As I was looking through my archives (that is, My Documents folder on the external hard drive), I came across this talk that I gave at MOPS at the beginning of 2008. Hard to believe that was four years ago! However, after reading through it again, how appropriate it is still! I thought I’d share it with you all:
A Better Kind of New Year Resolution
This is the time for New Year resolutions! So what did you claim as your resolution(s) this year?
Top resolutions that people make are:
1. Spend more time with family and friends
2. Exercise regularly
3. Lose weight
4. Quit smoking
5. Quit drinking
6. Get out of debt
7. Go back to school
8. Learn something new
9. Grow more spiritually
10. Get organized
Most of the time when we make New Year resolutions, we bring out the paper and pen and start writing a list. “I need to do this, I need to do that. Life will be better when I do this.” Then what happens? We lost the list or throw it out when we think we’ve failed by January 5th and don’t want to be reminded of our good intentions. I read that four out of five people will break their resolutions each year and 33% don’t even make it past January.
Most of the time when we make resolutions, it’s because we have a desire to change something about us or our life. And one of the reasons for that is because we have found ourselves in bad habits. It’s a long known fact that it takes 21 days in order to form a new habit, yet we seem to give up well before the new habit we want can set in. I think this is because our resolutions are far too big with no specific goals in mind.
I’ll share one of my resolutions for 2008 with you. Instead of vowing that I will find more time for myself, I decided to be more specific and choose something fun I like to do, instead of choosing something that I need to do. I have resolved that this year, I will read whatever I want for 30 minutes each day. I LOVE to read, therefore I LOVE books, and I have way too many of them. They are beginning to overtake my bookcase and my claimed corner of our master bedroom and have even outnumbered the dust bunnies living under the bed (and there was a huge colony of them last I looked!). I can’t pass up a bargain on a favorite book, and having ANY time to browse the Christian bookstore is my husband’s greatest anxiety in life.
And while I have a good many books that I can’t wait to read, I never seemed to get one entirely finished. So this year I’m taking 30 minutes a day to read, whatever I want – whether it’s a magazine, novel, or non-fiction. And I’ll read wherever I want – on the couch with a cup of coffee, or on the toilet if need be. Finally I have also resolved that I will NOT wait until laundry is done, the house is clean or dinner has been decided before I sit down to read in a chosen book for that precious 30 minutes. Presenting a resolution in this form sounds a lot more decadent and easier to do, don’t you think?
Another reason for not succeeding with our resolutions is because of clutter. We all need good change in our life, but when we don’t see immediate success, we give up. This is because of the clutter in our midst that gets in our way and makes it easy for us to forfeit our resolve.
Clutter. That reminds me of my resolution every year – get better organized, purge and get rid of clutter that I don’t need. I certainly believe that to be one of the most popular resolutions. How many of you have resolved this for 2008? Do you want to purge your closets? Learn how to better file household papers? Keep the kitchen counter free of clutter? Or just find a system to help you find a roll of toilet paper when you most need it?
Just for the heck of it, I Googled “home organization” on the internet, and did you know that there were 37 MILLION results?? For “organized living” there were almost 4 million results and for “get organized”, over 11 million! So it seems like there are many people out there who desire to get organized, and even more who claim to be experts in getting you organized. But what really is our biggest barrier?
While I’m a big proponent of being organized and clutter-free (a dream of mine for sure!), it’s not the clutter on the kitchen counter or in our bedroom closet that I’m talking about, but the clutter in our mind. This clutter is what keeps us from making progress – no matter what our resolution may be.
So what is the clutter in our mind? It’s the “thought-stuff” which keeps us from carrying out the changes that we want to make for ourselves. It’s the junk we carry that prevents us from succeeding or even starting something good. With the clutter, we choose changes that are so unexciting or uninspiring that we find we really don’t want to start them, we just feel that we have to. Maybe your stuff is stress, anxiety, depression, a financial crunch or another sort of pain that you are dealing with. It may be other circumstances that you grasp to use as justification for why you want to give up on making a change.
A simpler solution for getting rid of the clutter is taking a new, different outlook on life. Focus on small ideas and things you LIKE to do, instead of big “shoulda’s” like one of the top ten I mentioned. One of my mantras this year is from a new favorite song by the group Point of Grace. It’s called “How You Live” and the chorus says:
Turn up the music, turn it up loud;
Take a few chances, let it all out.
‘Cause you won’t regret it,
looking back from where you have been;
it’s not who you knew and it’s not what you did
it’s how you lived.
So how are you living? Are you letting clutter take over your mind and your life? Are you putting aside fun things you enjoy, that if you resolve to do them, will keep you energized and clutter-free? Where have you put yourself on your “to-do” this for 2008?
That’s one reason I picked the resolution I did for this year. It was something just for ME. It’s not overwhelming and it’s not self-defeating. If I don’t get my 30 minutes in, I won’t give up, and will gladly try the next day. Not only that, but it will morph into other good things that I want to do. After I read a book, I will put it in a box so it can be given to someone else to read, or be donated to the library. That will purge my bookshelf and give me more room. It may open up other areas of self-improvement that I had been seeking. And it started with something FUN.
So how about this: Let’s “resolve” together that we will declutter our minds by planning something fun as our resolution this year. Something that can bypass any anxiety or defeat that we may be experiencing right now. Get a piece of paper to make a list of NEW New Year resolutions. But this time, we’ll do a better list – and one that once you get going – will be a longer list because it will have resolutions that you can’t wait to finish! This one you will succeed at because no matter what may be holding you back: excuses, pain or stress, these baby steps will get you going in the right direction. This will be your way of getting organized – cleaning out the clutter in your mind so that we can live life with no regrets!
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Here are some ideas for your NEW New Year Resolutions. While they may seem self-serving, think about what other results will come from it! You’ll get the idea!
· Buy a new music CD once a month that only YOU like. (music appreciation, relaxation or energy – depending on the venue of music!)
· Subscribe to a new magazine, and when you are done with an issue, share it with a friend. (Keep up with what is going on outside your circle; plan quality time with a girlfriend.)
· Read anything you want, 30 minutes a day.
· Make scheduled appointments for having your nails or hair done (take better care of yourself)
· During one grocery shopping trip each month, buy a treat for only yourself (okay, maybe this doesn’t sound positive on the scale, but hey – I read that dark chocolate is actually good for prolonged life!)
· Splurge on a nice journal to write down any of your “thought-stuff” that is keeping you from fulfilling your new resolutions.
· On a monthly basis, go to specialty store you usually don’t go to (like Whole Foods) and buy 3 new foods you have never tried.
· Buy a cute workout outfit (maybe this won’t help you lose weight, but it could motivate you to at least drive to the gym – then who knows?!)