The Year of Less

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Toronto, Ontario

For the last 7 weeks I have been fixated on whether I should have goals or resolutions for 2013. In principle I don’t believe in resolutions but I do like having a theme. Last year was the theme of being fearless and this year I want to focus on balance.

But what does that really mean.

I didn’t think it was enough and read C’est Christine’s great post on her 2013 resolutions and thought okay I can do this but I procrastinated and by the time I read Everyday Bright’s post about goals being self inflicted wounds I started spinning out of control.

Does it really have to be this hard?

It doesn’t. Finally in a foggy moment I realized what I needed to do – create the list of unresolutions – 5 things I pledge to do without for 2013. These are things that have been just getting in my way and hindering balance.

“What is your second greatest barrier to working on purpose?”

When I asked myself this question there was an easy answer, there are definitely things I need to stop doing or need less of in my life.

love me cow

Less Meat

I have never eaten a lot of meat. I love the taste of pork but I use it as a garnish or to enhance flavour, it is rare that meat is center stage unless I’m going somewhere special like the Whole Beast dinner.

I will never be vegetarian but I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives and I really connected with the message.

A few years ago I decided to eat vegetarian one day a week for environmental reasons. This year I am stepping it up and pledging to eat vegan one day a week.

I figure it will make me a better cook and it’s a bit of penance for all the meat I ate last year.

I shared this with a friend last night and he told me he may need to revoke my domain name, that’s not going to happen.

ayngelina at laptop

Less time online

Before I was an online publisher I was addicted to the Internet, now my smart phone is never more than a foot away from me.

I am always connected.

Last week I spent half an hour reading through tweets from someone who annoys me. What is up with that?

There is too much noise

It is definitely a problem and I can see that I have been burning out the last few months. I always feel like I’m trying to catch up on work.

I seem to think if I spend more time online I will be more productive, thus more successful, thus money will come.

That hasn’t worked.

I also cannot remember the last book I finished despite being a self-professed book lover.

So instead of continuing to be a bibliophile fraud I’m moving my reading offline, unsubscribing from every single newsletter and email notification and taking inspiration from The Future is Red’s reading list.

I’m also going to start keeping a weekly schedule of what needs to be worked on and which days I’m doing it.

Then I’m getting offline. I’ve already changed the settings on my phone so it doesn’t beep every time I get a tweet, email, Facebook notification, Instagram like, foodspotting comment…you get the idea, it is ridiculous.

train station

Less travel

So far this year I only have one trip booked to go to Finland. Everyone keeps asking me where I’m going to travel and I have no desire to plan.

I do know that I would like to go back to South America to recharge and the Canadian winter is starting to get to me so I may also go back to Maui but other than that I have no plans.

Last summer I really wanted to just stay in Toronto and hang out with friends. Instead I went to Portland, Seattle, New York and Montana.

The worst thing about writing this is that I am actually complaining about travel. I need to get back to the place where traveling is exciting.

I want to take smaller weekend trips and I don’t want to spend the whole year traveling alone.

Last night I looked at photos from when my mother visited me in Maui and it was a really amazing time. I want to share travel with people I care about.

Toronto Pride Concert

Less self-centeredness

Part of the reason I ended the nomadic lifestyle is that I was feeling really disconnected. I love meeting new people but I was tired of the same conversations and I just wanted to see friends on a regular basis.

In the last year I made new friends and have been good about seeing my closest friends on a regular basis despite them getting married and having children. I like that we have a history.

But I have realized that traveling solo for so long made me the centre of my own universe and everything became about me.

When I meet with them I find I’m always the one talking because I’m always going somewhere or have some dating disaster. It’s always about me and I really hate that about myself.

So instead of hating it I’m just going to change it.

Less time on unproductive work

This is the first year I have really contemplated a business plan. Right now I have several projects up in the air that I spend too much time on and they aren’t contributing enough to my bank account.

I need to get back to my core skills. Without sounding over-confident, I was really good at my previous career and I miss marketing.

Now I have new skills in social media and a greater understanding of travel and I need to focus on building freelance marketing work. If you know someone who needs help tell them to contact me.

This isn’t all to say that I have regretted any of the decisions I have made the last 3 years. I’ve realized no decision is final and life isn’t about setting concrete plans but evolving.

These resolutions to live a life of less keeps me on the right track.

For me balance is about being authentic, inspired, quiet and focused. The year of less will help me get there.

Join the Conversation

  1. Amber DeGrace says:

    Wonderful post! I can’t wait to see all the new adventures you have this year, because one really doesn’t need to go far to have a new experience. Grow those roots, my friend. 🙂

  2. Great goals! Especially the one about less time online and sharing travel with your family. Travel should be shared and as insightful as solo travel may be I don’t think I could do it. Best of luck with it all! 🙂

  3. goodluck on your plan Ayngelina, may we all find balance in what we do…

    just like you i’m also trying to minimize the time i spend online but maximize the fruits of my online labor at the same time, i still don’t know how to do it but working on it…

    don’t know if i’m gonna minimize travelling this year but i’m definitely gonna be travelling slower… the past 18 months of continuously moving from one place to another has taken it’s toll and i find myself not wanting to move that much (for now LOL! i’m sure it’ll change though)…

    i also spend a great deal of time now talking over the phone with friends and family (thanks to free calls on android phones!)…

    wishing you more success this year Ayngelina and may you be able to find the balance in your life 🙂

  4. Really love this, Ayngelina. I felt a little guilty that so many of my goals were so anti-travel, but I’ve realized that I need to take advantage of being grounded in a place to really focus on doing things for myself and improving myself. I want to learn more, grow more, volunteer more–and, like you, I really want a chance to connect with my friends and family and get back to a place where travel is really exciting. One of my travel goals is to get out of the city once a month–and I want some of that to be WITHOUT my iPhone. I’m trying to get out more and more without my phone and it is so refreshing–I’m going on a yoga and meditation retreat in February and honestly, the part I’m most excited about is a weekend without technology.

  5. I love this! I’ve also gone back and forth on whether or not I was going to do the resolution thing. Last year I went way overboard on resolutions, and then only accomplished one. This year, I’m trying to focus on doing a lot more stuff that makes me happy. But that means I’m also going to have to be super productive and efficient at work so that I have more time to do the stuff I love. And I need to stop doing the stuff that doesn’t make me happy — like, yes, spending hours hate-reading the tweets from people that annoy me (so glad I’m not alone on this!).
    I think one resolution we should BOTH make for 2013 is to finally meet! We’re only 2 hours away from each other. Let’s make this happen!

  6. Emily in Chile says:

    I fell off the “one vegetarian day a week” bandwagon toward the end of the year, but you may have just encouraged me to get back on. And I could definitely do to work smarter, not harder (sorry for the cliche) when it comes to time spent online!

  7. This resonates with me so much. Last year was a rough one for me, and I feel like I was phoning it in in nearly every aspect of my life. I’m at a point where expat life/travel just aren’t fulfilling or exciting anymore (which is evident on my blog posts), and I’m realizing I need to refocus on other stuff to find the joy in those things again. Anyway, best of luck on your year of less, and here’s to a happy 2013!

  8. Yup.

    For 2013, the things that matter most…come first. Every single time.

  9. Good luck! I love that you’re trying to be a vegan/vegetarian once a week. If you’re into fake meat, you should try Field Roas sausages (Whole Foods carry them). They’re grain based, and utterly delicious. Jack isn’t a vegetarian but even he like those better than ‘real’ sausages.

  10. Camels & Chocolate says:

    What is with the appeal of hate-reading? I do the exact same thing, and then I just get all stabby that I’ve wasted so much time on someone I don’t like. So maybe I’ll vow to cut back on the noise this year, as well =)

    And as a new homeowner, I’m with you on the desire to travel less. The nice thing about having a home is you don’t always have to worry about where you’re headed next, as you have a place to stay in the in-between periods.

  11. What great goals you have set for yourself. I can totally relate to less noise. I don’t think I could give up my meat but good for you for doing it once a week.

  12. Caroline Eubanks says:

    Agreed. I’m not Catholic but I’m thinking about starting the no meat on Fridays routine. And also, reading more books, not acquiring them just for the sake of sitting on my shelf.

  13. Curious Nomad says:

    Less is more. I can related to your theme this year because I’ve been doing similar things to live minimal. I got rid of my android phone and went old school again so I don’t have to be wired all the time. It helps me be present. One exercise that I recently learned is start, stop, continue. What should we start doing? What should we stop doing? What would we continue? Thank you for sharing your story!

  14. Great post, Ayngelina! I’ve also made a promise of spending less time online this year – starting with occasionally leaving my mobile at home!

  15. Lauren @ roamingtheworld says:

    Great post!

    i have a smartphone but “thankfully” since it’s jailbroken it’s not a “full” phone so I can’t download a lot of the apps. I find I still spend more time on FB and other sites. Sometimes I wonder how you and other successful bloggers find all the time to write, especially when you’re even more tuned in!

    And I’m feeling the same about wanting to share travel rather than traveling solo all the time.

  16. Congrats! Be thechange you want to see 🙂

  17. Kristy of Migration Expert says:

    Wow that was a good theme you have for this year. I find it unbelievable that you will consume less meat and devote one day a week to eat veggies. For me that am the toughest thing that I will do if I will write it on my New Year’s resolution this year because I love to eat meat but if you can do it why should I, right? Hopefully we can succeed the life with less meat. Cheers!

  18. A new year a new you! Or kinda new you… or the new you you strive to be… I dunno.

    I’m still trying my “think more positively” resolution and it is kicking my butt. We’re staying closer to home this year. I missed everyone!

  19. I really feel you on the self-centerdness. I often have to make a conscious effort when I meet with friends to not talk about myself the whole time, and that is really embarrassing! But as you said, I always have some sort of crazy drama going on, and they might not really care to update me on the latest at work.

    I guess at least I’m trying? Definitely something I want to work on this year as well.

  20. Aside from the less meat un-resolution, I can relate to the rest of your post. I’m changing the way I travel this year as well, sticking to Canada, and not always going solo. I find that the online / productivity balance is a tough one. I try to have ‘twitter-free’ days sometimes now, to avoid distraction. And…I have a tiny marketing budget for one company I work with…let’s chat!

  21. Dustin Main - Skinny Backpacker says:

    I definitely feel some of these. I took an internet vacation for 6 days in December, and it was awesome. I need to do that more often, and make the time I do spend online count.

    I’ve also crossed over the solo traveler line. I really appreciate the freedom I have with it, but I miss sharing all of the awesome times, sights, and sounds with people I care about.

    I’m not a big fan of new years resolutions, but thinking about doing a year end wrapup of last year, and just setting a few “big-idea” type goals for this year.

    Good luck with yours Ayngelina!

  22. Great post, less really is more!
    You got me thinking how I can apply this to my own life. Getting rid of goals is probably a good one.

  23. Those are great goals to have!! 🙂 Good luck with them all, I hope you have an amazing year!

  24. Lovely post! It’s great to hear about someone else’s journey of tweaking goals, and re-orienting to what really makes you happy. It’s so important to identify the things we think are wasting our time & the things that really make us who we are and are worth our time.

    A life coach friend of mine used to point out the trade off of time – if we’re spending time on things that make us a little batty (I also love & hate Twitter for these things), we’re not spending time on the things that are really important to us. So important to think about!

  25. drunkonlife says:

    We are definitely on the same wave length as I am on my second year of downsizing my online life.

    I started first with email. Then moved to programs (I market online so I had a ton of programs eating up chunks of space), cleared my desktop, starting decluttering my house, etc. etc.

    One thing that helped me in terms of email was a gmail app called, which dictates what comes into your email account automatically. The result is less *dings* *vibrations* and *chime* alerts. It sends a daily digest of the stuff that doesn’t really matter…for me, it means less time spent staring at a smart phone to see if that ding was a client request or…something else.

  26. I’m excited to start traveling again because I’ll be able to completely cut TV out of my life. Right now I live so far away from everything I spend a lot of my time watching things and it just ruins my productivity. Defiantly something I need less of.

  27. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    Both you and Christine have really inspired me!!! Good luck with eating less meat. I think you’ll love it after a while. 🙂

  28. Seattle Dredge says:

    I’m totally with you on that whole travelling alone thing. It’s great to have other people to share it with, and I also hate talking about myself once I get home :s

    Good luck with the rest; I envy your reading/anti-tech will power :]

  29. Kristin Addis says:

    Traveling solo has made me pretty self-centered. I just do whatever I want when I feel like it. It’ll probably be hard to adjust to the real world again!

  30. Spend less time online? Check
    Make that time more productive? Check

    I have spent less time in SM as it really is time consuming. I want to have more free time for other things, and as you are saying focus on making this online time productive= making money.

    On the other hand I do want to travel more this year…lol

  31. TammyOnTheMove says:

    I am so with you on being offline more. I could waste a whole day on the internet and still wouldn’t be able to read all thos articles, tweets, messages etc. I can take over your world.

  32. Susan @ Travel Junkette says:

    Brilliant post, Ayngelina! I think these are really smart goals. Best of luck, and happy new year!

  33. Balance is something Andy and I talk about all the time. It’s somehow too easy to get swept away in things that just aren’t important or aren’t helpful. This is a really great post and a great plan for the year.

  34. I love the name of this post. I am having similar thoughts about spending even less time online and posting only once a week. When I die, I don’t want to think that I spent too much time blogging and not enough time with my family.

  35. I can totally relate to the feeling of being over-connected. In one breath, I lament it and at times can almost feel overwhelmed by the tweeting, Facebooking, etc. On the other hand, I feel like I cannot live without it (as scary as that is to admit). Part of what I am trying to do this year to combat this hyper-connectedness is to just focus on one thing at a time and stop trying to multi-task at all times. I have found I can do so much more in such a shorter span of time.

  36. I think you hit a nerve in a lot of us with this, Ayngelina! Thanks for this!

    I’m vegetarian but I am trying to consume less dairy and sugar and do more juicing (still inspired by your green juice post!) And I’m experimenting with ditching the internet and my phone for one day each weekend. I picked up a book for the first time in months last Saturday–it felt so good!

    Best of luck!

  37. Scott - Quirky Travel Guy says:

    I just saw this post because I’ve spent the past week almost entirely offline. The internet vacation was great! It’s hard to get away when you work online, but unplugging is a great resolution.

  38. This is great! Knowing what is working in your life and what isn’t is pretty essential as a first step. I find that I’m reinventing myself a lot the last few years. I think it might be my age (early 30s)? I hope to someday get to a point where I’m really happy with everything and not making mistakes but my father told me the other day as a response to that, “Good luck!” Anyway…wishing you a really great year =)

  39. Amanda @amandaelsewhere says:

    Love the meatless day a week idea. I just recently completed a Drynuary (well, I suppose I have a few more hours to go) and instead of feeling like I’ve been deprived of something I feel really, really good. I know it’s not something I can sustain (much like you saying you can’t give up meat permanently) but this temporary detox really enlightened me to how much I DON’T need. Good luck with your resolutions!

  40. These are really good. It’s February now and I haven’t even made the time to sit down and write my goals out (I love resolutions… I make them and stick to them every year). Like you, this near needs to be about balance for me. You should keep us updated on how it’s going throughout the year.

  41. “I want to share travel with people I care about.”

    That. Yes. You put into words why I’ve been feeling burnt out on travel.

    Also the spending less time online – it’s got to be the way forward.

  42. Love this post. Sometimes we just need to step back and purge!

  43. I love your un-resolutions! Sometimes stripping down and “make-undering” your life is exactly what you need. One of my resolves for the new year is to spend less unproductive time online – in other words, “stop consuming information and get sh*t done” So far it’s been a good mantra. I’m watching less mindless TV and spending more time reading, working out & writing. 🙂

    Happy (Belated) 2013! xo

  44. Dana @ Time Travel Plans says:

    This post has really resonated with me although I’m looking to travel more and to build my online business. To do so, I’ve realized that I need less reality TV in my life (sadly). I also want to live/eat healthier which is why I’m diligently pursuing samba this year and I just ordered a juicer which I’m really excited about! I wish you luck as you make some cuts in order to live a healthier and more fulfilling life!

  45. Simplifying is a good idea. Less is often more. And, as far as getting back to making traveling more of a joy and less of a job, love that idea. Going to try it myself. Good luck.

  46. dating sites says:

    Less is more. I can related to your theme this year because I’ve been doing similar things to live minimal. I got rid of my android phone and went old school again so I don’t have to be wired all the time.

  47. Absolutely love your resolutions. These are definitely doable and actually really inspiring. 😀

  48. Jaclyn @JaclynsJaunts says:

    I use to do the same thing. Every January I would give myself all the goals and resolutions. It stressed me out when I wouldn’t complete them. This year I focused on a few things I wanted to do but left it pretty vague.
    Your approach will work just don’t be too hard on yourself!

  49. I love this! I have no idea why I didn’t think about turning off my phone notifications for emails. I’ve noticed myself checking my phone as soon as I hear it. Good luck with sticking to your resolutions!

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