February, so let’s check in on those New Year’s resolutions.
Did you make any? Is that new gym membership already burning
a hole in your credit card even though you forgot how to
get to the gym? How about that diet; are you still avoiding/abstaining
from white death – sugar, flours, starch and salt – or did
that poutine at lunch with ice cream and Coke hit the spot?
you may make think of me as cruel mirror to, and reminders
of, your resolution(s) failure, please don’t. I’ve been
there too and know your inner shame and pain. Resolutions
are doomed to fail because a simple phrase or intention
to make profound life change just because the calendar ticks
over to another year cannot rescind or reverse years of
I stopped making
New Year’s resolutions as changing habits is not a one-day
or even 21-day journey: the best research now says this
is a 66-day affair at a minimum. It takes discipline, discipline
and yes, more discipline, to succeed. And in our increasingly
hectic and busy lives, who has time for discipline?
Hmmm, I’m busy
or I’m so busy, I’m too busy. During the Christmas/New Year’s
break I heard friends, family, co-workers and even strangers
tell me how busy, jam-packed and hectic their lives have
become. Work schedules with back-to-back-to-back meetings,
social obligations with no end in sight and work and personal
email accounts with hundreds of unread messages.
Poor them, I
thought for a moment – but just for a moment – then I recalled
the profound observation of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates
late year when he stated that “busy is the new stupid.”
I’m not judging (okay, maybe just a little), but I wholeheartedly
agree with Mr. Gates and we have it in our power to make
busy go away.
So your friendly
scribe has been on a mission since the start of the year
to eradicate busy from my life, vocabulary and mindset and
so far, so good. Here are a few ideas that have worked for
me and maybe they will work for you as well.
To start, I changed
my To Do list or daily plan. Personal tasks and chores now
come first… from hitting the gym to paying bills to simply
reading a chapter of a new fiction or non-fiction book,
this is my first priority each and every day. Work emails,
scanning the daily clippings and other tasks can wait, period!
Next up, channelling
my inner Marie Kondo (famed Japanese author, organizing
consultant and Netflix sensation) and decluttering my life.
I started with my Gmail and unsubscribing from a host of
auto- mated emails including Tony Robbins, Old Navy, Brian
Tracy coaching, DSW deals, Sobeys weekly specials, PetSmart
discounts, Yummly recipes, JetBlue, Porter Airlines, Zoomer
magazine along with about 15 auto-subscribes to various
news services and health-sciences feeds on my work account.
These actions alone have probably given me an extra hour
of breathing space, relaxation and freedom each day.
I have been religious if not messianic about my work schedule.
Meeting invites with no explicit objective or agenda are,
at best tentatively accepted, or at the speed-of-light outright
declined. And yes, I will go all preachy on this point for
a sentence or two… regardless of where you sit in an organization,
your time and attention is valuable, if a meeting organizer
(except in confidential HR or re-org matters) can’t show
you the respect of sending a meeting invite with an agenda
and objectives, even just a few bullet points, just say
This month, I
will go further and start to declutter my closets and basement
and see what gently used clothes and toys could help others
via Value Village, the Salvation Army or our local services
agencies that serve the less fortunate amongst us. This
is the good busy, this is being productive and this is being
in charge of your own life, time and attention.
So what is the
point you may ask of the 700 words you have just read? To
be blunt, resolutions don’t work, life change is not easy
and if you feel overwhelmed or uber busy, the solution is
ultimately in your hands. Take charge, make hard choices,
and get back in control – your mind, your body and your
family will thank you.