Why I already failed at keeping my New Year’s resolutions

Winter morning in Göteborg // own photo

 

I have already failed at keeping the resolutions I made for the year 2017, and January hasn’t even ended yet.

In one of my previous posts (here) I wrote that I usually don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I also wrote that I believe that any time of the year is great for making changes. However, this year I decided to do something different. I changed jobs at the end of December and I thought that I should start the year in a more powerful way. You know, ‘the new and improved me’.

My resolutions

These are the two resolutions I made:

  1. I will not buy a single piece of clothing for myself in the month of January.
  2. I will stop eating meat completely.

Why I failed

And I failed beautifully at both… And I think I know why:

  1. The new job is a part-time one which means a lower salary so I needed to rethink how I spend my money. I thought that I should just cut on buying clothes. Yes, it is a very smart decision to limit your expenses when you work less and earn less. It is also a good idea to rediscover your wardrobe and use already owned clothing in more creative ways. But I already am a conscious shopper and I am good at decluttering. I regularly go through my clothes and get rid of the ones I don’t use, usually by selling them via eBay. On the other hand, I really like clothes and am interested in fashion so making such a resolutions seemed like a real sacrifice. However, I wanted to prove to myself that I can do it. And so I failed. About two weeks ago I bought a leather jacket on sale. In my excuse I can say that on the very same day I sold an old leather jacket I didn’t use any longer. Well, I did feel a bit guilty about this but then the thought that I used my old ‘one in, one out’ rule made me feel better.
  2. In my family we already eat very little meat. Most of the meals I prepare I meat-free. I thought it would be a great move to stop consuming meat completely. I knew that I could live without meat because I had had two longer vegetarian/pescatarian phases in my life. So what I thought I did. And I failed, and now we have meat in the fridge and the freezer. Why? My daughter was reluctant to eat my meat-free dishes every day.  She wasn’t ready to switch and simply missed the meat. After preparing two or three vegetarian alternatives nearly every day for two weeks I gave up. I realised that for her the change was too sudden. I should have taken it more slowly and first make her like vegetables more before she was ready to stop eating meat completely.

Conclusion

  1. I should not be too strict with myself. If something truly gives me joy, why should I resign from it? Why should I restrict myself to not buying anything and feel guilty if I do so? So I am still going to follow my well-established shopping rules. Maybe I will be more reflective and think not twice but three times before I purchase anything. And I promise myself not to feel guilty!
  2. My plan to change our eating habits needed some revision. From now on I am going to try out new vegetarian recipes and introduce more vegetables to my daughters menu. I hope that by doing so the amount of meet she consumes at home will be gradually reduced to… nothing.

General thoughts on introducing changes to your life

  • Have a genuine reason for a change. Wanting to prove something to yourself might not be a reason strong enough to keep you motivated.
  • Don’t be too strict to yourself. Be more forgiving whenever you stumble and give yourself second chances.
  • Don’t feel guilty about your mistakes or stumbles. Guilt is a negative feeling and doesn’t lead to anything productive. Instead, see your mistakes as learning opportunities.
  • Be realistic with your resolutions and with what you can achieve within a specific time frame. Go for smaller steps to give yourself a feeling of success or accomplishment, i.e. instead of deciding not to but clothes for the whole year start with one week. Perceive a change as an evolution, not a revolution.
  • Before deciding on introducing any changes think about how the ones around you might be affected and always take them into consideration. How will your resolutions affect your closest family and friends? How will the changes you want to implement affect your relationships with others? What can the others do to support you?

 

What is your best tip to keep yourself motivated when going through a change?

 

Summer minimalism – a rough guide

A beach on the Costa Blanca // own photo

 

I am super excited today because it is officially the first day of my summer holidays. We have no specific plans at this point but I already know how I want to spend the summer, no matter where I should find myself. So here it is, my rough guide to enjoying the summer time while staying true to a minimalistic way of living. All the tips come from my experience.

Summer sales

Yay, summer sales! Well, I am already done with sales shopping this year so no more time wasted (yes, wasted) in the shops for me. A few years ago this time of a year would mean spending hours walking around the stores in search for nothing in particular. I would end up buying things that I didn’t need, didn’t really like, and, as a result, didn’t wear or use much. Wrong size, wrong colour, or wrong shape didn’t matter as long as they were justified by a lowered price.

For the past few years I have been wiser, and this year I am particularly proud of myself. I purchased a few items that I had had my eyes on for a while, including a woollen spring/autumn coat (60% off), a suede skirt (also 60% off), and a black leather wallet (66% off). At the point of writing this I am not planning to hunt for more bargains.

Shopping while on vacation

… and spending time in shopping centres buying a lot of stuff we don’t really need. I am not saying shopping is essentially bad, but what is the point of going to a different place and locking yourself in a shopping gallery instead of being out and relaxing? Also, all these stalls on the way to the beach – ahh, these can tempting and not easy to avoid. My advice – don’t even stop there unless you want to end up purchasing tones of plastic toys for your child, another pair of cheap sunglasses, or the ‘latest-trend’ bikini for yourself. You don’t need those, nor does your child need that third plastic spade.

If I want to stay true to my values and not to come home with a moral hangover I don’t use holidays as permission to spend recklessly. Yes, I do spend more money in the summer but I would rather get nice memories or small tokens to remind me of the wonderful time I had. This is what I exchange my money for:

  • Going to a nicer restaurant and trying a new dish.
  • Going on an excursion.
  • Buying some local food that I can bring home, preserve and enjoy at a later time (i.e. Italian ham, Spanish cheese, olive oil, vinegar, coffee, local wine).
  • Buying locally made craft (i.e. a ceramic salad bowl, a vinegar bottle).

Sometimes, I also bring back recipes and I try to recreate the dishes we especially liked.

Spending money in a smarter way

I try to find a balance between not spending too much money and yet not missing out on what a place I visit has to offer. I don’t want to come home broke after a two-week holiday and I don’t want to feel there was more I should have done, seen or experienced. So how to find this balance?

First of all, I realised that we don’t need to eat out every night. The deal is: one night out and one night in. And since I enjoy cooking, there are usually fresh local foods to use, and the apartments we stay at often have a balcony or a terrace, we can still have a great meal in wonderful surroundings.

The other tip is to resign from breakfasts that the hotels offer (the holiday deals often include breakfasts and other meals for extra price). Instead, we either prepare breakfasts ourselves, which costs the fraction of the hotel price, or we find local places to eat out (and this is also a rather inexpensive option). Last time we went to Mallorca, we would take a 30-minute walk by the beach every morning to go to a local cafeteria that offered amazing tomato toasts (2 euro) and delicious coffee (1,5 euro). We would do that nearly every day and we still talk about these walks, the quiet beach, the cool breeze and the toasts, of course.

Travelling light

Every time when I visit my sister and she looks into my suitcase, she is surprised that I pack so little. The thing is that I can pack mine and my daughter’s belongings into one average-sized suitcase. I have learned one thing: not to take too many clothes and not to take anything ‘just in case’ (well, this does not apply to some medicines, especially when you are travelling with a small child). My stand is that there are always shops so should I desperately need something, I can always buy it. I don’t think this has ever happened, though.

I don’t pack 3 smart dresses ‘in case’ I am invited to a party. I don’t take 3 pairs of long trousers ‘in case’ the weather changes for the worse. There is no recipe what to take and what to leave but it should be fairly easy to figure out for yourself based on your experience. Really, have you ever used all the things that you packed? So no, don’t take things ‘in case’ and enjoy the pleasure of travelling light.

Summer relaxation

… is what the summer is for. The holidays wouldn’t be great without proper relaxation and rest. It is a summer post and maybe relaxation should be mentioned as first. But then the focus of this post is how to be minimalistic so it comes here.

I am a person who needs to learn how to relax better. I have tried several ways and methods, and here are the ones that help me switch off best:

  • Dot-to-dot books for adults are my fairly recent discovery. Having tried colouring books for adults last summer and realising it is not for me, I kept on exploring. And then I found dot-to-dot books by Thomas Pavite. What I especially like about his books is that unless you check the inside of the book cover, you don’t know what you are drawing. What a great way of spending hours with a pencil in your hand! And I warn you: dot-to-dotting can be addictive.
  • Reading is absolutely the best way for me to relax. And what could be best then reading a great book in the sunshine? Right now I am into biographies and autobiographies. A couple of weeks ago I finished John Cleese’s autobiography (‘So, Anyway…’) and can recommend it – what a great style of writing and a great sense of humour.
  • I also like lighter summer reads. My favourite author is Jane Fallon (i.e. ‘Getting Rid of Matthew’, ‘Got You Back’). I have just read her latest novel (‘Strictly Between Us’) and am in search for a good easy summer read. Do you have any recommendations?
  • Playing with my child used to be one of the chores until I rediscovered the joy of behaving like a child (well, sometimes!). So now we have a bunch of activities that we both enjoy. We do drawing and painting, we cut paper, we dance and sing, and we try gardening. I also started to make clothes for her dolls. This is something I used to do for mine when I was about 8-10 years old.
  • Cooking is not new to me but finding out that I really really like it, is. A few times a month I try a new recipe with more or less success. Some of the dishes make it to our regular menu while others are never tried again. I just like being in the kitchen, chopping and mixing, and waiting for the final result.

Summer decluttering

The other way I use my time off is to do extra decluttering at home. Amazingly, I always find things to get rid off – and this is another reminder to not buy more things when on vacation and to carefully consider every potential purchase.

My plan for this summer is to reorganise our walk-in closet and my daughter’s wardrobe. I want to try on every piece of clothing I own and to let go as many as possible. The same goes for my daughter’s clothes. She grows so fast now that I need to do regular reviews of her garments.

It may sound strange but decluttering is my way of relaxing. I really like cleaning, organising and decluttering – it just calms me down.

 

What summer tips do you have? How do you relax best?

 

How my shopping habits have changed

habits
Second-hand store in Olso // own photo

 

I have always been interested in fashion and I have always liked clothes. However, my relationship with shopping has been a complicated one. I could go through periods of not buying anything for weeks or months, or I would buy a lot of unnecessary items that I would never use or wear.

I have been striving to become a more aware consumer and it seems that I have already become a better shopper. I make better choices, I buy only clothes or accessories that I truly like, and I avoid buying things on impulse. Of course, I make mistakes and have my moments of weakness, but overall I am pleased with my wardrobe.

Here are my own shopping rules (in no particular order):

  • I avoid going to the shops during the sale season. I don’t want to be tempted and manipulated into buying something because of a lowered price.
  • I always check the composition label before making my final decision. I only buy clothing made of cotton, wool and viscose. I also check the washing instructions and I don’t buy anything that would require too much care (i.e. dry cleaning – I know I don’t have time for this).
  • I only buy items that go with the clothes I already have. If consider an item but realise that I would need to buy another piece of clothing or an accessory to go with it, I put back on the shelf.
  • If I hesitate, I don’t buy. I only buy an item if I am 100% sure.
  • When I buy anything, I try it at home and make sure that this is something I really want. I usually don’t cut off the tags for a while and keep the receipt for another few days, just in case I change my mind.
  • I know my ‘uniform’, i.e. clothing I like and that I feel good wearing. I know my colour palette, and the patterns and shapes that I like. I don’t even look at anything else (unless it is exceptional, then I can give it a try).
  • I have decided to limit my clothing choices to five brands (yes, just five). It saves my time and energy to only check the clothes that these brands offer, and I can be sure to usually find something that ticks all of my criteria.

 

Do you have strict rules when shopping? What are your criteria?