Perhaps even more important than the New Year’s Resolution “To-Do list” is the “Stop Doing list.” And this is not in reference to all the typical stops: eating, drinking, smoking. Rather, I’m encouraging you/me to stop doing the things that aren’t serving us, that aren’t necessarily our strong suit, that are zapping our energy, that are slowly but inevitably driving us crazy.
We, as a culture, have a really bad habit of being “busy,” but never feeling like we’ve accomplished much. I’ve spoken to many clients who swear that they just have “no time.” Yet, when we break down their days, they often haven’t a real clue where all the time goes.
It may take some critical awareness to effectively evaluate where the time suckage is actually occurring. It could be anything from depleting activities to negative responses/emotions that we’ll find worthy to be tossed. It may even take the first few weeks of January, really focusing on our daily habits/patterns/behaviors, before we’ve accumulated a productive list to crash and burn.
Jim Collins, bestselling author and Stanford professor, suggests that we take a good inventory:
What are you deeply passionate about?
What are you genetically encoded for? What activities do you feel you are made to do?
What makes economic sense? What can you make a living at?
Then he suggests that we take inventory of our activities. If 50% of our time falls outside of these three areas, then it is time to reevaluate our “stop doing list.”
“Make your life a creative work of art. A great piece of art is composed not just of what is in the final piece, but equally important what is not. It is the discipline to discard what does not fit that distinguishes the truly exceptional artist and marks the ideal piece of work, be it a symphony, a novel, a painting, a company, or the most important of all, a life.”
I leave you with this: In these next couple of days of reflection before the New Year, write down two or three activities that you know full and well aren’t leading to any road of happiness. Can they be eliminated altogether? Can they be outsourced somehow? Can you somehow make them more bearable, dare I say enjoyable? (I listen to audiobooks while I do the dishes…total gamechanger. Often it is how we perceive the activity that is more depleting than the actual activity.) Also, write down two or three responses/emotions that you’d like to see less of. Think about the triggers in which they occur. Is there a way to avoid the situations that bring them out in you? Are they worthy of such response? (Rather than accepting, “this is how I react to things.” Question the thought. Remember, it takes about 90 seconds for us to respond to a situation biologically, after that we are CHOOSING to hold onto it.)