Generally, I love New Year’s resolutions. I love reflecting on the past year and planning for the future. I love how everything feels full of opportunity.
But this year was different. I was feeling like I had been pulled in so many directions for the last couple of months that the thought of adding a new goal to my plate just felt overwhelming.
And besides, research shows that now is the time when the majority of New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside. I knew that if I tried to add a resolution to my life, I would fall into this trap.
So this year, instead of trying to add a new habit to my life, I’m flipping the script: I’m removing the waste. I’m using January to reset—to be more purposeful about how I spend my time and my resources—fiscal, material, and otherwise. My goal here is to rediscover what’s most valuable and remind myself that I can live without the rest.
Part of what sparked this was realizing that the small things add up. Ten minutes wasted here and there adds up to hours each week. A quick $5 spent here and there can have a big financial impact over time.
To remove the waste from our lives, we first had to understand where the waste was. My husband and I identified three main areas: time, money, and things. I know…those are broad categories, so I’ll get more specific.
I’m not the first or the only person to realize that I spend way too much mindless time scrolling through social media. Facebook, mostly. And I do it completely by accident most times. It’s like muscle memory—I habitually open it and scroll until something stops me. How much time have I wasted just scrolling? I don’t even want to know.
Now, the Facebook app is off my phone and I have to go there in a mobile browser and login. On my laptop, I tend to habitually start typing Facebook in the browser when I need a brain break. Most times, now that I’m focused on it, I can catch myself at “Fa” and close the tab.
I don’t think I’m going to miss the mindless scrolling. And this will help with my one “add-on” goal of doing 10 minutes of movement or exercise each day.
Over the holidays, I had gotten a little spend happy. To my credit, it was mostly small purchases, like $5 or $10, but it still adds up. It seems so mindless in retrospect, and I’d rather my purchases be purposeful.
This one feels harder to plan for than the social media scrolling, so it will require a lot of discipline to stop myself in the moment before handing over the cash or swiping the card.
When you have four kids, you acquire a lot of stuff. And we’re not always good about removing physical possessions from our lives when we don’t need them anymore. Each day in January, we’ll be removing 10 things from our house. So far, we’ve removed mostly baby stuff and old documents, but the fun continues all through the month.
We’re recycling and donating a lot of what we don’t need, and we plan to have a yard sale in the spring or summer to get rid of even more. I think this physical decluttering will help even more with my mindfulness efforts.
While my efforts for this January are mostly personal, I think all of this ties into how we find success at work, as well. It’s important to take stock of which activities are adding value and which ones take up your time but don’t move you forward. The unnecessary things you do each day can really weigh you down. And the first step in knowing which activities are which is being mindful about how you spend your time.
Take a minute—or a month—to be more purposeful in your work and your life and see where it takes you.