am deliberate. Best of luck to you!

  2. Alice says:

    What an impressive piece of writing – a post I will return to, and I will gladly join you in your journey. I wasted a lot of last year, not in a way that others would notice, but your phrase ‘unreliable to myself’ struck a chord. I know that all the little ‘breaks’ when I wander round sites on the internet etc are simply an avoidance tactic, and I am also aware I have some difficult challenges this year, so I need to develop much better methods of handling stress, and of feeling rewarded. I had picked the phrase ‘an honest days work’ as a theme.
    I look forward to your future posts on this topic!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you liked the post, Alice. Yes, “unreliable to myself” rings very true for me, as I rarely keep the promises I make to myself. I originally wrote a less flattering phrase, but I didn’t want to be too harsh on myself. I think that most of us have avoidance tactics we use. Now that I’m not shopping (or browsing online) as much, I am noticing some of my other ones a lot more. I agree that better methods for handing stress and rewarding ourselves are needed. I like your theme for the year and I wish you the best with it!

  3. Jessica says:

    Wow Debbie, what a powerful thought provoking post. I too get very easily distracted. I have already been wasting about 45 minutes watching You Tube videos, while I want to go grocery shopping. I need to turn things around, although I don’t really know how. I am very curious about your progress, good luck!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m not sure how I’m going to turn it around, either, Jessica, but I think that setting the intention to do so is an important first step. I will see how it all evolves and of course I will write about it. I often wonder how much I could get done if I didn’t get distracted every 5 minutes most of the time!

  4. Mo says:

    Yes. Very much yes. This, the distraction from direction. I am trying to take a lot in stride but definitely am left with trying to guide my life now that I’m in better control of my closet.
    My most recent post is about struggling with my goal for this year. I vacillate between using the terms moderation and balance. I don’t think the exact word matters so much as the intent. To fill my days productively and in a fulfilling way by practicing moderation in all aspects. One thing we both are experiencing I think is that once the big time suck of obsessing with shopping gets handled, you are left facing what that was masking. It’s daunting. But kind of exciting, too. I have to stop and tell myself I am the architect of my life. If there is something I wish I were doing instead or somehow feel it’s lacking, that’s fully within my power to change. Awareness isn’t the same as action, though. But it’s a start. A very good start.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Moderation and balance are both great words, Mo, and I think I listed both of those words as possibilities to guide me this year, too. I agree that the exact word isn’t really what matters most and we shouldn’t agonize too much over it. Yes, we are both facing what shopping was masking in our lives and daunting is a great word for the resultant feelings. We ARE the architects of our lives and that is both scary and exciting. I hope that amazing things will unfold for both of us this year.

  5. meli22 says:

    I love Deliberate! That’s an excellent mantra for this year! I did notice one thing though dear Debbie- you’ve set yourself a very high bar with no real kindness to yourself or room for error. Please, be kind to yourself and always look at how far you’ve come rather than how much MORE you want to do! I know you’ll achieve even greater success this year, and the changes you have made are evident in everything you do. Just remember that you ARE human and do NOT need to be a super hero- in fact, I think we all love you because you are so much like us rather than an super hero 🙂

    I chose Focus and Growth for my words for 2015. They’re a lot like your word in that I want to focus on the things that are important to me and make the changes I want to make in my life. I want to grow personally, in my career/professionally but more importantly as a wife and mother, and as a human being.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I love your words for the year, Meli. Growth is one of my highest values and focus is a word I considered choosing for this year, too. I wish you the very best of luck with the changes you want to make in your life. I look forward to seeing how it all unfolds for you.

      You’re right that I tend to set a very high bar for myself and that I’m not very nice to myself. This has long been a battle for me and I think that my compulsive behavior has often been a way for me to nurture myself (albeit in a counterproductive manner) because I didn’t really do so otherwise. I know that I am only human and will always make some mistakes. I just would like to stand in my integrity and honor my commitments to myself better. I don’t need to be perfect, but I would like to be more honorable, if that makes sense. But thanks for the reminder to treat myself more with the kindness I show toward others.

  6. Holly says:

    Debbie, thank you for the thought provoking post. I tend to rationalize time wasted online as self-care and important ME time. It is only to a point, and then it’s just wasted time. Perhaps if I am more deliberate about my overall wellness I will be less inclined to get sucked into the cyber vortex? That might be an interesting way to redirect my energy. Just musing.

    I do a word each year too. Flow was my word for 2014. I had no idea when I chose it how much I would need it. Last year was full of twists and turns in all areas of my life. I found that by focusing on the idea of Flow (in a deliberate way :)) I was able to retain my sense of self and purpose and weather the storms, even finding little joys along the way. My word for 2015 is Evolve. I did some pragmatic evolving in 2014 (wardrobe management, my overall style vibe, dealing with toxic workplace issues, giving up non-nurturing activities, etc.) but I know I need to be ready for more. I am facing a major life change this year but need to remain open to areas of opportunity to Evolve, personally, professionally, spiritually, artistically, etc.

    1. Sarah E says:

      I hear you on toxic workplace issues! For so long we just complain and put up with it instead of acting. Well, I am finally taking steps to wrap up my current projects and take the steps to find a more suitable work environment. (I have a second interview next week!) We spend so much of our time at work- it should be rewarding at least, if not enjoyable. Ain’t nobody got time for work drama!

      1. Holly says:

        Sarah, I hope the job interview goes well and you are able to find a better working environment. Sending good energy!

        1. Sarah E says:

          Thank you Holly. The phone interview went very well so I am hopeful.

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      I really love reading about other people’s words and why they chose them. Evolve is another excellent theme, Holly, and I know that I would have done very well to have selected that one, too. I hope that you will evolve powerfully and beautifully in all areas of your life! About spending time online, I rationalize it, too, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking a bit of downtime to decompress that way. I just want to be more deliberate about it 🙂 I agree that if we are more deliberate about our well-being, we won’t need to get sucked into the cyber vortex (love that term!).

      Sarah, I wish you the best of luck with finding a better work environment. I have been in toxic workplaces, too, and it’s very draining. I hope the job hunt goes well and that you have something you love very soon!

  7. Terra says:

    Debbie, spot on. Outstanding topic, excellent writing. My journey, which has more to do with unexpected transitions and life changes, has taught me to live an intentional life. Deliberate, purposeful, purposive, done on purpose, rare witting, and being open to the unexpected changes and unplanned things that will take place, whether it is deliberate and intentional on my part, or not.

    1. Terra says:

      My word for 2015 – grace. I chose it a few weeks ago at a woman’s group gathering I attended, when we were all asked to select a word for the year. Love the serendipity. Though I don’t believe in coincidence, just that everything connects and somehow that gathering and this one here does connect.

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Terra. It always means a lot to me when a successful writer like you compliments my work. I love the word “grace” for you and the way you chose it. I also believe that everything connects. I look forward to seeing how grace evolves in your life this year !

  8. Julie says:

    Hi Debbie, very interesting post! It kind of funny as my 3-adjectives for 2015 are “Alive, Responsible, and Grateful”. So I guess these are like decomposing being deliberate in 3 words! So every time I do something or want to get into a situation I ask myself; does this situation will result in me feeling/being more alive? What can I do about this situation to feel/be more responsible (for my live, those I love, etc.) and how can I be more grateful about this situation… So I guess I’ve decided to apply more dedication to my live and what is happening around me. And like you, I feel this may be very powerful to choose/create the life I want. Thank you for your sharing and helping words.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I love “alive, responsible, and grateful,” Julie! I agree that they add up to being more deliberate in life. I like the questions you are asking yourself and believe they will help you be more intentional in your life and thus happier and more fulfilled. I wish you all the best in 2015!

  9. Sarah E says:

    Debbie, I’ve been on the “deliberate” path for awhile but have not been able to put it so eloquently as you. We all fail along the way sometimes. I can totally relate to your “ADD” feeling. I think there are so many distractions these days that are easier to turn to, to soothe ourselves, rather than address the restlessness or unhappiness inside. There are so many books I want to read, but instead I find myself on Pinterest, Facebook, and reddit regularly. True, I do learn things there but it’s not the same. For me, if I think about it, I can often identify a stressor in my life that I am trying to escape through “shallow” or distracting pursuits. I think sometimes we are also afraid of success and will put off doing the actual work to go down that path, maybe because it is overwhelming.

    I don’t have a “word” for the year, but since I lost my job and last relationship and was forced to move towns, I have been on an ambitious path of self-improvement, and I’m definitely starting to see the results. I’ve been furthering my education, losing weight, addressing health problems, getting my teeth straightened (finally), growing out my hair, improving my skincare and beauty routine, saving money and paying off debts, and doing a lot of introspection about past failures- not to mention building a workable wardrobe and minimalizing other possessions! It has been a whirlwind to say the least, but I am looking at it as my couple years of “sabbatical” before I get back out there and start dating again. I’m so happy to be able to come here and discuss it with people who are going through similar things, at least with their clothes!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Wow, you have really done a lot of self-improvement as of late, Sarah. Good for you! I’m impressed with all you’ve been able to do. Sometimes it’s after big losses or disappointments that we have the most growth in our lives. I SO agree with everything you wrote in your first paragraph. I think I do a lot of things to try to soothe myself and my shopping was a lot about that, too. It’s really difficult to address the restlessness and unhappiness inside. I am dissatisfied with lots of aspects of my life, but I don’t know what to do to change things. I feel like I’m in limbo land because of my health issues. I can’t plan far ahead and am forced to just live day by day. It’s not bad to live in the moment and it’s often recommended, but if I were asked “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” (or even one year), I just don’t know. I like that I have this blog as a forum to explore these types of issues and I’m happy that others enjoy reading my musings. I know I write mostly about wardrobe issues here – and those can be very challenging, but the major elephant in the room of my life is not that. I have a lot of work to do on myself and my life, but writing posts on this life help to open things up for me. I think if I am more deliberate with my actions and in my days, the answers will probably come eventually. I wish you more and more wonderful changes and growth in your life!

      1. Sarah E says:

        Your comment about 5 year plans really rings true to me. I always have trouble answering this in job interviews (which I’m doing again lately… ugh) and I think my answer is often unpopular. I don’t necessarily believe you can plan that far ahead, so I usually try to find a creative way to say that I believe in being prepared and then jumping on the right opporunities when they come along.

        I can also totally understand your frustration with health issues. I spent the majority of my 20s feeling the way you do, with the requisite depression that goes along with it. I’m happy to be back on the upswing (way way up from where I was!) but there’s still a lot to improve on. What you wrote in another comment about the need to nurture yourself also resonated– I have finally started learning that this is a very REAL need, and one my past therapists have pushed me to address. I’ve started allowing myself to take 20 minutes to do a mud mask, or plan extra time to sleep in on Saturdays without feeling guilty. Or more advanced – getting toxic people out of your life and not internalizing negativity from others (this one was really, really hard!). It can be really difficult to start doing these things, but once you forgive yourself for just one of them, you get hooked. Self care is such an important skill, I think they should teach it in all high schools! I know a lot of adults who have not mastered it.

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          I like your answer to the 5 year question and agree that we can’t always plan so far ahead. I’m glad that you are on the upswing with your health and hope to be able to report something similar before too long. I agree that self-care should be taught in school and that removing toxic people from our lives is of paramount importance. While I lament that I don’t have many in-person friends at present, at least I don’t have the chaos of emotional vampires draining my energy. I’d rather be alone that with negative, narcissistic, and destructive people!

  10. Tonya says:

    Debbie, I think that deliberate is a great word for this year. I can relate to much of what you wrote. Being unreliable to myself, foggy,and distracted are all things that I struggle with.

    Last year I forgot what I chose for a word. Basically I was looking to fill my time with painting, traveling, and other creative things rather than shopping. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was hoping to bypass what had me engaging in compulsive and unhealthy behaviors by distracting myself with other things. Of course it didn’t work. It was like trying to paint the walls before you built the house. With that in mind this year I chose consistency for my word. I tend to do things to extremes. I will sleep 3 hours one night and 12 the next. I’ll spend 10 house doing all my housework,laundry, bills, etc. in one day and do nothing for the next 3. Right now I feel like I need to become more balanced and consistent in my life and what’s in it right now before I look to add new things.

    I’ve started doing “progressive resolutions”. Each month I’m looking to keep adding a few things in that I want to change. In January I started with having a set time to go to sleep and wake up and also to eat three healthy meals a day. I did well for a while and then fell off the wagon. I know from past experience that making changes is often a slow process with one step forward and two back. I’m okay having to keep pushing the reset button.

    I also plan to continue the work that I started last year in dealing with painful things and unhealthy relationships that caused me to use shopping and other destructive behaviors as a way of avoiding them.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I can so relate to what you wrote about consistency, Tonya. I am the same way! I have some very productive days and days that I may as well have stayed in bed or sat in front of the TV eating bon-bons (which is what a lot of people think those of us without “real jobs” do anyway). I think consistency is a great word for you for this year! I also like the progressive resolution idea and agree that it can take a few (or more) tries to make certain life changes. I’ve been trying to implement the regular sleep/wake habit for a long time, but I’m going to try again, as I do much better when I have a routine in my life. Your last paragraph speaks to what I need to do as well. I am doing much better with my shopping, but I don’t want to adopt yet another destructive habit to avoid dealing with the real inner work I need to do. It’s scary to delve deep and deal with inner issues, but it’s really necessary.

  11. Terra says:

    Tonya, this is a wonderful suggestion. Doing “progressive resolutions” and each month looking to keep adding a few things I want to change. I will join you, along with reminding myself to be kind to myself each time I need to push my reset button. Everything with me is one step forward and two (or nine or ten) steps falling back. And sometimes there are the glorious days when I leap ahead three or four steps ahead.

    Debbie, for me what works is to set my goals fairly high (like you do) and “do the best I can” each day, and never, never , never, keep track of how many times I miss my mark. Just keep doing the best I can every day. And (very important) I take a whole day off from time to time, to putter, daydream, stare out the window. I don’t even read or write on those days. And those fallow days give me a lot of go-power and help me feel renewed and refreshed.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I can relate to the one step forward and two, nine, or ten steps back, Terra! I think you are wise to do the best you can and not keep score. I need to do that, as I have a tendency to really beat myself up for what I didn’t do. I like the idea of taking a full day off, too. It’s a way to be more deliberate about down time and it’s something I should do. The only time I really do that now is when I have concrete plans, but why not make plans with myself sometimes? I think that part of what I always liked about shopping was that is was a way to get away. It felt like an “escape” and a way of nurturing myself, but of course there were associated problems. I need to find other ways to escape and nurture myself that don’t involve over-consumption that just has me feeling lousy afterwards.

      1. Terra says:

        Though now that you are writing professionally Debbie, I think you will need to begin measuring your days accomplishments differently. From what you wrote it sounds like you are wanting to wear your editors hat all day long. This makes sense to me that you are wanting to keep yourself narrowed and controlled since you are writing detailed nonfiction articles and blog posts that require your mind to think in a left brain editors mode. Still, your creative side must be allowed to romp. It will permit you to accomplish even more than it would if you were to keep to a conservative rigid schedule. And if you don’t give your creative-girl self ample time to let loose she will become a constant nag. Then you have this tug of war between your editor self who cracks the whips, and the kinder, creative part of yourself who begs for mercy, and if you don’t give it to her she will become unruly and will rebel, and may even tempt you to shop or eat bad things or waste time on the internet. At least this is true for me, and it is true for every single good writer I know. It’s probably true for most women, whether they write or not.

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          You made some really great points here, Terra. What you wrote made me think of a post I did years ago on a previous blog, “The Tyranny of Shoulds” (now archived on my other website: I have long battled between what I term as the “Warden” and the “Unruly Child,” but I like the terms you use better. Perhaps if I reframe things to consider the Editor and the Creative Girl, I will rebel less against either one of them. You’re right in that they are both necessary parts of me and that I need to nurture and allow both of them in order to be happy. Thanks so much for sharing this with me today!

  12. Maddie says:

    After giving it some thought, I’ve decided that my word for 2015 will be MINDFUL. I want to be mindful of: my spending (particularly on clothes), what I eat, and how and with whom I spend my time.

    I work full-time in an office and have a long commute, so my off-hours are precious. I keep up with a couple of newspapers daily and several magazines, but rarely do I sit down to read a book. I get caught up in a TV show, or talking to someone on the phone, or being on the computer, or doing household chores, and then the evening has gotten away from me. And then I feel guilty for not doing what I intended to do (read a book). I want to change this behavior.

    Thanks to your blog, I have become more aware of my clothing needs and wants. As a result, I am shopping less and spending less. However, I still have the desire to have new clothes, although the idea of actually shopping for them and trying them on doesn’t excite me. I realize that I don’t have to be a fashion plate in my small office and that no one really cares if I wear the same pair of pants twice a week, or the same top once every two weeks. I used to spend a lot of time, energy and money on my wardrobe, and now it just doesn’t seem all that important.

    A big challenge I’m facing is my 50-year-old changing body. At 5’7″, I’ve always been slim (not skinny). I’ve gradually put on 20 pounds since my mid-40s and it’s hard to deal with. I eat a fairly healthy diet, but I know I need to be better about portion control and exercise. So, that’s where my word (MINDFUL) comes into play.

    Thank you for your thought-provoking post, Debbie.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad this post was helpful to you, Maddie, and I love your word for 2015. Mindful is actually in the same realm as deliberate and I probably would have done very well with that word, too. I can relate to what you wrote about the evening getting away from you. I feel that way about many of my days and evenings and it leads me to feel bad about myself. Hopefully we will both be able to change our behavior through the power of our themes for the year. Like you, I am no longer as excited about shopping. I was in the mall last weekend looking for a few things and I ended up feeling like I didn’t really want to be there. Not that I think I’m fully recovered yet, but that was a good sign. I think the same is probably true for you. The changing body issue can be very challenging. I have found that my shape has changed somewhat as of late, too (I’m 48), and I can’t wear some of the styles as well as I used to be able to. It’s definitely an adjustment, but hopefully being mindful/deliberate will help both of us to cope better. I wish you all the best!

  13. Deborah (Deby) says:

    I have had aimless days like you describe and they become maddening to me after a few hours. As a rule I am someone who lives with a great deal deliberation out of preference as well necessity. I become impatient with too much leisure, and my life requires me to perform daily in the arenas of home and work. Despite this, if left to my own devices, it is easy for me to fritter and flit from one thing to another in a stream of consciousness kind of way. Fortunately, I have found a technique that helps me stay on track.

    I keep a notebook that I carry with me throughout the day, like a best friend. After experimenting with a number of styles, I’ve settled on a half-page size hard bound notebook with removable dividers and refillable pages modeled after a traditional spiral bound notebook. (Staples carries these little hardbound books with a variety of fillers.) The inside front cover has a pocket to tuck in business cards and other things. My notebook has three sections: the first is for work projects relating to my job, the second section is for things I am personally working on long term as well as shopping lists and budget notes. The third section is for my daily pages.

    The first thing I do in the morning is sit down with a cup of tea and create my daily page. My daily page has different sections relating to the different responsibilities of the day: Admin/Errands (property management, banking, errands that need to be done that day), Work Projects (what I need to accomplish in my “real” job), House (what needs to be done in terms of laundry, cleaning, etc to keep on schedule), and Me (what I want to do to benefit myself like journaling, mani/pedis, etc.). I often factor in time to have lunch with friends during the Admin/Errands time section.

    I find this technique has given me a rather well rounded view of time, hence a well rounded life. Because I can see the big picture every day, I can tinker it as needed to suit the demands of the day and never lose sight of anything. To help me further, I write in different colored inks, as well as I always cross off a task with a highlighter when I am finished. Seeing a page full of highlighted lines at the end of the day gives me a sense of accomplishment!

    1. Mo says:

      This reminds me that I made myself a fridge magnet calendar a good 10 years ago. It has 3 categories – fitness fun, to-do tasks, reward/rest. I find if I hit each category regularly I feel more content in general.

      1. Debbie Roes says:

        The link doesn’t work, Mo, but I love the concept. I think I’d like a fridge calendar magnet like what you have. I like that your categories are balanced and include both fun and rest!

        1. Mo says:

          Whoops. Might work now. Anyway, I took a basic calendar and then gathered a bunch of clip art and printed them up on magnetic paper. Love my MOtionivator 😉

        2. Debbie Roes says:

          Yes, that works now, Mo. Looks great! I love how you made it so visual and fun. The magnets are really cute 🙂

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing your daily pages method with us, Deby! I can see how it would help you stay more organized, focused, and deliberate in your activities. I often make “to-do lists” but they are usually more “jumbled” than what you describe, in that all of my activities are mixed in with each other instead of being separated out. I like the idea of using different color inks for the different types of activities. I’m very visually oriented and I think this would make it seem more fun for me.

      I have one question for you, though. Do you feel bad if you don’t get everything on your list done? And do you transfer things that didn’t get done to the next day’s list? (okay, that was two questions…). When I write my lists, I often get discouraged when I’m not able to get everything done and I feel bad about myself as a result. But if I really think about it, I realize that I usually put more things on my list than ANYONE can get done in a given day. But I do know that if I am more deliberate in my actions, I will be able to get more done and feel more content about my days, like Mo mentioned.

      1. Deborah says:

        I often put things on the list that can’t be accomplished in the day. I then evaluate to see if there’s a better way to do it, or if I still really need to do it at all! If I still need to do it, I transfer it to the next day. It’s funny how sometimes things just work themselves out. For example: going to the grocery. Yesterday I had a few things on my list, but it wasn’t urgent. Then this afternoon, the pharmacy called to say mom’s Rx’s were ready. So it was more logical to go when I could accomplish more at the same place. It didn’t matter that I didn’t go yesterday. I try to maintain an attitude of flow in the midst of staying organized.

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          Thanks for clarifying this, Deby. I love the example that you gave and the fact that you don’t get too attached to when the items on your list get done. I agree that maintaining an attitude of flow is the best way to go. I need to relax my “control freak” nature a bit to cultivate such an attitude, though!

  14. Tara says:

    My word for 2015 is freedom. Freedom from compulsive behaviors, freedom from ADD internet addiction, and freedom from aspirational purchases that don’t reflect who I am and what I really want. It’s an ambitious goal, but I feel up to the challenge. I also want to lavish a lot of care on my body which I have been neglecting since I have been under an enormous amount of stress and anxiety for the past 3 years. I plan to do more exercising, eating simply, getting enough sleep and getting to know who my 49 year old self really is and what she truly wants to do with the rest of her life. I feel more hopeful and excited than I have in a long time, and peaceful about it too.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Another excellent word, Tara! I could have easily selected “freedom” as my word for the year, too. I think it’s great that you are emphasizing self-care, as it’s SO important and very often neglected, especially by women. We are almost the same age (I’m 48) and I’m also in a place of wanting to take better care of myself and discover what I want for the rest of my life. It’s so wonderful that you’re feeling so hopeful, excited, and peaceful! I hope you will share later in the year how it’s all going for you, perhaps when I do one of my updates. I wish you all the best in your year of freedom!

  15. EB says:

    What a terrific post, and very thought provoking. Many wonderful ‘words’ discussed here. For 2015 -my word is ‘elegance’. Elegance in all aspects of my life from how I look and dress each day, how I present myself to the world (not just visually), how I keep my home, how I interact with others etc. I have recognised that over the past decade or so, I had really ‘lost the plot’ as to who I was. Wearing make-up, styling my hair and ensuring my clothing choices each day is up to scratch (for ME – not to impress anyone else), and any new clothing purchases are both elegant and necessary. Even though we are only in February, I have made several quality purchases which I believe will help me achieve my goal. I believe I now have enough of the right clothes (after a major closet purge) to get me through the year and beyond.

    Good luck with your ‘deliberate’ goals.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Sounds like you are really clear on what “elegance” means to you, EB, and are off to an excellent start in fulfilling that vision. I resonated with what you wrote about having “lost the plot” as to you were. I have often felt that way, too, and am working to rediscover myself and what I want now. Congratulations on the progress you have already made and best wishes on realizing “elegance” more in your life this year.

  16. Kayla says:

    Debbie, I like your theme for the year very much. I hadn’t given any thought to one for myself, but after some deliberation after reading your post, I’ve decided on “purpose”. I really feel like lost purpose and identity since quitting my job to have kids and be a SAHM six years ago. My youngest starts kinder this spring, and I will finally have some time to do something not related to kids and family. I don’t know yet whether it will be pursuing further paid work in addition to the small amount I do now, or some kind of professional development or even a hobby or class. But I don’t want to look back and regret wasting valuable time. On a daily basis, “purpose” will mean being organized and efficient with chores so that I have time to devote to whatever it is I decide to do, and, of course, not wasting my time on the Internet!
    Just putting this in writing

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m so glad that my post prompted you to choose a word for this year, Kayla. I think you’ll find that it helps you a great deal and I hope you’ll report back to let us know how it’s all going for you. Purpose is an excellent word and one that I considered for myself! I felt like I lost purpose for a long time for a variety of reasons. I have more purpose now with this blog and my writing in general, but I need more personal purpose as well. I also don’t want to regret wasting valuable time! I wish you the best of luck with being more purposeful this year. I think you’re off to a great start by putting it all out there!

  17. dottie says:

    Great post. I would say that I am very focused when I shop: I work from an annual spending/wardrobe update plan; I have very specific parameters in which I shop (color palette, style, fabrication, price point, return policy, etc.); and I don’t trawl the clearance rack or otherwise digress from my very focused game plan. I don’t buy stuff that has to be extensively altered or dry cleaned ( special occasion or stuff like winter coats I exempt from this embargo). Or ironed!! I guess I could say that I am deliberate when I shop, but then I work very hard at being focused and thoughtful in all aspects of my life. The unexamined life is not worth living.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      The way you shop is very smart, Dottie. I am getting there and feel much better about myself and my wardrobe as a result. You’re wise not to trawl the clearance rack or digress from your focused shopping game plan. We all do much better with our shopping when we avoid such things. I agree with you that the unexamined life is not worth living, but I think that far too many people never stop to examine their lives. They are afraid of what they may learn and that they will have to change. But change can often result in increased happiness and fulfillment, so I don’t fear it. I’m not always sure of what to do, but if I keep thinking about it and writing about it, clarity usually comes in time.

  18. TexasAggieMom says:

    I am so thankful that your blog continues to encourage me to improve my life by being more mindful, rather than by shopping. Choosing one word to guide me in the new year is a new concept, and I’ll have to ponder that for a while; the first ones that came to mind were not positive enough, so I’ll work on finding one that is aspirational, yet achievable.

    While I’m pondering theme words for 2015, I want to report on my recent conference wardrobe experience, since so many on this site provided such helpful input. I did buy one new piece on sale that helped me tie everything together – a black ponte knit blazer from Express. My other key pieces were a pair of black jeans in more of a twill than denim fabric, a striped ponte knit dress from Old Navy that looked ten times more expensive than what I paid for it, and a LOFT Lou & Grey striped knit jacket. I stuck with black and ivory for my primary pieces, and added some blush pink and cobalt blue for variety. Important things I learned as the conference progressed: You may end up sitting on the floor in crowded breakout sessions, so skirts need to be long enough to accommodate graceful floor sitting. Some rooms are blazing hot while some are freezing – layers are your friend. Most women wear casual dresses or skirts with tights, flats and jackets/cardigans – some combination of those pieces will work well. Most disappointing: The scarves and long necklaces I favor don’t play well with the required name badge pouch.

    With the exception of one day when I was too cold, I really liked all my outfits and will definitely be giving them space in my LIWI closet section. It really helped to pretend I was actually traveling out of town and that my items needed to be multi-functional and mix well together. (I was actually commuting from home and had my entire closet at my disposal, but this helped me focus.) Feeling like each outfit was an “8” or higher really helped boost my confidence – thanks to all of you who sent suggestions and encouragement!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you reported back on how the conference went for you, TexasAggieMom. Sounds like it went well and you learned some great tips on how to dress for future conferences. I’m glad you were able to get some helpful advice from fellow readers! I hope you come up with an empowering word for 2015. Try not to over-think it too much. I ended up changing my word about a week into the year, which was totally okay. It’s really just for you anyway, but it can be an easy and fun way to further your goals without having to get too analytical about it (which I can tend to do – this is a welcome break!).

  19. Carolyn says:

    I have been a lot more deliberate in the past 18 months than ever before when it comes to wardrobe and shopping.
    I used to be random and I had a closet to prove it – random clothes in every conceivable color.
    For one thing, I can no longer afford to be random. I need to be deliberate financially. I’ve wasted too much money in the past on buying stupid clothes. Money better spent on travel and going out.
    Secondly, time. It’s a waste of time to be constantly focussed on what clothes are in my closet and going out looking for more and then returning half of what I’ve bought. Time wasted standing in front of an overstuffed closet and still taking ages to find something to wear and still not being happy.
    Being deliberate has meant spending time analyzing myself – why I was a shopaholic – and changing it.
    Being deliberate has meant not buying into the lure of cheap, rubbish clothing that is tossed quickly and creates waste.
    The more I practice being deliberate in everything I purchase the easier it gets and the more satisfying it becomes.

    1. TexasAggieMom says:

      Carolyn, thanks for this insightful comment, which resonated deeply with me. I just realized my theme word for the past several years must have been “random,” even though it’s not one I consciously chose. “I can no longer afford to be random” – what a great mantra for the new year! I’m going to print it in large block letters and slap it in the middle of the bulletin board I’ve added to my closet for daily inspiration. Even if it’s not a single word, I’m claiming this thought until I can boil it down to a more succinct word. Thanks for helping me gain some clarity on my “closet problem,” which in truth, is much more of a “life problem.”

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      I could really resonate with what you wrote, Carolyn. I have wasted more money and time on “stupid clothes” than I want to think about! The important thing is that we are turning it around now. You have made tremendous progress and I’m sure you’ll continue to do so this year. What you wrote about being deliberate is really good. I agree that the more we practice being deliberate, the easier it will get and the more satisfying it will become. And to TexasAggieMom, yes our closet problems generally ARE life problems. You’ve probably heard the expression, “How you do one thing is how you do everything.” It may not be true for everyone, but it has been true for me. I haven’t been deliberate enough in pretty much any area of my life. But we can turn these things around – and be happier as a result!

  20. Jen says:

    This is a great post, by the way I don’t think I’ve ever commented before but I love your blog Debbie, love all the detail!

    I do ‘The Year Of’ every year, this year it’s ‘The Year Of Interacting’. I love de-cluttering and minimalism and have been paring down for the last couple of years but I’ve become a bit of a de-clutter-aholic, using minimalism goals and ideas as a way of taking the focus off what is really missing from my life (the same way you’ve described about your shopping in the past).

    The core is I’m 33 and live alone and want to meet someone, fall in love and have kids. While I know 33 is definitely not too late for that to happen and to a certain degree ‘it’ll happen when it happens’ it’s also true that by attending a book club or trying online dating it might happen, staying in every Friday to re-arrange my wardrobe yet again it can’t :). So I’m making sure this year that all my goals, how I spend my money, spend my time etc are focused on what I REALLY want.

    It’s weird, for ages I thought I was drifting because I didn’t really know what I wanted but actually I did know exactly what it was, I was just scared to acknowledge or focus on it because whether it happens or doesn’t happen or how it happens is all so unpredictable and scary. And giving myself a new wardrobe goal is so much safer and easier to control:)

    Thank you to you and all the bloggers (and commenters) out there who write about life in all it’s detail, it always opens my eyes in such amazing ways

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, Jen! I love the idea of the year of interacting. I agree that minimalism and decluttering can sometimes be used as a way to take the focus away from things that are missing in our lives. I did that with overshopping and I’ve done it with decluttering and overly focusing on my wardrobe management. I need to work more on interacting with others, too. While I am married, most of my other connections with people are online. I love my online interactions, but I want to have more face-to-face time with people. I wish you the very best of luck with your theme for this year and in finding someone to share your life with. In the meantime, have fun attending book clubs and other such events and with the online dating!

  21. Lisa says:

    I haven’t picked a word or theme for 2015 yet, but this post gives me something to think about. Deliberate is a great choice and will work well for various areas in one’s life.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you liked the post, Lisa, and I highly recommend having a yearly word/theme. I’m very happy with “deliberate” as mine and I look forward to seeing how it influences both my wardrobe and my life at large this year.

  22. FrugalFashionista says:

    I think my word for this year will be ‘focus’. I totally get the multitasking / switch-tasking that you describe. I can recommend the Headspace app – daily short meditation is my new thing this year and it seems really to help with staying focused! Haven’t bought a thing yet this year…

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Good to hear from you, FrugalFashionista, and I love your word for the year! I actually considered having “focus” be my word, too, and it will certainly be part of my being more deliberate. Thanks for the recommendation of the Headspace app. I will check it out. Congrats on not buying anything yet this year – that is quite impressive!

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