My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m not happy with how infrequently I have been posting on this blog in recent months. I’ve wracked my brain for a long time to try to figure out what has stood in my way of blogging more regularly. It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about. After all, I have written numerous articles on various topics since I started Full Life Reflections, including intentional living, relationships, technology, self-esteem, and wardrobe management. I thought that maybe I was just experiencing writer’s block, but I recently came to understand that my issue runs a lot deeper than that.

In today’s post, I share the two primary reasons why I haven’t been blogging very often. I then delve deeper into one of those reasons, as it has also been standing in the way of my living a more fulfilling life. I suspect that many of you may also struggle with the same issue, so perhaps we can help each other to make some headway in pushing past it. Most of us connected with each other because we struggled on some level with shopping too much, having too many clothes in our closets, or not being happy with the way we dress (or perhaps a combination of all of these things!). But while such clothing challenges can be difficult and need to be addressed, they often serve to mask or distract us from deeper life concerns. It can be a lot easier to focus on what’s wrong with our closets instead of what’s missing from our lives. I have done just that for many years, but I don’t want to do it anymore, which is a big reason why I started this blog back in January 2018.

Blogging frustration

I’ve been frustrated about my not blogging, but now I better understand why…

My First Reason for Not Posting

When I post here, I want to share things that I feel will be of value to readers. Sometimes this goal lines up with what’s most on my mind and sometimes it doesn’t. At times, what I’m thinking about most often is not something that I want to write about, primarily because I don’t feel that I’ll be able to share useful information with you. While I always want to be real and honest here, I don’t want to be a “Debbie Downer” or a “Negative Nancy” and just bitch and moan about all of the things that are bothering me. I feel that it’s okay for me to share my discontent (that’s part of being real and honest), but I want to combine that with offering useful tips or “nuggets” of information that can help you to improve your lives. When I don’t feel that I can do the latter, that’s when I hold back from posting.

I know that I don’t have to have all of the answers, but I would like to at least be able to offer some potential solutions for you. But when I look back at the posts that I’ve written, I’m reminded that sometimes what I’ve done is summarize and simplify insights and suggestions that others have written. Here are a few examples of posts in which I’ve done just that:

I realize that synthesizing information is one of my gifts and the above posts are some of the ones that I have been most proud of. While I like to share my own concepts on the blog, I also enjoy bringing my favorite ideas from others to your attention – and offering my thoughts on how those insights have impacted my life. I see this blog as continuing to be a combination of these two types of posts.

My Second Reason for Not Posting

Besides what I have shared above, there’s another compelling reason why I haven’t been posting. I’ve also been dealing with poor time management, which has gotten in the way of my being productive in all areas of my life. Although I believe that I should be able to get many things done each day and week, my reality has looked a lot different from that. My productivity has been absolutely abysmal and that has affected my morale and self-esteem.

I’ve tried to turn this around numerous times, but it continues to be a big problem for me. I may have a day or two here and there on which I get going and get a lot done, but this has been more the exception than the rule. I’ve been feeling increasingly demoralized because this is not how I want to be living my life. While I’m grateful for the level of freedom I have, I think there can be such a thing as too much freedom such that it can start to feel like a prison of sorts. Of course, this prison is of my own making and I’m the only one who can engineer my escape from my jail of poor time management and inertia.

If one were to look at my desk and planner, they probably wouldn’t think they belong to a person who struggles with time management. I always have multiple projects going on and I maintain a lengthy to-do list at all times. But perhaps this is part of the problem, as it’s not about getting a lot of things done; it’s about getting the right things done. I wrote about the importance of efficacy over efficiency back in March 2018, yet I have failed to heed my own good advice (well, actually it was advice from Tim Ferriss that I summarized and shared my thoughts about).

The “Just One Thing” Approach

Fortunately, I stumbled upon a YouTube video today that just may hold the secret (or at least one secret) to solving my time management woes. This video (which came up as a “suggested” video) was from The Minimal Mom, who creates videos about family minimalism. The Minimal Mom’s advice is similar to that of Tim Ferriss, but it’s even simpler, which I think I need right now. You can definitely watch the video yourselves, but I’ll summarize it here as a handy reference for those who want to try what The Minimal Mom suggests.

Many of us have lengthy to-do lists that can feel daunting for us. When we sit down to start working through our lists, we usually pick the easiest items so that we feel a sense of momentum in getting things done. We often keep pushing the more difficult or intimidating items (what Brian Tracy called the “frog” in his great time management book, Eat That Frog!) out to the end of the day, the next day, and so on.  When we do this, we frequently feel like we’re not good at managing our time and that we’re disorganized and even lazy, despite the fact that we’re getting lots of things done.

The problem is that many of us aren’t prioritizing things correctly. We feel busy and we’re checking multiple items off of our to-do lists, but we’re not tackling the most important tasks. This can create a low level of anxiety that permeates our days and gets in the way of our feeling productive. To avoid this feeling (which I have most of the time!), The Minimal Mom suggests that we ask ourselves the following question at the beginning of each day:

“If I could only do one thing today, which item on my list would make me feel accomplished and like I got something important done?”

When we answer this question, we have a singular focus to our day. When we do the item that we have identified as our “one thing,” we can feel like our day is a success even if we are interrupted and aren’t able to get anything else done. We will have at least accomplished the most important item on our list. Sometimes this item doesn’t even take that long to do, either. We put things off for days and days and when we finally do them, we’re often surprised at how little time they actually take. The Minimal Mom mentioned a task that she put off for almost a week that only took her 45 minutes to complete. This type of example can apply to all of us.

The truth about to-do lists is that they are never-ending. They will never be complete because as soon as we check some items off, we will find others to add. Trying to finish our to-do lists is a “fool’s errand.” Our progress with a to-do list is not the barometer of a successful day, week, month, or year. Identifying our priorities and getting them done is a much better approach. When we get our “high impact” tasks out of the way, we feel better about ourselves and are generally more energized to tackle other projects that we’re not looking forward to.


After watching The Minimal Mom’s inspiring video, I selected “writing a blog post” as my one thing for today. This item had been hanging over my head since the beginning of last week, when I was hoping to publish a post. Because I continued to push this task (among others…) out, I experienced that low level of anxiety that was mentioned in the video. I felt unproductive and like a failure even though I was crossing lots of items off of my list. I built the task of writing a blog post up to more of a mountain than it actually was. Once I sat down to write the post, it took me just a couple of hours to get it done. I feel a sense of accomplishment and I’m happy that I was able to potentially add some value to your lives today with what I had to share.

I plan to continue using the “just one thing” approach at the beginning of each day. It’s simple yet powerful and I think it will make a big difference in my life. I’m hopeful that it will help me to get out of the rut in which I’ve found myself in recent months. I also plan to revisit the “essentials for happiness and peace” that I wrote about earlier this year in this post and this one. I probably set out to take on too many new practices when I wrote those posts, so I’m just going to select one practice to integrate into my life and then build from there.

As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so I can’t expect to figure everything out and get everything done super quickly, either. But I have more confidence now that I can accomplish the most important things and feel better about myself, and I’m grateful for that. While the YouTube “suggested videos” feature can be a major time sink, it served me well today.

Your Thoughts?

I hope you enjoyed this post and gained some value from it. I would love to read your thoughts on the “just one thing” approach, and I’d also love for you to share the time management ideas and practices that you’ve found most beneficial in your lives. I’ll be back soon to recap my “freedom” theme for the year and to share my theme for 2020, as well as other posts related to living a more fulfilling life. Wishing you peace and happiness this holiday season and always!

27 thoughts on “The “Just One Thing” Approach

  1. Tara C says:

    I’ve been doing this for quite a while, on the advice of my husband who retired three years before I did. He said what works best for him is to pick one thing to accomplish each day and do it in the morning. That way no matter what else happens, you can feel happy that your day wasn’t wasted.

    Every morning I make breakfast, do the dishes, make the bed, and walk the dog. I also try to schedule in a daily yoga class. If I have some other important task, I schedule that too, but I do not have a long list of things to do in general. My goal in life is not to be productive, it’s to enjoy my days.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Your husband sounds like a wise man, Tara, and he gave you some excellent advice. It can be exhausting to try to tackle a long list each day or week and it leads to feeling deflated rather than encouraged. Although you and I are the same age, it seems like you “saw the light” quite a bit before I did, but I’m glad I’m figuring things out now. I love what you wrote in your last sentence! I think I will be a much happier person if I set my primary goal for enjoying my days rather than checking a bunch of items off of a list or reaching someone else’s idea of “success.”

  2. Susan Loughnane says:

    You are speaking my language, yet again. I am actually reading the book “the One Thing” by Gary Keller. It was suggested to me by a business mentor. I make ridiculously detailed long to do lists and do find a sense of reward when I can check things off. BUT, sometimes the more important things get pushed aside. Today, I left my house and went to a co-working space to work on a client file that had been hanging over my head for months… My overshopping habit has been increased over the past few months and I spend too much time going back and doing returns. I look at my house and see clutter and stuff everywhere and it just depresses me. Consequently, my productivity also suffers. Thank you for being open and honest with your blog. Sometimes I think that everyone else has it figured out and I am just a slug. With Christmas coming up, I know I need to get the house decorated, tree up and all if it just seems overwhelming, especially at a time that my business is a tad busy. I keep telling myself that I need to just pick one thing each day to work on and hopefully, it will all get done before the holidays.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m intrigued by that book, Susan, and I’ll have to check it out. Sounds like you and I struggle in very similar ways. Good for you for getting the work on the client file done! I feel like you do about thinking I’m a “slug” when everyone else has it all together. I think feeling so down on myself and defeated contributes to my shopping issues, as I definitely want to try to “escape” from that feeling. I’m going to try this “just one thing” approach for at least the rest of the year and maybe as an ongoing process. I really think it can be revolutionary, but it’s hard for us perfectionist types to believe that we don’t have to tackle a huge list all of the time. As for Christmas, it’s supposed to be a joyous time of the year, but it can be tremendously stressful for many. I feel much better about it since I’ve lowered the bar in recent year. Maybe you don’t have to get it ALL done and can instead just identify what’s most important each day and tackle those things. Wishing you more peace and ease this holiday season!

  3. Tonya says:

    I think sometimes the “shoulds” can be paralyzing. Thinking about all you feel you should do can get in the way of doing anything. I have a similar approach. I know I feel awful if I don’t do anything all day so I try to do one important thing if there is one or a few smaller things. Accomplishing something always feels better. Most of the time it isn’t necessary for me to accomplish a ton every day anyway.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, the “shoulds” can be incredibly paralyzing, Tonya! Sometimes I think I just throw up my hands and basically say “F#$% it” because it’s all so overwhelming. I think that if I can’t “do it all,” then why bother, but that’s not very helpful. I think this “just one thing” approach will help me feel more accomplished and much calmer. Perfectionism dies hard, but like you, it’s not necessary for me to get a ton done each day. Here’s to a calmer approach in 2020!

  4. Katrina says:

    This is interesting, I haven’t watched the video yet but your explanation reminds me of a thing I used to do when I was in the most stressful times of my corporate work years. I never gave it a name, but if I did I might have called it “the worst thing.” Instead of going through each day with a low level of anxiety grinding away at me, I would look at that endless to-do list and find the thing I hated the most. It would be something that was causing me anger and anxiety because it was far outside my skill sets and comfort zone, but I would grit my teeth and do it first thing. If I was lucky, it could be accomplished with a few phone calls and I would be much more relaxed as I dealt with the other tasks of the day. But do you know it took me YEARS to figure that out?

    These days, I no longer have corporate culture or deranged management pressuring me to meet goals, but I still have my own demanding personality to deal with. I’m trying to be more flexible, and instead of a strict to-do list I now keep a rolling list and eventually get through everything. But there are dozens of things I don’t put on the list! These are things I can no longer do myself and can’t afford to pay someone else to do, like tree pruning and house painting. I guess this is a third kind of to-do list – one that I try to hide from myself (by not writing it down) but that still grows and causes anxiety because none of the items ever get done. I guess I need to think more about this!

    Your posts are always valuable. No matter what topic, you always have an interesting insight or viewpoint to share. Your struggles reflect our struggles, so you should not think that because you are having a difficult time, we won’t want to listen (read) or will be discouraged by your honesty. On the other hand, if the blog is taking up too much head space, please give yourself a break. I had a blog and I only lasted three years before inspiration dried up and it wasn’t fun anymore. It is very difficult to come up with material for interesting posts on a regular basis, and you put so much effort into research and writing for each essay that I could understand if it was becoming a burden. Remember it’s yours, you can do what you want. 🙂

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I always relate to what you share, Katrina. I love your “the worst thing” approach! So often we just let things hang over us for days (or weeks or months or even years) instead of just taking them on and conquering them. And often when we finally do the offending, ominous task, we think “THIS was what I was so worked up over?!” Even if it is as heinous as we imagined, it’s SO much better to just do it and get it over with. I’m sure you’re FAR from the only person who took years to figure this out (or many people KNOW what they should do but just can’t bring themselves to actually DO it – this is me most of the time…).

      I hear you on the “demanding personality,” as that’s me to a T. The “rolling to-do list” is a good idea. As for that third list, I’ve heard such a thing called a “someday list” or “the parking lot.” We can separate it from our main to-do list, as we’re not sure when we will have the bandwidth or the resources to get the items on it done (if ever). We’re able to capture the items so they don’t get lost, but they aren’t taking up as much head space (conceivably). Maybe the best way to approach this list is to pick one item per month or per quarter to tackle.

      I appreciate your kind words about my posts. I like blogging and I always feel good when I publish a post, especially if I feel it has a positive impact on others. I can allow my perfectionism to enter the blogging arena too much, which can be a problem. Since this isn’t my “job,” I should make sure it remains something that I enjoy (of course, ideally one would enjoy an actual job, too). Good reminder that my blog is mine and I can do whatever I want with it. I DO sometimes worry about letting people down, but I know that I have to do what’s right for me. I want to continue, but I may need to “tweak” things as necessary along the way, just like I did with taking a break and then moving to this blog.

  5. Samantha says:

    ‘The Importance of Solitude’ has been my favourite, probably in part because it echoed an older post you’d written about feelings of loneliness, illustrated by beautiful photos you’d taken. The second post explored a brighter side of solitude while the first one added the weight of a darker experience of it. I can’t remember how much time passed between the two, but enough to show that answers do come eventually.

    I got some help with time management last summer with a coach in job searching. We were given a list of professional tasks we had to rank according to both urgency and importance.
    We were also given an estimation of how long each would take, so that it was quite clear not all of them could be completed ‘today’!

    (I must admit I lied as I refrained to rank ‘ordering coffee’ number one priority.)

    So basically I try to ask myself these three questions : how long will it take me (trying to keep in mind I tend to underestimate that)? Is it urgent AND important? When do I decide to do it? Then I put it on my calendar. (No more to-do list for me.)

    Just so you know you’re in good company, here’s a link to a great writer who occasionally struggled

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      That one is one of my favorites, too, Samantha, as was the other post that you referenced. I think the loneliness post was from 2015. Thanks for the reminder that my perspective has evolved… The exercise you did from the job coach sounds fascinating (and “ordering coffee” seems like a good top priority to me!). I am notorious for underestimating how long things take and for overestimating how much I can actually get done. I have heard that one should double all time estimates, which would probably be about right in my case. Good idea to put the tasks on the calendar instead of on a list. There’s a much higher chance of their actually getting done that way. Thanks for sharing the “Second Wind” post. It’s a good illustration that there’s not ONE right way to do things. Sometimes those who struggle end up adding the most value. I hope to continue adding value as best as I can in spite of (or even BECAUSE of) my struggles…

  6. Gail says:

    Yes! When I was in school and when I taught, I used to work like a maniac to get things done so I could have time to do nothing. I was usually the first one to race home to start a long project. I think this is because I could not–cannot–get the tasks undone off my nervous mind. I learned a little and can do just what you are proposing–the worst or most daunting item–and semi-relax. I am probably better at it because I now have lots less to do, though! I can’t rid myself of this nagging feeling of obligation. I actually do get a lot done, and efficiently, but for negative reasons. I suspect retirement was made for wrecks such as I.I am finally enjoying time and space.
    Debbie, your posts whether summarizing or otherwise have always been a treat to readers. You think. You care. You are so very human–all wonderful.
    Have you ever read the Isabel Dalhousie novels of Alexander McCall Smith? the character is an ethicist who ruminates about all sorts of issues. Some think the books are boring and lack action, but I think you and some of your readers would love to read what Isabel mulls over. I read these books with the same type of eagerness as I read your blogs. It is because you are not afraid to open up. It makes me feel way less separate when you share these thoughts and vulnerabilities. And it makes me think even more. Accomplishing that,my friend, is a big deal–a big contribution. So: THANK YOU!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I identify with what you wrote about your “nervous mind,” Gail, but I’m glad that retirement has helped you to lessen the pressure on yourself so you can experience more peace and calm. I haven’t read the books you mentioned, but they sound interesting and probably right up my alley. I have a stack of books waiting to be read at the moment (not as many as in the past, though, as I allow myself to let some of them go if I don’t feel “called” to read them), but I would like to check out the Isabel Dalhousie books at some point. I always appreciate your support and kind comments. I’m glad you like my posts and can relate to them. If my openness is helping others to feel less separate, then I am grateful to be able to contribute in that way.

  7. Sally says:

    Hi Debbie

    Thank you for sharing another honest, insightful post with us.

    With regards to your first reason for not posting, I know that you are a perfectionist and don’t want to post something unless you have tips to help improve our lives, so you procrastinate. However, sometimes the things that you are struggling with the most and don’t have the answers to, are the most important posts for you to write.

    We don’t expect you to have all the answers for us and tips that may work for one person may not work for someone else.

    What your posts do achieve is to start the conversation amongst your readers, who like your blog because you are honest and authentic with your struggles and we can emphasise with you, as we are going through similar things ourselves.

    When we all share our comments, insights and what worked for us, we realise that we are not alone and hopefully there will be something that will strike a chord and be able to help you or someone else and that helps us to feel as though we have added some value too.

    With regards to your second reason for not posting, I don’t feel that you have a problem with time management. You are a very logical, organised, analytical person like me. However, when we are struggling with health issues, anxiety and depression, it makes it hard to find the motivation and energy to get things done, like we used to do and we need to accept and work within our current limitations.

    Some days you feel good because you got everything done on your To Do List, other days you feel good because you managed to take a shower. Don’t beat yourself up about it, accept that some days will be unproductive because you need to take a break, as your health comes first. Just try to do something that makes you feel good each day.

    Balance isn’t fitting everything in, it’s starting with what’s most important and letting the rest fall as it may.

    The “Just One Thing” approach you shared should help you.

    This is a very similar article, which recommends each morning to make your own “I will do one thing today” To Do List and get it done before you get sidetracked with unimportant stuff:

    Your theme this year is Freedom, but then you set out a long list of things you wanted to achieve in order to feel freer and then feel disappointed if you have not made as much progress as you had hoped for:

    As you state in this June update, you are the one who has imposed all these rules, tracking and expectations on yourself, which now feel like “shackles”, because at the time you thought they would help you, but they now seem to have become a burden and are making you feel a failure.

    This to me is the opposite of freedom. It’s now time to start letting go and free yourself to just enjoy your life. Your Updates show that you have already made some progress with doing this. However, don’t wait until you reach your goal to be proud of yourself. Be proud of every step you take.

    I thought that you might find these articles useful:

    “Stop Making Lists and Tracking you Life……Live it !”

    “There’s More to Life Than Being Busy: Why I Took a Pressure-Free Pause”

    Look at your daily habits and ask yourself if they are causing you to evolve or revolve? Are you moving forwards or just moving in circles? Are they making you happy or causing you more stress? Let go of anything that is no longer serving it’s purpose or contributing to your happiness.

    Do your best and let the rest go. None of us can be perfect, no matter how hard we try, so give yourself credit for making an effort and try to stop stressing about the outcome. You are great as you are and we appreciate what you do.

    I hope you find some of this helpful.

    Love Sally

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Sally, Your comment made me cry… I feel like you truly “get” me and I’m grateful for that and for your support. You’re totally right that it’s my perfectionism that often keeps me from posting. I appreciate the shift in perspective that you offered about my posts opening conversation and not needing to always offer answers. I like that way of looking at things, as it’s less pressure on me (and maybe if I think of things that way, I will procrastinate less).

      Your perspective on my time management challenges is also insightful. I think that I look at those days on which I only managed to take a shower as failures rather than any sort of triumph, but I’m reminded of “The Four Agreements” and how one of those agreements is “Always do your best.” Our best isn’t always the same and we have to meet ourselves where we are at any given time. I really like this statement that you wrote: “Balance isn’t fitting everything in, it’s starting with what’s most important and letting the rest fall as it may.” I hope that the “just one thing” approach will help me (and hopefully others) to better identify what’s most important each day.

      What you shared toward the end of your comment about freedom is something I’m going to reflect more on and will likely write about very soon. It just may be the breakthrough that I was hoping for before this year comes to a close! I look forward to reading the articles that you linked. You always have a lot of great insights and resources to share and I thank you very much!

      1. Sally says:

        Hi Debbie

        Sorry, I didn’t mean to make you cry, I just wanted you to know that I am here for you and I understand what you are going through. We are here to support each other.

        Sometimes you can be too close to the issues to be able to see a way out clearly and I wanted to help you to see things from a different perspective, which may be more positive and helpful to you going forwards.

        I searched for articles that I thought would be particularly helpful to you now, as they relate to people going through similar issues that you are struggling with and show different approaches you could try to take the pressure off yourself and live a life with more freedom.

        Let me know if you find these useful?

        Love Sally

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          Crying isn’t always a bad thing, Sally. Sometimes it’s therapeutic and this time it was more a wellspring of emotion for feeling “seen,” which doesn’t happen that often for me. I usually feel so different and distant from others, so sometimes the comments here are quite powerful for me in feeling recognized and related to.

          I found your perspective helpful and I appreciate the articles, too. I haven’t read all of them yet, but I will do so. In the past, I devoured a lot of information, but now I’m giving myself more time and space to “digest” what I read, especially when it’s on topics that hit close to home. I definitely want to live a life with more freedom and I have come to realize over the course of this year that I am my own biggest impediment to that. My life from the outside looking in isn’t very stressful at all, but stress is so often created within us. It’s not always about having a high-powered job or a large family to take care of, although those things can certainly be quite stressful for many. I will share more thoughts on freedom in a post very soon, hopefully by the end of this week. Thank you for helping to provoke new thoughts on this topic!

  8. Jenn says:

    Thanks, Debbie, for another great post. I really like the idea of “just one thing,” and I think using this tip could help me feel more accomplished at the end of the day.

    I don’t know about you, but I am ready to call it a year. With all the shopping deals, added stress of the season, the dark and cold Michigan weather, and additional pressures that I put on myself, I have dove deep into the cycle of over-shopping. The time spent on the internet, deciding whether to keep the items I order, and returning most of them, this cycle has sucked away some much needed time and self-esteem.

    On a more positive note, as I mentioned in my comment to your last post, I’ve also done some of the exercises in the Curated Closet, including pinning outfits/items that resonate and creating a mood board. Through these, and tracking my outfits for two weeks, eliminating more items from my closet, and coming up with my own color palette, I’m gaining a better sense of my style. A style that desperately needs evolving and cohesion and explains the dissatisfaction I’ve experienced with most of my current wardrobe. I’m hoping this clarity will help me end the over-shopping cycle, make better decisions in the future, and look more (consistently) like… me.

    Currently, I’m considering “word of the year” choices for 2020 (“ease” is one of them). In my searches for ideas, I stumbled upon one site on which the writer had chosen four. I’m considering choosing five that best describe my goals for 2020 and five additional words to describe my style for 2020—and make sure any new items check those boxes. (The latter idea was suggested in a podcast.) Meanwhile, I’m paying more attention to my shopping triggers. Environmental chaos (travel makes me nuts), too many social obligations in a row, and feeling down on myself are a few.

    I know I shouldn’t wish time away, but I’m ready for a reset. Bring on 2020!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Jenn, I am very much on the same page as you are! I look forward to a “reset” in 2020 (and a new decade!) with my shopping, wardrobe, and other aspects of my life. I’m wondering how to bring the “just one thing” approach into my wardrobe. Perhaps I could ask myself each month, “If I could add just one item to my wardrobe this month that would add the most value to how I dress, what would it be?” Maybe I will adopt that approach, too… I started re-reading “The Curated Closet” recently and I plan to do at least some of the exercises this time around (there are SO many that it overwhelmed me the first time, so I think I will prioritize them and just do what I feel will add the most value). Tracking outfits can be very helpful! I think doing that again would be useful for me at this stage of my style journey, just as it has been for you.

      I’m intrigued by the four words for the year vs. just one concept. I remember that I selected two words one year, but I felt that my focus was a bit diluted. I do like the idea of choosing five words to describe my style for 2020 and I think I will do that. I would love to listen to the podcast you mentioned that introduced this (if you can remember what it was). Good for you for paying attention to your shopping triggers. I wrote about that issue multiple times on “Recovering Shopaholic,” but here’s the most comprehensive post – sharing it in case it might be helpful to you or others:

      1. Jenn says:

        Interesting thought… bringing the “just one thing” approach into a wardrobe.

        As for “The Curated Closet,” I, too felt overwhelmed the first time I read it. I added some pictures to my Pinterest account, pondered over the palette concept, but not much else. I kept the book though, to refer to later. This time around, I’m taking it slowly and intend to do any exercises I think may be helpful to me.

        I can see how choosing multiple words for a year might dilute one’s focus, but I think I might try it.

        Where I first heard the idea for the five words to describe one’s style was on a podcast called “Your Color Style.” Unless you’re fascinated by color, I don’t recommend subscribing. However, at about twenty minutes into episode 7, Pamela Lutrell refers to what I believe she calls “The Foundational Five.” Another way to learn about that is here, from Lutrell herself:

        I found your post on triggers helpful. For 2020, I’m planning a shopping pause to learn more about what my triggers are and planning to devote a journal to my shopping habits and thoughts.

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          Glad to know I wasn’t alone in feeling overwhelmed by “The Curated Closet,” Jenn. I think I often take an all or nothing approach to books with a lot of exercise, when in reality we can view those exercises more like buffet items and select the ones that most appeal to us. I also kept the book, as I feel it’s excellent (I always loved “Into MInd” and was sad when she stopped writing it – of course, I understood, though).

          I think our mileage will vary in terms of selecting one vs. multiple words for the year. It’s worth a try for sure and I hope it will work out well for you. Thanks for sharing the article about “The Foundational Five,” as well as information about the color podcast. Maybe I will just listen to that one episode, as I already have too many podcasts in my queue (but fortunately, I’m totally fine now with just listening to what I feel like instead of feeling like I have to download them all). I’m on board with coming up with my list of five style adjectives and think it would be helpful to me in improving my style.

          I’m glad you found the trigger post helpful. I really should go back and re-read my own blog posts, as I often think “I wrote that?” when I see them again (lol). A shopping pause can be helpful in increasing awareness (did you see Jill Chivers’ guest post on this topic? – Journaling has benefited me greatly as well. I have periodically done an outfit journal, but I love the idea of delving deeper into shopping habits and thoughts, too. Of course, I have done that a lot through blogging, but since I’m writing less about shopping these days, maybe I should do more journaling on that topic now.

      2. Sally says:

        Hi Debbie

        Imogen Lamport has lots of simple, easy to read posts & videos on how to find your style recipe, the ingredients that go into making your style unique, also known as a style statement, using 2-6 words, which I have done. Your style recipe will change over time.

        This post is a good starting point:

        Regards Sally

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          Thanks for this reference, Sally! I used to read Imogen’s blog all the time (still do sometimes, but I cut way back on my blog reading due to overwhelm). She has a lot of very helpful posts! Her post suggests something similar to what Jenn mentioned above. I can see how creating a style statement would be very helpful and I can also see how it is subject to change. I think mine has changed a lot in recent years, but it’s a bit unclear at the moment. I’m looking forward to gaining increased clarity!

        2. Jenn says:

          Thank you, Sally and Debbie for directing me to these helpful resources!

  9. Terra says:

    Dear Debbie, you are a beautiful writer and a lovely person who has accomplished a great deal. Oh, my goodness if I felt that I needed to come up with something meaningful and helpful for others each time I write then I would seldom write anything. There are four things I’m looking for when I read: stories that make me laugh, make me cry, make me smart and offer me an opportunity to see and feel through the point of view of the writer. I also enjoy reading first person accounts where I can identify with the writer and experiences, but it’s OK if I don’t learn anything new. Feeling connected is equally important for me. These days I read less informational articles and am drawn more to memoir and personal essays. Which might sound surprising since I made a living as a nonfiction freelance magazine writer for many years. Back in those days I was an information junkie and I read tons of self-help articles. Thinking back, I remember that I did feel pressured every time I sat down to meet a writing deadline. But I had my editors breathing down my neck, with deadlines pending and I cranked out the work. And I’m glad I’m no longer doing that kind of writing. I stepped away from it about 3 or 4 years ago, and now I’m writing and publishing memoir, personal essays, poetry and literature, where the focus is on art, scenes, dialogue and emotions. It’s more than a breath of fresh air. I feel free. Free to write. Sometimes I still write and publish serious pieces. Look for my writing to appear in a new book forthcoming from Ravens Chronicles Press, “Take a Stand: Art Against Hate.” But I don’t have that daily pressure to always offer smart, insightful writing. I also wander willy-nilly on my blog and online journal. What if… you gave yourself the freedom to write blog posts from your heart sometimes, without an end goal? Your readers love your writing, we come here to glimpse your world and we will follow you wherever you wander.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Terra, this means a lot coming from you, as you are such an excellent and accomplished writer. I appreciate your taking the time to come and share your insights with me and others. I can see now that I have been putting too much pressure on myself with my writing and how that has led to my writing a lot less! I love what you had to say about the four things you look for when you read. I relate to those things and I suspect that others do, too. Like you, I’m not as much of an information junkie as I was even just a few years ago. It can become too much sometimes and I’m enjoying reading things that make me feel more connected, too.

      I’m glad you found a way to shift your writing to that which calls you more now and that it has helped you to feel freer to write. It’s great that you are still able to write some of those more serious pieces, too (the book you mentioned sounds fascinating and I look forward to checking it out). I like the goal of just writing from the heart sometimes. It’s a lot less pressure and what you and others have shared her has helped me to realize that I can add value in multiple ways, not always through sharing useful tips and suggestions. Thank you so much for helping me to see a different perspective!

  10. Katie | Katie Goes Platinum says:

    Very helpful! Thanks, Debbie! I struggle with my massive to do lists and your advice is so life-changing!


    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m so glad you liked this post and found it helpful, Katie. Good to see you commenting here. I continue to enjoy your gray hair-related content and I think your hair is looking fabulous! Best wishes and happy holidays!

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