Let’s change New Year resolutions to a personal not-to-do list

Let’s change New Year resolutions to a personal not-to-do list

The start of every new year seems to revolve around resolutions. Whether it’s personal fitness, work-life balance, or a health resolution, one thing is for sure; nearly half of all resolutions fail. The problem is that once they fail we tend to walk away from the resolution and not look back until the next year comes around.

Let’s change that trend by working on personal not-to-do lists instead of resolutions. The difference between them is that a personal not-to-do list is an ongoing practice of not doing those things that prevent you from achieving personal goals that are very important to you. You aren’t just focusing on your resolution goal, but rather clearing away the things that prevent you from reaching it.

How to write a personal not-to-do-list

This list focuses on your bad habits, those things that you let get in your way of achieving your personal goal. These will be habits or activities you wish to avoid altogether.

Go somewhere quiet where you can think and work undisturbed. Write down all activities and habits that distract you from working on your personal goals. Think about all those things you let yourself get distracted by that you should avoid or stop doing. Analyse these activities and habits that are time wasters, those ones you feel angry at yourself for allowing to distract you and define if they have a big impact on your overall happiness. Ask yourself, how much value are these actually providing?

Identify all the activities you should stop doing, appointments you should cancel, and subscriptions you should cancel. Be honest with yourself. Now take all those and put them on your personal not-to-do list. If it is helpful, make a note of the action you will take to move them off your to-do and a timeline to have it done by.

Work out your goals

While you are writing your personal not-to-do list is the perfect time to think about the goals you want to achieve this year. Make them as specific, attainable and realistic as possible. Give yourself a timeline in which to achieve each of your goals. Hold yourself accountable. Enforcing your personal not-to-do list will help with that.

Now cut yourself some slack if you don’t hit every goal exactly as you had planned. Try catching yourself when you are doing something you shouldn’t, stop and reassess. Don’t beat yourself up; instead, commend yourself for getting your focus back on track.

Items that might appear on your personal not-to-do list

  1. Do not eat in front of tv – you are not allowing yourself eat slowly and appreciate your meal
  2. Do not take your phone to the gym to answer emails – disconnect to fully concentration on exercising
  3. Do not bring electronics into the bedroom – they are distracting as you try to fall asleep
  4. Do not get less than 8hrs of sleep a night – you need it whether or not you think you do
  5. Do not spend excessive amounts of time on social media – it sucks you in and gives you a false sense of accomplishment
  6. Do not watch/listen to mass media news all day – it is incredibly sad, scary, and creates fear mongering
  7. Do not try for perfection – aim for excellence
  8. Do not try to create more than one good new habit at a time – it can be addictive to be part of positive change, but doing too much at once can lead to your willpower being spread too thin

Whether you are looking to achieve, creating your personal not-to-do list will help you focus on what matters most to you. Knowing what-not-to-do can be as powerful as knowing what to do.


This article first appeared in Energy Resourcing