Here we are in week 3 of Quest 2016. I decided not to blog my responses to the Week 2 prompts. They were definitely useful and I did do some writing about them.

John Hantsch  started us off in Week 3 with this:

What can you stop doing in 2016 such that it would allow you to focus on higher payoff activities?

This prompt harks back to the one Charlie Gilkey asked us last year:

We often think too much about adding new things, when the source of a lot of our growth is eliminating old things. What do you need to STOP doing in 2015? And what do you need to do to make that STOPPING more than an intention?

Both of these prompts are at least in part about getting un-busy, reminding me not to to keep adding to an already overfull plate, but to instead make time to focus  on what matters most. At first I was tempted to pass on John’s prompt, thinking my response would be much the same as last year’s.  But 12 months have passed since I wrote Stop What You’re Doing. This is a chance to find out if my perspective is different now.

Last year I wrote about these themes:

  • Being Afraid
  • Getting Distracted
  • Meeting Others’ Expectations (about what, who and how I should be)

This year, I’m looking at last year’s wins, and exploring  thoughts and questions on the same themes as I look ahead to 2016.

Being Afraid

2015’s wins: A large bog of fear of not being good enough  lay in my path, effectively keeping me stuck. With help, I found a path around it. That help came from both expected and unexpected quarters. Quest pack, ArtMark pack, longtime friends, chance acquaintances, ongoing supporters and partners, you know who you are. Lesson: You don’t have to face your fears alone. Others can reflect your strengths back to you, collaborate with you, kick you in the ass (kindly) and teach you what you need to know. Thank you.

Where this path led:

  • To learning how to take part in networking opportunities effectively, using my own style. Part of this success meant permitting myself to not succeed every time. I don’t have to unfailingly make new connections everywhere I go. When I can, I do. When I can’t that’s the introverted way it goes, and that’s ok! This approach has served me well, as demonstrated by my growing network of subscribers, business contacts, colleagues, clients and social media followers.
  • To figuring out how to represent my own business (AKA me) as well as I’ve represented employers in the past. As an employee, I was always great at telling the organization’s story with conviction, passion, presence. Now I’m doing that for my own self/organization-of-one with genuine comfort, confidence and clarity.

Taking the ArtMark course was no small part of these and other wins. The support, information and resources it provided made a huge difference. So did continuing working on this website with the incomparable Susan Preston as I took ArtMark. Both called for me to up my game. I took lots of deep breaths. Continued on the path. And got it done.

This year I need to explore fears related to investments, financial and otherwise,  in my work.  I am as concerned about underinvesting as about spending unwisely. Here are the questions to explore this year:

  • How do I recognize what makes the best investment?
  • When should I invest even when I “don’t have the time” or “don’t have the money?”
  • When should I decline to invest, even if I do have the time or money?

Getting Distracted

2015’s wins: Saying “no thank you” to work I did not want. That freed up precious resources  for the work most aligned with my core purpose. Here are three examples that show where this led:

  • The creation of the aforementioned new website, which accomplishes many things.
  • A new e-course, currently available as a free offering.
  • Two new workshop offerings

I’m not cured of getting distracted, and in fact I don’t think a complete cure is desirable. Time where your mind can wander freely and make serendipitous discoveries is time well spent.

But  there’s surely  such a thing as too much distraction. Thought leaders including Shawn Blanc, Jeffrey Davis and Paul Jarvis have good things to offer on this topic.

I have tangible goals for the year, and more deep-souled and passion-driven goals, too. I will avoid unwanted distraction and further hone my focus on those goals. Exploring these questions will help me:

  • What am I most focused on achieving this year?
  • What actions will help me reach those goals?
  • Do I need help from others to reach those goals?
  • Do I need new knowledge or skills to reach those goals?
  • Should I pursue an unexpected opportunity, or does it take me off track?
  • Should I modify my goals? Would that bring me closer to my purpose, or distract me from them?

Meeting Others’ Expectations

2015’s wins: Recognizing and setting boundaries, and feeling clear and confident in doing so.

Examples of where this led:

  • Declining expanded volunteer activities that would have impinged on other areas of life.
  • Accepting or initiating volunteer activities that were personally meaningful and/or useful in building my network of contacts.
  • Setting some pursuits on the back burner in order to pay attention to those on the front burner.

Here’s what I’m thinking about for 2016:

  • Sometimes it’s right to do something because others expect it. How do I recognize when I am choosing to do something for others, rather than acting on feelings of “have-to” or of coercion? I note that these feelings of pressure may come from within me and not from others.
  • Other people may expect bigger things of me than I think I’m capable of. How can I learn to recognize when they are right? Their expectations might reflect a stronger, better me than I am able to see. They can provide a challenge worth living up to.

This post will remind me to decide what I want to stop doing, whether that has to do with something I am feeling or something I am doing, so I can spend more of my time, attention and energy on activities that matter most.

What about you? What will you stop doing so you can focus on higher-payoff activities?


 

More about John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing (Thomas Nelson 2011), Duct Tape Selling (Portfolio 2014), The Commitment Engine (Portfolio 2012), and The Referral Engine (Portfolio 2010) and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. Twitter: @ducttape