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I have been following Nancy Ray, a local Raleigh photographer and blogger, for a while now, so I have heard her talk about her Contentment Challenge quite a bit. I even followed her when she did it for the second time several years ago. I always thought, "I don't buy that much unnecessary stuff and I'm all about decluttering and not having excess, so I don't think the Contentment Challenge is for me." But when Nancy announced that she was going to be doing the Contentment Challenge for a third time started January 1, 2019 I felt this tug to give it a try. And then if that wasn't enough, my friend Molly texted me and asked if I was going to do it because she was thinking about it. So I knew then that I would be jumping on board for this three month challenge.
For those not familiar with the Contentment Challenge, Nancy has a great post that explains it here. Basically, you don't buy anything but necessities for 3 months and instead find your rest in Jesus and contentment rather than things and shopping. Some of you are like "man, that sounds terrible, why would you do such a thing?" And then others are like "wow, that sounds so refreshing!" I fall into the "wow, that's so refreshing" category so I thought why not, let's do this thing.
So for the last three months I've been doing this challenge and now that we are in April it is complete! So I'm sharing a recap of each month and my thoughts on how it all went down:
After shopping for Christmas presents and redecorating our house - thanks Cozy Minimalist Home - I was ready for a break from shopping and felt like I was shopping/spending more than I was used to. I was also losing sight of being content with what I have even though I have WAY more than enough. But multiple trips to Target and Home Goods will do that to you.
So the first part of January I started off just fine and this contentment thing was easy! Then halfway through the month my husband decided we should go to Target one Friday night to just "look around" and buy some "necessities" that we really did need. Well I knew that was going to be a disaster before we started. As soon as I walked by the Home section I was drawn to the pillows - they FINALLY had long pillows for the middle of the couch in the neutral colors I was envisioning. I had basically given up the effort of searching for one and knew that I would resume it once the challenge was over, but there they were right in front of me. I walked away and decided it was a lost cause again and I'd reassess once the challenge was over, so I'd call that a win! But an even bigger win is that my husband is amazing and went out and bought the pillow for me a few nights later and surprised me with it. Is that cheating? I think not...I just call that a good life decision when choosing a spouse.
After that the rest of the month was pretty easy and smooth sailing, until I accidentally bought an unnecessary item and realized it the next day. We were in Colorado skiing with friends and we all decided to go walking around the shops one day. I saw this cute wood ornament that had the Breckenridge ski mountain logo on it, and since Christmas ornaments are a great way to remember a place but not take up a ton of space, I thought it would be the perfect way to remember our trip. So I bought it after discussing with Nick. Well apparently both of us forgot the challenge and the next day I realized what I had done! The horror! But not really, I justified it by saying we were getting it to remember our trip and it was $7. Seven dollars. So I hardly think that's a big deal. And I didn't buy it because I was searching for contentment in that ornament. Now the long sleeve adorable t-shirt I was eyeing and thankfully didn't buy, yes. I probably would have returned it if I bought it by mistake.
The middle of February marked the halfway point of the Challenge and I could hardly believe that it was already half over when I got the email from Nancy Ray! I think I did okay throughout February, although I did catch myself seeing cute swimsuits online (thanks Facebook and Instagram ads) and thought they might be nice to have. Except that I have plenty of swimsuits and I mean, it was February. But one of the best feelings from this month was a feeling of contentment in our home. Nancy sent out an email during the month and it had the definition of contentment listed which is: a state of happiness and satisfaction. I think I said to Nick at least once a week that I would just look around at our house and be so satisfied with it. I mean I did just redecorate last November/December, so we would likely have a problem if I decided I didn't like it already, but the point being that I truly was feeling satisfied and content with our house. Except when we had to replace the heating/cooling system during February. A little bit of discontentment there. No accidental purchases in February, so not as exciting of a month to report on as January was, but overall a solid experience for month 2!
I did it, I did it! I made it through the Contentment Challenge! March is where it started to get a bit tougher. The true test was when I went to the Outlets with my mom to help her shop for a few things and did not buy anything for myself. I found plenty of items that I would have liked, and even started trying to talk myself into buying them - "There is only one week left in the challenge, it's close enough". But through that reminded myself the whole point of the challenge, which was that I didn't need anything else and to find contentment in ways other than shopping. I then started thinking about all of the things I wanted to clean out of my closet rather than what I wanted to add to it - a great tactic when walking through all of your favorite stores with their new spring clothes on display.
What this truly taught me though, is that I am not tempted to want to buy things unless I see it right in front of me. The other months of the challenge weren't very difficult because I didn't go shopping and wasn't presented with something new, so I didn't feel the desire to buy it or want it. But when I did go shopping in March I started wanting certain things even though I didn't have a need for them. This is usually why I only go shopping when I have a purpose or I am ready to buy. That way I don't spend unnecessarily just because I see something that would be nice to have!
I am glad the challenge is complete, although it actually went by way faster than I thought it would! I'm definitely not going to go out and start buying a ton of things, but I have a few items on my list that I'd like to purchase in April. The biggest takeaway for me was that I have plenty and the desire for the shiny and new usually goes away after a couple of days when I realize I don't actually need it. My contentment does not come from material things, but in the ways that I spend my time and the relationships I cultivate!
Have you done the Contentment Challenge? Or have any questions about my experience? I'd love to connect with you, so feel free to reach out via email or Instagram, or leave a comment below!
April 10, 2019
Great job! I know shopping with me was very difficult but you stuck to your challenge! Very proud of you!
I love this! Thanks for sharing. Many of your thoughts I can absolutely agree with. I think i’d Like to give it a try sometime :) PS – yay Nick 🥰