Will what got me here… not get me there?

Hello to you all, I hope you’re having a lovely, relaxing Sunday :) I’ve been taking it easy, catching up on some much needed sleep and getting a few little bits and pieces done around the house that I have been putting on the long finger. It’s a good feeling eventually being able to check them off the list :)

There has been something on my mind recently that I have been meaning to write about for a few weeks now and I think it was summed up nicely in a book title I stumbled upon online called “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”. I haven’t read the book, but the title seemed to strike a chord with me, particularly because my blog is called “How I Got This Far”.

I started my blog last year for a few reasons. To share some information as to how I have managed to get by on a small income and get out of underemployment and then unemployment and back into the black and as well to motivate me to continue the good habits and to connect with like-minded bloggers and learn and grow through it. I thought it might help somebody somewhere, and perhaps also myself.

I had begun some behavioral therapy as I was swinging back into some very old stress-related bad habits and my health was rapidly deteriorating. My therapist, a wonderful woman, gently said to me that it was important for me to create some “rewards” and “interests” not connected to my work. My sister suggested blogging as it would be a regular thing that I could do and enjoy. Beginning to enjoy saving meant that I could achieve my 10k savings goal last year and I have slowly but steadily made progress in my self-esteem.

A few months ago, before I took my long-awaited holiday to Canada, my therapist recommended I read a book called “The Princessa” by Harriet Rubin. One section in particular really struck a chord with me, which was about “power anorexics”, people with almost paralyzingly low self-esteem. When I read about the behaviour of such people and saw my on reflection in the words, I immediately vowed to turn this on its head. There are some suggestions in the book as to how to combat it. With the assistance of my therapist I got to the point where three weeks ago, I was able to bring up the subject of AND negotiate a title change at my work review! I was thrilled about this, it is a complete turnaround for me.

The dilemma is that I am getting the feeling that the careful frugality that got me through everything so far just isn’t going to bring me onwards. Please allow me to explain a little more. I am very thankful for the employment I have and for the opportunity that I have to advance. One obstacle that I am feeling at the moment is that I don’t have the correct work wardrobe for the role and am more and more frequently being asked to participate in client meetings.

I signed up to Missussmartypants.com about a month ago because I have been listening to her podcasts for probably a year now and like the fact that she has a system for getting your style together and just getting what you need. I also like that she advocates shopping second-hand when possible. So I guess what I am trying to say is that I have been uncharacteristically buying a lot of clothes recently!

I started by donating clothes that I don’t wear or don’t flatter my body shape to make room for new ideas. The next task is to find out what you are missing. I was missing some basics, and dresses and skirts and footwear that would allow me to wear dresses or skirts! Most days I go and try to find some of these articles on my list (both new and second-hand) and I’m about a third of the way through the list. But on Sunday evenings I have been preparing my work wardrobe for the next five days in advance. It feels like a lot of investment right now!

Then on Friday I found out that I will be given an assignment to do that is usually given to someone of a much higher level than me next Friday and I am very excited about being given that chance to prove myself able. I think this is down to opening my mouth and asking for what I want when it comes to my career. Has it got anything to do with my new “presentable” look? LOL! Perhaps…

I love to read blogs by other people trying to live simply, alternatively or save money and live greener. I find it really inspiring and uplifting and it encourages me to do the same. But at the same time, it feels like my career is calling me to invest in how I look in a way to come across as professional and capable and this is causing a kind of inner conflict for me. Do we really have to spend money to make money?



  1. I haven’t quite made it to the point of actually having much in the way of savings yet but I do think that the point of saving and being frugal is so that when there is something that you need to buy, you can do so without having to worry about where the money is coming from. Investing in a professional wardrobe if it’s something that will help you to get where you want to be careerwise is the sensible thing to do. And it sounds like you’re going about it the right way, making sure to build up a usable wardrobe with interchangeable pieces, working from a list, etc. If you’ve finished your list and find yourself still going shopping every day, then it might be time to reconsider what you’re doing but for now, you’ve set a goal and have to go for it. It’s kind of important not to go too far over to the “Geiz ist geil” side of things, too.

    By the way, I got an email that you commented, don’t know what’s going on with bloger not showing names and everyone being anonymous and then your comment didn’t actually show up on the post. Weird. But I was delighted to find another Irishwoman living in Germany and blogging about somewhat similar stuff, too. I originally wanted to try and move to Hamburg but then I realised it’s at almost exactly the same latitude as Dublin and I was trying to get away from the rain so… …

  2. Thanks Moonwaves, I think if the climate was a factor for you, then you made a good choice! I chose Hamburg because there were plenty of vacancies here for the industry I work in. Perhaps saving money “in the wrong place” (i.e. in my work wardrobe) isn’t the most sensible thing to do at this point. It just feels so strange after so many years of not having the means to do something like this. I guess it will be worth it :)

  3. Thanks Moonwaves, I think if the climate was a factor for you, then you made a good choice! I chose Hamburg because there were plenty of vacancies here for the industry I work in when vacancies elsewhere were few and far between. Perhaps saving money “in the wrong place” (i.e. in my work wardrobe) isn’t the most sensible thing to do at this point. It just feels so strange after so many years of not having the means to do something like this. I guess it will be worth it :)

  4. Well, I think there’s a big difference between spending money on clothes that you want just “because” and clothes that you need for work. (And as much as I hate the concept, I do think that in a professional situation people take you more seriously if you dress appropriately.) I think of work clothes more like tools than clothing – the same way as I think of my bike clothes more like equipment than fashion. I just don’t think those are the same thing as recreational fashion shopping.

  5. I hate the concept of that too, but I think it is in fact reality that people think those who are well dressed are automatically more knowledgeable. I hadn’t thought about the analogy between them and tools, I guess you’re right in a way.

  6. If you were working on a farm, would you worry about buying overalls, jumpers, wellies and workboots? It’s just ‘equipment’, in my opinion. I think Missus SP will be a great help. All you really need is a basic wardrobe that is timeless; then you can spark it up with colour or whatever you like and that’s often easy to find at the second-hand shops. Good luck and have fun! Not much point spending if you don’t enjoy it!
    ~ Linne

  7. LOL! True enough Linne, I really hadn’t seen it as “tools” (like EcoCatLadye said) or “equipment” like you say. I guess it’s just never really been important to me and all of a sudden I have nothing to wear, so it’s more like a task I need to get done at the moment. I wouldn’t say chore, but it is taking up a lot of time at the weekends that I would prefer to be relaxing. I guess it’s just not a hobby for me!

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