How to have a remarkable new year

by Kate on December 29, 2012

This New Year, what will you stop doing?

To achieve great things we must work out what to stop doing, and then have the courage and commitment to follow through on that decision.

New Year is a good time to decide what to stop doing  to help you have achieve great things.  It could be the most important resolution you make!

Many of us lead busy lives. If we want to build momentum, we do more. It’s much less effective than we sometimes like to think!

Working through our ever expanding ‘to do’ list might appear to reflect our self-discipline, but inability to say ‘no’ can highlight the opposite: a lack of disciplined thought about how to allocate our time.

Here’s a personal illustration.

Earlier this year, I resolved to write a blog post every day. I believed this would be beneficial in a number of ways. With energy and discipline I could have fulfilled on my commitment. But after a couple of weeks it became clear this was not a good use of time or energy. They were better directed somewhere else.

This discovery wasn’t much of a surprise.  These things are part of a journey towards figuring out the best use of our skills and talents, and sometimes we end up down a track that doesn’t fit, either in life or in business.

Here’s the business side…

In “Good to Great”, Jim Collins identifies the notion of a Hedgehog Concept. It is an understanding of what a company can be best in the world at (and what they can’t). This understanding drives the allocation of resources to the areas where they could potentially be the best. It is a foundation for the transformation from a good company to a great one.

For example, one of the good to great CEOs, Darwin Smith of Kimberley Clark, made the bold decision to get out of a business which delivered the bulk of its revenues (paper), and focus on the consumer business (think Kleenex).

So, to move from good to great in life or business, we must decide where to focus and probably stop doing some stuff we have previously been consumed with.

Here are three suggestions to help you do remarkable things in the year ahead.

1.  Good starting advice is “Pause, draw breath before you work out how to fill your time”.  You can read some thoughts on this topic here.

2.  Here’s a ‘Stop Doing’ exercise, which comes from an article by Jim Collins:

Suppose you woke up tomorrow and received two phone calls. The first phone call tells you that you have inherited $20 million, no strings attached. The second tells you that you have an incurable and terminal disease, and you have no more than 10 years to live. What would you do differently, and, in particular, what would you stop doing?

3.  Consider these questions, which also come from Collins’ work (and you can read more about them here):

  • What are you deeply passionate about?
  • What are you are genetically encoded for — what activities do you feel just “made to do”?
  • What makes economic sense — what can you make a living at?

For several years I have kept a commonplace book of quotations and references. One of the very earliest I wrote down is a quote from “Good to Great”.  It remains one of my favourites.

As one year ends, and another is about to start, this seems good place to finish off.

For, in the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work. Perhaps, then, you might attain that rare tranquility that comes from knowing that you’ve had a hand in creating something of intrinsic excellence that makes a contribution.  Indeed, you might even gain that deepest of all satisfactions: knowing that your short time here on this earth has been well spent and that it mattered.


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