Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Minimalist Resolutions

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.