Doing Less in 2018

Learning to check our expectations and reign them in can be essential.

Posted Jan 27, 2018

Source: Pixabay

As the holiday season is finally coming to a close (spare lingering Christmas décor aside), we can’t help but reflect on the year behind and the one ahead of us.  I don’t know if it was the spectacular sunrise on New Year’s Day, but I, for one, woke up the morning of January 1st with more zest and energy than I had in quite some time the last few weeks. 

Although usually quite cheery during the holidays, the pressures of work and setting boundaries with family had me waiting for it to just be over.  Which in reality is quite unfortunate—the most wonderful time of the year becomes the most dreaded time of the year.  But more important is coming to recognize what makes it so.  And for many, it boils down to one simple factor: expectations.

In years past, FOMO had my husband and I running around trying to create the perfect Hallmark holiday.  We found last minute tickets to the Nutcracker, saw our historic Pittock mansion dressed up in its annual regalia, and hit up as many holiday-themed events as we could.  Then we gathered the remaining energy we had to host family in hopes of creating a Martha Stewart experience for all. 

This year, the picture was much simpler—cheesy Hallmark films (many of which we wound up fast-forwarding through), premade eggnog (unlike 2 years past when my husband was making it from scratch), a few batches of EASY cranberry-orange bread, and a holiday puzzle.  No racing to compete with crowds in line and no worrying about what we were missing out on.  Granted, this was partly due to the impracticality of engaging in such events as I worked on getting up a new website, furiously doing book edits, and my husband labored on law school finals.  However, it also released us from the burden of doing more, more, more.

As 2018 is upon us, I take these reflections as lessons on doing less.  Sure, I got a lot done.  But I also decreased my media engagements, and put less pressure on myself to make things perfect.  The reality is that there is no need to make every year more prolific than the next.  At the end of the day, that is what runs us ragged.

So as you look to the year ahead, think about what you might be able to let go of.  What are healthier goals and mindsets to adopt?  Can you stop trying to make life Instagrammable every minute of the day?  Can weekend activities be tech-free and about getting lost in the activity instead of boasting to others? 

I was fortunate to attend a New Year’s Day yoga class with one of my favorite teachers.  Her words were profound as she encouraged students not to get caught up in resolutions and feelings of subsequent failure.  Maybe the goal then instead is a shift in our mindsets and attitudes.  Perhaps the goal is not to get to the gym every single day, but rather to have a mindset that prioritize wellness such that you go on more walks, eat healthier, and manage your stress levels better. 

Perhaps take some time in these early days of the New Year and think about your hopes for the year ahead.  Naturally, they will differ for all.  For some, they might kick it into high gear on a limited number of meaningful projects, for others, they might ease back.  Whatever the intention, may we remember to check our expectations and see what it would be like to put a little less pressure on ourselves and do just a tiny bit less this year.