Challenge Quarterly Report: Q1 2021

AKA Challenge Update Week 13

Usually, once a week on Saturday, I do a weekly check-in regarding my my progress towards my goal of purchasing no clothes or accessories in 2021. You might think it should be easy: did you buy anything or didn’t you?

But nothing is ever easy with me. As we say in French, “pourquoi faire simple quand on peut faire compliqué?” (Why make it easy when it can be hard?) In December I made up rules for my challenge. Five of them, with Key Performance Indicators and the whole nine yards.

As much as I believe in celebrating everything, I also believe in keeping track of everything. That is how I stay on task: non-squishy rules, grit and my alarm going off at four AM is how I get things done. Getting things done is great, but it’s important to make sure I am doing the right things.

All of this, and because the first quarter of the year ended on March 31, I am going to give my Q1 Challenge Report. Bear with me. This is definitely more for me than it is for you, but you are welcome along for the ride.

Non-Rule related progress

Just for fun, here are a few random things that have happened since my Purchase No Clothes in 2021 Challenge began:

  1. I finally realized, at forty-three years old, that it feels good to be authentic and to stop hiding behind who I think I should be.
  2. I learned that the fear of judgment about my superficial obsession with my wardrobe was unjustified. Or more precisely, that my fear was more paralyzing than the actual judgment ever could be.
  3. I have laughed harder than I remember laughing in years.
  4. I finished editing my first novel and submitted it to a publisher. (Scary scary scary. I’ll tell you about it one day.)
  5. I can finally say that there is a reward for getting up at four AM. I actually have more hours in a day than other people do.
  6. There are hysterically funny and excruciatingly kind ladies in all parts of the world that I hope to meet one day.
  7. I have gained some amazing fodder and encouragement as I prepare to launch my podcast in September.
  8. I have bonded with my sister, aunts and cousins over the foibles of the most comically/tragically entertaining woman who ever lived, my grandmother Gigi.

And now, with no further ado, and in order to keep my boss (that rather severe looking woman at the top of the page) happy, here is my First Quarterly Report:

Challenge Rule One:
Purchase No Clothes and Don’t Covet

Key Performance Indicators:

O€ spent on clothes or accessories.

  • I spent 4€ on the bachelor buttons for my denim obi belt project, but since I can’t just wear buttons alone, I don’t think these count.
  • I have spent more than I would have liked to get two pairs of boots fixed. But visiting Rumpelstiltskin is its own reward, right?

Reduction in sum of covetous thoughts.

  • In the beginning weeks of the challenge I was having 20 intense covetous thoughts a day. This started to subside. I have maybe one more fleeting covetous thought per day now.
  • This was a hard fought battle.
  • I am no longer afraid to appreciate what someone else has: I can be happy that they have it.

Next Steps:
Stick to the rules. Allow the emotions of wanting and craving to complete their cycle instead of trying to shift the thoughts. Most of all: be kind to yourself. Don’t berate yourself if you fail.

Challenge Rule Two:
Complete the Inventory

Key Performance Indicators:

Wear everything at least once in 2021.

  • I am well I my way. I’ve been surprised to find that some pre-baby things I had written off actually still fit and I am happy, so happy to have them back!
  • I still have items that dislodge too many memories to be able to wear, or even look at. I need to deal with those feelings and memories.

The Basement Bin is Empty

  • Raiding the basement bin as fodder for refashioning projects has been helpful: I haven’t needed to buy fabric or zippers. The ultimate goal is to keep stuff out of landfills, so, yay!
  • Many of the negative-feeling dis-lodgers are in that bin. I am paralyzed by them.

Next Steps:
Take the stuff that has all the negative emotional junk to a donation station. Don’t think about it. Just do it.

Challenge Rule Three:
Create a Go-To Catalog

Key Performance Indicators:

Three designated casual “Go-To” Outfits

As we say in French, “le doigt dans le nez”, which literally means “the finger in the nose”, but figuratively means “that is very easy.” This was done very early on in the season.

Three designated polished “Go-To” Outfits

Samesies! The fun has been adding from my fabulous petticoat collection!

Next Steps:
Keep it up. Incorporate some of the newer refashions into the Go-To Catalog. Get creative. Surprise yourself.

Challenge Rule Four:
Practice Wardrobe Mise en Place every day

Key Performance Indicators:

Do mise en place every evening for the next day’s ensemble

  • With very, very few exceptions, this has been done.
  • I am obviously in love with mise en place and will preach it to anyone who will listen.

Next Steps:
Keep it up! Preach mise en place. Get a bumper sticker that reads (to paraphrase a certain tidying guru):


Challenge Rule Five:
Repair and Mend, Alter when Necessary

Key Performance Indicators:

Mend (at least) one item per day

  • Mending is an urgency-based discipline. It is mostly little boy stuff and really hard to plan for.
  • I thought I would perish under the pile of socks, t-shirts, pants, torn gloves, winter coats and stuffed animals which needed mending.
  • If I were to truly mend everything that needs it I would never finish. Some things are just going to have to wear out before I get to them.

Improved sewing/tailoring skills

  • Yes, yes, yes. In three short months my skills have improved exponentially. Scoop-up crotch method, anyone?
  • Also, I am realizing the importance of finishing what I start (those pesky threads, unfinished hems etc…)
  • I enjoy sewing and mending in my own wardrobe way more than I enjoy mending, darning and patching little boy clothes.

Next steps:
Keep mending when necessary. Learn to use darts to tailor dresses and blouses. I’m not sure that when this year is over I will continue darning socks, or at least not with the same rigid attention to detail as I am this year!

It ain’t over yet!

As France heads into a new lockdown, finding the scalawags and their indulgent father home from school for at least four uninterrupted weeks of togetherness therapy, my pounding rhythm of writing and crafting will be disrupted.

However, I am confident that chasing around those rainbow babies is exactly what I am supposed to be doing over the next four weeks, and that neither my wardrobe progress nor my writing will suffer for it. To everything there is a season, right?

Next week I am going to begin a series of articles called, “You should really stop shopping,” with steps to help you help your friend stop shopping (because you aren’t the one who needs to stop, of course. It’s your friend.)

This paragraph is addressed to your friend: These articles are going to include doable steps to help you figure out why you want to stop, what skills you bring to the table to help you stop. You are going to set a timeframe for your challenge and rules and goals for your challenge. I am going to help you think about the accountability you need to keep on track and how to deal with temptation. I am going to expose a few strategies for learning to love what you already own. And most importantly, I am going give you some ideas about how you can reward yourself for meeting goals.

So that’s what’s next.

Let’s do this.

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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