Flip that tired old New Year’s resolution thing

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New Year’s Day: it’s that magical time when people traditionally make grandiose promises, set ambitious new goals that soon fall by the wayside.


How many failed diets, how many unused gym memberships and dusty pieces of “miracle” exercise equipment result from this tradition?

Enough, I say. Enough!

Unless it’s sustainable, and sustainable in reality – not just in your impulsive imagination – such “resolutions” are huge wastes of time and energy. They’re also soul-killers. They set you up for failure. They teach you that goals and failure are one and the same. Bad, bad, bad!

So here’s your choice. You can slog along with all the other lemmings and endure yet another round of such futile, annual self-flagellation, OR you can try something different. A new approach is just the thing when an old one fails you. Learn and adapt! That’s how life gets better and better is, well, better!

In this case, you might simply opt out and make no changes at New Years. It’s arguably more productive than thrashing yourself and failing again like most people seem to do every year. Still, it’s not very satisfying, is it? Perhaps you can do even better. I’ve done just that, lately. Better! Twice in fact, which brings us to the heart of this post.

Instead of erecting some grand new project in your life,  perhaps you could do the opposite. It’s what I’ve done lately. Each time, I benefited from day one, with additional benefits every day since. Nice, huh?

It’s simple, really. I looked at my life. I looked at how I spent my time and how each expenditure served me. I found two massive time sinks. One was a video game I played on my phone, and the other was Twitter. In each case, I spent lots of time, energy, and will. And in each case, it had gradually, progressively, inexorably become far more of a burden to me than a benefit. Each had gradually become toxic, frustrating, ugly in its own way. And in each case I felt a sense of obligation to others I “knew” in no meaningful sense: acquaintance/strangers from the ether of the internet.

And in each case, I felt a tremendous weight lifted after I (finally) decided enough was enough and walked away. So much time freed up, so much energy, patience, psychic strength, and willpower suddenly available for everything else! It’s hard to put it words, honestly. A new day!

I didn’t dump either of these activities specifically for New Years. In each case, sadly, I simply hit a wall. I’d let the pain & burden progress sufficiently that I couldn’t NOT see the need to leave. Life is like that sometimes. Lessons get more and more impossible to ignore.

I’ve never let any holiday tradition run my life. I can’t, in fact: I usually feel almost allergic to doing what anyone tells me I “should” do. Rebel Scot genes, perhaps. In any case, while my mind accepts the need for rules and norms, my heart hates authority. So it goes.

In each case, I acted out of simple self-preservation, honestly. It had to happen. Otherwise, the cost was getting untenable. Yet with these antiresolutions, I experienced far more relief, progress, and freedom than I have with any “resolution” I’ve ever made. It was the opposite of the resolution thing.

I wasn’t demanding of myself a “should” or giving up a desirable something that l “shouldn’t.” That’s hard and it usually fails. No, in these two cases, I found and dumped a burden. Hence the sudden, ongoing, surprisingly easy benefit. See the difference?

We make our lives so complicated. It presents us with opportunities not to add but to prune our commitments. It’s all about focus and priorities. The fewer targets, the more likely we hit each one for a win.

Gradual changes are far more tolerable, far less noticeable than sudden ones. Consequently, you can tolerate surprisingly huge burdens if they build up gradually, often without even noticing what’s happening. You can carry massive weights this way without appreciating the strain. The relief –  such relief! – when you set such a burden aside is surprisingly refreshing and sweet.

What unnecessary burdens do you carry out of habit, tradition or perceived obligation to strangers? What projects once served your needs, but now hold you back and suck your soul? Think on it a bit: they’re not hard to see once you decide to look. Consider leaving one or two behind. You just might be surprised at how good it feels.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!


  1. Yeah the way I see it is nobody is perfect and nobody ever will be. So gradual, daily improvements are way better and more realistic. Not freaking out when we fall back but continuing on, trying to do better.

    Philosophically, because I tend to go that way, I think there’s even some kind of larger interactive dynamic where we make “necessary” or “unavoidable” mistakes. Some care to try to *not* make them again. Others don’t. The former I call nice people, the latter…


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. In terms of results, concrete steps tend to overwhelm mere plans: action offers a mix of progress and mistakes that teach lessons. I’ve found that as a motivator, better is far more effective than perfect or should. It offers a way to take that crucial first step to actual action, the hardest step, the one that breaks us free of inertia and fear, that much more readily. Momentum results.

      Liked by 1 person

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