Over the next week or so, if you haven’t done it already, you might dream up some very grand New Year’s resolutions. And there’s almost no chance you’ll follow through on them.
I’m not saying that to be a jerk. I’m merely quoting research from reliable sources, which tell us that the vast majority of people never make progress on their New Year’s resolutions even after committing to the same resolution 10 different times.
And I’m certainly no exception. Since all the way back in second grade, when I concocted a very short-lived plan to run laps around my parents’ backyard and ended up with bronchitis, I’ve been making and mostly breaking resolutions .
The reasons are simple: we are quite literally creatures of habit and our brains are wired to change habits slowly. Most of us give up before we can build new habits into our repertoire, a process that can take weeks or even months.
So, here’s an option to consider. Since we’re not very good at adding things to our to-do lists, why not subtract a few instead?
Best-selling business writer Jim Collins introduced the idea of a Stop Doing List some time ago. But since the idea is new to me, it seemed worth passing along to you.
I’m also planning to use it in 2013.
To be clear, though, I will not stop making my kids Spaghettios for lunch now and then and sneaking a few spoonfuls myself. Nor will I apologize for my addiction to fantasy football, my hard-core introversion or the Hall & Oates Greatest Hits CD that’s loaded in my car right now.
But I am open to the possibility of:
- Not responding like a trained animal every time the “new e-mail” sound pings.
- No longer staying up for that last 30 minutes at night when all I do is waste time.
- Not watching sporting events that start after 9 p.m.
- Not checking my favorite web sites more than twice a day.
These are all little things, of course, but it’s better to start small. And stopping these things will, at least in theory, increase my mindfulness and focus – permitting me to savor more fully the succulent taste and texture of a Spaghettios meatball.