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A reader asks: do you have any general advice or principles that will help me discipline both my personal life and my business efforts?

Of course the answer to that is yes. So the challenge for me was to think of how to best use a few paragraphs to write about a topic that could easily fill a book. Most of the time this would result in some list of things to do or principles that apply to your life and business.

So instead, I want to throw out an idea that most people have never really stopped and thought about. We all have to do lists, goals, and plans… but do you have a QUIT LIST?

A Quit List is every bit as important as a to do or task list. Most of the time we have a general idea of the things we should do less of, or quit doing, but we don’t put any teeth into it by making it official.

Why would we want to quit doing some things? A few reasons:

  • Quit doing things that waste time
  • Quit doing things that dull creativity or hinder productivity
  • Quit doing things that don’t move you towards personal or business goals
  • Quit doing things that only appeal to emotional impulse rather than disciplined proactivity
  • Quit doing things that feed bad habits
  • Quit doing things that are the result of accumulated, undisciplined personal habits (ie. I’ve always stayed up to watch Letterman for years even though I wake up tired because of it)

I’ll give you a few generic examples of what some of these Quit List things might be, but just as sure as I do, all the exceptions out there will get mad at me for pointing out something they do. So I preface this list by saying they are just general examples and you need to customize the principles to FIT your life. 

If you can watch TV eight hours a day and not have it hinder your personal, professional and spiritual growth… then go ahead and watch TV eight hours a day. Same thing with playing golf four times a week, or visiting Internet forums six hours a day, or chatting on the phone five hours a day. Only YOU can answer what effect this has on your life.

I don’t know what constitutes a genuine Quit List item for you specifically. Only you can do that. So here are a few ideas:

  • Quit watching TV and movies so much; discpline yourself to a specific amount of time each day.
  • Quit convincing yourself that some activity, hobby or pleasure is a necessity IF your business, personal and spiritual life is being neglected: golf, fantasy football, shopping, reading romance novels or tabloids… oh, yeah… watching TV. Did I mention that?
  • Stop spending money impulsively; quit shopping and have a plan when you go out to buy.
  • Stop responding to the urgent every day; limit email and phone interruption.
  • Business: stop responding to and getting distracted by junk offers, endless reading of forums and opinions, and discipline yourself to fill your day with things that are focused on doing the important, high priority (versus urgent interruptions) items.
  • Business: focus on pushing your flywheel with relentless consistency and dogged determination and quit jumping around doing things that create an air of busy-ness or are simply a result of a lack of focus on your part.
  • Personally: quit living each day without a purpose, plan or focus. That’s days focus may be relaxation or fun, but it is planned. Time is your most precious commodity, and most people waste it with impunity.
  • Spiritually: quit wishing for spiritual growth, and implement a daily disciplined routine that will cultivate it. Haphazard, unplanned and shoot from the hip daily living will never result in any real growth, especially spiritual growth.

Okay, so that’s some generic examples. So at the risk of exposing some of my own weaknesses, here’s part of my own personal Quit List:

  • Quit staying up too late, and not going to bed at a specific time making it hard to get up early in the morning which is my primary study and writing time.
  • Quit being an emotional eater and impulsively justifying soothing stress with food.
  • Quit being distracted by the endless opportunities for different kinds of business and revenue streams and stay singularly focused on the core of what I can be best and most profitable at doing. For me this meant cancelling a bunch of email newsletter subscriptions, quit visiting several websites and forums, and politely declining most of the routine proposals I receive from people about ideas they want me to partner with them on.
  • Quit getting TOO focused and absorbed on one project or goal to the detriment of being balanced across the board personally, spiritually and professionally.

Recently I talked about having a laser focused set of the thing you do. It is equally important to have a list of the things you do not do or need to quit doing.

A Quit List doesn’t mean you are actually DOING all those things and need to stop. It means these are things you either 1) need to quit doing, or 2) want to make sure you do not start doing.

Successful companies, and individual people, are just as aware of what NOT to do as they are about what they should be doing. Whether marriage, business or spiritual, your success is just as tied to not doing the wrong things as it is doing the right things. Many people would argue, myself included, that not doing the wrong things is the MORE important consideration. (I don’t have the space here to explain that fully, but I wanted to get you thinking about it. I’ll just say here that solid research supports that conclusion).

The Quit List allows you to stay equally focused on NOT doing those things which hinder you, distract you, defeat you and keep you from moving forward towards your goals and growth.

Do you have a Quit List? What are your questions for me?