Instead of new year’s resolutions, I am going to make a love list. I got the idea from the blog Be More With Less and basically it’s a list of things you would love to do or start in the new year.

The list is fluid and will change as my life changes. I’m not going to judge myself if some of these don’t get completed. I am going to put this list somewhere so I see it every day and spend at least part of my day moving one or more of these forward. And then at the end of 2012 I will do a retrospective to see how far I’ve come on these items.

“Success will never be a big step in the future; success is a small step taken just now.” ~Jonatan Mårtensson

My 2012 List

  • Be on top of my priorities & make sure I fund them. No procrastination.
  • Re-connect with friends.
  • Move my career forward.
  • Create an iPhone app. I have an idea and I think it’s a good one. Time to make that happen.
  • Exercise or Yoga 3 times per week.
  • Purge “stuff”.
  • Meditate every week.
  • Read one book per month.
  • Blog once per week.
  • Go on a spontaneous weekend trip.
  • Create my blog design.
  • Go camping at least twice.
  • Take more photos.
  • See more movies.
  • Go to more shows.
  • Go bowling more often.
  • Complete the 21-day Happiness Challenge

Do you have a love list for the new year? Please share!

I have too much stuff. Not in an excessive way — I’m not a hoarder, nor do I buy stuff that often — I just have a ton of stuff I don’t use and haven’t used in a long time. I’ve concluded it is time to purge it all in 2012!

My basic plan:

  • January through March: anything that I am not going to sell at our summer block sale goes to charity, given away, or in the garbage.
  • April through June: prepare for our block sale. I’m not going to hold back on pricing. Everything on sale must go. Anything left after the sale goes to charity.
  • Entire year: if I buy something for myself that’s not digital or consumable, I will purge two similar items.
  • Any money we make off selling items goes back into the house to improve our living space. (2012 projects: improve the master bedroom and put in a new kitchen floor.)

Memories & Media: Digital, FTW

Anything I can digitize, I will — whether it’s scanning, taking a picture, or converting it to a digital format. Doing that will also mean better, more complete backups of my hard drives. I already use Backblaze and Time Machine for a dual local/off-site backup of my computer — but I also need to do a regular backup of my digital media. For example, I ripped all of my DVDs two summers ago and sold them at a garage sale. Those movies are on a hard drive connected to my Boxee Box and that hard drive hasn’t been backed up recently.

Media is usually easy to digitize, but memories are more of a challenge. When you think about it though: all those things you have from when you were younger help bring back memories, and it’s the memories you love, not the item you are holding. (Especially if it’s in a box collecting dust in the basement.) So I am planning to scan or take a picture of these items and put them into my digital photo collection. Not only will I have less physical stuff, but these memories will actually be easier to get to on my computer, rather than some box buried in the basement.

Just In Case

I know past attempts at de-cluttering have hit a wall when it comes to the dreaded “just in case” reasoning for keeping something. Looking back, most of that stuff is still sitting around and collecting dust.

Leo Babauta’s post on his mnmlist blog, called The Just In Case Syndrome emphasized a great outlook to take when you find yourself stuck using this excuse:

don’t just worry you might need it … find out.

And The Minimalists blog had a great post called, Getting Rid of Just In Case: 20 Dollars, 20 Minutes. Their theory:

Anything we get rid of that we truly need, we can replace for less than $20, in less than 20 minutes from our current location. Thus far, this theory has held true 100% of the time. Although we’ve rarely had to replace a just in case item (less than five times this year for the two of us combined), we’ve never had to pay more than $20 or go more than 20 minutes out of our way to replace the item.

A really great approach to take, right? Add in “or borrow” and I’d bet 100% of the “just in case” could be replaced quickly.

And I recently stumbled on to Sean Bonner’s blog and he is going through the same planning process to close out 2011, although his plan seems more extreme than mine. Anyway, he said something really great about making decisions when purging:

One thing that keeps coming up that I realized last time I went through a major purge is that any single item can be justified. Take a box you have in storage, one that has been there for years untouched. One that you’ve been paying $100+ a month to store. Do you need anything in that box? Without opening it I can tell you that, no, most likely you don’t need anything in that box. You could through it out and chances are for the rest of your life you’ll never miss anything in that box. But! Open it up, and suddenly the stuff in there is oh so important. Stuff that 5 minutes ago you didn’t even remember existed is now precious and worthy of saving. That’s the stuff lying to you. I’ll say it again — on a single item basis, you can justify keeping anything.

I’m pretty sure that the only exception I’m willing to make would be tools for fixing things. Otherwise, I plan on finding out if I need that “just in case” item or not. I’m betting not.

I’m pretty excited about this purge. I get way too stressed out about the clutter in our house! It’s a problem with a solution, though, so all I need to do is make it happen. I will follow up with posts as I make progress in 2012.

Have you done a great purge lately or planning to do one in 2012? Share your story!

There’s an old adage that “people don’t change.” I’m not sure where it came from, but I do know there are nearly 5,000,000 results when you Google that phrase.

The more I think about those words, the more I think that phrase is complete and utter bullshit. This makes more sense: people decide not to grow. They become complacent, stuck, lazy, unwilling to adapt and grow.

“Life is a process of becoming. A combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” -Anais Nin

Life is all about growth and change. You can either accept that and do great things or be stuck and boring. When I say great things, I don’t necessarily mean world-changing on a macro level. Doing great things on a smaller, personal level is just as important: being a great parent, husband/wife, friend, doing things you love, or becoming a better person.

“Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as being able to remake ourselves.” -Gandhi

For the first time in my life, or at least for as long as I can remember, I am working on myself. Growing. Becoming a better person. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life and most of them are because I took the easy way out. No longer. I want to do great things.

“You change for two reasons: Either you learn enough that you want to, or you’ve been hurt enough that you have to.” -Unknown

I’ve always been quiet/shy and considered a “nice” person. That’s a dangerous combination while growing up — especially with regard to relationships and social situations. Your weaknesses are never exposed or questioned. You are never pushed to grow because, after a while, you become an after thought to many. After awhile I stopped pushing to make myself heard. I started preferring small groups and a tight-knit group of friends. With that I missed out on many social situations, meeting new people, and girlfriends.

“What you are is what you have been. What you’ll be is what you do now.” -Buddha

During college I started pushing myself a little more because I had to, but in the end, college became a new small group of friends. (Some of them were actually friends from high school too.) I found people I liked and could relate to — then I stopped again. Luckily, one of those friends became my wife and best friend. But even then, it was way too easy — I didn’t have to push myself to grow or change, so I didn’t.

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” -George Eliot

That changed this year. Between seeing relationships crumble around me, my sister being diagnosed with MS, and my marriage falling apart, I started looking inside myself. I found a person with misplaced priorities, someone overwhelmed in all aspects of life, someone who had no idea what they wanted or felt or needed. I was lost because I stopped pushing myself to grow a long time ago.

Luckily I re-discovered Buddhist philosophy to help me explore my life, my thoughts, my feelings and how I looked at the world. It helped immensely. It also helped that I have an amazing wife to talk to and come home to each night.

Ever since our kids were born (and to varying degrees before that), I neglected our relationship. Not because I didn’t love her or want to be there, but because I let everything else take priority. I didn’t control the moment and make my priorities. I let my life dictate where I spent my time and attention. I was comfortable in our relationship, so that always finished second. The kids, work, chores, and who knows what else took up my time and attention. It was so overwhelming, it was easy to let that happen. This was obviously not good for her or our relationship and because of that, we slowly grew apart.

This summer I began to push myself to grow; to take chances; to be emotional; to share my feelings, thoughts, and needs; to live in the moment, with the right priorities. I know it’s the right decision because I’ve been happy. Happier than I’ve been in a long time — probably for as long as I can remember. I’m not done, either. I’ve got a lot of growing to do — aspects of my life I want and need to work on to become a better person.

Great people change. They grow. They adapt. They keep learning and pushing themselves. I want to be a great person. If you don’t want the same, I feel sorry for you. I was lost once too.

“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” -Benjamin Franklin