What happens when you fail; when you regress back into an old habit that you’re trying to kick. Do you give up, wave the white flag and tell yourself you didn’t really care that much anyway or do you dust yourself off, reassess and get back in the game.
Let’s face it we all fail at things from time to time. We’re not perfect nor should aspire to be. We’re absolutely not meant to get everything on the first go and yet most of us are pretty hard on ourselves. What happens when we don’t meet our self imposed, often unrealistic expectations?
Perhaps you beat up on yourself and begin running through past events, telling yourself you should have this and why didn’t you just do that. Or perhaps you begin to feel really defeated, like all you ever do is let yourself down. Maybe you even put on the I don’t give a shit mask and then make yourself really busy so you don’t have to confront how you feel. Or maybe, just maybe you respond to your failure with kindness, you tell yourself that it’s okay and you re-evaluate the situation.
In the past I’ve been a big fan of the I don’t give a shit mask and getting real busy but over time I’m really starting to appreciate the lessons that come with things not working out on the first go. I’ve found that in working on my ability to stop, accept failure and identify opportunities for growth my whole capacity for living has expanded.
So when I set myself a goal to not buy any new clothing for a whole year and on the 24th of January walked into a little boutique and bought myself a hat I was at first pretty disappointed with myself. Not even one full month in and I just couldn’t stop myself. I thought about just never speaking about it and pretending it never happened and I thought about just completely giving up…I’d failed challenge over. But then I stopped myself and began to try and better understand why I hadn’t been able to stop myself.
When I was in the store there was a little voice of reason that asked what the hell are you doing besides the fact that you don’t need any more hats you’re actually not supposed to be doing this! But then my old mate piped up – the voice that hates to say no and can justify anything – and simply said if you like the hat get the hat, you only live once.
The first thing I recognised was that clearly I don’t like to tell myself no, I don’t like to feel like I can’t have things. This way of thinking can be both useful and problematic. It means that I take a lot of risks and I get a lot of what I want in life but in this situation it meant that I had no self control. I began to question myself further, so I can’t say no but why do I feel like I need the hat in the first place? Why do I always want so much material stuff?
I believe the answer lies in the fact that I was completely ignorant to how much I really owned. I always wanted more because I had no real concept of excess in my wardrobe. Just the other day a girlfriend was talking to me about a beautiful dress that I own and I realised that I had totally forgotten that it even existed. It sits in a dress bag at the end of my wardrobe saved for a special occasion and it had completely left my mind.
With this realisation I decided that in order to stop buying things and live more simply I had to take stock of what I already had and more importantly let go of some of the excess. I knew I needed a little help in this department and so it was time to get myself a copy of the Life changing magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo. I’d been told before that I needed this book. In the past I would often go to clean out my wardrobe and just end up reorganising things, never really getting rid of anything. In order to have some sort of lasting change I needed more from myself than a little reorganisation.
So has this one little book made much of a difference? It most certainly has. It’s reframed the way I look at the stuff I keep, given me some perspective on how much I have and more importantly made me assess how much I want to have. To feel like I don’t need more, that is a luxury unlike any other. I honestly couldn’t recommend this book more highly and I’d like to share some of my favourite little quotes from this magical little book.
- “Visible mess helps distract us from the real disorder.”
- “Relieving yourself of the burden of excess is the quickest and most effective way to put your things in order.”
- “The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.”
- “To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose. To get rid of what you no longer need is neither wasteful nor shameful. Can you truthfully say that you treasure something buried so deeply in a closet or drawer that you have forgotten its existence? If things had feelings, they would certainly not be happy. Free them from the prison to which you have relegated them. Help them leave that deserted isle to which you have exiled them. Let them go, with gratitude. Not only you, but your things as well, will feel clear and refreshed when you are done tidying.”
- “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life. Attachment to the past and fears concerning the future not only govern the way you select the things you own but also represent the criteria by which you make choices in every aspect of your life, including your relationships with people and your job.”
- “The act of folding is far more than making clothes compact for storage. It is an act of caring, an expression of love and appreciation for the way these clothes support your lifestyle.”
- “From the moment you start tidying, you will be compelled to reset your life. As a result, your life will start to change. That’s why the task of putting your house in order should be done quickly. It allows you to confront the issues that are really important. Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order.”
With a fresh perspective, a few garbage bags for the salvos and more knowledge on tidying up than I had ever considered possible, I embark again on my challenge to not purchase any additional clothing for the rest of year.