This New Year, shift your focus from To-Do list to Stop-Doing list.
By Prachi Bhardwaj
We are all quite familiar with the age-old tradition of making New Year Resolutions each year. With the old year saying good-bye and the new-year ringing hello!, we are all set with our To-Do lists. It is definitely important to plan, focus our energies towards the qualities we lack, and strategise on how to tackle our shortages. But only working towards our objectives and priorities at the beginning of each year is not enough. This would lead to a busy life rather than a disciplined life. It is equally important, if not more, to concentrate on the importance of saying ‘NO’. As bestselling author, Curtis Sittenfeld correctly points out, “Politely saying no can free up astonishing amounts of time.”
Focusing on what we should not be doing in our future can be as constructive for our life as our focus on what needs to be done. Life needs a balance of what is required and what wishes to be done away with. Much like the popular online second-hand material selling websites, we have to remove from our lives the unwanted or unrequired stuff. This could cover a vast array of our habits, our expectations from other living or non-living present in our lives, our personality traits that have been giving us a tough time, or just simply our reactions to others’ actions. Many a times, other smarter people take advantage of our vulnerabilities and predictable nature. They wind our keys and we start dancing to their tunes. Hence, understanding when to say no and implementing the right to say no is a part of our efficient well-being. There is a very interesting story. Celebrated business writer Jim Collins was doing a course on creativity and innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business when one of his professors, Rochelle Myers, gave him the “20-10 assignment” :
“Suppose you woke up tomorrow and received two phone calls. The first phone call tells you that you have inherited $20 million, no strings attached. The second tells you that you have an incurable and terminal disease, and you have no more than 10 years to live. What would you do differently, and, in particular, what would you stop doing?
“That assignment became a turning point in my life, and the “stop doing” list became an enduring cornerstone of my annual New Year resolutions — a mechanism for disciplined thought about how to allocate the most precious of all resources: time.”
After a few years, Rochelle’s assignment helped him to realise that he was meant to be a professor, a researcher and not a businessman. While working at Hewlett- Packard, a company he loved but doing a job he hated, he realised he had to find his real work. He quit HP, migrated to the Stanford Business School faculty and eventually became a self-employed professor. Rochelle’s challenge forced Jim Collins to notice that he had been wasting his energy on the wrong things.
Stop doing list: cornerstone ofNew Year resolutions
While New Year is a perfect time to jet down the resolutions we wish to fulfill, it is also the perfect time to start a stop doing list. It also is the perfect time to focus your thoughts on what mirrors for introspection:
- Your passion in life
- Your forced-to-do things
- Your will to earn your bread too
Ideal would be a situation where we can find a blend of the three mirrors of our life – to avoid what we don’t like to do, to do what we are passionate about and also to earn a living out of it.
Practical approach to New Year resolutions
Penning down New Year resolutions is quite an easy task. It gives all of us the right kind of excitement. After all, we all want to feel the New Year approaching. However the real challenge is to pen down such resolutions that do not remain on paper, but are actually fulfilled.
Fewer to-do resolutions; alternatively not-to-do resolutions
Making a long, unachievable list of what to do in the New Year is certainly not a good idea. Most of us write the same resolutions year after year – lose weight, quit smoking, build in more confidence, meet friends more often, learn a new language, pick on a new hobby… the list is endless. Trying to accomplish short-term or long-term goals in life doesn’t need a list of 10 tasks. Each year pen down not more than two or three goals for yourself. Moreover, if you find this difficult, you can alternatively write down what not to do.
Put away the absolutely new resolution delightfully
Having an entirely new resolution each year somewhat gives all of us a high. So, this year I am going to do something entirely new! Bungee jumping, or learning to cycle, or how about photography…?
Well, exciting as it may sound, attempting something absolutely new within the framework of old routine may only generate stress, unhappiness and gloom. So to begin with, put such resolutions away. Revisit after sometime. If you still feel the kick to attempt it, go ahead. And if you don’t, good you did not waste your time in the first place.
Watch your steps
How we approach our resolutions, leads to our success or failure. We all know this. That is why we often think of strict crucial action steps towards achieving our goals. However, a week or fortnight into the new year, and we realise how harsh we had been to our selves cut the crap, shape up your steps to approach your goals, making it more realistic and achievable.
Don’t get greedy; opportunities will keep coming
Sometimes, while our life is going on a predetermined track, we get distracted by a golden opportunity we have been wanting or we are too shy to refuse a favour someone close wants us to do. It’s always better to say no rather than agreeing to do and not being able to deliver later. Opportunities will keep coming back if you are talented enough. And if you are not, you wouldn’t be able to do justice anyways. Friends and family will understand what prompted you to deny. Focus on your reputation at stake.
New Year is a time of not only celebration but also reflection and introspection. Self-analysis is best when both sides of our coin of actions, attitude and approach are scrutinized well. So friends, this New Year when you chalk down what needs to be added to your life to make it better, please do not be wary of what needs to be stopped and flung out of your life. Go ahead and take charge!