I love the opportunity for fresh starts the New Year brings. Some say there’s nothing magical about January 1—at least not in terms of making resolutions—but I disagree. An opportunity for a clean slate is its own kind of magic.
Each year I like to reflect on what’s working for me, and what’s not working. In the same way, I’ve been thinking about the things I’ve learned in the past year that I’ll carry into 2016, and the things I definitely won’t.
On that note: 3 things I’m NOT doing in 2016:
1. Wasting time to save money.
I’ve always been a “saver,” not a spender. I’m a frugal girl at heart, but sometimes that impulse works against me.
Case in point: I’ve been speeding through a certain British murder mystery series. When I finished book 2 I wanted to start book 3 immediately. I didn’t particularly want to buy it, but my library didn’t have it in paperback. They did have the audio version available on compact disc, so I decided to try and “make it work.”
My kids listen to books on cd all the time, but I never do. I listen to audio books when I’m on the go, and I prefer to listen at 1.25 or 1.5 speed. I did some googling and discovered I could upload the discs to iTunes, then work some magic on the files so I could listen on my phone at any speed I wanted.
I was so excited to discover this was an option … and then it took me 35 minutes to upload the first disc, adjust the settings, and get to listening.
There was a time in my life when it might have been worth it to spend 35 minutes (per disc!) to save myself the price of the $7.99 kindle edition, or $9ish Audible credit. But that time is not now. And this year I’m not wasting my time doing things the hard way when I could spend a little money and make my life much easier.
2. Blowing off the things I know are good for me.
I’ve been reading Traci Mann’s fascinating book Secrets from the Eating Lab. I never would have picked up this book if I hadn’t heard Mann speak at a local conference in the fall, but I’m so glad I did: her research—and takeaways—are fascinating and practical. After years of research, she’s learned the tips and tricks that make it possible for anyone to easily eat in a sensible way most of the time.
She doesn’t believe in willpower: it’s highly fallible, easy to deplete, and isn’t potent enough to handle the onslaught of temptations we’re faced with on a daily basis. Instead, she advocates strategies that make good choices easy, which might not make you thin, but will definitely make you healthier.
Newsletter subscribers know that one of the things that didn’t work for me in 2016 was my backslide into lax eating habits. I know what I need to eat and not eat to feel good, and I’ve been falling down in that area. I’m putting several of Mann’s strategies to work so that I eat healthier—and consequently, feel better—in 2016.
My favorite no-brainer strategy is “veggies first.” In her lab, Mann has found that if people eat their vegetables first—especially if the vegetable is served with no other options—they eat more vegetables. There is no downside to eating more veggies. At best, they’ll replace less healthy choices in your diet; at minimum, they provide all sorts of vitamins.
I’ve used this with my kids throughout the years: I think Dr. Sears recommended that hungry kids will eat baby carrots if that’s their only choice before dinner. But I’ve never deliberately used it for myself (till now). Mann recommends starting the meal with salad or crudités (even eating them before preparing dinner). It’s easy and effective.
Mann has other strategies to eat well (and, tangentially, exercise often). I’m taking notes and making plans, because I’m not blowing off healthy eating and exercise this year.
3. Putting off my own decision paralysis.
Almost two years ago, I had a major freak-out about the state of my first (and most recent) home. As we prepared to leave it, I realized that I’d let my perfectionist fears keep me from experimenting with decorating and design in the way I wanted to. I was waiting for the next house, and I didn’t even realize I was doing it.
When we moved to our new-to-us place a year and a half ago, I resolved to NOT do that again. We were going to make this house ours. We would paint, and fix, and decorate, and embellish in a way that we loved, that felt true to our style and our family.
I did great for a while … and then I realized I’d lapsed into my old decision paralysis. Right before Christmas, I realized that several major walls were still blank. This wasn’t a design choice. I was terrified to choose the wrong thing for them, so I didn’t choose anything. That’s fine for a month but not for two years.
And so—with some encouragement and hand-holding from my favorite interior designer (who happens to be married to my brother, lucky for me)—I ordered Real Art off the internet. (That was scary!) When I pulled it out of the box I couldn’t stop smiling. It’s in that picture above, over our sofa. Maybe it’s not your style, and that’s fine, but I adore it.
I also made yet another book page wreath to hang on the blank wall above our bed, because something is better than nothing. Baby steps.
Next: I’m painting our kitchen door purple. Maybe I’ll hate it, but I can’t wait to try it.
What are you NOT doing in 2016?