My “Stop Doing” List Experiment

Written by on November 14, 2016 in Accountability, Sense of Purpose with 48 Comments



I’ve always been a list maker so it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that I’d be attracted to experimenting with a different kind of a list I recently heard about – a “Stop Doing” list.

The idea being that what you stop doing is every bit as important as what you start doing because it helps to define your boundaries and provide balance.

When you really pay attention, everything is your teacher. Click To Tweet

Creating My Stop Doing List

I’m always up for an experiment so the first thing I did was search for examples to get a few ideas. I found a surprising number of articles on how “To Do” lists rarely work (Hum, they do for me!) and how the most successful people create Stop Doing lists instead.

Here’s an example of what I found on the lists …

  • Stop people pleasing.
  • Stop being afraid to say “no”.
  • Stop being afraid to say “yes”.
  • Stop talking down to yourself.
  • Stop trying to be all things to all people.
  • Stop talking and start listening.

Now maybe it’s just me, but this doesn’t seem all that different from a regular To Do list. These intentions are admirable but nevertheless fairly vague in nature, which makes it darn near impossible to be accountable or define your success.

My whole purpose for using lists is to focus my energy, effort and time on those activities that move me closer to my goals, so I wanted to create something deeper, more meaningful … liberating.

So I pulled out my trusty journal and this is what I came up with. I can’t take credit for all of the things on the list, many are based on comments from readers. But the reasoning behind them is all mine, even if they may cross the line a tad into the advice column. Check it out and see if any of the things on my Stop Doing list resonate with you.


We all have task lists, whether we write them down, keep them in our heads or on our phones. Regardless of the format, what I know is that what gets done are the things we make a priority.

So from time to time why not give some thought to WHY you’re doing the things you do each day and whether or not they are taking you closer to the life you desire to create for yourself.

Your Turn. Can you think of any things you would add to a “Stop Doing” list? Have you ever created this type of list?

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Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.

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  1. Dave

    Although I was unable to see the actual list, I can completely relate to what you are sharing, Marty!

    We could “do” all the right things in the world. But, if we don’t “stop doing” all the wrong things, all those right things may never get the opportunity to gain the traction needed to move closer to our goals.

    I think that the more we can add specificity to the things we choose to begin or stop, the more helpful they are going to be in helping us to achieve the goals we set for ourselves.

    Wonderful, as always, thanks for sharing Marty!
    Dave recently posted…All AboardMy Profile

    • Oh darn, you don’t say you wouldn’t view the presentation, but I’m guessing it may have had something to do with the device you used to read the article. The link just below it takes you directly to the host (Slide Share) in case you ever want to see the presentation. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, always appreciated Dave. 🙂

  2. Mark

    What a truly awesome concept M!

    And incredibly creative as well! For sure, it’s the first I’ve ever heard of such an interesting concept!

    But unfortunately what certainly does sound all too familiar,
    are several of your suggestions on your list!

    Namely, # , 3, 14, 15-19!LOL!

    Every item on your list, could easily be a course and or multi part series i there own right!LOL!
    Great job as always M! It’s extremely informative and inspiring!
    Mark recently posted…Why Extremely Savvy Entrepreneurs Would Rather Be Short On Cash But Long Marketing Skills!Part TwoMy Profile

    • Well, as I said I wanted to go deeper than the usual task list. And, you are right Mark about how anyone of these could be a project in itself. But I think this is where being proactive about building self-awareness comes into play because the more aware you are the less work it takes to make course corrections along the way. 🙂

  3. Donna Merrill

    This is so great Marquita,.. I love it!

    We all worry so much about all the things on our to-do list, but really, we can accomplish more than we ever dreamed if we stop everything…

    Stop it all and write down a Stop Doing list.

    Suddenly, we’ll have so much more time and freedom and energy to pursue our passions.

    I really hope every entrepreneur, especially those who are struggling… get a chance to read this a few times, and yes, as always.. take action on stopping.

    Donna Merrill recently posted…Foolproof Marketing Strategies For BloggersMy Profile

  4. emi says:

    Hi Marquita,
    like your stop doing list and I think this is a brilliant idea, will give it a try as well. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Sue Bride

    I can relate to needing each point in your Stop Doing List at some time in my life. I still need a reminder for many of them.
    Another that applies to me is “stop procrastinating”
    Sue Bride recently posted…How to Easily Make Free Picture QuotesMy Profile

  6. Hi Marquita , I do not like lists and never do . But I think your list is great and a very good reminder what not to do . Good for the list- liking people to make a list of this . I would add something which in my experience brings a lot of trouble .” Stop having expectations ”
    Thank you
    Erika Mohssen-Beyk recently posted…Why Is The Law Of Attraction Incomplete ? What is being left out?My Profile

    • Hum … there are different types of expectations and you don’t clarify which you are referring to Erika. If you are referring to expectations we may have about the behavior of other people, then I agree with you to a certain degree. For example, when two people marry I believe it goes without saying there is a certain expectation of mutual trust and fidelity. Also, while I rarely hold others up to the same standard – I have high expectations for my own behavior. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t believe expectations are black or white, all or nothing because they stem from our deepest beliefs and behaviors. Interesting subject, and you’ve got me thinking that it’s an area to explore here again one day soon. Thanks my friend! 🙂

  7. I think your list is so true for all of us at some time in our life. Right now, the one about “Stop Saying I Don’t Have Enough Time,” is resonating the most.

    My priorities have changed once again and I need to re-evaluate. We make time for the things we find the most important so I need to take a real look at what those things are so that I can accomplish the things that are most important to me now.

    Great slideshow and share, Marquita!

    Deborah A. Ten Brink recently posted…Use Synergy To Rise To The TopMy Profile

    • You may a good point Deborah about ever shifting priorities – sometimes because of changing circumstances and other times because we’re at different stages in life. The important thing is to cultivate self-awareness so these shifts don’t blindside us.

  8. Stella Chiu

    Hi, Marquita

    Love each item in your Stop Do list. When we really sit down to analyze what we are doing, we can find many of them serve us no good. For my list, I will add 2 more items: stop hold on the things and people that should not in my life and stop take other people comments into my heart.

    Have a nice week end!

    Stella Chiu
    Stella Chiu recently posted…How to have Optimal HealthMy Profile

  9. Hi Marquita 🙂

    I can totally relate to each and every one of your “Stop Doing List” items lol especially the stop worrying and not asking for help 🙂 Fantastic list and I am so gonna write out my list now 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!
    Joan M Harrington recently posted…Not Making Sales With Your Current Audience This Could Be WhyMy Profile

  10. Hi Marquita. Wonderful idea. I’m going to write it in my journal. I am going to call it Stop it!!
    Stop being a people pleaser is one of them. Stop saying yes when you really want to say No.
    Stop talking down to myself is another. I’m sure I can come up with others. Great slide show idea.
    Wonderful article!
    Kathryn Maclean recently posted…Your 5 Step Process for Successful Social Media StrategyMy Profile

  11. Lydia Brown

    The hardest one for me was looking to other people to make me happy. Wasn’t until I was in my mid-thirties that I really got it after a horrible divorce. I still relapse with this one but only for a short time. The light bulb goes off showing me “there you go again you know what happens.” Then I shut it down. Different points in my life I was stuck on one of those on your list. Now I have days, months sometimes longer where I chose to get stuck. Thanks, Marquita I enjoyed this look in the mirror post.
    Lydia Brown recently posted…Celebrity Fame Alcohol and Substance AbuseMy Profile

    • The issue with happiness is a tricky one I think because other people can (and often do) contribute to our happiness. The key is not to rely on others as the primary source of our happiness – to find a way to be happy on our own, and free ourselves to experience the joy that can come from healthy relationships. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and contributing to the conversation Lydia! 🙂

  12. Vatsala Shukla

    I love your Stop Doing List, Marquita. The one that really resonated with me was spending time with the wrong people. For me it would be stop holding on to friendships where we’ve all moved on. Not in a bad way, mind you, simply accept that these friends are there but not the way they used to be in the past. Then the solution is to start making space for new friends! Yay!
    Vatsala Shukla recently posted…Want to Attract Abundance in Your Life? Raise Your Money Set PointMy Profile

    • You made an important point Vatsala! Ultimately, the point of this entire exercise it to make room for better stuff and people in our lives. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and contribute to the conversation. 🙂

  13. Suzie Cheel

    love love love this and it all resonates for me- some/most are no longer on my todo list. this is a big one for me Stop trying to be all things to all people. and stop being afraid to ask for help xx
    Suzie Cheel recently posted…How to Meditate and Listen To Your Heart WhisperMy Profile

    • I am so glad the post resonated with you Suzie! The two you referenced seem to be challenges for most people so I hope others were touched by the words in the presentation. Thanks for sharing your thouhts with us!

  14. Summer Price

    Wow! I think that is great and you have a WONDERFUL Stop doing list! I think I might add to mine stop complaining. It is easy to see all of the things that didn’t work out or the bad qualities in a person, event, thing etc. If we focus on the positive things we are more positive as a result. I think I might work on my own stop doing list this weekend. I think it is a fabulous idea!

  15. Sue Kearney

    Wow Marquita, that’s a seriously resonant list. I said Oh Yeah out loud a few times and stopped in my tracks on the Too Late one. That one seems to magically clamp itself around my ankle again and again no matter how many times I unshackle myself. Lately it’s coming up as I’ve reentered the world of online matching up for love (I think they call it dating? A tough concept for me.)

    So, a deep bow of gratitude for these words: As long as I’m still breathing…

    Blessed be, sister.
    Sue Kearney recently posted…Good branding can look like magic — Join the Priestess Your Brand UnChallengeMy Profile

  16. Usman

    I was enjoying this thoroughly… I was just nodding my head along this one wondering about all that needs to be thrown into the “stop list” by me. I mean, it was so relatable and that makes an article so much closer to your heart…when you are able to reconnect with it, relate to it. Amazing!
    Usman recently posted…5 Ways to stay positive even when all hopes seems to have goneMy Profile

  17. I love the idea of a Stop Doing list because it helps us focus on habits or “things” we wish to change. We spend so much time focusing on what we want to do we forget to focus on what we do not want to do ANYMORE! What a great way to change an old habit and make ourselves stronger. Great blog.
    Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos recently posted…Hello world!My Profile

    • I’m glad you like it Kathleen, and I agree with your point. When don’t make a point of periodically purging our task list, things can linger there out of habit rather than intention. Thanks for contributing to the conversation! 🙂

  18. Reba Linker

    What an awesome list and fabulous slideshow format. A few of them really hit home, so I know I’ve got some work to do!
    Reba Linker recently posted…About Manifesting: New Interview SeriesMy Profile

  19. Chery Schmidt

    Hello Marty! Wooo Hooo A “Stop Doing List” Oh Yeh I am so on this! I to love lists and this is An Awesome Idea! One I so terribly am in need of!! I am actually off to write my to do list for tomorrow here shortly and will be adding this Stop Doing List to it!

    LOVE LOVE LOVED THIS POST!! Thank You.. Chery :))
    Chery Schmidt recently posted…How To Crank Up Your Productivity Online ( Round Up Post)My Profile

    • You are most welcome and you just made my day Chery! Thank you so much for your kind words, and especially for letting me know that the idea of a Stop Doing list is one that may work for you! 🙂

  20. ikechi

    Hi Marquita

    What a great Stop List. I was just nodding my head in agreement. I enjoyed every bit of the list especially where you talk about not having enough time.

    Thanks for sharing. Take Care
    ikechi recently posted…Making a Difference: BlogFest With StyleMy Profile

  21. Marquita — love your slide presentation and, of course, the content. I was nodding my head “yes” to all your to do’s. One of my mantras is “no more coulda, woulda, shoulda’s.” You can’t go back and undo the past. Let go of your regrets. Live life now. To quote John Lennon, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…The 5 Magic Keys to Employee EngagementMy Profile

  22. Sabrina Quairoli

    I love this. It’s so important to look at what you want to elminiate from your life as well as what you want in your life. An awareness of both what you want and what you don’t want in your life will make for a happier life. Thanks for sharing.
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…Slow Cooker Spiced Peach CrumbleMy Profile

    • I’m glad you found the post interesting Sabrina. It was definitely a worthwhile project to go through – not only to create the list but to put it into a different format, and I’m thinking I might try to do that more often. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  23. Joy Healey

    Hi Marquita,

    A “stop doing” list is a great idea!

    Some of those are already one my (very informal) list, but the one that really stood out for me was “Stop looking to other people for happiness”.

    I suppose the other one I have to confess to is “Stop comfort eating”. Possibly linked to the first one. Hmmmm

    I will reflect further 🙂

    Thanks for an interesting way of looking at things.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark
    Joy Healey recently posted…Grammar Checker For Your BlogMy Profile

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