I made several bold statements at the end of last year regarding the changes I wanted to make to my life, health, and habits.
Before the beginning of this year – doesn’t that seem like a long time ago?! – I decided that I wanted to go on a no buy for the following 12 months. You can read more about my decision in this post that I published at the time, but *spoiler alert* I didn’t succeed.
At merely three months into 2020, I published this post claiming that I had ‘failed’ my no buy and blamed the changes that were going on in the world. While environmental stress and upset is a major trigger for bad habits, I had no one to blame but myself for my failure.
Today I wanted to talk about my failed attempt at a no buy, as well as the several other changes I have set myself over the years in the name of becoming better. Although failure is a natural part of the process, I’m ready to be honest and open with you all today.
Because my failure wasn’t an accident.
THE FAILED NO BUY
At the end of 2019, I stumbled across the concept of a no buy on YouTube. I found several creators that had or were embarking on a no buy project which means they would not be shopping or spending money in some capacity for a set time.
This was something that really spoke to me, and is still a concept that I appreciate, considering shopping is kind of a vice for me. Spending money I don’t have and accumulating new things has become just one of the ways I don’t deal with stress, upset, boredom – essentially any emotion that I experience, but particularly those that I deem to be negative.
I wanted to quit shopping cold turkey in 2020 to tackle my spending habits and the other issues that I associated with this activity.
This has been a hard year for all of us, but there is no denying that a quarantine and local lockdowns were the perfect opportunity to quit shopping. However, I allowed myself to jump off the bandwagon during this time, blaming the news for it when it was all my own lack of self-control.
Once I was off the wagon, I then deliberately decided to not get back on because I was already ‘so far gone’.
Although I describe my shopping behaviours (as well as my eating habits, compulsive drinking, and chronic stress) as ‘out of control’, this isn’t necessarily true.
Overspending and overconsumption sure make me feel out of control, but we all know that I have autonomy over my own life. I make all the decisions around here, and that includes those that surround negative habits and addictions.
While it does feel like I have no other choice but to go shopping, to overspend, and to bring more things into my life when I’m dealing with certain feelings, it is a choice I’m making on a subconscious level.
After all, that’s all habits are – they’re behaviours that we do subconsciously because they are so routine. We have done things like brushing our teeth and washing our hands for years so we no longer need to think about them, and this is exactly what shopping feels like to me in times of stress.
For me, shopping and overspending are ways that I numb feelings. You might be able to relate to the fact that boredom, stress, and sadness are some of the biggest triggers.
Shopping is a way I avoid dealing with what’s really going on.
While I had good intentions to deal with this throughout 2020, I found myself deliberately failing only three months later, and it’s made me realise that this is something I also fall back on anytime I want to try something new.
HOW DID I FAIL?
I think the first thing I broke my no buy with was a couple of books from the local supermarket. One was a new release I was excited about, and I ‘just had to have it’ despite the hundreds of unread books on my shelves at home.
Other things that I just ‘had to have’ over the time I was supposed to be on a no buy include:
- Trendy makeup I’d seen online
- A blue, frilly two-piece set from Miss Guided that I thought would look good on a night out
- At least £30 worth of magazines that I still haven’t read
- Two fitness apps that I have never used
- Countless books that I might fancy ‘one day’
- A pair of jeans that don’t fit
- Several bottles of skincare that I don’t understand how to use
- False nails, gel nail polishes, and nail tools
These are just the purchases I can remember off the top of my head, but trust me there is so much more.
The sad thing about the purchases I have made are the fact that the products are now either decluttered (like the clothes I ordered online that didn’t fit, didn’t look like the picture or that I didn’t even like), thrown out (such as out of date skincare or wax melts that smelt awful), or still unused (like my entire bookshelf).
I hate to admit that I am an impulsive person, but this is what creates a lot of trouble when it come to my finances.
If I see something I like or want, I must have it there and then. Online shopping has made this impulsive behaviour easier than ever, but it’s always been this way for as long as I can remember.
WORKING CLASS AND SENSE OF LACK
Growing up, money was always tight.
You don’t need to know the details, but I’m from a working class family in the North East of England. While we managed to get by and both of my parents earned a regular income, money has always been somewhat of a sore topic for people like me.
I can’t blame all of my money habits on the way I was brought up, because my mam worked so hard to instil the importance of saving into me and my brother as kids, but it has played a major part in where I am today. Coming from a background where money was scarce and considered to be illusive, finally earning it for myself made me go a bit mad.
Birthday and Christmas money, my first pay check, and all of my student loans were spent on things I wanted but didn’t need. Things I fancied in the moment, novelties that wore off within hours, convience spending when I felt to lazy to look after myself…
A lot of bad habits were cemented at university, where we are lucky enough to be given financial support here in the United Kingdom. It is a right of passage for students to use their student loans on anything but essentials – whether that’s going on holiday, drinking every night, buying all the fast fashion you can get your hands on; you name it I tried it.
It doesn’t matter what circumstances I get myself into, my bad spending habits will be there. I want to do more posts on this subject in the future, but I think it’s down to my underlying sense of lack.
My lack mentality makes me see everything as a finite resource, especially money. This means that I might as well spend it while I have it. I’m lucky to have money, so why would I deprive myself of the things I can buy?
WHY WOULD YOU SET YOURSELF UP FOR FAILURE?
Looking back now, I realise that I did set myself up to fail with my no buy challenge. While I understood the importance of a project like this and the need I had for a cull on spending, I was using it as a means to an end.
I didn’t think it really mattered, basically.
I also didn’t have anything to hold myself accountable with. Sure I’d made a post on here about it, but considering I didn’t take this blog seriously (‘no one reads it anyway’) I also didn’t take my claims seriously.
So when I failed, I was only letting myself down – and this is something I do often.
You know I love to talk about making changes to your life situation, but I rarely talk about the effects and results of said changes. This is because I never follow through on them.
Whether that is a major project like a no buy, or something simple like waking up earlier everyday, it doesn’t take long before I fall back into my old habits.
I’ve realised that this is because of three terrible mindsets that I cling onto:
- Who will I be without this thing? (Who will I be without my problems?)
- Do I even deserve to see success? (Do I deserve health, wealth, etc)
- Why should I even try, when others have done it better?
Essentially, all deliberate failures and acts of self-sabotage come down to the fact that I do not think I’m good enough.
And if you’re reading this, you might feel the same thing.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
I recently read The Power of Now, in which Eckhart Tolle claims that the key to being present and escaping our pain-body (the centre for addictions, bad habits, and illness) is to be aware of what’s going on within us.
I’m aware that I deliberately failed my no buy, because I’m frightened.
I’m scared to see who I’ll be without this issue, which has become part of my identity.
I’m scared to face up to my issues.
But mostly, I’m scared to fail.
If step one is accepting what’s going on, then surely step two is to take action?
So this is me, calling for accountability.
If you’re reading this, please let me know you’re there. I’d love to have at least one person holding me accountable when it comes to my no buy rules, and the other changes I want to make.
If there is no one there, I need to be accountable to myself. This cannot go on any longer, and I need to take back control of my life.
My brain is going to try trip me up in anyway it can. but now I’m privy to that I’m hoping I can keep clinging on the wagon and move forward.
I’m sorry (not sorry) this was such a long post today, but this topic required to be discussed at length.
If you managed to get any value out of this post, have any feedback, or want to show that you’ll keep me accountable, please leave a comment.
Take care and speak soon,
Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash
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