Some of you may be considering preparing a list of New Year’s resolutions.

Here is a suggestion. Rather than do a conventional list, most of which we fail to implement, why not do the following:

Ask yourself: What is the one thing in my life, as I currently live it, that I can take away (remove, do away with, eliminate), that will make a substantial, significant improvement in the quality of my life? What one thing will make me happier, if I can dump it?

Here are a few suggestions.

Access: Some years ago, I lost my cell phone (it was actually stolen by some painters, when we repainted our house). I found that not having a cell phone was a ‘subtraction’ that vastly improved my life, because suddenly I was transformed from being a ‘public good’ accessible to all, at all times, to a ‘private good’ able to better control access to my time and attention. I never replaced it. 

Smoking: nothing can improve your life and health more than quitting, if you smoke. There are many aids that can help. At the least, cut your cigarette consumption in half. Life is so wonderful, why shorten it by actions that you yourself control? 

Stuff: Do we really become happier by acquiring growing amounts of stuff, bought in forlorn visits to crowded shopping centers populated by equally forlorn people seeking happiness futilely by buying more and more unnecessary stuff?   

GDP: Our son, a ‘green advocate involved with plans for building ecologically-sustainable houses,  insists on buying and using used articles (when available) rather than buying new things and using up scarce resources. Of course, in doing this, he is reducing the Gross Domestic Product. Will, one day, the world shift to a vision and goal of ‘less GDP’ rather than the constant drive to grow GDP,  so that we can sustain our existence on this planet?

Time: Apart from our relationships with friends and family, time is our most valuable asset. And we squander it as if it had no value. I have stopped attending meetings, wherever possible, finding them frustrating and unproductive. The saving is twofold: Valuable time, and valuable mental energy saved from dissipation in endless, futile meetings that go nowhere and achieve nothing.   

So, as you make your New Year’s Resolutions, try this new approach.

Ask, what one thing can I remove from my life, that will greatly improve it?

And, why not do this now?