2011 Challenge: why you will fail at New Year’s resolutions

Hope your holidays were great and you spent quality time with friends and family. I had a fabulous week of family time, eating too many sweets, reading The War of Art and watching Weeds (received Apple TV as a gift and we are trying out Netflix). I made it to Crossfit on Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve day and got out for a few short runs.

I give myself a B on staying offline. The laptop sat in the office but my iPhone saw use. Some of it was good – I was able to connect with friends for some play dates for Henry – some of it was not so good – after seeing the movie Black Swan I read two articles on my iPhone about Natalie Portman’s non-eating regime to get to dancer weight. Waste of time and mental energy!

It’s January, people. Time to make some resolutions and get a fresh start. Dust off your gym membership card, make a meal plan for the week and tell everyone this is your year. You’re going to pay off debt, make time for exercise and finally finish that quilt you cut out three years ago. You’re going to be fantastic and well rounded and eat a lot of whole grains.

Here’s the truth: most of you will fail to keep your resolutions.

And it’s not your fault.

Modern living is inherently flawed. We’ve automated and mass produced food, shelter and transportation with the idea of saving time yet we’re all too busy to enjoy it. Why? Because we want more things, bigger homes and newer cars. We’ve lost all the comforts and ease of modern living from the vortex of wanting more things.

It’s a trap. It’s a nonstop treadmill of consuming and working and taking care of new things.

How to escape? Get off the treadmill.

If you really want to change your life this year start saying no. No to over-scheduling, no to more things and no to the frantic pace of over-consumption.

How do you say no? Give up television. Use what you have.

You are not a robot. You can’t schedule every minute of your life for 16 hours of the day. Sitting in front of the television exhausted is not recharging your robot battery. Neither is half listening to your spouse/child/friend as you monitor your Blackberry/iPhone.

If you want a fighting chance at committing to your health, your family and your future, open your mind. Giving up television is big. Moving to a smaller home closer to work and giving up the second car is bigger. Even the smallest changes can reap big rewards in your time and finances.

To make a new habit stick you need to make room in your life for it. Instead of worrying about how you are going to fit it all in, start letting go of the things, people and activities in your life that aren’t giving back. What can you so no to so you can say yes to prioritizing your health and happiness.

I’ll have a post each week in January about my 2011 Challenges and I invite you to leave a comment about yours. If you’re blogging about your challenges let us know in your comment.

What are you ready to change in 2011?


The Joy of Happiness give away winner is… comment #13 from Alison.

Alison will be receiving a copy of The Joy of Less, A Minimilast Living Guide to kick off 2011.

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  • I am so with you on the giving up tv thing! I haven’t had a tv in over 5 years…the countless hours I used to spend in front of it was ridiculous. Finally I just decided to get rid of it and the cable. Haven’t missed it yet! When me and hubby want to watch something we use YouTube to watch documentaries…other than that our time is spent doing much more productive things.

    I am saying “no” to doing things purely out of the fact that other people want me to…doing things for myself and my family this year…

    • Good for you! We’ve cut the cable but still watch DVDs and a few things on Netflix or online. I’m continuing to monitor our TV consumption. I think the average North American watches 35 hours a week – eek!

  • I hate to say this Rachel, but I am pretty sure my son is watching too much TV – when you start feeling guilty about it it’s a sure sign. My daughter didn’t watch much as she was happier drawing etc…. I can’t (I suppose I could if I really really wanted to) get rid of it entirely, but I am going to ration it this year. I am going to try TV Free days as well.
    My biggest challenge is awaiting me, my piles of procrastination – my sentimental hoarding. I am diving in this week…expect blood, sweat and tears!
    Good luck with all your 2011 Challenges, I’ll be with you every step of the way! Jo

    • It’s hard. I see that Henry, even at just 14 months, becomes quiet and will sit still if the TV is on. It cures whining instantly. Tempting. Sigh.
      I like TV free days. Thinking of implementing something similar here. Some nights will be reading nights, others we can watch the few shows we stream online (30 Rock and Parenthood at the top of the list) or a DVD.
      Good luck with the piles of procrastination! Can’t wait to read about it. Don’t forget to document!

  • Love it! I’m inspired and may even start that tracking your time habit to see where I am wasting time that I could be doing other things. Things that make me happier, smarter and healthier.

  • So true!! Such a simple concept, too!!!

    Heck, it’s worked for drugs, right?? :)

    I’ve not made any resolutions in year because of the usual scenario…but this “No” thing is awesome!!

    I like it because it’s actually saying “Yes” to a more enjoyable life!!!

    It’s awesome, thanks!! :)

  • Okay, I had to laugh about the meal plan one. Guilty as charged…both this year and last. I posted about some of my 2011 challenges – making more space in my life and home is definitely one of them.

    • Do you watch 30 Rock? I keep having flashbacks to the episode where she buys loads of organizing cubes and declares she is going to be fabulous. Then she gets hit by a bike courier.
      I have to laugh at myself too and all the ‘this year will be different’ declarations I have made in the past. I’m now focused on small and slow change no matter the day of the year. So far it’s working!

      • Yes! Liz Lemon is such a well-written character. By the end of the episode, the containers were a pile of melted plastic…because she was so unhappy in her job/life she set a fire. Oy.

  • TV gets a bad rap and I agree, it’s a time waster, a consumption motivator and and an escape valve. If our lives are really what we want why do we need to escape them? But for me the biggest life drainer is doing a job that doesn’t rock your socks. Getting rid of the Stuff and living with less so that I can focus on making a living from what I really love is my goal for 2011.

  • What is it about Natalie Portman? I heard from a friend that she is pregnant, and then I just “had” to go on people.com to find out the details. There was a time when I’d have to wait for it to hit the newsstands…Oh, those were the days!
    I hear your lament about the inherent flaws in modern society. We’re supposed to be automatons with our Blackberries and so forth. Once I had a Palm Pilot, and I was a slave to that too!
    My 2011 Challenge is to own up to myself: to own my mistakes, accomplishments, failures, victories, things I’ve said, things I’ve written. All of it.
    Good luck with your goals too!
    (This post was beautifully written…)

    • Farewell, Portman. We don’t have time for you!
      Thanks for the kind comments. You recent post about owning up to yourself blew me away. I need to have another read and leave a comment (my iPhone is good for browsing blogs but bad for leaving comments).

  • How funny only yesterday I asked the Hubby whatever happened to my Palm Pilot! What a blast from the past!

  • Just in case you are wondering why I am commenting in abundance it’s because Santa got me an iPad (I can chill and read my fave blogs at the same time now! Santa obviously doubles as a marriage counsellor and figured even if we aren’t making conversation at least I can put my feet up on the other half’s lap whilst I ignore him haha!) the hubby got a tin of Spanish Hot Chocolate :-) ….just wanted to comment on the treadmill. I’ve only had one foot on it for a while now but I can feel momentum to simplify even further building. It’s exciting and also a little bit scary! thanks for the inspiration Rachel…

  • I’m a recovering TV addict who struggles with my own TV consumption. I want to reduce my TV watching. I also really need to reduce my blog reading (not yours of course). Less screen time overall and when I do have screen time it should be for those things I really love.

    • I need to reduce my blog reading too. So much interesting info out there it’s easy to get sucked in. I use Google Reader, browse for headlines and then set a limit on how much time I spend reading.

  • Our lives have become so busy with day to day work that we no longer have the time to fit in the things that are most important to us. Instead we feel that time is against us. Another year has passed by and have we really done the things which matter most.

    For me, 2011 is going to be a year to change. Time to stop and breathe, reflect on what matters most to me, and then simplify from there.

  • I have a full year of personal challenges set up for myself which I blog about to keep me accountable. My current challenge is to drink only water for 21 days. I see this as a health benefit and definite simplification. By the end of the 21 days I intend to be in the habit of drinking only water and then I can add other drinks according to what’s good for me, instead of what I’m craving at that moment!

  • We gave up cable four years ago and never really miss it except for the occasional HGTV show (most of which we can now find online). We are selling our 50″ HDTV, our Xbox 360, and our DVD player as soon as my husband has more than a few hours free from work (the next two weeks he’s working 6 day work weeks).

    We recently got an iPad and we do have a Netflix subscription…so when my husband and I want to watch something (or kiddo wants to watch the occasional Leapfrog, Diego, or Sid the Science Kid)…we can do that on the iPad or the laptop. Hulu and TV.com supplement the Netflix fare for a few favorite shows. The plus to watching online or on Netflix is we can sit for an hour and catch up on 2-4 weeks of fave shows without feeling tied to the TV!!

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