Minimalist Resolutions

January 7, 2015

I absolutely love the clean slate of 1/1, and every year, I create an exhaustive list of resolutions.  But I’m a great starter and a lousy finisher when it comes to these large-scale projects.  It turns out that yes, the experts are right — changes are much more likely to actually stick when they are not employed 12 at a  time in a grand, frenzied flourish.

This year is the year that I think I finally (finally) started to understand that.  It was also a year where I actually did make a number of changes that stuck, including:

— switching to paleo eating

— getting a streamlined morning routine going (to allow for outdoor runs before work).

— flossing every day.  This one took years.

— quit reading an addictive website cold turkey

— began tracking all expenditures in YNAB

It may not sound like a lot, but for me each of these changes feel very significant, and they all feel like improvements.  They are also all habit now — I reflexively reach for my phone to log a lunch out as soon as I hand over my credit card, and I don’t think of grains as something I typically eat.

The thing is:  every one of these changes was made in isolation.  There was no all-encompassing list or life-makeover.  So, in 2015 I am going to avoid doing what I’ve done almost every year without much success, and I am going to try for a series of small changes.  My overall goal is to increase my own presence; to be an active participant in life.  I’d like to weaken the tether to my iPhone and other electronic devices.  I’d like to have more fun and slow down.

But those are vague things, and just writing them is not going to help make them happen (I’m sure of this, as I’ve written declarations about unplugging 8 zillion times with no dice).  I am coming to believe that the most successful route for me is to make just one change at a time, even if it’s a small one.  I’ve read that we vastly underestimate the impact of incremental change over time (this article sums it up nicely), and after the past year I truly believe it.

SO, with all that said, I am not doing a list of resolutions this year — for the first time in at least a decade.  I will aim for one change at a time, some of them small, and hope to come out of 2015 with better habits than I entered with, but habits that are actually sustainable.  I’m going to plan on trying one small change a month, but some things might take longer than that.

January:  My resolution is to read every day with the goal of hitting at least 5 minutes (typically, once I’m immersed I end up reading for significantly longer).  So far I love this one as it takes me away from Facebook and instagram at the end of the day, and I’ve already made a significant dent in one book I’ve stagnated on for months (Wild — just in time for the movie, I suppose).

There are many other things I could resolve to do right now . . . but I won’t.  I’ll keep a running list of things I’ll try later in the year (perhaps a future blog post) but not fixate on them.  I think this approach has much greater likelihood of producing beneficial changes that actually stick — we will see!

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PS:  I wrote about posting a bit less frequently this year.  If you want more, I am on Instagram most days.  Definitely my favorite social media platform right now.

7 Comments

  • Reply Sophia March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    That last picture!

  • Reply Ana March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    ha ha! we do share at least some part of a brain. I was thinking of doing the same thing—one change at a time (january is figuring out all the financial stuff)

  • Reply Mommy Sanest March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I am with you on this. I decided that I wasn’t up for a big "resolutions" post this year. I have goals. I know what those are, and I’m just going to focus on doing them rather than talking about doing them <– that seems to somehow make the follow through tougher for me. I know that’s not the case for everyone.

  • Reply Laura Vanderkam March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I, too, am very curious about the addictive website… I love the 5-minutes of reading. Because it’s easy to do, but once you start, you will keep going. Maybe I should add it to my list too — more reading real books, rather than just internet stuff.

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

      I used to read a blog snark site, GOMI (short for Get Off My Internets). I never posted but reading some of the threads were pretty addictive. There was something nice about seeing honest feedback to blogs (often I would have the same thoughts that people wrote about) but all in all it was too negative for me and just not a great use of (limited) time, so I quit πŸ™‚

  • Reply oldmdgirl March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    LOVE the pic of you and Annabel doing yoga. Priceless! And am so proud of you for continuing to floss. πŸ˜‰

    My goal for the first part of the year is to study for and pass step 3 (I actually don’t think I need to study so much to pass, but have been finding the review of general medicine pretty useful). Not doing so well with the exercising 2/2 being on nights. Will go running today and tomorrow though early. It’s easy for me to go at 6AM these days on my days off since that’s evening for me! I don’t think I’ll ever be an AM runner, and I fear that this will doom me in terms of long term exercising. πŸ˜› Maybe things will get better after residency.

  • Reply susanruns March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I started flossing consistently a few months ago. I ran out a couple days ago and ended up going a day or two without flossing – I was kind of grossed out when I finally got more floss, and that was only after missing a day or two! I can’t believe I didn’t floss all the time before. So easy once you commit to it.

    Also, reading before bed has replaced my phone time – it’s great to get immersed in a book, and I fall asleep so much easier! I guess all those studies are true…

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