The things you choose not to do are just as important as the things you choose to do.
I absolutely love ‘to do’ lists! I don’t really love making them, but I adore crossing things off of them. It is such an amazing feeling! I am also that person who writes out ‘to do’ lists and color codes them just to keep it interesting. (Who else has a drawer full of colorful pens?)
There’s just one problem with how I was making these lists though…I used to think more was better and multitasking was more productive. I also had a lot of fun chasing all the shiny objects and butterflies that crossed my path. I am also that person who comes up with an idea for a business and within 30 seconds I have purchased the domain and come up with the entire business plan in my head.
The moment that changed everything for me was when I started my ‘stop doing’ list. It didn’t replace my ‘to do’ list, but it sure did clean up what I allowed myself to spend my time on.
I didn’t come up with this concept on my own.
A few mentors told me I was going to burn myself out doing what I was doing, then I heard somewhere that Brendan Burchard only creates one new program each year (not 3), and then I read about Steve Jobs’ speech at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in 1997 (which I also referenced in this article about publicity here).
“What focus means is saying no to something that you [think]--with every bone in your body--is a phenomenal idea. And you wake up thinking about it. But you say no to it because you're focusing on something else."
It wasn’t easy to do…
I had to say “no” to a lot of opportunities that could have been really fun (like working with a celebrity client, a brand partnership for a beauty product, becoming the Chief Communications Officer for a startup, giving a talk about Artificial Intelligence…). I am not one to focus on regrets, but if I had to pick only one thing to do differently in the past year I would have listened to my mentors and decided to ‘stop doing’ sooner.
I still like to run before I learn to walk, but now I have learned to add a step in between those two things: PAUSE.
Pause and ask myself “Is this sprint going to move the needle forward that I have committed to focus on?”
If the answer is “no,” then it goes on the ‘stop doing’ list.
If FOCUS is your goal for 2019, I hope you will consider creating a ‘stop doing’ list too and say ‘no’ to some amazing opportunities so you can make space for the ‘right’ opportunities to come your way.
Here’s to making 2019 the best year yet!
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