Okay, I know. It’s New Year’s Resolution. As in one resolution. But this year I have two resolutions. Which is exactly twice the number of resolutions one should have for New Year’s by normal people standards. However, since I am the high empress of Mission Creep, I am notorious for my overwrought and fool-hardy New Year’s goals. Which means, by the end of every year, I’m always exhausted and out of time.
Occam’s razor, also written as Ockham’s razor after William of Ockham, the medieval philosopher and theologian, is a methodological principle of parsimony, economy, and succinctness used in problem-solving. It states that among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected (because in 14th century terms, the simplest answer was probably the correct one). Ockham used the term razor to describe how one could “shave away” unnecessary assumptions to distinguish between two possible outcomes. The razor states that one should proceed to simpler theories until simplicity can be traded for greater explanatory power. The simplest available theory need not be most accurate.
Not to be out-simplified, John Punch, O.F.M. (1603–1661) who was an also a Franciscan scholastic philosopher and theologian, described Ockham’s Razor, with the phrase “Entia non-sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.” For those who haven’t learned the dark magic that is Google Translate Latin, Punch said, “Entities are not to be multiplied unnecessarily.”
Of course it was a Franciscan monk who was able to distill a principal about simplicity into an even pithier phrase.
Occam’s razor A.K.A. “keep it simple, stupid,” is my first New Year’s resolution. This year, I’m going to go with the simplest solution to every problem I face. I have O.C.D. which manifests itself in a type of demented perfectionism. Yes, I achieve many goals. In fact, I get a lot more done than just about anyone I know. However, I realized during my recent overseas travels, the longer a project drags out, the less satisfaction I get from its completion. My goal is to simplify the activities and chores that I don’t particularly enjoy to allow me to cycle through them as quickly as possible, even if they aren’t perfectly executed, which will leave me more free time to work on my “journey is the destination” passion projects.
Stop Reading Crap On The Internet
My second resolution is that I will not spend any time in 2014 reading gossip/news aggregator websites like TMZ, Gawker, and Buzzfeed, even though they often relate to work. (I work in entertainment and gossip is currency). Although I immensely enjoy reading the articles and the often funny comments on gossip sites, I have decided that this activity has turned into my version of junk tv watching, and am a little appalled to report that I have been spending (conservatively) an hour every day reading crap online.
If I stop reading gossip websites, this will free up 365 hours this year to do something else. Do I want to go to cooking school? I could probably complete a two year course of study with 365 hours. Do I want to take up the cello again? After 365 hours of practice I’d probably be good enough to play in public without embarrassment. 365 hours of practicing Italian is definitely something I need to do, and suddenly I’ll have the time to do it.
How should I spend my 365 hours of newly freed-up time this year? I am open to suggestions…
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