Tired of New Year’s Resolutions? Try the Opposite.

Take a little bit of weight off those shoulders.

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Photo by Siddhant Kumar on Unsplash

You’re busy. I’m busy. Everyone’s busy. Who the hell has time for New Year’s resolutions? But, if you don’t make them, you’ll probably feel guilty for not trying to improve your life. Am I right?

Here’s the thing. If you try to add another god-damn thing to your plate, you might very well be crushed to death. I’ve heard it’s been happening to people lately and it ain’t pretty.

Crushed humans aside, adding to our lives probably isn’t feasible. I’m certain that, at the end of the day, most of us have unfinished to-do lists. We already feel hopeless, useless, and stressed beyond belief. Do we seriously want to add something new that is not only difficult but also runs a high probability of failure?

I mean, if you do, I wish you all the best! I sincerely hope you find success. Unfortunately, you face rather grim odds: only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions!

That’s why I would suggest another path. One that won’t add anything new to your already overflowing life, but will instead take something away.

Find something to purge

Several years ago I was cultivating a fledgling writing practice but had no time to write. Between playing soccer on three different teams, going to the gym, and spending time with my girlfriend, friends, and family, my free-time was virtually non-existent.

What did I do? I tried to squeeze in writing whenever I could. I tried to write before work, but then I’d have a late soccer game and sleep in. I tried to write after work, but then I’d want to relax before a busy evening. I tried to write on weekends, but between staying up late, chores, and other errands, it was hard to squeeze in much writing at all.

Finally, I hit a breaking point. If I’m being honest, I totally freaked out. Writing was too important to me to give up on but I could not “fit” it into my schedule. It just wasn’t possible no matter how hard I tried.

What I needed was a new way of thinking.

So, after more than 30 consecutive years, I decided to stop playing competitive soccer. This was a hard choice. My identity was inseparable from the game. But, if I was being honest with myself, something else was more important to me. Part of me wanted to keep playing, to keep caring, but most of me just wanted to quit, to put it aside, and to close that chapter in my life. So I did.

I can’t even begin to explain to you the relief I felt when I made this decision. I still feel relieved to this day! Letting go of competitive soccer has been one of the greatest decisions of my adult life. I gave myself the gift of time and it’s been an incredible gift.

All of us have something in our lives that fills time but doesn’t add much value. Maybe it added more value in the past, but things have changed. Maybe something else has begun to hold more value for you. Whatever your situation, you don’t have to carry on with it just because it’s a habit or because others expect you to. You can take a step back, let go, and be better for it.

Try an anti-resolution this year

While everyone else is trying to add more activities to their calendars, consider striking something off yours. If you’re anything like me, the target might be obvious. But, that’s doesn’t make it easy.

Choosing to say “no” to teammates, family, or friends is challenging. I didn’t want to disappoint my teammates, but I finally realized that my disappointment dwarfed theirs. Putting ourselves first is not something we often think to do, but we must. We aren’t good for anyone if we’re stressed and our minds are constantly fixated on what’s next.

Who knows, by the time next year comes around, you might have cut out enough from your life to want to add something new that brings you real meaning and value. And no longer feeling the need to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders might be exactly the leg-up you need to achieve it.

Written by

Following my curiosity and hoping it will lead me to wisdom. I write about science, meditation, and spirituality.

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