Happy birthday to me and…6 things that I’ll stop doing

And I mean now! Yesterday was my birthday and I won’t bore you with the details of how old I am. Let’s just say that I am getting to an age where my mortality starts peeking from my left shoulder. Or is it right? Well, never mind this, no point confusing myself now. The point is that when we get to an age when we start confronting our mortality, we feel compelled to start being more selective about the things we do. A good first step to being really selective about the things to do, I thought, is to be very clear about the things I am to stop doing immediately. I came up with six such things by taking myself back through the years and recollecting the feelings and impact these have had on the course of my life. So, here we go.

One: I’ll stop saying ‘yes’ to things out of vanity. Over the years I have accepted numerous invitations to speak at and take part in academic and other gatherings out of vanity (yes, academics are generally vain) and or out of convenience. This usually has no or little positive effect on the course of my life – it mainly gets me tired and distracts me from chasing the important goals in my life. I realise that this is one of the ways for me to keep busy, rather than being productive. Having realised that it is time to start saying no, I had an immediate opportunity to test my resolve – an invitation. My reply was polite but firm ‘no’.

Two: I’ll stop sitting in boring meetings; come to think about it I’ll stop sitting in meetings. A woman in academia could find that she spends a lot of time in meetings; whilst the ‘boys’ are busy networking, publishing and getting promoted. I fell into this trap; true I build organisational structures that endure but there was a lot of sitting in meeting. These are usually boring, formulaic and completely pointless. This is it; I have served my time so no more meetings till I retire (in six years if I follow Jacob from Early Retirement Extreme or in eighteen years if I stay a victim of government policy).

Three: I’ll stop wasting – money, energy, resources. Waste is bad for all – for me, for us for the planet.

Four: I’ll stop reining myself in from fear. Most of us, most of the time don’t try things because of fear. This may be fear of failure, fear of success, fear of ridicule, fear of loss. Fear is the killer of adventure and no, I am not going ‘to feel the fear and do it anyway’. I am not going to fight with my fear either; I am going to learn to dance with it, enjoy it and transform it into the excitement of life that is happiness. I already feel curious as to how far this may take me and where.

Five: I’ll stop being judgemental. Yep, this is what I do – I close many paths in my life because of my judgemental nature. From today, I’ll keep an open mind and draw strength from the unexpected.

Six: I’ll stop dissipating my energy. Now, this one is very interesting. Most people waste their energy, some people conserve their energy. I dissipate my energy. Don’t misunderstand me, I am very efficient, I work hard and even sometimes I work smart. But starting things is in my nature. I start so many different things that the energy I can direct at each of these is not enough to knock them down, so to speak. What I am starting to learn is how to find the perfect point (activity, competence) at which I can direct my energy so that it multiplies in strength like the sun rays going through a magnifying glass.

What are the things that you would like to stop doing?

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