New Year Post: A Year of Living Without

It’s already 21 days into 2014 as I’m writing this, and looking back, I can say for sure — 2013 was a baaaad year. It tested my patience and strength to the limit. Am I glad that’s over.

So in celebration of a brand new year and emboldened by an officemate’s sudden decision to quit smoking, I’m trying a year-long personal experiment I read about at It’s called “A Year of Living Without,” also known as, How I’m Making Room for Life this Year.

This is not an exercise in sacrifice and deprivation, although admittedly, I think I might have masochistic tendencies. I just want to find out what’s really necessary so I can simplify my life and give up some things that might be weighing me down or making me unhealthy in some way physically, emotionally, or mentally. In the process, I’ll be making room for some things that might just be better.

Leo Babauta of says it’s about testing the boundaries of one’s needs and personal boundaries. Ultimately, I’m doing this to learn about myself.

I listed below the 12 things I will live without. My list might change as the year progresses, but I’ll commit to write a monthly post about what I’ve learned. At the end of each month, in the spirit of continuous improvement, I will have to decide whether I want to keep doing without that month’s Living Without item.

The 12 Things I’ll Live Without

Each month, I’ll go the whole month without one thing I do regularly out of habit. This will be something that I tend to not want to give up, or postpone giving up, for various reasons (or excuses). I just might surprise myself. I might end up ENJOYING giving up some of these things, and shutting them out of life.

January: Fancy coffee, especially uber-sweet 3-in-1 packets and grossly overpriced and fattening drinks from posh coffeeshops.

Replacement habit: Black coffee or better yet, tea (should be plain tea, not milk tea with pearls)

February: Processed/preserved meat. This includes hotdogs, canned meats, nuggets of unidentifiable meats, even kani sticks, fish balls that aren’t really made of fish, squid balls that aren’t made of squid, and this meat of mysterious origins called kikiam. Oh and the tocino-binging just got to stop. I’m on the fence about beef tapa — does this fall under processed/preserved?

Replacement habit: More chicken and fish

March: Sitting for longer than 1 hour at a time at my desk. After 60 minutes, I have to get up for 5 to 10 minutes and do something else.

Replacement habit/s: Stretch. Talk to my officemates while standing up. Take the long route to the washroom.

April: Free TV and cable entertainment. This is a tough one.

Replacement habit: Read books. Watch documentaries.

May: Cakes, donuts and white bread, in general. I can do this!

Replacement habit/s: Fruit if I want the sweetness of desserts or wheat/whole-grain breads if I want the, uhmm …happiness and bliss that bread brings to my lonely life.

June: Facebook (except maybe to check or upload content on our company’s official account).

Replacement habit: WordPress. Write more in my blog.

July: White, overprocessed rice.

Replacement habit: Boiled camote, brown/red rice, or no rice at all. (Gasp!)

August: Sleeping in on Sunday mornings

Replacement habit/s: Wake up early and exercise for at least 30 minutes!!! Go to church in the morning!!! Do more housework!!! (Hopefully, the exclamation points will give me the extra push.)

September: Being late for work

Replacement habit/s: Sleep early. Rise early. Buy an alarm clock.

October: Go on a vacation without feeling guilty

Replacement habit: Actually enjoy the time off. Unplug for at least three days.

November: Red meat, processed or not

Replacement habit: Vegetables, fruits, chicken and fish

December: Having a lot of stuff mindlessly bought from malls

Replacement habit/s: Ask “Do I REALLY need this?” before buying things. Raid my closet and dispose/give away unused things first before acquiring anything new.



  1. Pingback: January: A month of living without fancy coffee | How to write a memo
  2. Pingback: Guilty pleasures | How to write a memo
  3. Pingback: February: A month of living without processed meat | How to write a memo
  4. Pingback: March: A month of living without being stubbornly sedentary and tied to my desk | How to write a memo
  5. Pingback: April: A month of living without free TV and cable entertainment | How to write a memo
  6. Pingback: August: A month without sleeping in on Sunday mornings | How to write a memo

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