For many of us, the first few weeks of the year are focused on goal creation and to-do lists for the developing year. While those are certainly important, I’d encourage you to add one more thing to your agenda that will likely contribute the most to your success this year: a “stop doing” list.

The most successful people and businesses know how to focus on what needs to get done and what they need to stop doing in order to make that happen.

If you want to make room for new initiatives this year, then some old things need to go, including using “being busy” as an excuse for not getting the right things done.

Here are three areas that companies and individuals should consider when determining what to stop doing this year.

For businesses:

  • Projects/Products/Offerings: In our process of evaluating which products and strategies we want to focus on at Acceleration Partners (AP) this year, we are simultaneously planning to eliminate a few current offerings. These are the sectors that just aren’t performing as expected or that are taking us away from focusing on higher growth opportunities. We know we can’t do everything and are getting better at making the tough choices.
  • People: Most companies make tough people decisions 6-12 months too late. Now is the time to face these challenges head-on. This may mean finding new roles for people who are underperforming or helping them transition out of the company to one that is a better fit. Honest conversations lead to better outcomes for everyone involved. At AP, we’ve implemented a process we call Mindful Transition with the goal of making inevitable job changes less taboo and more productive.
  • Clients: Every company deals with clients/customers who are energy drains, unprofitable or toxic. These traits pose a risk to your employees and overall organization. Last year, we discussed which clients we would want to move away from if we could not take on any more work. In this process, we realized that we’d be better off moving on from these clients sooner rather than later; this strategy has paid off in terms of profitability, productivity and overall happiness levels of our team members.

For individuals:

The goal here is to focus on the activities that drain your energy or take you away from reaching long-term goals and objectives.

  • Tasks & Time Wasters: Take a hard look at specific tasks and activities you regularly engage in. The ones that exhaust you or feel like a chore should go. This may mean finding a grocery delivery service, removing Facebook from your phone or, in my case, finding a service that can take over paying 90% of my bills. You need to be honest with yourself about where your time is going and how it could be better spent so you can use your time and energy in ways that have more value and support your higher goals.
  • Commitments: Commitments are a level above tasks. They are the recurring investments of your time. They might include a committee you volunteer on, a class or a regular get-together. Whatever they are, some may have run their course. Moving on from them can refocus and reenergize you, which allows you to allocate time, energy and resources towards something new. For example, once I realized how valuable my morning routine is to my day and life, I stopped doing breakfast meetings altogether.
  • People: To quote Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I can’t think of a more powerful statement. One of the most important things you can do in this life is to move away from relationships and people who no longer align with your values and direction. If you feel worse after spending time with someone, chances are they’re an energy vampire. Albeit difficult, it’s likely time to pull away from them, even if they are family. This doesn’t mean burning bridges, it just means that you stop engaging, making plans or giving that relationships as much of your precious time and energy.

This week, as you add to your goals and to do lists, take time to think about what you or your business needs to stop doing this year to be successful.


Quote of the Week

“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”

Peter F. Drucker