I am not a big fan of new year resolutions. Yes, I am a very goal-driven person, but the idea of adding more commitments to an already full list of promises I’ve made to myself and others stresses me out. If you follow my blog you know that I am a fan of a book by Greg McKeown entitled Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

In keeping with the essentialist stance, I plan to unresolve this year. Unresolving means saying a clear and well-reasoned “no” to those things you may have said “yes” to in the past. Here is a three-step process for unresolving – divesting from promises, practices, and patterns that no longer serve your purpose, health, and happiness.

Step 1: Take stock and question your current commitments. Make a list of all of your projects, job responsibilities, volunteer activities, and other ways you have committed to spend your time. Identify the things on your list that do not have a significant positive impact on you and others, including your organization. In the case of your organization, you may need to justify your reason for saying “no” to a commitment and get a blessing to do so.

Step 2: Notice the default habits and patterns of behavior that undermine your health and well-being. What are the default habits that might have served you at one time in your life but have become useless artifacts of the past or worse – saboteurs? Mine include drinking too much coffee, over-preparation/perfectionism, and chronically putting others’ needs ahead of my own. What are yours? It’s time to dig deep and say “no” to that second, or third, cup!

Step 3: Kill (or humanely relocate) the “sacred cows.” Here’s where you challenge the unspoken assumptions, beliefs, and expectations that drive your daily life. Notice the inner voices that include the words “should,” “must,” “never,” and “always.” Where in your work do you do things “the way we have always done them around here?” Why should a weekly team meeting last an hour? Why must you even attend the meetings you attend? Is it reasonable to expect that you always respond to emails 24/7?

As you take stock of the activities and choices that no longer make sense for your work and your life, it helps to acknowledge that these may have been useful at one point but now no longer contribute to a purposeful life. Pick three things to divest yourself from and write a declaration of unresolve. For example, one of mine will be: I am going to stop over-preparing for meetings and presentations. Less prep and perfectionism means more space for in-the-moment creativity.

Now it’s your turn. Unresolve! Identify just three promises, practices, or presumptions you will remove from your plate. What kind of space does this create for you to have more impact, experience greater wellbeing, and feel more fulfilled? Please share with me one of your declarations.

Image credit: Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

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