Think about making a “Stop Doing” list for 2012

2012 is just around the corner.  It’s the time of year when people tend to craft New Year’s resolutions and then gut them out for 12 months.  If you’re anything like me, your list of resolutions can read more like a generic to-do list.

  • Exercise more (like more cardio)
  • Eat better (meaning, eat less potato chips)
  • Learn something new (like software code)
  • Pay down debt (kill the mortgage faster)

In the past, I’ve attempted to “get better” by “doing more”.  As I get older, I realize this doesn’t have to be the case.

If anything, some of the best resolutions can be about doing less.

I recall Jim Collins wrote about this very topic.  In some Collins’ articles, he shares a critical lesson taught to him by a teacher in his mid-20s.  He took a course on creativity and innovation from Rochelle Myers and Michael Ray at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and one day, Rochelle pointed to Jim regarding his “ferocious work pace” and said to him:

“I notice, Jim, that you are a rather undisciplined person.”   

After getting over his confused and stunned state Jim realized Rochelle was correct in her observations.

In the article above, Jim recalls the life lesson Rochelle gave him that day:

“She then gave me what I came to call the 20-10 assignment. It goes like this: 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.”

Jim’s article goes on to provide 3 focused questions to help you consider what is truly valuable to you.  Maybe you can consider them as you think about your 2012 resolutions:

  1. What are you deeply passionate about?
  2. What are you are genetically encoded for — what activities do you feel just “made to do”?
  3. What makes economic sense — what can you make a living at?

For today’s post, I don’t have any definitive answers to the questions above but as I consider some personal resolutions over the next couple of weeks I’m going to do my best to answer them.

In my book, simple is almost always better.  In that spirit, I think doing less in 2012 could be more rewarding.

Life happens fast.  Instead of getting caught up in the vortex, I’m going to think a bit harder about what I’m not going to do in 2012.  

Whatever you consider for your “stop doing” list next year, I hope it gives you the focus and purpose you are looking for 😉


Have you ever considered a “stop doing” list for your resolutions? 

Do you think you can be more successful in 2012 by doing less?

How many resolutions will you have?  Take my poll in the margin.

Until my next post in 2012 – a very Happy New Year everyone!

24 Responses to "Think about making a “Stop Doing” list for 2012"

  1. I did come up with a list of things I should stop doing. It is not a long list but it is a good start. First and foremost I am going to stop explaining myself too much to other people. Second, don’t live up to anyone’s expectations but my own. Good for now! Great article!

    1. Thanks Aloysa.

      I need to stop dwelling. I need to let go more. It will help me with stress (less of it) and focus more on the things I can control vs. things I cannot control.

      I’ll probably think of another “stop doing” item for 2012, but not dwelling is a good start for me.

      Thanks for checking out the site Aloysa.

  2. That’s a really good idea.

    I’ve never called it that, but I suppose that’s what my resolutions are like. Many of them focus on personal sustainability.

    I’ve got a mix of do more and do less:
    -More blog posts, more traffic, more subscriptions, more comments, more interaction.
    -Investing more capital each year than the previous year.
    -Reduce environmental footprint each year compared to the previous year. Fewer chemicals, fewer miles driven, a higher percentage of local food, more intentional clothing choices, less plastic, etc.

    1. Thanks Monk.

      Our lists sound similar.

      For the blog, I’d like to see more traffic but what will be, is what will be. Averaging >1,000 page views per day would be great. I’m slowly getting there. I hope more people comment on my blog as well.

      Around the house:
      -less waste.
      -less plastics.
      -use green/organic waste more.
      -more water conservation.
      -grow our own veggies.

      I look forward to your posts about reducing your environmental footprint. I enjoy those.

      Have a great 2012 and I’m sure we will be in touch often,

  3. What a thought provoking post.

    I agree, my resolutions are pretty generic (again) this year.

    I want to be more organized, exercise more (this time I’m going to attach a weight goal to this resolution so its somewhat more measurable).

    I also want to cut out the noise in my life and stop being a “yes” person.

    Happy New Year!!

    1. Well thanks 🙂

      Stop being a “yes” person is an outstanding goal. I need more of that in my life as well. “No” can be a great thing to say, you know?

      Have a great 2012. I look forward to visiting your site often!


  4. It’s a very interesting way to to look at ‘new’s resolutions/short term goals’ indeed. I haven’t thought of it as the ‘stop doing’ list. However, I did made goals/resolutions to simplify my life more in 2012, buy less, stop saying to ‘no’ to social outing, stop waiting for tomorrow when it’s something I can do today (such as leaving a mess :()…

    1. @SRL,

      That’s a pretty good start, or stop?! I too, want to simplify my life more in 2012. Focus on a couple of key areas and cut out some of the noise in my life. I figure in some ways, less will be more 🙂

      I wish you a great 2012. Do stop by my site often next year. I’ll try and do the same.

      Happy New Year!

  5. Hello Mark! Hope you had a great Christmas! Mine was excellent! I am still enjoying my nine days off and it feels great to be home, get up with the kids, have breakfast together, spend time with them…

    I like your post very much (as usual). Strangely, I have been thinking about the same things during the past few days. I just finished Derek Foster’s latest book- “The Worried Boomer”, and there was one quote inside I can’t help bringing up: Will Smith once said: “Too many people spend money they don’t have, buying things they don’t want,in order to impress people they don’t like!” Wow! This is so, so true! So, relating to your questions regarding time and not doing certain things, I would say using Smith’s wisdom is a good start.

    Also, another book I currently read is “Each Moment is the Universe” by Dainin Katagiri. In 2012 I will try to live more in the “here and now”, stop worrying about the near and distant future and simply enjoy living with all its sweetness and bitterness. One thing I recently realized is having all these goals (mostly financial) is distracting me from living in the present moment. My wife and I talk about the time when we will be mortgage free, when we will have certain dividend income and so on. But is this so necessary? We are on the right path, we do all the right things, so why always plan. track, calculate…? Most plans are never executed exactly as designed anyway. In 2012 I will think more about the 20/10 rule you mentioned and will stop and smell the roses more and more each day. In aikido your best technique happens when you forget about the technique, when you simply let go, when you achieve the so called “mushin” or “no mind”. It’s kind of controversial and abstract, I know. However, the Tao of living cannot be achieved with your mind, but with your heart!

    “You talked about the first principle again, but I still don’t know what it is” I said to Suzuki.

    “I don’t know,” he said, “is the first principle.”

    “Many times during the day, I say to myself, “I don’t know.” When I don’t know, I see the word with fresh eyes, an openness Suzuki calls “beginner’s mind.” Now, there are new possibilities. After all, what do I really know?”

    “The Tao of Now” by Josh Baran

  6. Well, I’m trying to get to the point where “going to my job” is #1 on my stop doing list.

    For 2012, I think the first thing I’m going to try and stop doing is worrying. What’s done is done and you can’t turn back time. Time is short, and there is no sense sitting around worrying about things that one can’t control. I have very limited control around my surroundings and I need to realize that a little more and just maximize the potential of the things I can control.

    Good stuff!

    1. I hear ya. That might be mine, “stop working” 🙂 Seriously though, that’s where the dividend income comes in. I’d love it in my late-40s if I could “walk away”.

      As soon as our mortgage is done, I hope that is the case for either my wife or I.


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