Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Make ‘less’ your first resolution

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As we approach the end of another year, many people’s mind now turn to creating resolutions for the New Year. This is a very commendable thing to do, however the reality is that most fail to follow through with such resolutions and I have an idea as to why this might be.

The majority of resolutions that people make are additive. This means that they are things are in addition to what they are already doing. Herein lies the seeds of failure I would suggest, because the most important resolutions initially are subtractive ones.

The reasons why subtractive goals are more important is because they promote focus and build the resolution muscles. How is this you make well ask? Well, if you firstly go through your life and look at what you can eliminate or minimise there is no doubt that such processes are ‘hard’. Why is that? Over time you have accumulated all this ‘'extra’ stuff and you psychologically attach value to that accumulation even though that is logically invalid. In short, because you already have it, you think that is ‘worth’ something and thus, should be retained.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. How many time have you cleaned up your desk, closet, garage, etc. and come across an item that you honestly know no longer provides value and really should be eliminated? However, the internal dialogue steps in to tell you ‘not to throw this out because you may need it’ or ‘you just never know when situation X may arise when you will need this’. Pretty common eh? We’ve all been there haven’t we?

In these situations, your will power to eliminate and focus simply hasn’t been strong enough to over come the historical belief that the item still has value. However, conversely, it much easier to add ‘stuff’ isn’t? This because there is no historical baggage with the item or desire in question. You want because you don’t have so adding is easy you believe. The problem is that by adding without making room, you are adding more mental ‘load’ and spreading yourself thinner. Doing so greatly increases your chances of failure, not of just one item but of the whole system. In short, there comes a time when you are simply juggling too many items and they all fall out of the sky.

So, if your ability to eliminate is not strong then you are going to accumulate far more than you really need. Sound familiar? The solution therefore lies in exercising your elimination muscles first. The trick if to do the unpleasant and hard stuff first, when your resolution is at its strongest. Only when the hard tasks are complete should you move onto the easier tasks of addition. If you are unable to eliminate the truly unnecessary, then you are unlikely to keep any resolutions you add. It is really as simple as that.

The constant addition of items and resolutions increases the distraction and removes our focus. The more you have, the more that you need to maintain and more mental energy you devote to maintaining these. Eliminating give you focus, it makes you truly prioritise not only what is important but what is actually required rather than potentially useful. It allows you to devote your precious and limited energy you have to what truly matters, rather than a sea of unnecessary and irrelevant material.

So before you go making new resolutions, start with the resolution of elimination. If you can’t master that one simple one then your chances of mastering anything else are slim indeed. Only the resolution of elimination will set you free and allow you to achieve your goals. So, go forth and eliminate this New Year. I think be you’ll be surprised at how focused you’ll become.