New Years No to do list

Alissa Norton is a certified life coach and professional online video course producer. She helps creative professionals manage the inner critic so they can live well and share their brilliance. Today, Alissa is sharing an alternate approach to the New Year’s goals list. She calls it a “not to-do list.”

I coach busy creative people, and part of that is helping them respond to internal messages containing the word “should.” When I am filming an online class for a client, for example, it’s common for what I call “the virtual quilt police” to show up during the process.

free motion quilting

“I should have practiced this more,” my client might say, as she begins free motion quilting. “Are you going to see my stitches?”

She’s been free motion quilting for over 10 years.

“Yes, we’re in close,” I’ll say, “And no one expects you to be perfect.”

It’s a theme in life coaching, too: I should do what my parents want; I should be more organized in my business; I should know how to (fill in the blank.)

New Year’s resolutions are a wonderful way to “should” on ourselves. I’ve been known to jot bullet points in my journal: *exercise more * eat vegetables *stop yelling at the kids. I’ve stopped making these resolutions, and I don’t recommend them to my clients, either. Not because they aren’t kept, but because I believe that to move forward, we must first let go. And sometimes, that’s the hard part.

So, my list this year is a Not to Do List instead. I hope you’ll be inspired to create your own.

This year, I resolve not to:

1. Compare and despair

In my twenties, it seemed imperative to keep up with the accomplishments of my friends and colleagues. But in my forties, I’ve learned that fitting in, measuring up, and matching does not breed joy. Better to connect, lend support, show enthusiasm, and go on with my own life.

2. Expect my partner/best friend/child/mother to approve my business decisions

I’m sure it must be amazing to have a fan club. What I have instead is a circle of wonderful humans with their own concerns, including having whipped cream cheese on hand at all times. I do better when I remember that my clients’ satisfaction is the best gauge of my success. Instead of longing for my family’s stamp of approval, I turn to my coach, business partner, or another mentor when I need to weigh options.

3. Let good ideas slip away

Is it just me, or do the best ideas come in the shower? I’m keeping a notebook nearby—yes, right there in the bathroom–so I can drip, draw, and write down my idea while it’s still fresh.

4. Multitask (too much)

My first suggestion to a client wanting help with productivity seems incredibly simple: do one thing at a time. And, science backs me up.

Research shows that multitasking reduces our productivity, and a constant connection to e-mail keeps us in “high alert” mode and raises our heart rates. I ask my clients to block out two half-hour periods each day to check and respond to email. Turning off sound notifications on phones helps, too.

5. Take DIY to the extreme

I’m all about DIY, believe me, but doing it all yourself can get lonely. My bookkeeper is a joyful investment. I’ve delegated a task to an organizer: helping me tackle my laundry room cabinets (packed with dried-up, disorganized craft and sewing supplies.) This year, I’m going to focus on finding collaborators and embracing partnerships.

I ask my clients to consult a “body compass” to measure how a decision or thought feels in the body from -10(worst) to +10(best). On mine, the Not to Do List is a +9. It means I’ve done so much already, and that wisdom comes from the adage that less is more.

Learn more about Alissa on her website, livingcolorcoaching.com and watch her Craft Industry Alliance webinar, Producing Your Own Online Video Class, in our archives.

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