life in a tiny apartment.

January 7, 2015

january windowsills Tip #116: Make resolutions. Don’t worry so much about keeping them.

I love a good list of resolutions. It’s not because I magically think that this will be the year that I make it back to France. Or drink more water. Or learn how to meditate. It’s because it could be.

Resolutions for my apartment feel slightly more concrete. But concrete or not, the list can still appear daunting. I know that I might not figure out how to organize my spice cabinet. I may never decide how to hang curtains in dormer windows. Come year end, I might still have a dining table that isn’t quite right. The ugly bathroom mirror might still be on the bathroom wall.

But it still feels so good to write it all down.

I understand that many people don’t feel a similar fondness for the new year tradition. Resolutions can feel like a whole lot of pressure. And at the end of the year, a glance back at a list of resolutions that you haven’t kept might feel like looking at a whole lot of failure. But for me, I admit that I get more panicky about not making my list.


For me, writing a list feels life-affirming. Even if I know that it’s filled with things that I might no get to, the very act of dreaming up a list of goals is so satisfyingly human. Hope in the face of challenges! A pledge to move forward in the face of inertia! Optimism! My list makes me feel like anything is possible. Even if it’s just finding the curry powder on first attempt. And maybe I’m naive, but I think that the list making is what makes things happen.

I come by the habit naturally. At my mom and dad’s house, there’s a list taped to the side of the refridgerator. It’s written on lined paper and my mom’s insanely neat handwriting spells out in perfect rows a series of tasks that she and my dad hope to accomplish around their house. Some of the tasks have been crossed out in thick stripes of yellow highlighter. Others are still left undone. The specifics of the list don’t matter nearly as much as its existence. Yes, it represents mundane tasks. But reglazing windows, pane by twelve-over-twelve pane, is also a metaphor for optimism, care, and intention.

As far as I’m concerned, there doesn’t need to be a deadline on resolutions. A month comes and goes and you haven’t cracked the first thing on your list? Fine. You decide that tearing down an ugly mirror in a rental is foolhardy? Been there. If you try and stop trying, you can always start trying again. Something you haven’t accomplished yet it still something you can accomplish.

So, here’s a little new year encouragement to draft a list. Cheers to January in apartments tiny and otherwise.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Hannah S January 7, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    Thats a really great idea! I have never been much for lists but this year we are planning a wedding and moving across country so the lists have slowly been creeping up. Your right though, I have found that just having them written down feels amazing and if I get to everything great and if not the list will still be there 🙂

  • Reply Jenn - HomeStyleReport January 7, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    I think this is the perfect approach to the traditional resolutions! I need the calling to move me forward but sometimes it's just as nice to let go of something you once thought was important. Cheers to your New Year!

  • Reply Francesca January 7, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    I love lists. I have a New Year's resolution list and a house To Do list broken down by month. It is gratifying when you are able to cross something off. I like to use a special marker or pen. And even better typing it in a fun font. Ha.

  • Reply Jana | One Drawing A Day January 7, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    I love this line…" is also a metaphor for optimism, care, and intention."

  • Reply Kate Harvey January 7, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    I'm a fellow list-lover and completely agree that the writing of them alone feels productive. Happy New Year!

  • Reply Jude January 7, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    That's a great way of looking at resolutions and lists. I realized that this is how I do things, but I couldn't have put it into words as well as you do. Glad to know I'm not alone in this way of seeing it.

  • Reply Esther Plaster January 7, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    I really love this idea. It did feel so good to make a list of things I really want to see to the end. It is optimism and hopeful. There is so much to get dragged down in this life. Let's make list-making a banner for Life and Growth. Thank you for this insight!

    Your simple, tiny apartment pictures are a breath of fresh air. We live in a rather large 3 bedroom apartment near DC with our four kids. We used to live in a house – so you can imagine the stuff we have. Being a Navy family, we purge stuff like its our job. But for many reasons, it is still cluttery and packed full of non-essentials. Here's to the list of the non-essentials and the hope for less noise, less stuff and more focus, more togetherness.

  • Reply Traci January 7, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    Optimists, unite! Perfectionists, reform!

  • Reply Erin Oliver January 7, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    Love your take on New Year's resolutions. I've heard so much negativity about them this year and I've always been a firm believer in them.
    -E @

  • Reply Libby January 7, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    I like these words. Well said! Here's to optimism and momentum in the face of inertia.

  • Reply Ginny January 7, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    I 100% agree with your philosophy here. I love making lists (maybe too much) and revel in the excitement of all that I could do and experience – but it helps so much to be able to visualize it all. And while I love crossing things off, I rarely fret over one or two items rolling over to tomorrow, or next week, or next month.

  • Reply Anonymous January 7, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    Love this!! Just out of curiosity what is your Myers Briggs typology?

  • Reply Kim Johnstone January 7, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    I feel the exact same way about my lists, whether it's something I need to accomplish that day, or things I need to accomplish that year. It is comforting to just write it down, and a reminder of things that I could be doing to accomplish those goals, even if I ignore them.

    Love this post, thanks, and happy new year!

    Kim | Through the Reels

  • Reply theoldmilkcan January 7, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    I love lists too – great to see I am not the freak that I thought I was. It is true that just putting things in a list organises them like stacking the dishes neatly before washing them does – makes it all seem so DOable! Happy new year 🙂

  • Reply secretfragileskies January 7, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    – writing a list feels life-affirming
    – the list making is what makes things happen

    perfect. thanks.

  • Reply Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 2:48 am

    I totally agree. I made my list early in December anticipating the feeling of renewal in the coming new year. Whether I accomplish my to do list is yet to be seen but it was a great feeling to organize the tid bits in my head on paper. Love your blog. It always seems like a nice warm place to visit for a few minutes every day. Thank you so much for all that you share on your blog.

  • Reply perri January 8, 2015 at 4:02 am

    i would love to know what your list turns out to be!!

  • Reply Corey January 8, 2015 at 4:17 am

    "If you try and stop trying, you can always start trying again. Something you haven't accomplished yet it still something you can accomplish."

    That is wonderful. I get anxious about not making resolutions but I also get anxious about making them and then looking back and wondering what I've accomplished really. But I can always try, stop trying and then start again. It isn't final.

  • Reply Orjen January 8, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    Great take on this new year resolution thing. I guess the important thing is NOT to put pressure on ourselves no matter what we choose to do and how we choose to do it. I can't stress this enough.

  • Reply sheepystitious January 8, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    Agreed. When I have a list of things I want to do (with my house or health/mind), I find that it makes it real, and creates a plan for action. If you don't plan it, it won't happen. I find that I get a lot more things accomplished when it's written on paper.

  • Reply littlefieldbirch January 8, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    Thanks for sharing your perspective on the New Year's resolution list – I used to make them myself, but I've started giving myself "guidelines" which are a bit more gentle than resolutions, I hope! 🙂

    Still, there is nothing like writing up a good list, just to clear one's head of all the "projects" floating around in there.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Reply kara oropallo January 8, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    LOOOOVED this. I totally agree. This is sort of what my blog post was about yesterday – it's about making resolutions and striving for change, it's not about being perfect. Great advice!

  • Reply Melissa Schwartz January 9, 2015 at 1:41 am

    Hi, I came across your blog featured on Today's Facebook. I am always thinking of ways to live with less. Your blog is very encouraging and inspiring. Definitely on my favorite list!

  • Reply jen January 9, 2015 at 2:36 am

    I have always been a goal and list maker. Several years ago I decided to start making my New Years resolutions about learning something new, treating myself or experiencing something fun. There was a year when I hosted a dinner party every month, the year I vowed to buy fresh flowers every week, the year I tried twelve new restaurants. This year I'm leaning German!

  • Reply Sara January 27, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Perfect shot, perfect words. Personally, I love the faith and hope a new year brings. Any excuse to try again.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Comments are moderated.