I’m reading Marshall Goldsmith’s What Got You’re Here Won’t Get Your There, and early on, Marshall talks about the importance of what gets stopped. We often hear of the successes of others. As Marshall points out, though, there are many reasons why successful people succeed. What is oftentimes just as important (if not more so) and is not talked about is what successful people STOP doing.
What entrepreneurs may stop, for example, is down a path that would not yield successful outcomes. Successful startups are known for their successes; rarely for their failures or what they do to shift their focus.
Marshall writes how people try to change habits and create great processes. This can be challenging, however, with several steps required. Instead, folks could be better off by focusing on small things to STOP doing. Oftentimes, this is just enough to create noticeable, positive results.
When I read all of this, I think about self-awareness, being comfortable with the uncomfortable, and making small changes for sustainable effects. Case in point: I hate vegetables. I really do. However, I realize the importance of eating vegetables for their nutrients. To change this, many people think about the need to make big changes – start eating a lot of vegetables.
For me, I realize what I really want to do is to be open to eating vegetables – not be scared off by them. For me, I’m indeed adding a vegetable a day as part of a “30 Broccoli, 30 Days” challenge – consuming broccoli florets daily for 30 days. I’m not going for a lot because I know me well. Meanwhile, the goal here is not to be a vegetarian or to even start eating a lot of vegetables – that just wouldn’t be me (read: hardly sustainable). Instead, I want to STOP ignoring vegetables on my plate (or throw them away ?).
I want to be a better writer. I realized early on how often I use “so” in my writing. Now, I’m aware of this and am limiting (“stopping”) how often I use the word. I am also working on STOPPING filler words in my speech. I’m not trying to improve how I speak by taking speaking courses or studying a thesaurus. Instead, I’m stopping what I feel is not productive for effective speakers.
Think about yourself. Think about what you want to improve. Think about what you want to STOPrather than what you want to do.
So last year was an interesting year with lots of different opportunities – both good and bad. I remember back in July of 2015, though, I was struggling badly with a project. I mean, I was incredibly anxious. Saying I was stressed would be a big understatement.
When I realized I was going down this spiral, I needed to change what I was doing and focus on pulling myself up. One key practice I did was journaling at the end of every day.
I wanted to write, for 30 days, in a journal focusing only on what went well that day or what made me happy. I usually reflect on my day already including what I could have done better and what didn’t go well. However, I wanted to focus on positive thoughts to right the ship.
It was a powerful exercise, and I caught myself writing in my journal even when I got home at 4AM and was dead tired. I continued writing beyond 30 days and quickly made a goal to write for 90 days straight! Well, I blew past that, too, and decided to just continue through the rest of the year.
Those 169 posts revealed a lot of interesting things, and effectively ended my spiral and put me on an upwards trajectory. Here are a few quick realizations I made from the exercise:
  1. Creating a habit and sticking to it is hard, but if you focus on why you’re doing it in the first place, it’s much easier.
  2. I only set positive thoughts as the bounds. Otherwise, I was free flowing whatever came to mind. This was great in that it just let me go without pressures of content or length. Just write.
  3. I wrote a lot about people I encountered. I didn’t even need a long conversation with a friend, but just little messages from friends saying hello or quick chats made me happy. It was great to know people were thinking about me. This highlighted how relationships make me happy.
  4. Anything can be turned into a positive. Even when things didn’t go well like a date or a business opportunity, I quickly started looking at why it didn’t work out and how it was good to even have the chance. Further, something else better fit would come along.
  5. What you write is a lot more than what you think. That is, if you think about what went well, you can probably think of 2-3 things. However, when you’re free-flowing and putting it all down on paper, you’ll be surprised how many positive things you’ll end up with. Tip: write starting from the beginning of the day.
  6. Everyone wants to do it, but no one actually does it. I told a lot of people what I was doing, and everyone said they’d do it, too. However, no one actually did. It’s hard to get the ball rolling.
  7. It’s a tool to be used for good. Once you think it’s no good or a burden, it’s okay to stop. I stopped at the start of this year because the practice did what I wanted.
  8. Setting a small goal to write at the end of the day is easily approached rather than thinking about writing EVERYDAY FOR 30 DAYS. Look at the process for what it is… today. Tomorrow is tomorrow.
  9. I went to bed happy, and I woke up happy. I thought to myself to remember something that happened that day. It immediately turned real-time events into positive events thereby influencing the rest of my day’s outlook.

There were number of benefits from the exercise, and I’m real glad I did it. Now, I know I can always use this tool in the future should I catch myself falling again. I highly encourage everyone to try this out for a couple weeks as a therapeutic, self-awareness exercise. You’ll be surprised at how much happier you’ll be and how much more you’re thankful for any given day.

I just passed the century mark for posts, and I’m interested in changing my approach and writing style. At least, try a more concise writing style for 15 posts.
Scroll through different blogs, you’ll find there are many different styles from long text-heavy posts, story-oriented writing, concise and focused posts, to the list-centric. My style has been an adapted, hybrid approach with lists and examples per bullet. However, my writing can be… long-winded.
I’m changing my writing style for this and the next 14 posts towards a concise format no more than 300 words with short bullets, if appropriate (à la Master Blogger David Cummings). Why? Let me bulletize…
  • I love experimenting and self-improvement. I don’t want to be so rigid to not be open to potentially better, different ways of doing things.
  • I can be a little too verbose sometimes with redundant wording. This is an exercise in staying focused and to the point.
  • I value perspectives. This new approach will give me a new perspective into writing and thinking.
  • Test reader behavior. Shorter posts are more easily digestible for readers. I’ll review Google Analytics, and see if this new approach has made a difference in subscribers, time spent, pages visited, etc.

I’m excited about this, and I’m looking forward to assessing my attitude and perspective to this new style. Depending on how the first five posts go, I may also change my post frequency.
Any other ways you’ve experimented to change some long-standing way you’ve done things? Any tips on challenges or things that helped you sustain the change long enough to gauge its impact?