4.06.2011

An Update On The "Mindful Consumption" (AKA Operation Simplicity)...



So...let's say you are trying to reduce the amount of "stuff" you bring into your life...you're trying to buy less, shop less. Let's say you even made a New Year's resolution to this effect, complete with "rules", such as:

  • only buying things you envision having for at least five years

  • only buying things you really, truly love

  • and ending the year with fewer possessions than you started it with

And let's say you decided to broadcast said resolution to a bunch of folks and realized upon hitting "publishing" that by broadcasting it, you actually had to, well...do it.

Well in the off-chance that you actually did all of those things above, good news, I have this totally fool-proof way to ensure that you actually follow through on the resolution. Here goes: start a blog where you have to share every. single. thing. you buy for a full year.

It will work. I assure you.

Not only is it hugely humbling to commit to confessing all of your purchases (not just the ones edited for public consumption, but all of them), but it takes a lot of time. So all of the sudden, when you're say, standing in Target contemplating that cheap, shoddily made black knit beach dress that is pretty much identical to the other three currently taking up residence in your closet, you'll remember that you'll not only have to admit the purchase to others in a public way, but you'll also have to photograph it (if you can't find an adequate photo online) and post it to the blog. And all of the sudden, the time/admission factor outweighs the value of the dress and back on the rack it goes.

It's a pretty effective deterrent this "Operation Simplicity." I've been 100% in it for two full months now, and I can look back at everything I've purchased (pictured above...yes, that's everything for the past 60 days) and honestly say I feel good about *almost* all of it. Sure there have been a few mistakes, but had I not been doing this little experiment, I'm certain there would have been many, many more.

But more important, I look up at those photos and see many things that I truly love, and that (for me) is the real test of a good acquisition.

As for the amount... it seems like a lot of stuff, I realize, but during the past two months, I've embarked on a living room "revamp", gone to NYC and spent two full days trolling vast fields of antiques...so lot's of tempations. But to offset, I've been a bit of a rock star on the whole donating, selling, bartering, giving away front, so, as of now, I have offically purged more than I have acquired. Two months down, ten to go. I'm not afraid.

So I'm curious, for those of you that made resolutions this year, are there any tricks/tactics you have for keeping them? Do you do regularly do any type of (public or private) resolution "check-ins"? I just read Emma's resolution post and loved hearing about her progress.

15 comments:

elisa said...

This is such a great idea. I love how blogging about every item makes you more accountable for purchasing it.
I didn't have a resolution but I did just have a challenge on my blog about getting rid of items that just take up space. I ended up clearing out over 50 things and I'm still working on it.
Anyway, I'm totally impressed with this project and how much you've purged. Keep up the good work!

Erica said...

This is really inspirational!

Barchbo said...

I love reading about this! You're doing so great and I really enjoy seeing what you DO purchase. Thank you for being willing to be so honest and open with us.

With a new baby, this seems completely unfeasible to me, personally. However, I find that thinking, "would I rather buy this cute onesie/face cream/amazing heel or just put $10/$40/$200 in my son's college fund?" is a great deterrent. No photography or public accountability, but I think (hope!) we share the same interest in investing more of our resources in things that last.

Note: with all this saving, I hope he is interested in college!! :)

kid collective said...

I love your "projects". You're always inspiring me. I agree and think the best way to go about something is to put yourself out there for others to see. It pushes me to do my best. In my mind, that's what I want to do but it's easy to slip if I know others won't notice.

Frédérique said...

Those resolutions are very good
i would say, i'm not so far
but i also want to limit my purchases and invest in luxury brand ( shoes ), just to try...
if that's a good resolution...
i'm looking for high heels but wearable..and it's an hard work !! but i've all my time
bizz

Rachel said...

I've been loving your experiment. Might even get up the nerve to do something similar at some point.
I don't have any real accountability, but I think I've been better about not buying stuff this year. This reminds me that I need to go update my yearly allowance spreadsheet and see where I stand.

Alex T said...

I have been thinking about my new year's resolutions and how I would like to check-in on them and your post gently reminded me that this would be the perfect time.

And your Operation Simplicity "project" - well, that just speaks to every little part of me!

Nicole LeLacheur said...

I absolutely love this post, one of my favorite's you've written. I'm going shopping tomorrow and I'll keep your advice in mind!

Gaby [The Vault Files] said...

This is a great idea! I'm kind of doing the same thing, the difference is that It's not self imposed. I won't be shopping for 7 months, yes 7 months without a step into a store! If you ask me, quite difficult but since there is no option, there's nothing I can do about it. Though my wish list is rapidly growing ;)

blue roses said...

wow, this post has inspired me to contend with some demons rather early in the morning; good thing i have my coffee here. this is a brilliant plan, and one that i may just adopt; very interesting blend of curating ideal personal style and a complete wardrobe while maintaining personal fiscal responsibility.

http://dallianceswithsuitsandskirts.blogspot.com/

kikiazure said...

fyi that is alot of stuff u acquired/purchased in just 2 months! Who you kidding woman?
Love your blogs, Kiki

Caitlin said...

I think that this is a fabulous thing you are doing - it might have to be my resolution next year but in the meantime when I've been out shopping I've thought "alright, how many white tshirts does one person need."

It's been fun following your new blog. xx

kristina said...

ohhh accountability! novel idea in personal consumption! I may need to jump on board. Maybe.

Nomadic D. said...

what a lovely post. i've been meaning to comment for a while but i honestly can't find the right words. i just find it incredibly inspiring, and if i had more courage i might do it too. right now i write down every single penny i spend in an accounting software, and that helps keep some mindfulness about it. I'm also a chronic returner of clothing purchases, which allows me to feel the thrill of the spontaneous purchase, but also look at something in my closet for a few weeks, and see if i really am going to love it and want to reach for it often before i actually take the tags off and commit. but the idea of making every purchase public and really holding yourself accountable, well, i love it. keep up the good work!

http://nomadic-d.blogspot.com/

Anna @ IHOD said...

Wonderful post Katie, and I am so thankful to you for being so honest. This is something that was making me a little sick to my stomach in the blog and twitter world. Buy this, obsessed with this, must have that. When in truth its a thin layer that doesn't fill the depth we were created for. I struggle with this often, and its a constant battle, but thankfully you can have friends who help along the way;) x