How to Approach the New Year Worry-Free With Minimalist Resolutions

It’s that time of the year again. After a tumultuous 2020, we are approaching New Year, and most of us are drafting resolutions. However, many people worry about the future. We don’t know where our ship is heading and how we should steer it. In this context, minimalism can help you regain control by re-orientating your focus and accompanying your resolutions with the right habits. On this basis, here are seven ways to approach the new year worry-free.

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New Year’s resolutions often fail. On December 31, we sit down and write a list of things we want to accomplish in the new year. 

I want to lose ten pounds next year. My professional goals include a pay-rise and a new position. Another goal is to spend more time with my loved ones. And finally, I want to travel to the South Pacific and treat my partner to a well-deserved tropical holiday. 

A few months later, our worries take over. By February or March, we don’t see concrete results, and anxiety kicks in. To comfort ourselves, we go back to old habits. We devour junk food, lose motivation to advance in our careers, and forget about spending more time with family and friends. 

In short, our endeavors lose steam. 

How do we avoid this scenario? 

Approach the new year worry-free – minimalist New Year’s resolutions 

New Year’s resolutions don’t work by themselves. To make significant progress, you need three things: 

  • minimalist resolutions that focus on the essentials;
  • habits that ensure daily progress toward your resolutions; and 
  • ways to retain a worry-free attitude. 

In conjunction, these elements will help you draft ambitious but realistic New Year’s resolutions. You’ll consistently track your progress and remain calm. 

The following are seven ways to approach the new year worry-free by adopting minimalist New Year’s resolutions. 

How Minimalism Can Help You Approach the New Year Worry-Free - minimalist new year's resolutions - forest in snow
Photo by Mārtiņš Zemlickis on Unsplash

Cut down on commitments

Before drawing up audacious projects, you need to reduce your commitments. 

In this context, many people formulate New Year’s resolutions that conflict with pre-existing obligations. 

As an example, you might want to start a gym routine in the new year. You tell yourself that you will complete four weekly sessions and go to the gym on specific weeknights. However, you already have lots of other commitments that fill your schedule. Consequently, to stand a real chance of succeeding, you first need to create space

Before you write down your plans for the new year, concentrate your efforts on creating space. Start with a list that contains all of your commitments. 

On Wednesday night, I go to the book club. Friday night is bar time. On Thursday mornings, I stroll around the mall before going to work. And Monday evenings usually end with business dinners. 

Once you’ve compiled all of your pre-existing commitments, assess which ones could go in the new year. Distinguish between the essential and the non-essential.

As Leo Babauta writes in The Power of Less,

Everything on your commitment list that isn’t essential is, by definition, nonessential. They’re all on the chopping block.” 

Before even contemplating New Year’s resolutions, minimize your commitment list. 

Create space in your mind by reducing your commitments to the essential. Once achieved, you’ll have the capacity to welcome new projects into your life. 

Start small  

After minimizing your commitment list, it’s time to add new goals and projects. 

The first step toward drafting better resolutions is to start small. 

Many people make the mistake of setting ridiculously ambitious goals in December. As an example, aspiring entrepreneurs who have never made money online believe that they can earn 50,000 dollars with their first ventures. After one or two months with little growth, they feel discouraged and exit their journey altogether. 

The secret lies in starting small. Build habits that will lead to exponential growth over time. 

No matter if your resolutions include launching a business, becoming fitter, or taking on personal challenges, aim for small, daily acts that will form a virtuous circle in the long run.  

If you want to start a content creation business next year, set yourself a goal of creating content for one hour every day. 

In this regard, the best mantra to follow is James Clear’s “one percent rule.” In his 2018 bestseller Atomic Habits, Clear writes the following: 

if you can get one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up 37 times better by the time you’re done.

Whether it’s decluttering your home, reading more books, or upping your gym performances, starting with a small, daily improvement is the way to go. The increase will look tiny, but over time, it will compound into substantial gains.

Focus on one goal at a time

Minimalist New Year’s resolutions should focus on one goal at a time. 

Don’t try to accomplish everything at once. To reduce your anxiety and approach the new year worry-free, direct your efforts toward one endeavor at a time.  

Monthly challenges work well in this regard. 

If your New Year’s resolutions include building a sustainable gym habit, starting a business, and reading more books, define one primary target for each of the first three months of the year. 

As such, you could mark January as the “start my business month.” During that month, you’ll work on the basics and get your project up and running. Of course, you won’t build a profitable business in one month, but its launching process can be the focal point of your life for 30 days. 

After that, you can set your gym routine in motion during February and re-ignite your love for books in March. 

The point is not to let one project hamper the other. With 30-day projects, you can get one specific endeavor on track, and once it’s up and running, your renewed mental freedom will help you smash the next goal.

Track and breathe 

Writing down your progress in a journal has two advantages. 

First, it allows you to track your strides and see how far you’ve come. You’ll have measurable results on paper – highlighting your strengths and weaknesses. 

Secondly, by transferring your fears, hopes, and projects from your mind onto paper, you create space to breathe. Once your thoughts aren’t trapped in your head anymore, you can have a more objective look at them.

According to Positive Psychology,

Journaling gives you a chance to get all of your emotions out on paper, reducing your stress and releasing tension.” 

Consequently, tracking your progress when it comes to New Year’s resolutions is a powerful way to quell your worries and approach the future with more determination and poise.

Redefine your priorities

Another prerequisite for setting effective New Year’s resolutions is to have the right priorities in place. 

Consequently, the end of the year is a suitable period to question your priorities. 

Ask yourself: 

  • What are my cardinal values? 
  • Do my priorities align with these values? 
  • What are my long-term goals? 
  • How can I define daily habits that will contribute to the achievement of these long-term goals? 

The reflection will help you define priorities, and these will become the foundation for effective New Year’s resolutions.

Limit your inputs 

When it comes to setting minimalist New Year’s resolutions, cutting down on inputs is a crucial measure. 

A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” – Herbert Simon

To focus your energy, creativity, and efforts on one goal, you need to cut down on information streams and external pressure. 

Don’t let external factors like peer pressure, news, or other inputs tamper with your resolutions. 

To approach the new year worry-free, limit your inputs to the essential. Reduce your news consumption, act according to personal values – not external cues, and only take advice from those who have your best interest at heart. 

Minimizing your inputs will help reduce your anxiety by preventing external stress factors from taking over. Better still, you’ll decrease the risk of drafting New Year’s resolutions that lack a strong personal touch.

Just do it

Finally, getting started with writing down resolutions – and acting on them – is often the hardest part. 

As Tony Robbins once said,

The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.

Decide on specific moments to draft your New Year’s resolutions. Start writing and correct later. Don’t delay the drafting process until January 1. Start writing a few weeks before.  

Once your resolutions are on paper, make them public. Tell your friends and family. Publish them online. 

Give yourself all the relevant tools to ensure that your ship leaves the harbor. Once it’s en route, you’ll be able to steer and turn in different directions.

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