We all have a list of the things we want to do. Travel the world, achieve a select financial goal, buy a house, etc. But what about changing the narrative and creating a stop doing list of all the things that are holding you back from achieving your goals? For example, listening to your inner critic, making excuses, procrastinating, etc. Yet it’s not always easy to give up things you know are hurting you. With a little help from us, you’ll discover how with tools to guide you.
What Is a ‘Stop Doing List’?
A stop doing list is simply a list of habits, behaviors, or tasks you recognize that conflict with your core values and prevent you from achieving your goals. It’s your map to help you reduce what’s no longer serving you, challenge you to adopt new pathways of success, and grow into the person you want to become.
6 Reasons You Need a Stop Doing List
While there’s certainly nothing wrong with creating a to-do list, a stop doing list is a counter-intuitive technique that may help you move forward by focusing on what you want to stop doing rather than what you want to do. Here are a few of the reasons why.
- Increased time. Time is our most valuable currency, and when we eliminate the things holding us back, we learn how to manage our time more effectively
- Reconnects you to your values. Understanding what propels you forward puts you on a better path to achieving what you desire
- Removes bad habits. We all have bad habits we wish to eliminate and a stop doing list increases your self-awareness of these time wasters
- Aligns you with your goals. What do you want to achieve in one, five, and ten years? Adopting a goal-driven mindset clears up what you need to stop doing to progress toward your vision
- Reduces stress. Focusing our attention on what is negatively affecting our lives reduces stress and increases our happiness
- Increases your motivation. When you know what is standing in your way of achieving your dreams, you become more motivated to make necessary and daily changes
6 Things to Put On Your Stop Doing List
1. Apologizing for taking up space
Why stop it: There are many reasons why we over-apologize. Perhaps as a trauma response, people-pleasing tendency, low self-esteem, or to avoid conflict. Yet when we say “I’m sorry” for simply existing, enforcing our boundaries, or being ourselves, we undermine how others see us and how we see ourselves.
The fix: When you’re about to apologize for something, pause and reflect. Then, unless it’s for something serious, shift your thinking to praising yourself for standing up for values/needs and reminding yourself it’s okay to have opinions that differ from the social norm.
2. Comparing yourself
Why stop it: With the highlight reel of social media, societal pressure, and unrealistic beauty standards, it’s easy to compare ourselves to others. But focusing on someone else’s success and physical appearance diminishes your accomplishments and self-worth and leads to decreased happiness, depression, and anxiety.
The fix: To improve your self-esteem, become aware of your triggers, the situations, people, and environments that worsen your self-criticism. If social media affects how you see yourself, learn how to take a break to protect your mental health and remind yourself that you’re seeing a carefully curated picture that someone wants you to see instead of the truth. Then begin reflecting inward, focusing on your strengths and what you like about yourself.
3. Saying yes to everything
Why stop it: How often do you say yes to things you don’t want to? Maybe you fear confrontation and affecting your relationships/work, so you deprioritize your needs to please those around you. But ignoring your values and boundaries creates a detrimental impact on your mental health. Not only does it cause unnecessary stress, but it also leads to resentment, burnout, and devaluing yourself.
The fix: Start by creating a list (Yes, another list on top of the stop doing list) of what matters most to you, then begin reflecting on how saying yes all the time disrupts your core values. Then learn how to set boundaries by using your core values as a guide to help you identify the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual limits you have to help you live the life you want and not for others.
4. Sitting in front of a screen all day
Why stop it: Binging countless hours of Netflix, scrolling social media, or even glued to your working computer may seem harmless, but sitting in front of a screen all day negatively affects your physical and mental health. For starters, it encourages a sedentary lifestyle and motivates you to ignore your need for movement, it prevents a healthy work/life balance, and the blue light disrupts your circadian rhythm – poor sleep.
The fix: If you work from your computer, take breaks to connect to the world around you. Go for a walk, stretch your legs, and stop using your electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed. Additionally, learn how to reduce your stress naturally instead of watching TV or scrolling to cope with stressful events.
5. Beating yourself up over your food choices
Why stop it: How is your relationship with food? Unfortunately, many of us use food as a punishment. For example, we may calorie restrict after eating a slice of cake or speak to ourselves poorly after every meal we deem “unhealthy”. Correlating our value to our physical appearance and diet can lead to eating disorders, poor self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.
The fix: The first step to learning how to heal your relationship with food is to prioritize mindful eating. Eating when you’re hungry without distractions increases your connection to your natural hunger signals and reduces emotional eating. Additionally, remind yourself it’s natural to have cravings. It’s not wrong to eat a treat. You’re human, and you deserve to eat a balance of both foods, healthy and not-so-healthy.
6. Allowing your fears to control your life
Why stop it: We all have fears. Perhaps fear of public speaking, traveling solo, needles, etc. But sometimes, our fears, like going after opportunities, trying new things, ending unhealthy relationships, or getting out of our comfort zone, transform into anxiety that shrinks our life. And this anxiety can cause us to remain stagnant and choose what we know instead of developing a growth mindset and enhancing our lives.
The fix: To overcome your fears, first define what scares you, then sit with it. Befriend it. For example, ask, “What is the root cause? Am I afraid of failure or uncertainty? Or perhaps it’s anticipatory anxiety?” Sitting with your fear helps you learn the stories you tell yourself and how to use cognitive restructuring to change the limiting beliefs.
It’s not easy to admit we’ve picked up a few bad behaviors. But the reality is you’re not alone. We all have things that sabotage our success or prevent us from achieving what we desire. Yet by creating a stop doing list and becoming clear about what matters most to you, you learn to refocus your attention, prioritize your needs, and spend more time doing what you love.
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