Today’s amazing guest post comes from the very talented Jill Chivers. Jill is an Australian reformed shopaholic who is now an advocate for conscious shopping. After successfully completing her own year without clothes shopping, Jill launched the world’s first online membership site for other women who want to slay their own shopping dragon and create a healthier relationship to shopping, themselves, their wardrobes, and their wallets. Jill has been interviewed about compulsive overshopping by countless media outlets, including ABC4, NBC affiliated King 5, the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle ,and the Wall Street Journal.
Since I have undertaken my own shopping bans and experiments, and since I know that many of you are interested in shopping habits, relationships with money, and related topics, I thought that sharing Jill’s story here would be helpful and enlightening. And if her words resonate, do take a moment to check out www.shopyourwardrobe.com. It’s a great resource.
Read on for Jill’s story.
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Imagine standing at the bottom of a large mountain. The day is blustery and a little chill. You look up and see in front you a large mass of earth and rocks and scrubby bushes. You can’t remember getting here, but here you are. The mountain is real. You’re at the bottom. And there’s only one way forward.
This was me in early December 2009. The mountain I found myself in front of was a shopping problem. Well, more accurately, an overshopping problem. It had dawned on me slowly – I was buying too much. I was wearing too little. I had racks and racks of stuff I didn’t need, or even want. How did it get there? How did I get here?
Recognising I had a shopping problem was quite painful for me. I wanted to pretend I didn’t have a problem, and I succeeded in doing that for a long time. Months. Over a year. But the whispering – you have a problem with shopping! – grew louder, and louder. Until it became a shout and I couldn’t ignore it any longer.
I had become very good at minimising the problem – surely it’s not that bad! It’s just a few shoes for goodness sake! – through to justification – well, I have the money to cover it and we’re not in credit card purgatory – how bad can it really be? And finally landed at acknowledgement – well, it’s real, it’s here, I can’t ignore it anymore – my shopping is spiralling out of control. And blessedly, shortly after that came action – what can I do about it?
A key moment for me was the insight: I needed to stop shopping for a year. I talked to my husband and close friends about taking a year off from clothes shopping and all of them responded positively. “Do it”, they said. The best ones said “You can do it”.
And so on December 15, 2009, I started my year without clothes shopping. Fear was my constant companion for many months. Fear of failure. Fear of other people’s judgement, criticism and ridicule. Fear of something I couldn’t even describe – the best I can describe it is that I feared missing out on something.
I had many ups and downs during my “year.” I had a few tears and some frustration. Some self recrimination. I had moments when I wondered why are you doing this stupid challenge? What are you trying to prove? At times, I was listless and directionless and dispirited.
And I also experienced great grace. Flashes of insight so clear and bold that they took my breath away. Feelings of utter presence and completeness that confirmed I was on the right path. Connections with others so profound and meaningful that I knew there was richness and purpose to my journey. It was truly a profound and life changing journey. I learned much about myself, my shopping, my relationships, my failings and talents.
Now over two years “clean” with my own overshopping problem, much has changed. I no longer feel a compulsion to shop and my life is so full and varied, I can’t imagine wanting to spend a day at the mall.
I still love clothes and style, but now it’s geared more toward “shopping my wardrobe” than shopping in the stores. There’s so much creativity to be found in creating a unique ensemble out of pieces I have owned for years!
The online program I designed to help other women who shop too much and want to stop, My Year Without Clothes Shopping, continues to attract members from around the globe, and those who have finished the journey report its transformational impact on their lives, their wallets, their wardrobes and their self-esteem.
I am asked to share my story regularly with entrepreneurs and women’s networks. I am invited to work with others frequently, to write articles, create videos, and deliver teleseminars and workshops. And I have appeared in over 40 media stories in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Europe. And none of this would have been possible without that first step. That first step of acknowledgement. Of stepping into the fear, rather than away from it.
And then taking the next step. Then the next.
Image courtesy justbe.