After surviving a pandemic and three grueling years of uncertainty, it feels like it’s time to retire the “new year, new me” mantra and instead set New Year’s resolutions to discover the life-changing magic of taking on less.

Rather than setting New Year’s resolutions, comedian and influencer Heidi Robey decided in 2021 to set what she called “rest-olutions.”

What are ‘rest-olutions’ and how are they different from resolutions?

Robey defined “rest-olutions” as goals to do less and only keep what’s most important, rather than piling on impossible-to-reach goals for herself. She first promoted the idea on “Good Things Utah” and explained more in an interview with the Deseret News.

“I thought, ‘What goals am I going to make to complicate my life and do more stuff versus how could I simplify my life so that there’s more space for peace and more space for relationships, for joy and for fun?’” Robey said during her interview with the Deseret News. “As I was thinking about it, the term which I made up came to my mind — ‘rest-olutions.’”

Robey began making TikTok comedy videos in 2020, and she has grown her account to more than 500,000 followers. Her aim with her videos is to use her comedic platform to send a message to others, especially to women and mothers like herself, to be “gentle with yourself” by following simple principles to make life more enjoyable and more relaxing.

Implementing the Pareto 80/20 principle

One of those rules she implemented is a popular business principle known as the Pareto principle. The gist of it is that “roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes. In other words, a small percentage of causes have an outsized effect,” according to Asana, a popular workflow management system.

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She applies the theory that rather than doing 100% of the work 100% of the time, that putting in 20% of the work will get her that 80% benefit while avoiding the burnout and stress of trying to do it all. She looked at each area of her life — relationships, career, faith, self-development and health — and selected two things she wanted to be her priority in that category.

Robey is a mother of three small children and also manages her comedy career working from home while her husband attends dental school. With such a busy bunch, she decided that instead of trying to keep every corner of her house clean at all times, she would focus on the areas of the house that really need to stay clean and manageable.

“Make a list of the things you do, find your 20% and give yourself the grace to let go of the other 80% because that way you can be 80% effective in every area of your life without all of the overwhelm and burnout.” — Heidi Robey

For her, that was making sure dishes are clean, the living room remains “somewhat tidy” and that laundry gets done. She let go of the constant folding and instead purchased laundry bins for each person in the household to use and put away their own clothes themselves.

“Make a list of the things you do. Find your 20% and give yourself the grace to let go of the other 80%, because that way you can be 80% effective in every area of your life without all of the overwhelm and burnout,” Robey said.

But the challenge to do more and accumulate more is hard to avoid if you don’t know what you’re missing with less.

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What less can really look and feel like

University of Virginia professor and researcher Leidy Klotz is a big believer in subtraction being used as a tool to make things better by taking away things we don’t need. He even wrote a New York Times bestseller — “Subtract” — about it.

In the book, he references the Embarcadero freeway in the San Francisco Bay Area. The freeway was built in 1968 and provided transportation to the city. But it also covered up a stunning view of the waterfront.

He writes about Sue Bierman, a city planning commissioner who researched the utility of the freeway to ultimately make a proposal to get rid of it in 1985. The proposal was put to a vote, and it wasn’t even close. The majority of San Franciscans did not want to tear it down.

However, in 1989, an earthquake struck the city, thus damaging the freeway so much that it was “rendered unusable.” With the damage done, the cost of repairing the freeway became more exorbitant than the original proposal of taking it down. The city put the decision to the city’s board of supervisors, where a narrow majority voted in favor of taking it down and replacing the waterfront views and real estate.

“People found new ways to move about the city.” — Leidy Klotz

In the decade following its removal, the area saw a 50% increase in housing and a 15% increase in jobs in the area, per Klotz’s research. The city got the waterfront back.

“Demolishing the freeway did not cause traffic nightmares as some had predicted,” Klotz wrote. “Trips were rerouted, to the grid of surface streets, to other access ramps to the Bay Bridge, and to public transit. People found new ways to move about the city.”

Humans have a way of somehow surviving with the resources we are given. What concrete freeways do we have in our lives that we think we need are actually blocking a beautiful view of a waterfront that would ultimately allow space for something better? We are constantly inundated with ads for what we could buy or items that are being sold to make our lives better, but what if we don’t need all that to be happy?

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Having less ultimately feels better

In the past few years, TV shows about organization and decluttering have spiked in popularity. “The Home Edit” on Netflix follows two businesswomen, Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, who made it their goal to show clients that organized spaces can bring not only peace to their homes but can also be beautiful to look at.

In “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” Kondo demonstrates how subtractions can “spark joy” rather than feel like a loss. Her method focuses not on getting rid of things you don’t use or need, but only keeping what you absolutely love.

Even in fashion, more is not always better.

@oldloserinbrooklyn Replying to @fernherself repetition is IN and integral to creating your personal and signature style. #personalstyle #styletips #fashion #hermes #marykateandashley ♬ original sound - Mandy Lee

Analyst and fashion writer Mandy Lee points out on TikTok that creating a signature and memorable look does not require a closet packed with clothes. It instead follows a pattern of repetition, where you can make a look by wearing the same things over and over.

“Everyone loves Mary-Kate Olsen’s beat-up Hermes bag because she wore it into the ground, because it was so signature to her style,” she said.

“Realize that setting ‘rest-olutions,’ setting goals to do less does not make you lazy. What it does is it makes you smart and it makes you wise.” — Heidi Robey

Less can truly be more if you do it right

In theory, having more, doing more, being more seems easier to plan, but it’s ultimately harder to execute and can lead to becoming overwhelmed. Instead of piling things onto your to-do list, allow yourself grace in 2023. Allow yourself kindness. And allow yourself to do less and cherish the people and activities you truly care about with intention.

“Realize that setting ‘rest-olutions,’ setting goals to do less, does not make you lazy,” Robey said. “What it does is it makes you smart and it makes you wise, because you realize that your mental health, your relationships, your happiness, the things you are truly passionate about, are so much more important than reaching some societal standard of doing XYZ, A through Z, all day every day.”