‘Do Less,’ But ‘Be Purposeful’: 5 New Year’s Resolutions for 2019

By J.D. ECARMA

Do less, more slowly.

We live in a frenetic age. All of us are watching Netflix while scrolling through Instagram, catching up on emails and texting. I know I’m not alone in having to rewind a scene more than once because I got distracted by my phone and completely missed what happened.

I want to do less in 2019. I want to watch TV while I’m watching TV … instead of drafting tweets, deleting them and then glancing up to realize I’ve missed a crucial moment in “This Is Us.” 

One of my goals for the last few years has been to read 100 books; I don’t get there, but having the lofty goal can get me to read some 70 to 80 books in a year. While reading is always a great goal, one problem with “read 100 books” is that I tend to reach for a lot of lighter, faster reads, steering me away from books that will take more time. I plan to read fewer books this year because I want what I’m reading to be richer and more complex, to require more energy and time to absorb.

For me, a 50-book goal will mean fewer memoirs from entertainers and more titles like Michelle McNamara’s “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” or Dietrich Bonhoeffer bio “Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy,” books I’ve had on my TBR list for a while but haven’t found the time and energy for yet.

Enjoy what I’m doing!

A good test for me to see how I spend my time is to compare what I do on workdays with what I do on a day off. On a normal Saturday, I spend time doing yoga, cooking and writing, and I do the exact same things on an average Tuesday. For me, this routine means that I make time during my normal work week for things that make me happy – activities that I enjoy enough to do during my free days on the weekends as well.

That sounds great – and a lot of the time, it helps to ease stress in my day and remind me to take care of myself. But unfortunately, my organizing, list-making self sometimes gets in the way. I can be so focused on checking off the fact that I did yoga and meditated today that it detracts from the experience. I want to embrace the moment in 2019 instead of getting caught up in a to-do list.

Replace, don’t deprive.

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to eat a healthier diet. Six years ago, I decided to cut out certain foods for a few months to see how a diet of more protein, healthy fats and vegetables used to make meals from scratch would affect me. It may have been the smartest decision I’ve made in my 20s. I could think again. I stopped getting lightheaded and dizzy and having trouble focusing between meals, I became less anxious, and I developed a new awareness of how what I eat affects how I feel.

Fast-forward to 2018: I realized over the summer that I had let too many processed foods and too much sugar – in things like fruit, honey, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar in oatmeal – slip back into my diet. After a few months of feeling constantly hungry and getting dizzy and light-headed every afternoon, I discovered Sarah Wilson’s “I Quit Sugar” cookbook and diet plan and started experimenting with cutting out sugar and replacing it with more healthy fats and a lot more protein. For 2019, I want to embrace another diet overhaul that focuses on replacing foods that affect me negatively with foods that make me feel great. Wilson’s approach is my cup of tea: a holistic lifestyle that’s all about enjoying food instead of depriving yourself and finding what makes you feel strong, healthy and happy. I’m excited to see what my version of “quitting sugar” will look like. 

Embrace discontentment.

This strange-sounding resolution has two levels. On the first level, I want to be more aware of what in my life brings me joy and what makes me sad, unmotivated and/or depressed. I want to embrace whatever emotions I’m feeling so I can work through them and understand myself better, even when those emotions are negative.

On a second, deeper level, I want to remember this year more than ever that because I’m a Christian, my home is not on earth. No amount of accomplishment or productivity or creature comforts will bring me full rest, contentment and joy. I tend to seek peace and security in earthly things; I think that I’ll feel safe and secure once I own a home, have a certain amount in my savings account, have a retirement fund, etc., but ultimately I know that I will never find complete rest and safety until I’m home in heaven.

Be purposeful, not productive.

I’ve been enjoying the “Self-Helpless” podcast and had to borrow a quote mentioned in one of the episodes about replacing the word “productive” with the word “purposeful.”

I fall into the trap of thinking that productivity alone will give me a sense of purpose. If I feel that I “got a lot done,” then I made the most of the day. But that line of thinking only leads to a periodic existential crisis. Mere “productivity” is a black hole because there is always one more thing that you just really wanted to get done today. 

As I mentioned in the second resolution, sometimes I get so caught up in checking things off my to-do list that I forget to experience life. I want to be more intentional about everything from cooking to reading books to doing yoga to spending time with friends. If I’m barely aware of what’s happening because I’m so anxious to check the next thing off the list, what’s the point?

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2 Responses

  1. Nicole says:

    This has given me lots of great ideas for my own resolutions! 🙂 I especially love the one about embracing discontentment. And that’s such a fantastic point about replacing the word “productive” with the word “purposeful”.

    • JD Ecarma says:

      Thanks, Nicole! I loved that concept as well … I wish I could have remembered exactly which episode I heard it in, but I definitely recommend checking out “Self-Helpless” and the topics they cover.

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