21 New Years Resolutions for Minimalists

Happy New Year!

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At a time when most of us are plotting the course to become a Totally New Me, I’d like to remind you all that you are doing great already. You’re enough, just as you are, and you don’t need to lose 50 pounds or get a boyfriend or achieve a certain level of income to be loved or worthy or enough. That said, New Years Resolutions don’t have to be about absolute life changes. You might find that if you focus on small lifestyle focus areas, you’ll reap large-scale rewards. I’ve put together a list of minimalist resolutions to help you simplify your life and focus on what matters most to you.

A look back

Take a moment to reflect on the year behind you. I can say for certain that when I was approaching 2018, I could not have predicted anything that was about to change for me. In 2018, I realized I was living half a life in an abusive marriage, so I left. In 2018, I lost my stepdad. In 2018, I cut contact with loved ones who damaged my mental health. In 2018, I socialized and made new friends and developed two healthy and loving romantic relationships. In 2018, I discovered a new favorite restaurant. In 2018, I accepted a book deal and wrote a book. It was a BIG. YEAR.

Related: MarketWatch – What to do when your best year at work is your worst year at home

Self reflection and goal setting

To help you reflect on your year in review and find the areas you want to work on for the next year, I recommend finding a few minutes to focus and reflect. This guide can help you out with guided questions and printable sheets to brainstorm.

First, reflect:

  • Did you achieve your resolutions and goals in 2018?
  • Do you have unfinished 2018 projects? Why?
  • Did you take time in 2018 to make a plan for your goals? Did you give yourself the time and resources needed to accomplish your goals?

Then, prepare:

  • Set clear, definable goals with measurable progress and success
  • Think about how you’ll react if you don’t achieve your goals
  • Decide how you’ll motivate yourself to reach your goals

Decide on the areas you want to improve, and then focus your goals on those key areas. The smallest consistent actions can create big improvements.

On to the resolutions

Depending on your areas of focus, here are some resolutions you may be able to adjust to your needs for 2019!

Career

  • Get in early. Resolve to arrive at your desk 15 minutes early this year. Having a few minutes to slowly get your mind into work-mode will leave you feeling more productive and less rushed. This doesn’t mean spend an extra 15 minutes working! Spend this time to close your eyes, set an intention for your work day, and get ready to work.
  • Update your resume. The simple act of updating your resume and polishing your personal brand can help remind you of your skills and make you feel more confident. You don’t even have to look for a new job if you don’t want to – just looking at your credentials and experience on paper is a great reminder of how you’re doing in your career.
  • Learn more. Resolve to read a book or take a webinar or workshop related to your career on a regular basis this year. Check out resources like Lynda, which may be available for free through your local library. Lynda has courses about almost everything.

Physical Health

  • Go to bed. You need more sleep than you are getting, if you’re like most Americans. More rest means better health, regardless of how much you’re hitting the gym. Working out while your body is exhausted can set you up for injury and burnout, so prioritize getting your ZZZs. Try to keep a consistent bedtime and wake time to teach your body your new habits and rhythms.
  • Stretch daily. Rather than commit to a year-long weight loss goal that so few people achieve without a heap of negative self-talk, choose a simpler resolution. Wake five minutes earlier so that you can stretch before you start your morning routine, and perhaps you’ll see that just a small amount of movement can help naturally inspire more.
  • Hydrate. Resolve to drink enough water on a daily basis – this will have a huge and lasting impact on your health. You’ll have healthier digestion when your body is properly hydrated, and you’ll also notice healthier skin.

Mental Health

  • Go to therapy. If your medical insurance covers therapy, find a therapist! Even if you don’t feel like you need one. It can be extremely helpful to have someone to talk to who isn’t knee deep in your personal life. They’re a neutral third party and can help you find other areas of your life to work on.
  • Try mindfulness. Many apps are available to help guide a quick meditation during your day, or you could try keeping a daily journal to jot down some affirmations, intentions, and gratitude.
  • Add plants. Houseplants are one way to improve your mood and mental health. While they’re obviously no replacement for therapy or medication, being around plants and natural microbes found in soil can help boost the immune system as well as inspire joy and decrease symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Social Life

  • Say no. Minimalism is about what to exclude from your life moreso than it’s about what to include, including your schedule. Learn to say no to some social plans so that you can say yes to the ones you really want to attend, without burning yourself out or overscheduling.
  • Try a new place. If you’re a homebody who wants to try going out more, set yourself an easy goal like trying one new place or route per month.This could be going to a new cafe to read a book, visiting a different branch of your local library system, or even taking a different route on an afternoon walk. Just try something different.
  • Give compliments. I used to be pretty quiet in public places, always staying in the shadows while my sister rained rainbow sparkles of joy on everyone she crossed paths with. “Love your earrings!” “That dress looks great,” “Your hair is awesome,” etc. etc. etc. After I went on medication for depression and anxiety, I was less scared of being seen as weird in public by engaging with people I didn’t know. Now I love to tell a server that I love their eyeliner, or give props to a coworker for a job well done in our weekly meeting. Resolve to say something nice every day. It will change your whole outlook on life.

Generosity

  • Leave bigger tips. If you normally tip 20%, resolve to tip 25% at minimum in 2019. This is a great way to be generous and make a big impact with a small change to your current habits.
  • Support marginalized artists on Patreon. Find someone on Patreon who is marginalized in an area of life where you have privilege. Donate to them monthly for the entire year. (For example, if you’re a cisgender white person, donate to a transgender person of color).
  • Declutter for a cause. When you’re decluttering and minimizing in 2019, donate linens, business casual wear, formal dresses, unopened toiletries, non-perishable foods, etc. to local agencies, women’s shelters, and other charities that help people. Even stained or torn towels and linens can be donated to most animal shelters to be used as bedding or cleaning rags.

Finances

  • Minimize your budget. Go over your past few months of bank statements and see what you’re spending money on that you forgot about, don’t really use, or are not seeing a good return on. For me, this meant finally canceling my Beachbody Coach account. I kept it active long after I stopped selling workouts and shakes, because I got an occasional commission and felt like “passive income” was a good reason to keep it up. But I hated the clutter of my monthly budget, so I canceled it and freed up a whole segment of my budget that I no longer had to think about.
  • Go “No Spend.” Resolve to have a no-spend week or month a few times a year. During this time, use up items in your freezer and pantry, learn to do without online shopping for the period in question, and give homemade or pre-owned gifts to people if an occasion falls during your no-spend challenge.
  • Live on half. If at all possible, challenge yourself to live on half of what you make in order to achieve your savings or debt payoff goals as fast as possible. If you can’t live on half of what you make, challenge yourself to spend half as much as usual on something in your budget for a month.

Physical Environment

  • Donate once a month. Make a resolution to take (at least) one full box to the local donation center each month. This is a low-stress way to declutter and minimize all year long.
  • Try Project 333. This capsule wardrobe project challenges you to go three months with only 33 pieces of clothing and jewelry (undies and workout clothes excluded). This experiment can help inspire a closet makeover in your home and help reduce future spending on clothes, once you realize you don’t even wear most of what you have.
  • Commit to one area. Resolve to keep one small part of your home as minimal and simple as possible. Your minimalist save point. It could be a whole room, or it could be as simple as your desk or one nightstand in your bedroom. Just find one spot that you’ll keep to your minimalist standards on a daily basis all year. The joy of seeing it so nice will likely inspire a similar commitment to other areas of the home.

What’s your New Year’s Resolution?

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Minimalist Resolutions

This is the time of year when my family and friends, amidst Thanksgiving feasts and Christmas cookies, declare their New Year’s Resolutions for the coming year.  And since we all survived the End of the World without a scratch, it looks like 2013 will be here before we know it, in just a few days!

The typical resolutions end up like some of those Christmas gifts we didn’t ask for but got anyway… left, forgotten, under the bed or on a shelf somewhere.  We see them in March or April and think, “Oh yeah, I should do something about that…” but eventually they just fall into the void.  Common resolutions include things like:

  • Lose weight
  • Start _______ (something you’ve had plenty of time to start already)
  • Start a vacation fund
  • Join a gym
  • Quit smoking

These are all admirable goals, but if you haven’t started already, why is January 1, 2013 going to be any easier a time to start?  When I wanted to start walking daily, I just decided that day I would take a walk every day.  It was a Saturday.  Do I still walk every day? No, it’s cold out and I have yet to get winter boots or gloves.  But I didn’t wait for Monday or the first of the month or the first of the year to start doing something I wanted to do.  In any case, here are some new resolutions that you can make that align with your minimalist ideals.  The best part is, you don’t have to wait until 2013 if you don’t want to, you can just start today!

  • Remove one thing from your space per day.  This could be old mail, or it could be a shirt you’re not wearing or a pair of earrings you got for Christmas and know you will never wear.  Declutter one item per day (or per week if one per day is overwhelming).
  • Eliminate disposable cups.  This is an idea I got from Sandra at Living Lagom.  Bring a travel mug or cup with you to coffee shops or restaurants like Chipotle that use paper cups even for eat-in customers.  Or, you can sit down at a coffee shop – they usually have proper mugs and cups for eat-in customers if you request them.  For every disposable cup you DO use in 2013, put $1 into a charity fund for an environmental organization, and/or find one disposable cup in the garbage to recycle.  I love this resolution!
  • Participate in Project 333, just once.
  • Flip your hangers, set a deadline, and honestly get rid of the items you haven’t worn after your time is up.
  • Stick to a one-in, one-out rule and eliminate one like item for every item you bring into your home in 2013.
  • Eat three (or more) vegan meals per week.  This is a non-scary way to reduce the amount of high-cholesterol meat, eggs, and dairy in your diet.  I can’t tell you how many people say to me, “I want to be vegetarian, but bacon!” or “I would love to be vegan, but cheese!”  Meat and cheese and eggs aren’t necessarily bad for you in moderation, but so few people truly do consume them in moderation.  A resolution to eat three or more vegan meals per week will increase culinary creativity, as well as help instill a sense of moderation without banning all of the bacon and cheese you crave.  Just only have bacon once a week.  (Is my boyfriend reading this?).
  • Don’t go to bed with dirty dishes in the kitchen.  This has been my kitchen motto since I moved into my apartment in June, and it’s always wonderful to have all my dishes clean to start each day.
  • Quit smoking.  Make the resolution every day.  The cravings will go away after about six months (according to my mom).  You can do it.

For 2013, I have several mini-resolutions.  I haven’t decided on their order yet, but I would like to try the following throughout the year:

  • Project 333
  • One month without a microwave
  • No disposable cups (all year)
  • Reverse 100 Things Challenge (declutter 100 items in a year)
  • Upcycle old shirts into grocery produce bags
  • One month without eating out (yeah, right)

Are you making a New Year’s Resolution?