i know that new years is still far off in the future, but i was thinking about the tendency that a lot of us have of setting resolutions and then either forgetting about them or failing to fulfill them. this is a problem that is really quiet common and so i wanted to write about it. in the past few years, starting from when i moved out to attend college until now, i have been making “resolutions” of sorts—basically attempting to improve myself in various ways and forcing myself to follow through. i have had some success and so i would like to share what i’ve learned. hopefully it’ll be of some kind of use.
a few years ago i told myself that i would stop drinking soda. i wasn’t much of a soda drinker in the first place, but i realized that it was an unhealthy choice i was making. so i told myself i should stop. i didn’t set a resolution like “drink more water” or even “drink less soda.” i just went cold turkey and stopped my intake completely. i didnt think about what kind of beverage would be replacing the empty void that had once been filled by soda. what happened as a result, however, was that because i could no longer reach for a soda, i found myself drinking more and more water. not just at home, but with every meal, even when i went out. i started to really love water and the whole “no more soda” mantra had faded away because my taste for soda had been completely replaced with something else. what this taught me was the power of elimination when setting a resolution, whether it be for new year’s or at any time.
when you eliminate something, you end up with a void. this is true with food, time, anything. the soda example showed me that sometimes elimination is necessary to slowly add something to your lifestyle. had i simply resolved to drink more water, i would probably have lasted no more than a week and then i’d either forget about the resolution, or my taste for soda would overpower my weak resolution. by eliminating soda, i created a spot for water and other healthy drink choices to exist. now i’m completely content with water and tea.
if you find yourself saying things like “this year i am finally going to the gym” or “this year i am going to eat more fruits and vegetables,” but end up failing to meet the resolution, this method of eliminating will be useful. after my experiment with soda, i set my sights even higher. i deleted my facebook (this was around 2010). i didn’t think of what kinds of activities might fill up that void in my schedule now that i wouldn’t be spending so much time on the site. eventually, i started spending more time doing much more meaningful things like exercising, exploring the city, enjoying restaurants, reading, and most importantly, studying. this behavior was natural because i had time now to do other things that i liked. what could have been at least two separate resolutions (more time exercising, more time studying), were natural by-products of eliminating one unnecessary aspect of my life (i could say a lot more about FB, but i’ll probably save that for another post). again, the elimination method was working.
i guess the purpose of this post is to show how you can add things to your life by removing others. and the best part about this is that most of the work is done unconsciously. just focus on stopping whatever habit you want to get rid of and a good habit or two should start to grow in its place. oh and another tip: be firm in your resolution. completely eliminate, don’t simply attempt to reduce. reducing something, for example, smoking “less,” is dangerous because the habit can return without you even noticing. only when you eliminate a habit will you realize that you’ve started doing it again.
best of luck,