Today I want to ask you about your shopping context.
Why this question is important is because the environments we find ourselves in affect us.
It’s like the fishtank the fish swims in — if it’s clean and aerated (and full of fascinating plastic treasure chests), the fish are likely to be healthier. If the tank is allowed to become dirty and the water dank, the fish are unlikely to thrive, they may even die.
Your shopping context is like the fish tank – it’s the environment that surrounds you when you shop. Being aware of your shopping context is an important part of developing a healthier relationship to shopping. Why? Because you have the power to influence the situations, places and people you surround yourself in – your shopping fish tank, if you like. Unlike the fish.
You want to do all you can to make sure that your context supports you to be the conscious shopper you want to be.
It’s absolutely no good “working on yourself” without taking into consideration your shopping context. That’s like taking the fish out of the dirty tank and putting them in clean water for a period of time… then putting them back into that same dirty fishtank. You gotta fix the tank, too!
So what is your shopping context?
Ponder these questions:
When do you shop most?
What day? What time of day? Is it always during your lunchbreak, because you work in or near the mall? Is it always on Saturday mornings because that’s your weekend routine? Do you need to change anything about when you place yourself in a ‘shopping situation’, to become the conscious shopper you want to be?
How often do you shop?
Daily? Weekly? Many times a day? We’ve met some overshoppers who shop twice a day in stores, then do online shopping at home in the evenings, bringing their tally up to 3 – 4 shopping ‘expeditions’ per day. That’s extreme. But even daily shopping is an immediate red flag, because the frequency of it suggests that shopping is a default activity, possibly something that you are doing on automatic pilot (and something Neradine Tisaj warned about). The frequency of your shopping is part of your shopping context — do you need to change how often you shop to become the mindful shopper you want to be?
How much do you buy?
Shopping frequency doesn’t tell us the entire picture. You may only shop once a month, but boy oh boy, is it a bender of a shopping trip! Your shopping context includes the volume of items you purchase in any one shopping expedition (online or in stores), and how much you spend. What do you need to change about the volume of your shopping, so it is more aligned with the conscious shopper you need to be?
Who do you shop with?
Do you shop alone, or with someone else? How is shopping with that person (or if you shop alone, how is shopping alone) a part of your shopping habits? Sometimes we have ‘partners in crime’ without even knowing it, by our choice of shopping partner. Sometimes shopping alone is the problem – we have no-one to act as a sounding board (or sanity check) when we shop. Is shopping with this person (or alone) helping you to be the conscious shopper you want to be?
Why do you shop?
This is the $64,000 question (and something that the Shop Your Wardrobe program explores in the 12 themes over 12 months). What place does shopping have in your daily routine and your life? How conscious are you of what drives your shopping, beyond the “I just like shopping” or “shopping makes me feel good” responses?
To become a truly mindful shopper, you need to know the answer to those questions. You need to be aware of and tuned into your surroundings.
You need to not only know and understand your shopping context – you need to influence it. You need to be conscious about the situations you place yourself in and the people you surround yourself with — and the impact that they are having on you.
When I did my own year without clothes shopping, understanding and influencing my shopping context was one of the most important aspects of succeeding. I needed to be sure I wasn’t constantly placing myself in situations where the temptation to shop would be overwhelming.
I stayed out of the shops.
I did this as part of my daily and weekly routine, and I also did it for two long overseas trips (overseas trips were my weakness – I had noticed a pattern where I did a lot of shopping when travelling). I set myself up to succeed by waking up and tuning in to my surroundings.
I can’t tell you what a monumental difference that tuning into my shopping surroundings made on my journey back to conscious consumption. I would probably still be shopping like a whirling dervish if I hadn’t taken that time to consider my shopping context, and to actively change it so that it supported, not hindered, me in my journey.
So that’s me. What about you?
What is your shopping context?
Take some time now to consider your answers to the questions above about your personal shopping context. Take some time with a cup of fragrant tea or a long cool drink and your journal and write down your answers. You may be surprised at what you discover when you spend some time with these questions and answer honestly. There’s no need to judge, just reflect and observe.
What is your shopping context? How is that context impacting the shopping you are doing right now? And how happy are you with the shopping you are doing? What needs to stay the same, and what needs to change?
And if you’re not sure of the answers to the above questions and it’s a priority for you to become a more conscious consumer, then consider joining one of our paid programs here at Shop Your Wardrobe (here’s the link to the year-long program) – we’d love to have you join us.
and get your assessment tool: Are You Addicted to Shopping?
and report and email series: The 12 Secrets to Less Shopping - More Style