Resolution to do less

The beginning of the new year excites people to resolve to make changes in their life to improve themselves and their self worth.

Lose weight, exercise more, spend more time with family, pay off credit cards, eat better.  These outcomes require detailed attention and planning to account for external factors that can derail a resolution faster than you can say White Chocolate Mocha with Whipped Cream.

Instead of specific goals to perform the behaviors above, what if you resolved to do less and got the same result. 

Lose weight

1.    Less time at the grocery store.  Buy what you will eat in a week, not in a few days (more trips), certainly not in a month (longer trips). 

2.    Less meal planning.  Get back to the basics of meat and vegetables.  Baked chicken with salsa, steak and a sweet potato – easy peasy.  Plan your grocery list to assure you eat each meal, but forget the cookbooks.

Exercise more

1.    Less lunchtime meetings.  Don’t work through lunch but use the time to go for a walk, take a class, or perform stretching in a conference room.

2.    Less guilt.  No week is the same in terms of work and personal demands on your time.  Recognize that some weekends you will have the time and sometimes you are out of town (use the break to take a break).  Certain weeks may have work deadlines, aim for 1-2 workouts rather than 4-5.

Spend more time with family.

1.    Less extracurricular activities.  The family may be in the same building but that is not family time.  Working parents have the most opportunity with their kids after work and on the weekends; the same time ECAs are scheduled.

2.    Less lists.  Enjoy your paid holiday by nixing the to-do list.  If you are home with kids, avoid using the time to “catch up” on laundry, bills, dishes, dusting, mopping, the list goes on ad nauseum.  Resolve to keep your day off schedule and list free.

Pay off credit cards.

1.    Less spending each pay period.  Then use the money at the end of the two weeks (or the 1st or 15th) to put towards a credit card balance.  Evaluate your discretionary spending against the joy it brings you.  Can you enjoy Redbox movies instead of the theater?  Can you make purchases online instead of in the store? 

2.    Less expectations.  If you have a large credit card balance, a goal to pay off 10% over the year is a very respectable goal.  The balance didn’t get that high in one year, it isn’t going to dissipate in a year.

Eat better.

1.    Less time in the middle of the grocery store, more time on the perimeter of the store.  You will rarely find whole, unprocessed food in the middle aisles.  The produce, meats and dairy are on the perimeter – spend your time there.

2.    Less snacking.  We have gotten the ok to snack in between meals (except between dinner and breakfast). If you are starved between meals, certainly eat a snack.  I snack when my energy is low.  I also snack and work at the same time.  Instead of eating for energy, I could take a brain break and do something for myself.  If I need a snack – I should take the break too.   Instead of chomping down a pole of string cheese in 20 seconds, I could sit away from my computer, peel the cheese, chew, swallow and breath for a few minutes.

Many of these behaviors are not large time commitments and over time they can become an automatic way of life – the best behavior change of all.

This year, I hope you are able to do less.