About 15 years ago I made the only New Year’s resolution that I’ve ever kept—to stop making New Year’s resolutions.
Until then, I had broken just about every one, which only made me feel like a failure. In my experience, when you feel like a failure, you tend to act like one, so I scrapped resolutions and instead adopted “evolutions.” What do I mean by that? I think of evolutions as barely noticeable changes to your daily routine that nonetheless add up to big differences over time—and transform your life for the better.
To really appreciate the beauty of an evolution, you need to lose your quick-fix mentality. Of course you know that quick fixes don’t work, but there’s a teeny-tiny section of the human brain that’s hopelessly, stupidly optimistic. That’s why we still click on those online ads that promise Lose 30 pounds in 30 days with this 2-second secret!!!! Are you kidding me? People stranded on desert islands don’t lose 30 pounds in 30 days.
Let’s be realistic. Just because the calendar says 2015 instead of 2014, you can’t go on a diet, train for a marathon, learn French and start a vegan cupcake business by February. (If you did even one of those, I’d be impressed.) Cut yourself some slack.
Back in the late ’90s I was pretty broke, and by “pretty” broke, I mean totally broke. Even so, I was spending about $10 every weekday on designer coffee. It was time for a change. Instead of throwing away $50 a week (that’s $2,600 a year!), I decided to make myself a fancy coffee at home every morning. I bought a milk frother for 20 bucks and some espresso beans, and I didn’t miss that mocha-choca-latte at all. And the money I saved went to pay off some credit card debt.
Some other New Year’s evolutions I’ve made over the past decade include sitting and watching only one hour of TV a day (unless I’m simultaneously doing something else, like ironing or folding laundry); taking the subway to work instead of a taxi; and never standing still on an escalator. Over the years these little things have led to, respectively, getting a lot more accomplished, saving a lot more money and burning a lot more calories.
This year, my evolution will be to take the high road when someone does something to upset me. For example, when people make comments about my beard, I’m going to say, “Thanks so much for your interest,” instead of the totally unprintable response that I’d prefer to utter. We’ll all be much happier.
Happy New Year, my friends!
This article appears in Woman’s Day magazine January 2015 issue in my Clinton’s Solves It column. To read more columns, click here.