About this time each year, many of us resolve to be better versions of ourselves in the year ahead. It’s a lovely notion, but oftentimes these resolutions meet the crushing pace of our lives and weaken or die altogether within months—sometimes weeks—of being adopted. This year, I propose a kinder variety of resolution, a “default keep” resolution. The idea is simple. Structure your resolution so that it’s actually easier to keep than to break. Your resolution should help you grow, but for once it won’t set you up for failure (and the self-loathing that often accompanies failure).
A “default keep” resolution might be omitting something from your diet that’s harmful. If you resolve to stop putting sugar into your morning coffee, for example, it’s actually one less step each day, saving you time and effort while also helping you take better care of yourself. Perhaps you’re resolved to follow your dermatologist’s orders and quit tanning. This resolution is “default keep” because it’s easier not to stop by the solon than it is to make the trip. Both of these theoretical resolutions would be easier to keep than to break and would save time and effort. In addition to saving time, this sort of resolution also saves money. The savings will depend on the particular resolution, of course, but a resolution like this offers the chance to redirect the funds into something healthier.
This sort of resolution has served me well over the last couple of years. Two years ago, after 16 years of daily application, I quit wearing makeup. It was a rough transition at first, but now I don’t even think about it. I’ve reclaimed a little over 243 hours—that’s equivalent to 10 days!—in time I would have spent applying my daily makeup. And I’ve saved close to $600 over the two years by cutting makeup out of my budget. Last year, I decided to quit wearing bras. This “default keep” resolution didn’t save me as much time and money, but it did offer unique benefits such as ending the damage that bras do shoulders, nipples, and pretty much all of the skin in contact with the bra. And it feels amazing. I then redirected all the money I’d saved into one relaxation massage per month—best self-care swap ever!
Another advantage to “default keep” resolutions is that they can help you change your focus. Cutting out something that you want to let go of opens up space for new things to come into view. For me, the most profound difference I experienced happened when I quit makeup. Starting every day with a critical eye aimed for 20-25 minutes at my own face was dragging me down in ways I did not appreciate until I stopped doing it. Now I begin each day looking out at the world, and I feel so much happier about life.
Perhaps the very best feature of “default keep” resolutions is the empowering fact that if you decide to go back on one of these, it is truly your choice. Where traditional resolutions often become a slide into failure with all the attendant feelings of personal disappointment and frustration, to break a “default keep” you must actively choose to do so. It can’t happen by accident. So, whether it’s to save time, money, change your focus, or just to prove that you can keep a resolution, consider crafting and adopting one of these kinder, more empowering resolutions in the coming year.
If you need help with setting the foundation for the year, check out this Free Priority Workbook that we created to help you clarify your purpose, define priorities and simplify your action steps.