This year I did not make a lot of New Year’s resolutions. I resolved to keep pursuing my education and college degree and that was about it apart from one other less-significant resolution. I resolved to stop wearing make-up. For the past six years I have worn make-up on my face on a near-daily basis. It helps to give me more confidence and makes me look less like fourteen-year-old. But lately it started to bother me. It bothered me that I spent fifteen to twenty minutes every morning painting my face instead of eating breakfast and reading my Bible. It bothered me that I was spending precious energy deciding whether I should wear eyeshadow or eyeliner in the mornings, energy that I could be using at work. And then all that work putting my face on just to wash it off at night and do it all again the next day!
I decided to save myself some sleep, time, energy, and money this year and simply not bother with it.
One month into this year and I have to say this resolution is by far the best I have ever made.
Foregoing make-up prompted me to think about all of the other things in my life I invest time and money in—things that do not enhance my life whatsoever. I realized that all of the resolutions I had made in the past fell through because I was going about it all wrong. I was trying to do more—read more, exercise more, eat healthier, cook more, sleep more, memorize more—without realizing that in order to do more I had to first do less. I had to make space in my life.
Maybe you are looking at your list of resolutions with regret, having already failed to follow through even after one month’s time. Or I don’t know, maybe you are an overachiever who always succeeds at everything. Whatever. But if you are one of those people who, like me, struggles to actually make substantial change in your life, if you hesitate to make resolutions for fear of inevitably disappointing yourself, maybe it is because you are focusing too much on all of the things you should be doing instead of looking for the things in your life you could stop doing.
For example, say you resolved to read 100 books this year but you already spend most of your free time binge-watching Netflix. In order to reasonably accomplish your goal you will probably have to give up watching Netflix and maybe even deactivate your Netflix account for this year until you have reached your goal. Because the truth is you do not really want something unless you are willing to make sacrifices for it.
“I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day; how singular an affair he thinks he must omit. When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all incumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run. ”― Henry David Thoreau