Most of you know that one joke about how gyms get more sign ups in January than any other month and that the search trends have a huge spike for exercise related search terms around the same time. But that is just one of the most visible resolution that trends downward immediately after the first 15 days of the new year.
I am no exception to this commonality. I’m no special snowflake. I make a resolution, and then after January, I’ve either given up, made progress in the opposite direction of my goal, or completely forgot the resolution I had made in the first place. So I thought it would be nice to try something different.
A yearly theme is one that you set at the beginning (or change in the middle) of any period of the year and intend to keep in mind for the year. The main difference between a resolution and a theme is that a resolution has some sort of tangible finishing point. Examples of that finishing point would be resolving to lose 5kg, or quit smoking, or write your book.
A theme, however, is to be used as a guiding principle when making decisions. A year of health would imply that you’re reducing the amount of junk food, and that when you decide meal plans for the week, you add the word “healthy” to your recipes. A year of less could mean that you resolve to start less new projects, spend less money, and spend less time on social media.
If you’d like a little more on themes, check out this video from CGP Grey.
Year of Distillation
Yeah, great theme name. I know right? I thought of it all on my own! The original name was “Year of Focus” but I figured it wasn’t specific enough to what I was trying to accomplish.
What I’m trying to accomplish
Generally, what I’m trying to do is narrow my focus on what is (almost) absolutely necessary. A lot of my time is spent switching back and forth between tasks, and often one of those tasks is browsing haphazardly through social media. I’m constantly distracted with social media, and that’s a problem.
As well, this applies to other habits of mine like overeating, browsing aimlessly through YouTube, projects that I (shouldn’t) start, and other areas of my life.
I want to distill down to the necessary in my daily life and part of that means focusing on a single activity at a time, it means not browsing social media whenever I have free time.
Not only doing less
This doesn’t mean that I’m generally trying to cut OUT things. I’d also like to put more focus on doing certain things and replacing certain activities with other activities.
The big one is related to the entertainment I consume. I watch way too much YouTube. I spent too much time bingeing Netflix shows. I’d like to shift this to a more active mode of entertainment.
Instead of watching a YouTube video, I should opt to read an article I saved for later reading. Instead of bingeing a show on Netflix, I should opt to read a couple chapters in a book I’m working on. Instead of wandering through reddit for memes and funny videos, I should instead opt to write a blog post, get some details about my book written down, or take care of my journal entry for the day.
Of course this is not going to be something that I can just set and forget. This is going to take active effort and thinking to shake some of these daily habits. So here’s the plan:
Every day or two (or three if I’m particularly doing well), I’ll write down an entry in my theme system journal. Currently the sections for journal entries are How I feel, what I did that day, what I’m thinking, and the plan for the next day.
These sections for entries may change at some point in the future but I think this is a good jumping off point.
Aside from this, I’ll be tracking my finances either in a spreadsheet or in some app I find in the future that’ll do that for me.
Here’s an overview of what I’d like to “accomplish” this year:
- Focus on a single task at a time
- Read/write more
- Minimize/don’t start excessive projects
- Minimize mindless social media browsing
- Eliminate extraneous subscriptions
- Form better health habits