As I think about this coming new year and the type of resolutions we tend to make, I am reminded of an episode of the Office.
The one where Michael finds himself in quite a financial pickle due to the excess spending of his neurotic girlfriend Jan. Overwhelmed by his financial crisis, he decides that declaring bankruptcy is just what he needs to clear his slate and start over.
Clueless as to what declaring bankruptcy involves, he turns, stands in the doorway of his office and in what he believes to be a moment of freedom, shouts out to his employees, “I…Declare…Baaankkruupcy!”
Of course, he quickly discovers that those words alone are powerless to effect the change necessary to solve his problem.
A New Year’s resolution is an interesting concept. On one hand, we love the idea of a quick and easy fix. The opportunity to wake up to a new year and a new life sounds pretty amazing, but then there’s that whole work part. The part of the resolution that requires something from us. The opportunity for a new me is empowering. The execution, however, sounds exhausting.
So I’ve always avoided declaring resolutions. January 1st comes and goes and I simply start counting down the days until the sun makes a more regular appearance in Michigan.
The Necessity of Change
Change has never been my thing. In fact, quite the opposite. I’ve always devoted myself to keeping things the way they are. From injecting myself into solving family conflict, to wearing the same pair of earrings for 13 years, I fight change.
I’ve always considered change to be more like a rebellion than an improvement. The mutiny of order instead of an upgrade.
Switching things up was just a recipe for failure. Why would anyone open themselves up to the opportunity to fail? After all, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” has brought me this far.
But, then the slow suffocation of discontentment sets in. My inability to balance it all was becoming glaringly obvious. It was as if the girl I could be and wanted to be, was clawing her way to the surface with or without my permission.
It wasn’t the new year. I hadn’t committed to a cleanse, purge challenge or major life goal. One day, the scales simply tipped, in the middle of my church mom group, talking about meal planning. It was my resolution moment.
I became a minimalist on that simple Wednesday morning. But more than that, I discovered a journey toward a more rich and satisfying life.
New Year’s resolutions often lead to nothing more than short lived, painful sacrifices followed by a handful of instagram posts, and finally an unkept personal promise. These resolutions are often founded on unrealistic expectations, fear of missing out, emotional hype and unsustainable outcomes. Sometimes they stick, mostly they don’t. In fact, according to Jon Acuff in his book “Finish”, 92% of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned.
However, minimalism is not your average resolution. In fact, I propose that resolving to become a minimalist is the secret to effectively implementing just about every resolution you have ever wanted to make. I saw that eye roll. I know, what you’re thinking. Who does she think she is? But hear me out.
1. IT CREATES SPACE FOR CHANGE
Most of us are already running full steam ahead, carrying with us an empty tank and a whole lot of regret for how we use our time. Suddenly it’s the week before the new year, and it’s time to add one more thing to our “to-do-better” list.
We find these resolutions requiring more from us than we have to give. With very little room to breath as it is, we take on a new goal, often even grander than the last, without creating the margin in our lives to accomplish it.
What chance do these positive improvements have to take root and cause real life change in an already cluttered life?
Minimalism is about first creating space. It gives you the tools to identify the areas you can prune back. It sheds light on what is most valuable and equips you to elevate that.
As Joshua Becker, of BecomingMinimalist.com has said,
“The goal of minimalism, let’s remember, is not just to own less stuff. The goal of minimalism is to unburden our lives so we can accomplish more.”
2. THE PROCESS IS PRETTY PAINLESS
There is no juice cleanses or cabbage soup involved. There is no need to invest in new products or organizational systems.
When I determined that becoming minimalist was the direction I wanted to go in, I simply started walking that way. Every decision I made ran through my new minimalist filter.
It’s a lifestyle we make personal to us. Some days it was a car packed to the brim with donation items and the next it was an atypical decision to not add more to my calendar, or purchase something I could actually do without.
3. SEE IMMEDIATE RESULTS
On day one of our minimalist journey I saw immediate results. My closet felt like a dream to navigate, and cleaning it out helped me find things I had lost in the clutter over time. I uncovered some of my favorite shirts buried below the awful items I kept out of guilt, or for those just in case moments that never came.
Those findings gave me a sense of pride and empowered me to keep going right from the start. Everyday after continued to do the same. From a cleared out closet, to learning what it means to be present, to newly found reading time…I saw results.
4. A DOORWAY TO PERSONAL GROWTH
I think this is my favorite minimalist perk of all!
The idea that I, of all people, could become a minimalist was preposterous. But I did it, in one unexpected moment.
It showed me I was capable of change! This transformation has revealed just how deep, sweet, and genuine faith, life, and love could be, when we just stop moving and start to savor.
Self-inflicted busyness was my way of operating. It had allowed me to mask the areas where I lacked. If I slowed down, I would have to face them. Now I could no longer justify sacrificing my spiritual, mental and emotional health on the alter of mom life. I had tasted and seen and I wanted more.
When we prune not just the clutter, but our schedules as well, we have no choice but to look inside. I found myself, staring directly into the heart of a girl willing to be challenged, a girl with a passion to grow.
“Who looks outside DREAMS; who looks inside AWAKENS” – Carl Jung
Now that I’m awake I can’t help but ask myself:
If this previously errand addicted, overwhelmed, outcome-manipulating, perfectionist can radically change the way she does life, what else can she do?
Minimalism is Not Your Average Resolution
If I’ve learned anything over the last year, it’s that resolutions don’t elicit change just because we stand and declare them, or because one date has simply rolled over to the next. They take a resolution moment, the hope of what will be and the space to walk that way. If His mercies are new each morning why not start today?
Let’s begin by creating the space to cherish that which we value most, to look inside in order to grow, to discover not only who we are created to be, but who we were created to reflect. I know first hand that change and growth can be uncomfortable. With the time and capacity to devote to it, it just may offer new life.