New years resolutions are funny things, that ironically seem to demotivate people – myself included. Here’s one you (and I) might actually keep: LESS BUT BETTER. Of course there have been some resolutions in the past that worked – among the favorites were: dance more (I actually managed to keep that one), watch the sunset every night (I didn’t even come close, but had fun trying) and write your book! (deadlines work for me). The most hated were the usual – get fit! (Totally undefinable, no woman is ever satisfied that this has happened, and really?!?) Take better care of my skin (sigh. I’m just not a 5-step beauty routine girl) and Always keep the house visitor-clean (sadly, no.) This year, however, I’m keeping it a little more simple. This year’s resolution is LESS BUT BETTER.
Less but Better? Here’s Why:
I am a do-er, and I have a tendency to forget that I am human and unfortunately not, as I would like to believe, bionic. Not even a little. Having a baby really drives that home – not only am I not bionic, I’m not even in control of my schedule and I can’t seem to make it out of the house without some kind of bodily fluid on my clothes. I get up at night to nurse, but end up “sleeping” for 10 hours just to make up for the normal sleep I don’t get. Answering email has become the herculean task, simply because I can’t figure out how to fit that and everything else into my baby’s nap time. Plus, I don’t want to miss a minute with my baby.
Dieter Rams, a German industrial designer, is known for living by the principal of “Less but Better.” It has become his mantra in terms of designing goods with simplicity, beauty and functionality. And why couldn’t a life be designed the same way? I want my life to be less but better. By shaving off all of the unnecessary pieces until what is left is essential, true and beautiful. Even Leonardo Da Vinci agrees, saying:
Life is busy, especially if you stubbornly refuse to give up the things you love to do. Even so, there has to be a limit somewhere. There has to be an end point. So this year, let’s try something different. Take the time to make a list of you commitments in life (i.e. laundry, girl scout troop leader, volunteer, grocery shopping, side project at work, duties at church, taking the kids to soccer, walking the dogs, mowing the lawn, etc…) and to find a way to take at least 2 items off that list. Preferably their least-favorite two. These could be items that you find money in your budget to pay for, like a cleaning or lawn service, or it could be items that just take up time in your life but aren’t bringing whatever reward you were looking for, like that side project or the volunteer gig or the book club you hate. Either way it’s like cleaning out the clutter. This means less demands on your time, but better. Keep the really important stuff and the really beloved stuff and ditch the rest.
It’s not just the work and responsibilities – it’s the stuff. I’m so sick of extra stuff that clutters up the place and gets in the way of the stuff I actually like and use. And here’s the thing – I notice in my life, and this might be true in yours too, that I hold on to things for the wrong reasons. The dishes I love stay in the cupboard because they’re the “good” set and not for everyday use. The clothes that make me feel spectacular only get worn on special occasions because I might mess them up. It’s recently occurred to me that this is all backward. I want to wear clothes that make me want to do a little dance every day and not only that, I want to toss the rest. If they’re uncomfortable, unflattering, or not my style, they’re going. Forget about what they cost when I bought them, how much I think I should like them, or any other ridiculous excuse. Likewise if my biggest interaction with an object in my house is to dust it, then it’s pretty much got to go. If it isn’t making life better then I don’t want it.
For that reason I’m staying home tonight. I’m going to be in bed by 11:00, I’ve been relaxing more than normal. I’m soothing the relaxation guilt caused by not doing anything with the simple expedient of a clever ‘to-do’ item called ‘working on New Years Resolution.’ I want to do the important things and the wonderful things and strike a lot of the silly crap off my list. Because there is to much silly crap.