All I Don’t Want For Christmas: My Un-Wish List

Wish List

When was the last time you wrote to Santa with your Christmas Wish List? Were you 5 years old or 35?

I received a few wish lists from the family kids this year (sorry girls, we won’t be buying Shopkins this year but we will have a full day of fun and adventure together) and pondered what I would include in my list if I made one.

Then it hit me–instead of wanting more this year, I actually want less.

Declutter All The Things

We’ve worked so hard to clean out the items we no longer love or use and to find good-quality items that serve multiple purposes, so the last thing I want now is more unnecessary stuff.

Our kitchen drawers finally close. Our clothes fit in the closet and we have plenty of extra hangers. Even our garage is looking fairly presentable these days. It’s amazingly refreshing.

Now every time my husband and I want something new, before we bring it home we have to figure out where we’ll put it. Often, we choose to keep what we have instead of sacrifice a beloved item to make space for our new whims.

This saves money, energy, and the planet’s resources for the triple-win!

Declutter All The Non-Things Too

Now it’s time to move on to decluttering mental space, time, and energy.

Sounds intimidating, right? It doesn’t have to be. Often it’s easy and even mandatory.

Some of my favorite podcasts (Modern Manners Guy and How to Do Everything, to name a couple) are ending, so I’ll unsubscribe and eliminate the clutter on my phone. Even lovely blogs end sometimes. (PIEs, we’ll miss you!)

I don’t watch much TV, so I have mixed feelings about 2017 being Orphan Black’s last season. I’ll miss it and I’ll be glad to have the time back each week. Can you imagine what society would be like if shows never got cancelled and we just kept watching more and more and more?*

My Un-Wish List

While it’s nice that some life-decluttering has been done for me, I’m still responsible for the rest. Here’s what I plan to get rid of in 2017.

A Hospital Job

I’ll still work in another hospital system, but by resigning from this one I’ll have only one electronic medical record to keep up with, one administration to please, one group of coders to respond to, one credentialing office to satisfy, one set of meetings to attend, and one set of phone extensions and door codes to remember.

I’ll miss my docs, nurses, unit coordinators, and techs at the facility I’m leaving and will treasure my memories of good times shared over the past few years. As hard as it is to leave, I’m trading time there for more time at another hospital with less than half the commute and more time with my family.


Okay, so I didn’t run at all in 2016, but I did feel as though I should have run. In 2014, I trained for and ran a half-marathon. But guess what? It turns out that I don’t like running. Not even a little bit.

I ran some in 2015 and it was on my to-do list this year, but it won’t be in 2017.  I can hike like nobody’s business, but I choose not to run anymore and to stop beating myself up about it.

Medical Board Case Review

This is like jury duty for physicians. Most of us do everything we can to not get involved, and it isn’t mandatory so most docs don’t review a single case during their entire careers.

For the past few years I’ve agreed to review every case the state medical board sent my way, but it pays only a pittance, takes a ton of time, and really stresses me out to be constantly reminded that people can complain over nonsense and these frivolous complaints can put our licenses in jeopardy.

Even the valid complaints give me ulcers because no one is perfect all the time. We’re human, and sometimes there is no right answer. Sometimes there will be a bad outcome no matter what. All I can do is empathize with the physician involved and be grateful I wasn’t working at that hospital that day.

It’s very, very rare that anyone who works in healthcare is willfully negligent. That’s not why we trained so long and went into so much debt to be able to serve society. Those who are truly bad doctors deserve to be punished, but the rest of us do wholeheartedly give our all each and every day.

I’ll still review a few cases here and there, but I will cut back next year.

Book Club

Some of the most gracious ladies in the city warmly welcomed me into a book club a few years ago. We read, laughed, ate, and had a wonderful time.

As lovely as they are, most of them have children around the same age who attend the same school, and I never truly felt that I belonged because we didn’t have much in common. This feeling is entirely my fault, as I never took the initiative to strengthen those relationships and spend time together outside of the book club.

I took time off from the club this year to focus on other pursuits, including this blog, and while I’ll always appreciate these special ladies and their giant hearts, I won’t be rejoining the club next year.

Forum Participation

I spent several hours per week this year attempting to help others on a popular forum. At first it was fun, and I learned as much as (probably much more than) I contributed.

Over time, though, the forum’s tone changed, and the vibe became negative, critical, and downright mean at times rather than open and helpful. It seemed to mostly stem from a few bad apples rather than the whole bunch, but they were vicious enough that many long-time posters left or fell silent to keep out of the fray.

Contacting the forum administration didn’t have much of an effect, so I stopped reading and posting.

Deciding To Quit Is NOT Failing

Choosing to stop doing something that is no longer beneficial is NOT a failure.

Everything we do is an experiment. We try it for a while and see if the results are what we expected. Then, we have several choices. If we got the information or education we needed, we can choose to move on. If we enjoy the process, we can choose to continue. Finally, if we realize the experience isn’t the best use of our time or energy, we can choose to free up the space in our lives for something else.

Think of the distinction between kids playing sports or playing the piano. When soccer season ends, they get to take a break and decide whether they want to play again the next year or try baseball or basketball instead. There’s no mention of quitting or failure either way.

What about the kid who plays the piano? She tries it for a season and decides she’d rather play a different instrument instead. Since there’s no official piano-playing season, she has to ‘quit’ piano to try the flute. Is this a failure? Is this giving up? Absolutely not! It’s a conscious decision to try something else that might bring her more joy and it should be praised and encouraged.

Think about your family vacations too. Do you reserve the same beach house for the same week every single summer? Have you always wanted to explore someplace new but don’t have the vacation time or the budget for both?

What about your restaurant choices? Do you patronize the same place and order the same entrée every single week? Have you ever wanted to broaden your palette?

Taking a year or a week off or starting a new tradition of variety is not failure. It’s making an informed choice about what fits best with your family’s values.

New Beginnings

We can’t do it all and do it all well.

We can’t just keep adding more and more to our calendars and expect to keep it all straight. We’ll get confused, we’ll miss deadlines, and we’ll get tired. Then we’re of no use to anyone.

Deciding to forego participation in a book club this year brought room for a new group of Gal Pals as well as a neighborhood book club with women who are already closer friends than the ones I’d been seeing for years. (It doesn’t hurt that our commute is under two minutes!) And the time freed up after stepping away from the forum might be put to better use over at J$ and C$’s new forum.

I challenge you to make room for something new in your life next year. What will you give up and what will you choose instead?


*Written while fervently hoping that This Is Us gets renewed.

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Comments 16

  1. Great post, Julie! I think the non-things are much harder to declutter than the things. I have no problem getting rid of my “stuff”, but I tend to think of the non-things more like obligations. It’s really a matter of evaluating the time and value your getting out of each non-thing. (It looks like you’ve done a fantastic job of this, btw!)

    This is definitely a work in progress for me. I still don’t know what I’ll un-wish, but you certainly got the wheels turning. Thank you!

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      You’re right, Amanda. Inertia sets in and it’s so hard to stop! It gets easier when we see it as a choice: I could spend this time doing X or Y. That way we’re not just stopping X, we get to be excited about starting Y.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with you: we can’t do it all and do it all well. Knowing that, it only makes sense to focus our time and energy on the things to sustain and energize us.

    Happy 2017!

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  3. This is good, the part of de-cluttering mental and emotional space (my physical “things” space is pretty bare as is) and also “deciding to quit is not failing”. Really liked that idea. (as an add-on, I hear you on book club, I joined in, and un-joined exactly for the same reason. For a while I kept being on their email to get books recommendations, but then realized even there we differ). And yes, indeed, I need to focus on finding something new – yet not simply adding it on, rather giving up some of what doesn’t serve the purpose anymore.

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      We could probably talk for hours over book club recommendations! Everyone has different taste, and when the rule is that we choose a book no one has read, then we’re sometimes in for a big surprise 🙂

  4. I love your “clean out” and you are so right about not being able to do more things well by just adding more to the calendar. I need to sit and do some serious thinking about this too. Thanks for the push. I altered my goals to habits, but still need to think about what I am “over-doing”. I left that other forum too – same reasons. Liking the new tone over at the Rockstar Finance forums!

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  5. I’ve never thought about an un-wish list, but I love the idea! I’m going to spend some time over the next couple of weeks and use this as a blueprint for my 2017 goals.

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  6. Three years ago I unwished Facebook and Christmas cards. Two years ago I unwished sugary drinks. Last year I unwished cable tv. This year I hope to unwish a third or a half of my current home size and all additions to my food (no additional salt, pepper, and condiments). Unwishing is a great thing–a ringing confirmation of the old saw, “less is more.” Thanks for putting this on everyone’s radar, Julie. It should come in handy as people contemplate their New Year’s resolutions or goals.

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      Ooh. Those are really good ones. Congrats on your progress so far and best wishes for this year. Is your no salt wish for all food, or just for food that’s already processed with some salt?

  7. I think we all have stuff we should rid from our life. Not just for us either, but for kids too. We’re feeling distinctly overscheduled with 3 afterschool activities (girl scouts, theater class, and a school club) these days, so we aren’t giving in to more even though our daughter has talked about gymnastics or dance lessons.

    I’m not sure what I’ll be shedding, but being conscious about what I’m adding is on my list of goals for the year. Maybe I’ll do the same one in, one out rule I use for clothes. I can’t take on any new obligations without getting rid of one I currently have.

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      The one in, one out rule is a great one. I usually end up with even less because I occasionally find things to shed even when I don’t want something new, then still make a point of donating another item when I do want something else. Maybe the end result will be the same with activities too.

  8. Doesn’t it feel good to get less?

    We celebrated our family Christmas last night, since I’m working throughout the holiday weekend, and I’ve got a car full of gifts to unpack. Fortunately, much of what I got was what I asked for, and consumable, or will be after I turn those hops and grains into tasty ales.


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      Merry Christmas, PoF!
      May your shifts pass smoothly and your heart stay a little warmer knowing it’s the last year you’ll spend Christmas away from your kids.
      Have fun consuming all those consumables!

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