It’s that time when many of us are thinking or talking about our New Year’s resolutions… how we will make up for our ‘mistakes’ or ‘flaws’ in the previous year. But there’s a risk, especially when we put too much pressure on ourselves, of having unrealistic goals. The result? It becomes really tough to stick to them – and by February we may already feel disillusioned!

This year, I have come up with a new strategy to resolutions – one that has realistic expectations of you as you start the year. Instead of setting an annual to-do list, we suggest asking yourself: What will I STOP doing in 2019?

Sometimes you don’t need to add more to your life, but simply remove things that are redundant. Knowing what, and when, to stop is as great an asset as starting something new. To “stop doing” can be just as valuable and life-enriching as to “start doing”.

In fact, always focusing on a goal – to do or have more, or better – can mean we don’t always live in the present. Some people miss the perfect view because they feverishly hope for a better view just a bit further on. (Try deciding where to pull off the road for that perfect spot for your family picnic and you’ll know what we mean!)

As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry so beautifully said: “It seems that perfection is attained, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

Create your Stop Doing List now.

There are no rules. It can be about anything that affects your personal or professional life, the time you spend with people, friendships, decisions that need to be made…

What are the things you could stop doing so as to become more of a human being than a human doing? Of course, you have responsibilities, tasks, things to do, but take a moment now to pause and reflect. Your Stop Doing List is also a wonderful opportunity to become aware of what’s going on in your life, how you feel, how you think.

Here are some of my own ideas to get you started:

  1. I promise to avoid taking early morning flights that make me feel tired the whole day.
  2. I will stop doubting my gut feeling.
  3. I will stop agreeing to take on projects that don’t make me feel “Yes, this is what I want to bring to this world!”; “This is the kind of value I would like to add to people’s lives!”; or “This is what expats need!”
  4. I will stop checking my emails first thing in the morning – this may require me to use an old-fashioned alarm clock rather than my iPhone’s alarm which tempts me to check my emails! (How many of you do the same?)

What kinds of things do you intend to stop doing this year? How does a Stop List feel to you? We would love to hear from you!

First published on Expat Nest.