Why Loving Your Style Means Learning to Love Your Limitations

limitations

After working diligently on losing weight over the past year and a half I fell off the wagon this summer…hard.  I didn’t stop going to the gym, but my diet took a serious nosedive.  By August I was like, “Hell yea, let’s have pancakes for dinner!”  It should be stated that I typically avoid sugar, gluten and dairy and also have extremely temperamental blood sugar.   Thankfully, I got back on track this September and not only feel heaps better but am losing weight again.  My success can all be attributed to knowing and embracing my limitations.

People often attribute success to perfection or being able to push past comfort zones.  I don’t necessarily believe these are the only ingredients in a recipe for success.  I believe success also comes from knowing your limitations.  Besides, as Winston Churchill said, perfection is the enemy of progress.

By understanding my limitations around food and cooking, I came to terms with the fact that I will never eat heathy if I have to prepare my own food.   If faced with cooking or opening up my Seamless app to order food, I will open up my Seamless app and order from the gazillion restaurants nearby.  Will I make a healthy choice?  Maybe.  But with so many options to choose from it’s far too easy not to, especially when I am starving.  I even tried Blue Apron and, despite everything I needed being sent to my home in a box, it was too much work.  So the slippery slope of bad food decisions began.  My choice was to either accept this limitation and learn how to work with it or fight with myself regularly.

Instead of beating myself up, thinking I should be making time to cook or that I’m some sort of half-wit because other people can do it and I won’t, I decided to deal with it and create success based on these limitations.

Limitations are liberating

In September I chose to sign up with Kettlebell Kitchen, which is a NY based meal delivery service that makes healthy, clean, Paleo friendly meals for people who either don’t have time or don’t want to cook, but want to eat healthily.   The deliveries arrive at my gym twice a week and I use the service for my lunches and dinners Monday through Friday.

limitations
Left: The pick up fridge at the gym. Top right: My delivery bag. Bottom right: Three days of meals in my fridge.

The success of eating this way has been phenomenal for me, plus the food is delicious.  In fact, when the weekends roll around I actually feel a bit lost without having my food decisions made for me.  Not only did I learn that I won’t cook but that I don’t like too many choices.  You already know what happens to me when I have too many options.  The fact that what I will eat all week is figured out for me frees up so much space in my brain.

Now what is most interesting is that getting to the gym hasn’t been a problem for me because I had already set up a plan that works.  My gym is literally 82 steps from my front door and I never go for more than 30 minutes a day.   People think it is amazing that I work out daily, but, really, the only reason I am successful is because I embraced my limitations.  Could I do more?  Sure.  Will I?  Probably not.  I’d rather have a consistent workout that I am enthusiastic about than a super hard one that I will shrug off daily.

Less is More

During this time of my own liberation from embracing my limitations, I saw an Instagram post of a quote from my good friend Peter Shankman’s new book, Faster Than Normal: Turbocharge Your Focus, Productivity, and Success with the Secrets of the ADHD, that just released.  limitations

Knowing Peter well, I can assure you he does have ADHD and that he has learned to harness it in a very successful way.

Why Loving Your Style Means Learning to Love Your Limitations

So what is my point?  Am I suggesting you pare down your wardrobe as thinly as Peter’s or am I implying that you eliminate distractions to the point that someone else cooks for you?  Well, if that works, sure.  But, essentially, what I am trying to tell you from these two examples is how important it is to not only learn to embrace your limitations when it comes to your own style (and other things), but to actually use them to your advantage so you can win.

A few months ago I wrote about decision fatigue and why the most successful people choose to wear the same outfit regularly and have referenced clients like Ms. Minimalist, a woman would rather have one pair of shoes that work with everything than a closet full of options.  In cases like these, these people have figured out how to create success from knowing their limitations.

Yet, it’s not just about having less, it’s about clearly knowing what you will and won’t do and what you are and aren’t willing to spend your time on.  I always say that life is a like a pie.  It’s up to you if you want to slice it into a lot of thin pieces or fat, thick ones.  You get no more or less time than the next guy, yet you do have control over how you slice up what occupies your time.

Working with your limitations is also about understanding and embracing how your brain works, and instead of working against the grain, learning to flow with it.  Successful people aren’t necessarily the folks who do it all or are always on the go.  Activity doesn’t necessarily mean productivity.  Successful people are those who have learned how to create a world that works with how they are wired.

Your closet is trying to tell you something

Your closet full of clothing doesn’t necessarily mean you’re making bad choices as much as it means you are making the wrong choices…for you.  Perhaps it’s time to accept that you will not iron, no matter how much you like the look of a crisp button down shirt, or that the dry cleaning pile that hasn’t gotten dropped off in months is a sign that either you need to stay away from dry clean only clothes or figure out a system that makes getting those clothes to the dry cleaner easier.   Maybe it’s time to stop buying so much color or that blazers are just never going to happen for you.   Learning and working with these limitations is a good thing, not a failure.

The liberation of accepting your style limitations also comes from finally finding peace with yourself.  Women hardly give themselves enough leeway to be okay with not being perfect and feel oddly guilty when they aren’t struggling, like if you’re not spinning 16 plates while wearing something itchy and uncomfortable you’re not trying hard enough and therefore not worthy of success.   To that I say, give me a break.

As I mentioned in my post about authentic style, the most beautiful women are the ones who have not only embraced who they are, they’ve accepted it and figured out how to make it positive.  So the next time you are struggling with what makes you uniquely you, including what you see as a shortcoming, think about what that struggle is trying to tell you and figure out how to capitalize on it and make it work to your advantage.

 

 

 

  • RachelinOz

    To this I say YES! Although weirdly I can apply unhesitatingly to some aspects on my life, but am slower off the mark with others. 15 years ago I made the decision that pots and pans all went in the dishwasher, regardless of any ‘handwash recommended’ labels. I accept that I may have to replace every 4 years instead of 7, but in the meantime I avoid many years of the time and tedium of daily washing up. However, I’m only in the last couple of years applying this to my wardrobe; wearing out and not replacing pesky dry clean only tops and jumpers (wool suits I will concede to the dry cleaners). I’ve learned that I don’t mind steaming garments, so look for those that can be steamed rather than ironed (up there with washing dishes on the hated chores). Small wins perhaps, but avoiding the brain drain of ‘I love that shirt but have to iron it before each wear so I’ll just go to my next favourite’ is a step forward.

    • I love it and totally get it! Every week I drop off my laundry to be done by someone else and my cleaning lady comes every two weeks, which means I have chosen not to cook, clean or do laundry. It’s worth every penny because I can use the time in ways that are more meaningful for me. One of the most successful people I know told me that the secret to her success was to outsource everything.
      However, on the other hand, I worked with a client who found tremendous joy in keeping her closet maintained. She happily ironed everything before it went in the closet. For her this worked. For me, getting a colonoscopy with a chainsaw sounds more appealing. This is why we all have to do what works for us.
      And AMEN to the steamer! A-men! The best purchase I ever made was a steamer. And, absolutely, moving on to the non-iron pieces in your closet is definitely a sign of progress. The only way to learn is from experiencing situations like that.

  • Kelly

    This is brilliant! And so simple when you think about it !

    • It is so simple and freeing. Letting go makes room for so much more!

  • Lauren A

    I had an AHA moment a few years ago like this. I LOVED stick straight, nonfrizzy hair coupled with an architectural shoulder jacket look. The sleek look- LOVED IT. But I realized it wasn’t ever going to be me- I just couldn’t pull it off with my frizzy, wavy hair and broad shoulders.

    I finally went “well. There are a lot of ways to be pretty. Better find mine.” And gave up on my sleek desired aesthetic and found one that works with my hair and body proportions… and you know what? It’s MUCH more “me” anyway!

    • What an awesome story of learning how to work with the grain and find what works! Go you!

  • Dawn Fields

    When I came to the realization that I just wasn’t ever going to iron clothing I felt so free. Clothes use to just hang in the laundry room literally for months and every time I went in there I felt guilty that I was too lazy to iron them. So one day while gathering all my clothes for the Konmarie decluttering method I gathered all those clothes waiting to be ironed and put them straight in a garbage bag. I don’t know what I threw away but I certainly never missed anything either. I now don’t even own an ironing board! I have an iron only if I have to really touch up a collar or something.

    • I love it. It really is a free feeling. When we registered for our wedding 10 years ago I registered for a steamer and didn’t even bother with an iron even though the one I had was total crap. I also hate that screeching sound when you open an ironing board. My cats always go running under the bed.

  • Patricia

    Food for thought. I’m happiest with well planned but fewer choices. When I travel, I have a limited wardrobe but love everything I packed. Which is why I’m working towards a much smaller closet. I’ve stopped shopping.

    I want to apply this to other areas of my life. I’ve got some thinking to do. I can force change in me but it’s very difficult. Much easier to work with my basic nature/ skill set and change my technique.

  • Melissa Friesen

    Such great advice! I need to come to peace with only shopping petite sized clothing; I feel like a teenager dressing in her mom’s clothing every time I try on regular sized clothing. It’s always “close” but not quite right, which is obvious to me as soon as I try the same item in petite. It’s frustrating because it limits clothing options but I can turn that thought around and appreciate that I’m not overwhelmed with choice. On another note, just as I’ve recently made peace with blazers as not being part of my authentic style or lifestyle, I see that blazers are highly trending this season. Oh well, I’ll sit that one out.

  • Stacie Bussey

    First, Happy (upcoming) Anniversary to you and your husband!!!!!
    I loved this post, and am trying to incorporate this into all areas of my life. It seems like the more options you have it would be so much better but in reality it doesn’t. My husband and I were just talking about a sandwich restaurant called “Which Wich”…I told him I’ve only been once because there are TOO Many options which confuse me:)) I’m trying now to pare down my closet by figuring out -what is my style? what am I comfortable in? Thank you for this insight

    • Oh thanks so much! 10 years goes so fast. Did you ever watch the video I shared in a post called the Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. It’s a book too. Speaking of my husband, whenever we hit a buffet he takes my hand and jokingly says, “It’s okay honey, I’ll get you through it” because I literally shut down when I have too many options. Ironically, I can do it with no problem when shopping for clients. I am really glad this post helped you and thanks for the comment!