Starting things is what I’ve become good at.
Stopping? Not so much.
Each fall, I review what I learned from the current year. Then, using that information, I decide what I want the following year. These goals become the basis of my annual plan.
Planning this year was miserable for me because unlike prior years, my success in 2022 will depend on ending most of the roles I’ve been playing for many years.
- Our business partnership in its tenth year needs far less involvement from me than ever before
- My largest local capital investment is entering its third season and has become high functioning with less and less help from me
- Our lending company and our foundation both are being turned over to professional management.
The oldest leadership lesson is also the truest: Find and develop great people, then let them do their jobs.
Here’s the rub: I’m not good at “less”. I’m prone to more.
So, instead of figuring out how to stop interfering with our businesses and charities, I’ve decided to focus on starting other projects that will quell my thirst for “more”.
- The family history I’ve been collecting pieces and parts of for 25 years but never consolidated
- The semi-professional music “career” I’ve dreamed about since I was 15
- Leveling up my speaking and writing given concentration and a real plan
- New ways to engage with my siblings, kids, their kids and our friends?
The concept of “starting instead of trying to stop” first came to me at age 32. By then I had failed to stop smoking seven times. Alice’ Dad had emphysema from smoking and I’ll never forget his sadness when he was unable to hold our newborn, Caitlin. I was compelled to stop but unsure I could.
So, instead of stopping smoking, I started running. It was a sport I had enjoyed in high school.
My first run lasted about 300 yards and ended with me doubled over trying to catch my breath while coughing and wheezing. A couple days later, my experience was the same though I made it 400 yards.
The physical discomfort demanded I skip my next cigarette. Eventually I worked my way up to about 2-3 miles every other day which is still my practice today, 37 years later.
The parallels to all our lives are endless.
- Are we more likely to give up fried food or starting a savory Mediterranean regimen?
- Will we stop staring at a screen all day or start setting aside a block of no-tech time?
- Can I stop road raging or start counting to ten or praying for that numbskull when I’m cut off?
Are you better at stopping than I am? If not, what might you start?