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Monday, January 14, 2013

Know Your Triggers

My one year, no-buy challenge ended January 1 and we departed for Costa Rica January 6. Those dates were in no way related, just a coincidence, but an expensive one. I was very careful and thoughtful for about the first 3 days of buying. Then panic set in and all hell broke loose. My buying habits are not completely healed and this brings an very important lesson to light: know your triggers.

By "trigger" I mean the feelings that lead to an action. In my pre-no-buy days, my triggers were many and various. I was happy, I went shopping. Sad, shopping. Fat, thin, excited, bored ... all shopping. When I took a year off buying, I was forced to channel those feeling elsewhere. I couldn't rush to food because I couldn't buy larger clothes. I learned to channel my feelings into actions like reading, walking, organizing, learning, cleaning, etc. Sounds dull but it was really remarkable. I not only spent a ton less, I was smarter! The impending trip brought forth one of my most powerful triggers: the feeling that I have to be dressed perfectly for all occasions. This may sound silly, and I could just dismiss it but for me it is very, very real. I don't mean to imply that I think I look perfect, just that I have chosen the perfect outfit. I am guessing that there is some deep, lurking personal reason for this but all that matters is that it is real. 

So--buying embargo lifted + fancy resort + clothing completely out of season + my very favorite kinds of clothes + feeling like I have to have the perfect clothes = big, fat TRIGGER.

Summer is my way-favorite season. I adore flow-y dresses, bright, tropical prints and sandals. Of all of the clothing I own, my summer collection has my very favorite items. I have some great things, just not enough of them for a week at a resort. I determined that the bare minimum I needed was: 2 swimsuits, 2 dresses and one great cover-up. January is not the ideal time to purchase flow-y dresses in Michigan. Never a giver-upper, I set out January 3. 

What started as careful browsing morphed to frantic searching, then dissolved into a panic-stricken-ed  frenzy. My rules flew out the window. I was grabbing and buying, grabbing and buying. I spent three days driving to any and all stores in an effort to enjoy a beautiful vacation. Was the previous year a big waste?

I returned quite a few things right away and have a few more to return this week. I did manage to find two dresses, two swimsuits and a cover-up. I did feel like I had the correct outfits for each day of vacations. But at what cost? Some good purchases, some bad. Time wasted. Cheeseburger consumed to relive stress. Way too much wine in the days preceding vacation. I was a complete nut-ball.

Once the returns are complete, I will evaluate the situation and the triggers. I had to wait until just days before departure and waiting until the last minute creates a panic-trigger. Panic-trigger, bad. I've done this many times for events and it's always bad. I must plan ahead.
Feeling like I have to have perfect outfits is my perfection-trigger. For this trip, I nailed it, but realized that if my wardrobe consists of only things that are perfect for me, this won't be a problem. Choosing only "just-right" clothing going forward will be crucial. 
Finally, the thought of wearing skin-baring outfits in January snapped the fat-trigger. I am actually smaller January 2013 than I was January 2012. It didn't change the fact that I was freaking out about looking fat at a resort. Which I did, but that's another post.

Looking back at our fabulous trip, it was made easier by bringing the perfect clothes. It really, really was. Finding those perfect clothes was not easy but I am working on it. Finding those triggers was easy, fixing them ... still working on it.

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