How to Start a "Stop Doing" List - Lisa LarterLisa Larter


How to Start a “Stop Doing” List

Yesterday I spent most of the day planning my priorities for 2012.  I hired an executive coach, Kristine Emmett from Inspiring Leader to help me architect my business around my life and what is most important to me.

Lisa Larter Stop Doing List

I had a blast! I told her in advance that I did not want any “woo woo” life coaching work, I wanted business strategy. And wow, did I ever get more than I bargained for!

However, I wasn’t really sure about her when we began our session. The first thing she asked of me was to tell her about a positive childhood experience.  The second question was about a positive adult life experience.  The third was about a positive career/business experience. I knew in that moment she was the wrong person! I was there to map out my business plan, not talk about feelings!

She wrote down all kinds of words as I spoke and, in the end she was able to show me, based on our discussion, what my core values were.  This was the starting point for my business strategy – she was brilliant!

We took two big flip chart pages and mapped out in words what I wanted my future to look like.  We created guideposts for my business, relationships, and myself.

Then, we looked at what I am currently doing, what I love, and what makes me go “eeeeeckkh”.  We took this information and we made a “Stop Doing” list.  Every single thing I have on my plate was assigned a passion number.  If the passion number was low, she asked me to make a decision – Invest or Divest.

I will be the first to admit, it wasn’t easy. But, I wrapped up my day with a clear picture of the things I no longer wish to do in my business, a plan on how to gracefully communicate those things to my clients, and solutions I could offer to help.

Letting go of the things that do not serve you well is a difficult thing to do.  For me it places me in scarcity mode.  I worry about my “responsibility” and the impact that saying no will have.  This exercise showed me that, although planning the future of my business is exciting and fun, taking time to assess what I love, and what I need to stop doing is paramount to moving ahead.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because we are all taking on more.  Whether it is another social networking site, more tasks at home that we hate doing, or saying yes to clients who drain your energy, there is always an abundance of more.

What happens when we say yes to everything is we can never fully show up and give 100% to anything.  This week, I want you to pay attention to what you have on the horizon. Look for the things that really jazz you, that you enjoy doing and figure out how you can incorporate more of those into your life.  Lastly, pay attention to those things that leave you tired, lacking in energy and procrastinating to do.  These are the signs that will help you make your own “Stop Doing” list.

I have always believed I work to live, I do not live to work.  My responsibility is to create a business that I love so much it does not feel like work, and it allows me to have the life of my dreams. Are you taking full responsibility for your life?

PS. Have you joined our community on Facebook yet? I’d love to see you there too!

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Comments (33)
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    Patti DeNucci Sep 1 2011 - 1:27 pm Reply

    Love, love, LOVE this post, Lisa. I write about a lot of this in my book The Intentional Networker. So much about success in business comes from this kind of clarity and it takes time and thought to work through it. Wishing you the best as you plan for your amazing success (which I know you’ll have) in 2012!

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    Rachel Sep 1 2011 - 1:55 pm Reply

    I really connected with this post–especially the last paragraph. My feeling is in order to replace overwhelm with clarity it takes accountability, time, focus, and a plan of action. Fantastic article & great advice! :-)

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    Ola Otto Sep 1 2011 - 2:09 pm Reply

    I, too, LOVE, love, love this post. I can see how it would take time to gain this clarity, but it’s so valuable to our moving forward towards the business and life we want.
    Blessings, Ola

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      Lisa Sep 1 2011 - 9:36 pm Reply

      Thanks Ola, I agree, I always say I want to design my business around my life not the other way around! It’s important

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    Brenda Bailey Sep 1 2011 - 2:33 pm Reply

    There must be something in the air! I’ve just spent the last month slowing down and getting caught up, setting up new projects, and looking at the direction my business and life are headed. hired a new coach for the exact same thing – business strategy. Of course getting married in Nov, also is having me concentrate on my life and how it’s set up. Thanks for sharing. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this endeavor :)

    namaste, Brenda

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    Lori Sep 1 2011 - 5:17 pm Reply

    What a fabulous post! It is full of wisdom – how we can find our real passions inside, how we need to learn to ‘invest or divest’ (brilliant!), how we need to give ourselves permission to let things go, and how important it is that we are 100% present for the things that matter.
    Honestly, I think you’ve captured the essence of being a fulfilled person!
    Thanks so much for this Lisa!

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    Gina Hiatt Sep 1 2011 - 5:42 pm Reply

    Do I ever relate to this post, Lisa! I’ve been hiring others, getting my online business manager to hire others under her, letting things be good enough when others do things, and always thinking “do I need to do that?” before I do things. I’m always aware within my teams, “Is this the lowest fee person to do this task? Should I pay $65 per hour for $35 per hour work, and so on?” I’m delegating, delegating, delegating. It’s starting to result in enough mental space for me to be clear on what I do want to do. Great post, and have fun in Nova Scotia!

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    Judith Cane Sep 1 2011 - 6:09 pm Reply

    Interesting post Lisa. I’ve certainly listened to many, many coaches before but I’ve never heard or seen one use this type of psychology before in this way. It really is a good strategy to help someone “clean out the clutter” to enable them to focus. Thanks for sharing. Now who was the coach :)

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    Camille Gaines Sep 1 2011 - 6:12 pm Reply

    Beautifully said Lisa!

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    susan thornton Sep 1 2011 - 9:30 pm Reply

    On the money Lisa! Thank you for sharing and it sounds like you found an amazing coach who can not only support you in creating a fabulous business strategy, but align it with your values and lifestyle. Bravo……..Enjoy your holiday!!! Oh, and I’m also interested in the coach…..

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      Lisa Sep 1 2011 - 9:39 pm Reply

      Lol, just look at the power of social media, you are the fourth person to ask me who she is!! All from one blog post. I have emailed her and with her permission I will post details to her site for everyone to see.

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      Lisa Sep 2 2011 - 7:10 am Reply

      Coach is Kristine Emmett from Inspiring Leader, she is great!

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    Chantal Sep 2 2011 - 10:41 am Reply

    Great post Lisa. Re-assured me of a decision I took lately!!!


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    Deborah MacDonald Sep 2 2011 - 11:56 am Reply

    Lisa – I am so aligned with this way of thinking – core values are the key…and you’ve clearly pointed out how to set up a business strategy in this manner. Love the tagline – work to live, not live to work! Great post!

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    Robin Sep 3 2011 - 10:34 pm Reply

    Great article! Fall is such a great time to get clear!

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    Tony Sep 11 2011 - 12:22 pm Reply

    Great post, thank you. The STOP part really caught my eye. I have been using David Allen’s GTD approach ( which is all about freeing up your headspace by downloading your tasks into reliable systems. This includes delegating. But I find (having just the slight touch of OCD that I do) that I’m forever adding to ToDo lists to the point that even though I’m organized I feel that life is often just about trying to gather the energy to do the next damn thing on the neverending list. I’ve been missing his main point which is about using that freed up neurological real estate to really identify your long-term plans for achieving your dreams or just generally having a satisfying and meaningful life. Your blog post is a great reminder to do just that. Time to step away from the busyness.
    One question: What about all that stuff we don’t enjoy doing and can’t afford to delegate? I’m thinking doing the dishes, taxes, cleaning under the fridge etc?

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      Lisa Sep 11 2011 - 12:28 pm Reply

      Thanks Tony. With respect to your question I have a personal assistant who helps me with all the tasks I dislike doing around the house. I always look at it from the perspective of what could I spend that time doing that I love to do that would generate more income than what it costs to have someone so what I dislike doing. You can also look at what spending time on certain activities costs you in terms of life enjoyment, stress etc. That often helps to prioritize where to spend the $.

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    Zac Sep 12 2011 - 1:08 pm Reply

    What a lovely post! I’ve got a nagging feeling that I need to ditch one of my products in order to give more attention to the ones that I am truly passionate about. But oddly, I feel guilty for even feeling this.

    Do you ever feel like you need to just “eat your broccoli”? Are you putting yourself at any sort of financial risk by cutting some of these lower priorities out of your life?

    Really wonderful blog. Thx again.

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      Lisa Sep 12 2011 - 8:25 pm Reply

      Absolutely…. and yes, am prepared to accept the financial risk of letting go of some stuff in order to make room for financial abundance in other areas. I want more time to do things I really love doing!

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    Ryan Steinolfson Dec 9 2011 - 8:08 am Reply

    Holy cow I’m having a hard time just figuring out what those positive experiences were. I have had so many it hard to put my finger on just one but I agree that it is critical to stay doing what I love doing so that my energy is not taken away during the day.

    I really need to focus on the activities that jazz me up and give me a boost instead of drain me.

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      Lisa Dec 10 2011 - 4:43 pm Reply

      Thanks for the comment Ryan and yes… focus on what jazzes you and get rid of all that drains you as quickly as you can. If it makes you go “ick” let it go!

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    SmallBizWhiz Dec 9 2011 - 10:00 am Reply

    Great post. I too have been thinking about this a lot lately. I have a so much going on. I own a handful of small businesses with two of them being my primary focus and one more on the way. I have passion for these businesses and LOVE what I do. I also thoroughly enjoy DIY projects at home. I am beginning to identify things that I would be willing to give up, much of which are things around the house such as DIY, cleaning, etc. It took me a long time, but about 5 years ago, I finally learned the power of delegating. The issue at this point is not at all my lack of interest in delegating, but rather the lack of human capital to due so. Human capital requires financial resources and those are spread thin. So it seems I’m in a bit of a quandary. I need more money to get more people. Giving up the businesses is not an option as they do cash flow, still have room to grow and for all intents and purposes are all relative and necessary for one another. Suggestions???

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      Lisa Dec 10 2011 - 4:48 pm Reply

      This is always a challenge for people. I remember a few years ago when I hired an assistant to send out my weekly newsletter, I wasn’t even generating enough income at the time to pay for the work she was going to do and that was a bit scary. However, when I invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into my wireless store, it wasn’t making money yet either but I did it.

      I like to just switch my thinking from “I can’t” to “How can I?” and usually the answer comes. In this case, I asked myself “How can I start generating more income through my newsletter?” and I started finding ways to do this that actually worked.

      If you focus your time on what you are great at and let other people do what they are good at, in my experience you will see a lift in your income. There will always be times (usually before a growth period) when you feel like you are spending too much and that feeling of fear and scarcity sets in. When this happens, go back to the “How can I?” plan and focus all your energy on growth.

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    Becky Joy Dec 9 2011 - 10:14 am Reply

    This is so timely for me and I’m sure a lot of people. I’m an artists and work is my passion. I always tell
    people that if they work at something they love, they will naturally invest more time and energy into it. But, the problem is taking on too much in today’s economy. I’ve been making a list of what works and what doesn’t. I think I will revise that and include how I feel about some things on the to do list.

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      Lisa Dec 10 2011 - 4:50 pm Reply

      Great place to start. The other thing I would say is take a look at how you value and price your work. I often find artists under price their work because they don’t believe people will pay more and what ends up happening is they devalue the piece to the potential buyer. Especially in today’s economy, people assume they need to price lower – not always true.

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