Prompted: New Year, New Me
Looking at new years resolutions from a new perspective.
Happy New Year!
In season and a culture focused on adding more and more to our lives, I wanted to take some time this week to talk about subtraction. New goals and resolutions are exciting and ambitious but often forgotten when the reality of real life settles back in.
Subtraction is powerful and often overlooked tool to inspire positive changes in our lives and one that I encourage you to reflect on as we start the new year.
I hope this week’s edition is a helpful start to 2023, and as always, thanks for reading!
New Year, New Me
The soul grows by subtraction, not addition.
Henry David Thoreau
The holidays are a time of addition. We’re adding new possessions, visiting growing families, creating new goals for ourselves, and adding on a few pounds while we’re at it.
As we reflect back on the past year and look forward to a new one ahead of us, it’s easy to focus on new habits we’re going to add to our routine, new hobbies we’d like to pick up, and additional responsibilities we’d like to take on.
While addition is an excellent path forward, many of us are already at or near our capacity. Our days are filled, and we rarely have time to check off everything on our to-do list as it stands right now.
Just as powerful as adding to our lives (but not nearly as glamorous) is subtracting.
Along with everything we enjoyed from the last year and would like to do more of are things that hold us back. Things we need to quit, people who drag us down, habits that hurt our mental or physical health, guilty pleasures that eat up our time, and aspirations that are no longer serving us.
There may even be worthwhile pursuits that we need to step away from in service of something larger.
For many of us, empty or idle moments are uncomfortable. We fill up every moment of our day with jobs, projects, TV, podcasts, social media, social events, etc. Inevitably, we come to spend at least some of our time doing things that aren’t in our best interest.
If we continue to pile on idealistic goals, habits, and projects, we’ll continue to overwhelm ourselves and struggle to move forward.
Before we add anything new this year, we should take time to reflect on the last 12 months and see what needs to be stripped away. When we remove anything that’s pulling us down, distracting us from our priorities, or otherwise interfering with the 2-3 most important portions of our lives, we can focus all of our energy in the right places.
Through subtraction, we simplify our lives and bring more intention to everything that we do. From this baseline of meaningful contribution, we can begin to carefully add new pursuits to our plate without overwhelming ourselves.
What is the one thing that you can eliminate or reduce from your life that will improve it the most?
What current pursuit or priority would benefit from additional time or energy?
Which pursuits or events did you dread the most over the last year? How can you avoid or eliminate them moving forward?
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A simple, but powerful alternative to new years resolutions.
HBR article discussing the value of subtraction.
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next Sunday.