I started off the year by deciding I would give up one thing each month. Not (necessarily) for ever, but as a way of achieving a few goals:

  • My life is (too) busy and is filled with a lot of “stuff” that has taken away from my conscious enjoyment of things. In renovating my house and clearing out, I was (gloriously) reminded of the joy of “less being more”. And so I want to give up those things that I consume unthinkingly or too much of in an attempt to get back to mindful enjoyment when I start them again
  • Perspective. Do I “really” need everything that is currently in my life? Does it make me happy? Does it help me live my life to the fullest? Do I have too much of it? In getting rid of something totally for a while, perhaps I can assess on what measure I need it back in my life
  • Challenge. Having things easy all the time makes one fat and lazy – physically and emotionally. A bit of “hardship” is never a bad thing as it lets you enjoy the good times even more

Of course, as the year progresses these goals will develop, and others will be added. I have no firm rules for the twelve experiments I am embarking on. Perhaps some of what I give up, I will never take up again. Perhaps some I will miss so much that I will do and have more of them. But in, consciously, evaluating parts of my life, I hope to make some positive changes.

January I gave up all social media. Some of you missed my posts a lot and sent me WhatsApps. Some of the most special ones said that my positivity and (real) news update on (South African) politics was sorely missed. And I can assure you, these will be back. I love writing and sharing (good, factual) news, learning, growing and stimulating debate whilst having my own views challenged. On that, if you haven’t read my piece about land reform, do so here https://www.cnandco.com/arm-yourself-with-the-facts-about-sa-before-you-debate-emotive-issues/ 

Some of you didn’t miss me at all. And that was great also – getting a healthy dose of perspective on just how insignificant one is in the cosmos is refreshing.

But mainly, the month without social media allowed me to express myself differently – often one-on-one. I called more friends, saw more people. I read more. I didn’t fill Uber rides with social media reads, but instead on checking out the scenery, thinking about things and chatting to the driver. I didn’t grab my phone frequently to check on updates but rather waited for people to share with me via other channels.

Was it hard? Not really. The first few days I had to break the habit of clicking a social media icon. But then that habit was broken. I plan to keep my social media engagement more focused, less time intensive and at certain times of the day. I love the power of social networking and how we can do good by using our (vast) networks. But not at the expense of reading a book, opening a newspaper, looking into someone’s eyes, listening to a performance. So, like much in life I suppose, a balance.

I did at times question the relevance of actions if they weren’t more widely shared – for example, joining a march for gender equality in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa I would have amplified via social media – and drawn more attention to this cause. But then we were on eNCA and more exposure was given. Or when I was at Northwards House for the Mozart Festival, how could I encourage more (younger) people to support the arts. But then Sharon amplified the visit and Classic1027, a CN&CO partner, did the social media sharing. And all the other experiences I had – good and bad – are they “real” if not shared? Of course they are. And I am loving that some of them may be lost in the past, that some will be re-imagined and experienced via writing and stories of dinners. Being in the moment, sucking the marrow from life and truly shouting CARPE DIEM, is so much greater than rushing to tweet or share.

In February I am giving up alcohol and since I am in China and North Korea for 10 days and it is the shortest month, I suspect I will be fine. Not only do I look forward to the health and weight loss benefits of not drinking, I am also looking forward to truly savouring a delicious glass of wine rather than out of habit having a bottle.

I have a few ideas about what to give up next but would love your views. So hit me up @carelnolte