Twice in 24 hours, I came across this question. I read Chris Guillebeau’s fabulous book The Art of Non-Conformity, then I dove right into Danielle LaPorte’s The Fire-Starter Sessions e-course. Both asked of me what I wanted to take off my plate.
Given that I’m looking forward to 2011 and realizing that I have some choices to make about how to expend my energy, this twice-in-24-hours serendipity seems like a giant bonk on the noggin from the Universe. Yes, Universe, I’m listening. 2010 has been busy- exceedingly busy. I’ve birthed two books, an integrative medicine practice, a new website, a magazine column, a 20 city book tour, a touring art project, and countless other creations. 2010 was a year of YES. I followed the motto “Just say YES,” and magical things happened because of that. I ventured down dark, overgrown paths with no road map; I said yes to people I didn’t know who wanted to meet me; I said yes to experiencing Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts and Sheila Kelley’s S Factor retreat and countless other transformative experiences.
But I can’t keep saying yes forever. Looking forward to 2011, I long for space -- clear space, open space, creative nothingness. When I have space, my creativity flourishes. The Universe speaks to me and channels all kinds of juicy stuff through me. Things flow with ease. But when I’m busy all the time, everything gets all muddled.
Danielle LaPorte suggests thinking of the tasks that call upon your time and energy and asking yourself these three questions:
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?
If you can’t say yes to at least two of these questions when you think about what you’re doing, consider slapping it onto your stop-doing list.
Here are some preliminary thoughts of what’s going on mine (although I’m still pondering, so don’t hold me to this).
1. Conference calls. I have too many of them. They fill up my day and steal my creative time. I want out.
2. Reading emails that are not addressed to me but I’m cc’ed on.
3. Doing public speaking events without getting paid (unless it juices me up to do so).
4. Meeting up with people I don’t know who want to meet me. I don’t want to be rude, but I barely have time for the people I love the most, and as awesome as these people are, they fill up my day.
5. Leaving Twitter, Facebook, and Gmail open on my desktop. (I stole that one from Danielle). When I’m creating, I’m going to just turn them off.
So those are a few. Not one of those things lights me up, connects me with my passion, takes advantage of my natural gifts, or makes economic sense.
Sure, it seems all well and good to list the things you don’t want to do. I’m blessed that my Stop-Doing List is relatively short because I stopped doing the things I truly hated four years ago, and my hubby has picked up a lot of the slack of the mundane details in our lives. (Chances are good that his Stop-Doing List would be VERY long because of me.) So I hear you. After all, who wants to do laundry or act like a taxi service for your four kids or make Costco runs or manage other tedious details? But what if those things need doing? Who is going to do them if everyone stops doing what they don’t love to do?
I’m not suggesting that you must instantly quit doing everything on your list. But adding these things to your Stop-Doing List is a form of intention-setting. When you set the intention that something will change, things happen. Your cells shift. Your DNA realigns. The Universe listens. And magic happens.
What’s On YOUR Stop-Doing List?
Think through your day. Write down what fills up your time? What do you wish to let go of so you can open up more white space in your life? Don’t judge what comes up. And don’t worry about the “how.” Just write it down. Let us bear witness to your list. Tell us here.
Not doing anything on my list this very minute,
PS. I actually wrote this post about a month ago (and just got around to putting it up today.) Rereading it, I realize that this question posed by Chris and Danielle must have triggered something BIG in me, because, since writing this post, I've decided to stop doing medicine, which is a HUGE deal for me. I spent 12 year and hundreds of thousands of dollars learning how to start doing medicine, but it's always been a bit of a misfit for me. Since I decided to stop doing medicine, I feel more liberated than I've ever felt in my life. I feel free. So don't be afraid of what comes up for you when you think about what you'd like to stop doing. Think of it as loosening your chains.
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