It’s About Time

Ruth Wong

Friday, January 9, 2004

A ‘Theme for the Year’
might replace resolutions

I love the beginning of a new year. It symbolizes hope for self-improvement, for new and better habits, for long-desired changes.

How many of you made resolutions for 2004? Nine days into the year, how many of you are still keeping those resolutions?

According to one statistic, one in four resolutions are broken within a week, and half within a month. I'm sure I've contributed to that statistic, for I sadly admit that my past resolutions all fell by the wayside, no matter how sincere I was in making them. And to be honest, my past resolutions have not produced any real change in my life. How about you?

Is there then any hope for those who really want to improve? Yes, there is, through a unique, doable alternative to resolutions, which I learned in 2000 from Susan Lannis, a professional organizer in Oregon.

For seven years, Lannis has substituted a "Theme for the Year" in place of New Year's resolutions. Her first theme was "Embracing Change." Then came themes such as "Exploring Spirituality" and "Restoring Creative Artistry."

In keeping with the artistry theme, Susan signed up for classes in stained glass and glass fusion art; bought a box of 64 Crayola crayons, coloring books and finger paints; scanned family photos to make quilt squares for a lap robe that she and her sister gave their mother; and shot a roll of film each week to make photo greeting cards. She did all this by the beginning of May, and it was obvious that she was having fun.

When I asked her if she planned her creative activities, she said, "No, it's spontaneous!"

Inspired, and knowing that I don't "do" resolutions well, I set a theme for myself that year, "Restoring Simplicity and Order to My Home."

I simplified and rearranged my master bedroom, gave away a grown son's bunk bed and desk to create a guest room and had my patio enlarged. That was definitely more than I had ever accomplished trying to keep resolutions.

Setting a theme works partly, I feel, because a theme is more all-encompassing. My past resolutions seemed to be independent and segmented.

Lannis believes that a theme tends to stay in the forefront of your mind, so you are more aware of opportunities.

Why is it fun and not work?

A theme allows one to be spontaneous. It doesn't require resolve, discipline, determination and follow-through, which can be difficult to muster. Besides, being disciplined can be downright drudgery. With a theme, you can follow your whims in a fun, natural way.

I invite you to establish a theme for this new year. Mine is "Simplify, Simplify," not as an end in itself, but to free up time and energy for those people and things that are really important.

I'll still be working on simplifying my home but also on simplifying my purchases, my wardrobe, my priorities, my tasks and my thoughts to be more "in the moment" without letting worries, regrets and "what ifs" complicate my thoughts.

Because it's important to have a visual reminder, I have posted "Simplify, Simplify" signs throughout my home where I can see them daily.

Let's all have a wonderful 2004! See you in two weeks!

"It's About Time," by Ruth Wong, owner of Organization Plus, runs the fourth Friday of each month. Contact her at "It's About Time," care of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail


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