It's Time For Coffee: A Talk About Intentionality, Change and Not Shopping For a Year

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In May, my friend Jeanette emailed me to ask if I'd be a guest on her podcast, It's Time for Coffee, to talk about This is Thirty Four, and my year without clothes. At the time, I was only three months into blogging and one month into my year without clothes. I wasn't sure I was cut out for blogging. I didn't know if I'd be able to keep up this no buying clothes or shoes or accessories for a year thing; and I definitely didn't feel qualified to do a podcast interview. Still, I knew that nothing good ever comes from d 

Fast forward to today. I've been blogging for nearly half a year. I'm four months in to a year without clothes; and the podcast interview I did in June is LIVE TODAY. Listening to the podcast was almost an out of body experience for me. Jeanette is a gifted podcast host and editor, who somehow captured the essence of who I am, what I value and why I'm writing and not shopping and doing Simplify September (even though I had no idea when I recorded this interview that I would be doing Simplify September). 

My goal is to make (almost) everything I write, do and say be encouraging to those around me. It's my hope that in addition to hearing more of my heart on this podcast, you also come away encouraged to live the life YOU want to live and be a better steward of the relationships--and the things--you already have in your life. 

You can listen to the full interview here and you can also listen to it--and read the show notes--on Jeanette's website

Thank you for listening. Thank you for encouraging me in my writing and year without clothes and so many other things over the past few months. This community of people I'm surrounded by means more to me than I ever could have imagined. 

How To Make a Change and Stick With It

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When I tell people I’m going a year without buying clothes or shoes, I usually get this response: “Wow. That’s so cool. I could never do that.” For the record, the people who say that are wrong. They could go a year without buying clothes or shoes or whatever it is that they spend too much money on, but they just don’t want to…and that’s ok!

If you’re new to This is Thirty Four, you might want to check out this post on why I’m going a year without buying clothes or shoes. Bottom line? I’ve become too focused on material possessions. I want to be a better steward of the money God has blessed me with, and I long to see God move in a few key areas of my life. I pride myself on being able to grow and change when I see a problem; and I’m expecting a lot of growth and change over the next 12 months. (Actually, 11.5 months, but who’s counting? I AM. I’m counting. Every. Single. Day.)

Over the past few weeks, people have asked what I did to prepare for this year of my life and how I’m going to ensure that I stand firm in my commitment to go “a year without clothes.” You know what they’re really asking? How do you make a change and stick with it?

As I look over my life, I realize that I’ve made quite a few changes. From big changes like recovering from an eating disorder or moving across the country to be closer to my husband to smaller ones like getting up an hour earlier each day or drinking a protein smoothie every morning for breakfast, most of the changes I’ve made have impacted my life in positive ways and inched me closer to the person I want to be.

Recently, I analyzed what helps me make a change and stick with it. Here are my five key elements to lasting change: 

Think about the change before you make it.

I didn’t arrive at my decision to give up buying clothes and shoes for a year overnight. This idea was something that I mulled over for almost an entire year PRIOR to making the actual change. Could I do it? Would I stick with it? The answer was always “no”... until it was yes. Before you make a change, you have to WANT to change; and truthfully, it took me 12 months of buyer’s remorse and shame over my spending habits before I truly wanted to do things differently.

The other part of thinking about change is doing your research. In the month before I made my commitment public, I analyzed my wardrobe and my schedule for the upcoming year. Did I need to add anything to my wardrobe in order to get through the next 12 months? Was there an upcoming event for which I might need to buy something new, in advance, because I legitimately did not have something suitable in my current closet?

I ended up buying a new pair of sandals, a black maxi dress and a pair of black distressed jeans to get me through the year. Those items don't fill all of my wardrobe holes, but they do multiply my ability to create a variety of outfits for the next 12 months. 

Set realistic goals.

Please note that I did not say I was going a year without shopping altogether. Nor did I say that other people were not allowed to buy me things. (Is it too early to make my Christmas list?) I know myself, and I would not follow through on a “no shopping of any kind” commitment. While I’m not planning to replace one vice with another, I do plan to purchase some new patio furniture and artwork for my house this year. I also plan to “reward” myself for making it seven months without buying clothes and allow my family to give me a few things to restock my wardrobe in December. If you think this is cheating, well, honestly, I don’t care what you think.

Setting realistic goals when implementing change is important in setting yourself up for success. A change that seems too difficult is a change you probably won’t make. This might mean being more realistic about what type of changes you are willing to make in the first place OR setting smaller, incremental goals to realize bigger, more lasting change in the end.

Put accountability in place.

Friends don’t let friends stop buying clothes and shoes for a year alone. And neither do husbands and neither do online communities. There’s a reason I made my decision so public: I need the accountability of both people I see on a regular basis and my online community. A few of my friends have even jumped on the no clothes bandwagon with me! And as for my husband? He and I sit down every few weeks to review our finances. If someone else is watching the purchases I make, I am much less likely to purchase something I shouldn’t. 

Whether it’s not shopping or losing weight or starting a business, change should never be made alone. Figure out what type of accountability works best for you (ex: a weekly check-in with a friend or a monthly coaching call), and decide WHO is the best person(s) to provide that accountability. Set it up and make it happen.

Realize that change is about more than willpower.

I talked about this on my Tuesday Truth on Instagram Live yesterday morning (I do one every Tuesday at 7 AM, PST if you want to tune in!). When we’re faced with making a big change, we often think it’s entirely on our shoulders—and dependent on our willpower—to make that change. But the truth is, change really isn’t about what we can do. It’s about what God can do through us.

There is absolutely no reason I should be any different than the millions of women who struggle with eating disorders and body image issues their entire lives. BUT GOD…and counseling and hard work…BUT MOSTLY GOD. He is able to do immeasurably more than anything we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20), but we have to trust Him and His promises. And we have to stay in constant contact with Him through prayer and scripture and the wise (spiritual) counsel of others. The truth is, you and God together can make any change you’ve been wanting to make…no matter how big and scary it might seem.

Push through setbacks and discouragement.

While I’m fairly confident I’ll keep my no clothes and shoes commitment, there have been other changes that have taken longer or involved more setbacks than this one. (Come on, who can REALLY stop eating dairy altogether???) The road to meaningful, lasting change is often fraught with speed bumps; but one setback doesn’t mean you aren’t making progress.

When you feel discouraged about where you’re at on your path to change, stop and take a look at how far you’ve come. Write down all the things you've accomplished. Celebrate the small victories. Give yourself grace. Know that change doesn’t happen overnight, but it won’t happen at all if you give up.

So what about you? I’d love to hear how you’re trying to change and grow this year! And I’d welcome ANY tips on how you make a change. Leave a comment below!

A Year Without Clothes

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Question: Do you guys ever do something and then immediately think “Oh sh*t! What did I just do?” Or maybe, a better question is: How OFTEN do you have that feeling? I had an “OH Sh*t” moment yesterday when I announced to the world (or the three people who were watching me on Instagram Live) that I would not be buying clothes for an entire year. NO CLOTHES FOR A YEAR? What am I thinking?

However, in keeping with the theme of last week’s Instagram Live, I am going to make my “yes be yes” and stick by my word. NO BUYING CLOTHES (OR SHOES) FOR A WHOLE YEAR.

If you didn’t watch my Tuesday Truth on Instagram Live yesterday, you’re probably wondering why I’m torturing myself this way. The answer is simple: Over the past few years, I have become far too consumed with material possessions—specifically what’s in my closet—and turned to shopping as a stress reliever or general pick me up when I’m having a bad day.

It’s not that I can’t afford the things I purchase. The problem is that I’m not being a good steward of the money God has blessed me with AND the reason I’m buying that item in the first place is seriously flawed.

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing something this drastic for a while now, and last night I heard a sermon by J.D. Greaer at The Summit Church. The whole sermon is worth a listen, but the line that struck me the most was:

“The joy of the Lord is not only our strength, but our contentment in the mundane.”
-J.D. Greaer

You know when you’re sitting in church and you feel God tugging on your heart to confess a sin or make a change or do something outside of your comfort zone? Hearing J.D’s words was like a message straight from Heaven; and all I can say is “Ok God. I hear you, and I’m willing to listen.”

What now?

So, I made the announcement. NO BUYING CLOTHES OR SHOES FOR A FULL YEAR. (Perhaps the repetition and use of all caps will help the reality of the words sink in.) In order to hold myself accountable and prove to myself—and all of you, but mostly myself—that this can be done, I will be doing the following:

1.)  Posting a weekly outfit round-up and an update on my fight to stay the course every Friday on social media.

2.)  Posting monthly reflections on the NO CLOTHES journey on the blog.  

3.)  Creating monthly challenges that each of you can participate in with me, even if you don’t want to go all in and abstain from buying for a year. (Think: No Target for a month; ridding your inbox of promotional emails; and unfollowing fashion bloggers or other folks who feed your discontentment on social media)

4.)  Curating my Pinterest boards to provide outfit inspiration for pieces that I already have in my closet. You can follow my Summer Style Inspiration board.

5.)  Praying and memorizing scripture. (1 Timothy 6:6 might be a good place to start)

Honestly, I’m expecting God to move in my heart and my life in big ways over the next year. J.D said one more thing worth mentioning in his sermon this Sunday:

“God is not upset at you because you want to be happy. He is upset FOR you because you choose to be happy in things besides HIM.”

I’m tired of chasing after lesser things, and I’m ready to shift my focus from temporary happiness to lasting joy.