You Don’t Need a New Year to Reach for Your Goals

Black and white photograph of the beach. Photo by me
Photo by me

Happy New Year!

Many of us get caught up in setting New Year’s resolutions that come from good intentions but get lost in the mix of daily life. We get back to work, get the kids back in school, and the extracurricular activities pick back up. For many people, the credit card bills roll in as well, like a hangover from Christmas. Then maybe working additional hours to pay those bills adds to the inability to work toward those resolutions.

I gave up New Year’s resolutions a few years ago. I heard someone say they didn’t set New Year’s resolutions because they didn’t need a certain date to set goals, and I loved the idea so much that I immediately adopted it! If I decide I want or need to do something, I need to do it right away. I don’t want to wait for someday anymore.

Someday is not a day of the week. —Joshua Fields Millburn

You don’t need a new year to have a clean slate. Give yourself permission to start over now. Allow yourself to start working toward your goal(s) now. Don’t wait until next week, next month, or next year. Let your heart guide you, and live your best life now.

Black and white photograph of a tree branch with a single dead leaf
Photo by Bea Sz. on Unsplash

But how do you start?

Your goals should come from your heart.

What do you really want? I’m not asking what you should be doing, because we all know what we “should” be doing, right? Minimalist Courtney Carver wrote, “Instead of making the new year about everything you want to change, make it about everything you love.” She offers many suggestions in that article including setting a goal of subtracting something you’re doing. What can you remove from your life that isn’t adding value?

Don’t tie your success to the results. When you are hyper-focused on the end of the goal…you discount everything that unfolds along the way. There is great opportunity for growth and joy long before you reach the end. What’s more successful than that? – Courtney Carver

Black and white photograph of a snow covered creek. Photo by Tono Graphy on Unsplash
Photo by Tono Graphy on Unsplash

Start small.

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, would say that we need to start with small behaviors and habits in order to achieve bigger goals. New behaviors create a lifestyle change, and our outcomes come from that – not the goals themselves. Start small! He wrote a good article about why resolutions fail.

Make it so easy you can’t say no. – Leo Babauta

Let Go of Guilt

I’ve written this in other posts: let go of guilt. Feeling bad that you didn’t accomplish something or haven’t been putting in enough effort toward a goal won’t motivate you. It just keeps you down.

You’re not gonna feel like doing what you have to do all the time. That’s the truth and it makes you human. Don’t beat yourself up for leaning into the lazy space now and then. Just don’t claim that space as your new identity. You have places to go and goals to crush. – Mel Robbins

Black and white photograph of trees growing in a lake. Photo by Dave on Unsplash
Photo by Dave on Unsplash

My non-New Year’s Resolutions

I want to continue to spend as much time with my little boy as I can. He makes me laugh and experience pure joy and I want to maximize this.

I plan to continue working on my health by creating individual small habits (per James Clear) centered around diet, fitness, and mindfulness.

I want to spend more time writing and I will continue my quest to find alternatives to using disposable items, plastic items, and striving for zero waste.

I am continually working on my journey toward minimalism.

I am continuing to work on building my self-confidence and I’m still learning how to say no. I’ve just downloaded Sarah Knight’s newest publication on audiobook, F*ck No!: How to Stop Saying Yes When You Can’t, You Shouldn’t, or You Just Don’t Want To. I’ve also joined Mel Robbins’ #BestDecadeEver course.

Those are by no means an exhaustive list. They’re just the ones that spilled out of my heart without me thinking too hard about it. Listen to your inner voice for those – that’s where the good stuff is.

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Film Review: “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things”

Minimalist space, dining room with living space and windows overlooking water in background.
Image by Jean van der Meulen from Pixabay

How might your life be better with less? Ponder that for a moment. And then please read on!

Have you seen this documentary? That’s the question Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus pose. It’s about more than just minimalism in relation to stuff. It’s about the over-consumptive, planned obsolescent, mass-marketed culture that we live in, and how dissatisfied we are in our culture. A “documentary about the important things” really means just that. It’s not the stuff in our lives that’s important. Check out the trailer:

It leaves an impression

I watched this about a year and a half ago, and I liked it. But I recently re-watched it, after having gone through all the changes our family has gone through since watching it the first time: eliminating many toxic products; reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up; getting away from plastic products; reducing our household waste; etc. We got rid of stuff and had a big yard sale. We’ve been constantly reducing our material possessions, little by little, because it’s a process. So this time I viewed it with a new perspective!

And I was even more impressed by it. In the first few minutes, it featured video footage of the same Black Friday videos I had watched when I wrote my article on the consumer day of insanity! I was captured by the documentary for a second time.

These guys are really awesome and other than their book, they’re not selling anything. They are trying to spread the idea of minimalism and living life in the pursuit of happiness.

But what is minimalism?

I know it sounds like a trend, and it’s hard to define in one quick sentence. But it’s really just a way of living, and it can be different for everyone. It does not mean you give up all of your possessions, your house, your car, your boat. etc. It just means refocusing your life on what’s most important to you. It’s about becoming aware of your life and your behaviors.

The Minimalists, Millburn and Nicodemus, have a website where you can read about how they define minimalism. But here’s what they call an “elevator pitch” definition:

Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.

Define success and happiness for yourself

We live in a society that teaches us that success is defined by income and material possessions. Earn more, buy more, buy bigger. What if we all start defining success in a different way? Success can be measured in so many other ways than by career title, income, and how big your house is! Let’s decide for ourselves instead of letting society do it for us.

Maybe you want to spend more time with your children. Maybe that means you quit working 60 hours a week for a smaller salary. Perhaps you’re tired of working all the time to pay the big mortgage payment on the big house. That could mean moving into a smaller home, with a smaller mortgage, with fewer belongings; the trade-off might be having more cash for travel, spending less time cleaning the home, and less stress because your finances are less stretched. It could be any number of scenarios. Again, how might your life be better with less?

The Environmental impact of Minimalism

Consumerism is also ruining the environment through the sheer production of so much stuff! The less we consume, the less we waste. Watch The Story of Stuff for the environmental impacts of the cycle of production and consumption. You buying less means money for other things and less pollution – that’s a win-win!

The film is available on Netflix. If you don’t have Netflix, it’s available for rent or purchase on Amazon as well. Remember to always check your local library first. The Minimalists have two TED Talks as well, both worth watching. This one, entitled “The Art of Letting Go,” I found to be really moving:

I really like these guys. I don’t know if they’ll be touring again, but if they do, I hope to go see them. Their book, Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life, is equally inspiring. I highly recommend reading this book and viewing the film as well. Also check out my review of their newest book, Everything That Remains.

Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life book cover

We all have the power to make our lives better. And we all have the power to make great changes to the environment. I’m going to keep striving for less stress, less waste, and more happiness. What will you do? What improvements in your own life can you make?

Feel free to leave me a comment below. As always, thanks for reading!