I am not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions. I’m the kind of girl who sets the bar too high – lists and lists of goals for this year’s “new me,” only to fail at all of them miserably. That is one great example of my life’s excess: I seek to accomplish everything, rather than just one thing that’s done well.
To turn my luck around this year, I tried to think of one goal that would accomplish all of my desires for 2016: to focus on the people around me, be present to each moment, get outside more and make more things by hand. Big dreams, I know.
The more I think about these ideas, the more I realize that they’re all ways to simplify my life. I want to remove the distractions, the things that don’t matter, the things that keep me from being my full self. This is my first New Year after graduating college, my first one as an “adult,” and it’s about time I take charge of who I want to be forever.
This will be the year of simple living for me, focusing on the people in my life over the things in my life. I don’t want to think about making money or buying the newest things. Instead, I want to just simplify my options. To me, that doesn’t mean forcing myself to live with less, but just learning to live well with a little. And yes, that means not always buying new clothes, a new phone or a new whatever unless I actually need it – which is challenging in itself. Here are 5 ways I’m learning to live off less this year:
1. I will save money by only shopping in season.
I want to only buy produce that’s in season and learn to be creative with it! Right now, that means pecans, beets and various squash for Texas. Vegetables and fruit that are normally out of my comfort zone, this weekly grocery haul allows me to try new recipes, learn about farming in my area and save some money by not buying imported fruits from other areas.
2. I will make my own cleaning products that are good to the earth – and my wallet.
Instead of buying cleaning products for each different part of my house, I want to use natural remedies this year. The Internet has revealed how far you can go with a little vinegar, cornstarch, water and essential oils these days, and with only a few ingredients, I can whip my whole place into shape.
3. I want to be less reliant on my iPhone.
Money and spending aside, the biggest obstacle to cultivating strong relationships for me is my iPhone. Each day I am trying to find small ways to limit my technology usage, whether that’s leaving my phone in my bedroom while I hang with my roommates or putting it on “Do Not Disturb” at work. Any small time away from cyberspace can make a huge difference in your daily relationships. You never know when a random conversation, lunch date or moment at work could become an important one.
4. I will take less shit.
If this is my year of “less,” then why not limit negativity in 2016? If my hope is to bring myself closer to my friends this year, eliminating fakeness and striving for honesty is the best way to get there! Besides, I’m getting too old for other people’s shit.
5. Above all, I need a better attitude.
Cutesy goals and DIY projects aside, the easiest way to live a simple life is your attitude. If it’s your intention to focus on your values – for me, that means my relationships – even if you screw up sometimes, you’re getting something out of it. If I splurge on strawberries in the wintertime, no one gets hurt; rather, local growers and my own palette are still improving from all the times I shop in season. If I zone out on my phone here and there, it’s better than doing it all the time.
My goal for this year boils down to thinking about my actions. I want to make sure all of what I do reflects my values and the kind of person I want to be, which makes sense considering it’s my first year as a “real person.” This is my first year without exams or stress and with some f*cking free time, so it’s my first chance to really try out these adult things. I want to start cultivating habits that can make the most out of my first real chance at a real adult life.