I’ll be really surprised if anyone still remembers what my New Year resolution for this year was but even if I didn’t carry it out fully, I still did a lot about it this year, and was very glad to have made it.
I did a post last year on New Year Resolutions in which I asked a few people what their New Year resolution would be and also shared my own.
Here is what my new year resolution was:
Zero impulse purchases in 2012.
Now here is how I fared and what I learned from this resolution.
1. Avoided buying a lot of junk: I have had far from zero impulse purchases in 2012 (See also: 5 Factors that cause Impulse Buying), but I did avoid buying a lot of stuff that I would’ve bought in previous years. Just having the thought that you have to avoid impulse purchases helps you unbelievably well. That’s all I did really, just thought about cutting clutter and not buying anything that I wouldn’t need after a few weeks, and the idea helped.
2. Not on impulse but wasteful? A few times I’ve experienced this urge to buy something, and resisted it for a couple of weeks or so, and even then I felt like buying that thing. I’ve usually gone ahead and bought that thing and in my mind it doesn’t count as an impulse, but I’m not so sure if it isn’t wasteful. How many watches should someone own? What type of a car should you own? How many shirts?
I certainly don’t mind these type of expenses, but the focus on impulse has given me a perspective that I didn’t have before, which is what percentage of your wants are frivolous wants and what percentage are justified in order to just function properly in this materialistic society?
3. Grocery and food shopping is when you’re most prone to impulses: You see a bag of chips and you want to buy it, you just have a little ice cream left, and want to replenish the stock, a third type of juice won’t hurt, eggs don’t really expire. In my experience, impulse on food items are just the hardest to control, and are the most wasteful as far as I’m concerned. I haven’t done a good job on them so far, but hope to do so in the coming year by being really conscious about this.
4. Impulse on books didn’t harm me: I’m so used to buying books, getting through them quickly and moving on to the next one quickly that I made an exception to the impulse rule in mind for books. I think that didn’t harm me at all as almost every book I read was worth the time and money and the effort it would have taken me to screen these books before purchase wouldn’t have justified the money or time I saved on them.
5. What about time? I had an epiphany about a month ago when I realized that I was spending so much attention avoiding impulse purchases but what about my impulses that lead to wasted time?
At some point during the last year I started tracking the minutes it took to complete tasks and I was always surprised by how quickly each task got completed in comparison with how long I expected it to take.
For example, posts that I thought would easily take two hours (because they usually do) actually took 45 minutes, and the remaining time was frittered away wastefully by me. I wish I wasn’t so easily distracted, but in reality I get distracted every few minutes and feel the urge to check Twitter, Facebook, a news site or anything other than the current task at hand. I think this is perhaps the worst habit I’m currently suffering from (among countless others) and I’d like to do something about it.
I’m not quite sure how I will deal with this or measure it but it’s an important thing for me right now, and in 2013, I want to be a lot more productive than I was ever in my life.
Finally, this is the first time I’ve taken a New Year resolution seriously, and I’m amazed at the results. I feel that they must have started off or at least became popular because they were really useful but somewhere along the line became nothing more than pastimes and intentions that are never serious.
But taken seriously, they can benefit you.
Why don’t you give this a try as well? Think of the one thing that you would really like to change this New Year, create a resolution and leave a comment here, writing it down will ensure a lot higher chance of success than just having it in your head.