There are a zillion and one things you have to do. And that I have to do. I can't even think about it all. But I do believe knowing what NOT to do is just as important. And when I master that, I'll let you know. Here are 10 things to stop doing. It's a start.
1. Stop settling for crap food. I don't just mean cut out the soda and wing dings. I mean stop eating food that sucks, period. I once again decided it was a good idea to zip out to this Thai restaurant in my neighborhood for a quick curry. And I'll say one thing: They're consistent. Consistently bad. I go in with high hopes, and leave feeling yuck, every time. Why do I continue to do this to myself? Stop eating food that's just meh. Waste of calories and money.
(On the run? Listen to this story read to you.)
2. Stop wearing clothes you straight up don't like. Take this shirt for instance: A simple, perfectly fine boat-neck top I picked out and paid for years ago. There is literally nothing wrong with this shirt. Except I put it on, and then I take it off and put on something else. And so I keep it in wardrobe purgatory, but never make it 10 minutes with it on. I loathe it like a person who never did a thing wrong to you but you just can't stand. I'm done. I'm done with this shirt. I'm never wearing it again.
Take all those things that never make it out the door and donate them.
3. Stop booty calling your ex. If you're single and genuinely want to be in a relationship with someone, you've got to be open to it. And that means okay with being out in the cold a bit. If, at the first chill, you run to that guy (or girl) who's always good for a tumble, you're going to have a harder time meeting someone new. When you beat a path to someone's door out of sheer habit and comfort, and not for any other reason, you fail to plow a new path. Yeah it takes work. Yeah it's scary. But as long as you have this ex or f'buddy or whomever it is you call when times are lean, you won't make space for someone new. (Read what I learned from hooking up with a guy I didn't like.)
4. Stop saying you don't have time. Okay, so this is a sneaky way of telling yourself to do something. But truth is, what you keep saying you can't do on account of being "busy" is usually something you're afraid of doing (and yet you know you want to). And yet, you keep not doing it! Not having time is a ruse. I know that if I want to get something done, for reals, I can get up earlier. I can stay up later. I can find ways to get creative with the time I do have. So say you don't want to, say you've changed your mind. That's fine. But if the reason you're not (dating, sending in a proposal, doing more writing, meditating, or exercising, insert other thing here) is because of time constraints? That's not true and you know it.
5. Stop worrying about stress. You know why? Because the more afraid you are of stress, the more harmful an effect stress has on you. Kelly McGonigal, in her very famous TED Talk, "How to make stress your friend," cites a study of in which 30,000 adults were asked "How much stress have you had this year?" and "Do you believe that stress is harmful for your health?" The people who experienced a lot of stress had a 43 percent risk of dying -- but this was only true for those who also believed that stress is harmful for your health.
It's true! In fact, the people who experienced a lot of stress but did not view it as harmful had the lowest risk of dying of anyone in the study, even among those who had little stress. The researchers estimated that over the 8 years, 182,000 americans died prematurely... from the belief that stress is bad for you.
6. Stop working for hours straight and expecting to be productive. You can't do it. You're not designed that way, and you can't continue to spend energy without renewing it. Do your work in spurts, ideally 25 minutes at a time with a five-minute break in between, if you use the Pomodoro Technique. At the very least, get up every 1.5 to 2 hours and move around, drink some water, shift your attention, talk to someone.
7. Stop watching shows just because they're on. Note, I didn't say "stop watching TV." First of all, what is "TV" anymore? You can and should consume great content in any form or venue, and at any time, that you wish. There are so many great shows, programs, series, that you should only spend the time you have to watch on stuff you are absolutely 100 percent engaged in. Forget the rest.
8. Stop comparing your own life to your Facebook feed. Social media is a psychological mood ring. Except that the lousier you feel, the better other people's lives look. So go on there with the goal of engaging with people you like and love. But don't spend hours scrolling when you're feeling down about your life. You'll feel worse after. (Don't believe me? Ask science.)
9. Stop hanging out with jerks. Since we can safely assume you don't believe you have the time you need to do what you really want, why are you hanging out with these jerkbags? And by that I mean anyone -- old friend, new love interest, colleague -- who makes you feel like crapola after you spend more than 15 minutes with. They drag down your energy, depress, bore, and annoy you. Or worse, they make you feel flat out bad about yourself and what you're up to. (Watch what Girlfriend Circles founder Shasta Nelson says about the value of friendships on my show, "Solopreneur.")
10. Stop trying to figure out what to do with the rest of your life. Doesn't matter what stage or phase of life you're in. There is today, tomorrow, and the next day. And you're only ever right here, right now. Your next move is to figure out what you want to do next, not forever. The idea is not only daunting, it's near impossible to plot or plan for. You can't! Because you don't know how or where "the rest of your life" will go. So plan a few steps, sure, take a risk. These are things you can do. But you don't need to know what "the rest" will be. Part of the fun is finding out.
Watch "Solopreneur" on the Whatever It Takes Network (new ones every Tues. @ 4 p.m.!)