What I Learned From A Year Of Not Shopping

We are all striving for happiness.

What I Learned From Not Shopping For An Entire Year courtesy of the author

Yes, that’s right: buying not a thing…

I need to be clear when I tell people this: yes, in 2017, I bought nothing. No new clothes, no shoes, no runners, no accessories, essentially nothing I could put on my body.

The decision was made after watching a documentary on people who had decided to be more minimal in their lives. Excessive spending and the need to constantly buy new things is modern life, its hard-wired into us. New is better; we need, we deserve, we want, we get.


December 2016, I made a decision, a challenge. A challenge is nothing new to me; I challenge my body every day. I train, I challenge, I achieve. 

Physical challenges are to me something I almost take on weekly if not monthly. When I can’t do something, I am hard-wired to make sure that no matter how long it takes, I will at least try it, then master it. We will not go down the handstand story road again, but 6 months of daily practice and tears led to me turning myself upside down.


This challenge has been life-changing for me, and I don’t say that lightly. How, you’d think, could not shopping change your life?

Well, you see, between the initial 'ok so let's do this' enthusiasm to the mid-phase of feeling alien in my own skin and head about wanting, wanting, and wanting new things, to then coming to a place where I had lost the lust, the desire to even go into shops to a place of complete calm. I have what I have; I’ll wear what’s here.

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Do not get me wrong, I still 12 months on have too much stuff.

People have said throughout this year: “I’ve still never seen you in the same thing twice." But after this year of not buying and wanting more, I’ve actually come to know myself better.


This might sound daft, but I actually put a lot of my happiness in consuming, new clothes, new shoes, well, new anything. I attached all those feelings of “oh that dress, those boots, that bag… Well if I have that I will be better, happier and well everything will just be perfect” Take that direct access away from fake short-lived highs and distorted reality of attaching my happiness to material goods, and you then begin an entirely new conversation with yourself.

I never realized how much time new things, clothes and the desire around new took up in my head. And side note, I don’t even online shop so can only imagine the time here that would be added to my equation. 

The real transition came in July, I turned a corner and moved into a place where the lust for new went truly away. Like an addict, the thirst or the taste was gone.


I had transitioned to a new place. Whilst serene initially then my mind opened itself up, and I began to really have some hard conversations.

What do I want from my life, what am I doing, who am I and what’s the big plan and story?

It was through a hard conversation with my friend Gavan that he widened the lens and asked me to challenge myself to truly do a few things this year that terrify me. Not physical challenges, but mental ones.

So I thought about this and realized this was what needed to happen. 

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The free space in my mind from the lack of need to be caught up in the rat race (that we all are... of needing a new dress for an occasion, a new pair of runners because you were tired of the 9 other pairs you own, a new pair of earrings because its Tuesday and your feeling blue….) was about to leave me very vulnerable and in a place where asking myself the hard questions. This was not easy.


I faced so many fears this year through just being completely open. 

It was all this free space in my head I has to; I could no longer avoid it. I had no bag or dress to hide behind. This was it. I did things this year that terrified me, like asking two guys out (terrifying and definitely the hardest thing to do for me) 

I opened myself up to rejection completely, and I didn’t even have a new pair of runners to comfort me when I was rejected on one occasion. I began to see that really talking and laying yourself out there is powerful so now for the last few months I do that once a week on a Monday with my counselor, because its good to start the week of crying I say! Or at least being honest. 


I look after my physical health so much so why did I never think to look after my mind, the place I will live forever. I took on so many physical challenges that I always completed and gave 100% too, but it was these personal and mental challenges for me that really shuck me to my core and made me really evaluate so much.

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It's the end of the year, I am finishing 2017 out in the Southern Hemisphere, I will be traveling solo for 3 weeks. I have no feeling around this than utter calmness. “Are you packed?” Sure, I have nothing really to bring. 


No rushing and no running around frantically buying shite that I will never wear, I’ll bring what I have, and I have what I bring.

As you read this, I know many people will have the questions… “And, well, did you save much money?” 

Of course, I did, but I haven’t a clue of how much and I don’t care. What I really want to tell people is to cool the jets on the shopping and the mass consumption of everything in our lives.

To scale things right back, there is no long-term happiness to be found in material goods, that is an actual fact. It is so short-lived, the last study on this was found that no matter how big or small the purchase 7 seconds was the high and then it left the building!


As people, we are all striving for happiness, we seek it from people, from things and from hopefully within ourselves. 

We look outwardly and see social media and people in real time and think we know them; we think they have it sussed and we look at ourselves and think, shit in need to get my life together.


 I truly believe we are all pretty thrown together, we are all finding our way, and we are just gathering the people who can be on our team in our lives, either as a main player or as a sub that gets the call up when the time is right.

Throughout this year people have told me this year, and my not shopping has inspired them. I really hope it will do more than that, take action from this and maybe think about yourself and your needs before you shop.

Think, deliberate and that want might just go off you after a couple of days, ask yourself some hard questions like “why do I really think I want this?” and maybe it could be as simple as you know its just a distraction from something that might be bothering you or holding you back elsewhere.


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Lisa Regan is all about health, training & having a positive mindset. Follow her on Twitter and check out her Galway-based PR company