My 2021 ‘Not-To-Do’ List

For years now, I have made New Years Resolutions and wrote up long lists of things to do in the New Year. Exercise more, lose weight, go to the gym, take some classes, learn something new, the list was endless.

This year, to be kind to myself, I am wary of adding more to my already full plate. And yet, I want to stay aligned with objectives that are meaningful to me. Perhaps because of some wisdom I picked up recently, I have decided to do the opposite this year. So instead of the usual ‘to do’ list I have instead put together a ‘Not To Do List’.

I figured, that to be happier, more fulfilled, productive, healthy, or to achieve any of the things that are valuable to me, it may not be necessary to add a plethora of things to do on my already full list. This year, I have identified 100 things that I should not do. By removing distractions and time-sucking activities, I hope to create time and energy for things that are valuable to me. So without further ado, here goes:

  1. Do not stay up past 10.00 pm. Make sure you get adequate sleep.
  2. Do not compromise on the first two to three hours of the day. They are for your morning ritual and you must guard this time jealously.
  3. Do not eat unhealthy, to-go meals. Even a simple home cooked dish will suffice on busy days
  4. Do not hold too many expectations of others. Expectations are a source of agony and drain energy. Expecting people to act based on your values is a futile exercise. They always do, and rightly so, what aligns with their inner values. Accept it
  5. Do not skip the weekly yoga class. Yoga is the one thing that revitalizes body and mind, creating greater health and muscle tone. It is essential to my good health
  6. Do not skip the mid-day walk. During these short winter days, by the time I shut down my computer for the day, it is too late to go outside for a walk. Therefore I must make time to walk mid-day, even if that’s during my workday.
  7. Do not skip the after-dinner stroll. Strolling on the deck after dinner helps me get the last bit of physical activity in my day. The fresh air calms my mind and sets the tone for quiet moments before I go to bed.
  8. Do not skip the Sunday planning session. Attempting to take on a hectic week without my Sunday ritual of going over my tasks and commitments for the week, my weekly meal plan, and other planning activities, is counterproductive. It makes me work harder and gets mediocre results.
  9. Do not speak harsh words. Being polite and respectful is a tribute to yourself as much as it is a gift to others. There is always a way to get your point across politely and respectfully.
  10. Do not think you need to participate in every event, every project, every conversation.
  11. Do not work in PJs all day. It is a lazy habit and can’t possibly inspire in you a professional and productive mindset.
  12. Do not mindlessly browse social media as a distraction from stress. Try to find a healthier outlet
  13. Do not neglect self-care and personal grooming – a timely shower, decent work from home clothes, adequately done hair and other grooming is essential for your self-esteem and to pull you out of lethargy
  14. Do not buy too much stuff for the house. Reduce what you can
  15. Do not focus too much on decorating the home. A clean, organized space always looks good, so focus on that instead
  16. Do not overstock grocery. Be creative and use what you have without waste
  17. Do not leave projects unfinished. Even if it is just a hobby, finishing what you start is a tribute to yourself and will help with better clarity of thought and action
  18. Do not commit to things that violate your core beliefs and personal values. Speak up for your self – say NO
  19. Do not tolerate disrespect. Promptly and firmly correct the violating party. Do not delay, do not mince your words
  20. Do not run away from people and/or situations. Stay put and play on your terms but if the situation is toxic, then move fast and leave. Make sure your assessment is not ‘in the moment’ but based on an objective decision that has long term value for YOU
  21. Do not distract yourself from people or situations that hurt you. Confront the situation fully and find either a solution or a way out
  22. Do not short-change yourself. All you bring to the table is valuable, make sure your environment treats you accordingly
  23. Do not fight other people’s battles
  24. Do not over idolize people, or over villainize them. They are humans with good and bad sides, just like you
  25. Do not be overly fixated on other people’s thoughts and ideas, look within.
  26. Do not produce substandard work. Your work should be of the highest quality
  27. Do not speak too much
  28. Do not participate in every situation
  29. Do not interfere too much
  30. Do not volunteer your time and/or thoughts too often. Let other people figure it out on their own
  31. Do not sit for too long. Even during the workday, get up and walk. Bring the exercise bike to your home office and sit on it (bike on it) for part of the day
  32. Do not read more than one book a week. Spend more time organizing and writing your own thoughts and ideas
  33. Do not compromise on your solitude. Actively seek it in your everyday life
  34. Do not perform your subordinate’s work in pursuit of perfection. Delegate it. It will free your time and let them learn too
  35. Do not believe sweet talkers, don’t take what they say at face value
  36. Do not underestimate living expenses. Plan your finances well. Set passive income goals and make a plan to achieve them.
  37. Do not overwork
  38. Do not oversleep
  39. Do not overeat
  40. Do not eat mindlessly
  41. Do not speak mindlessly
  42. Do not act mindlessly
  43. Do not react when you can respond
  44. Do not mix your hobby (writing) with your profession (source of living)
  45. Do not give up your good fortunes
  46. Do not neglect the love of a wordless animal (make time for cat therapy)
  47. Do not ignore your inner voice
  48. Do not be stingy about self-care expenses
  49. Do not be overly generous towards others
  50. Do not discard your fears – face them, name them, understand them
  51. Do not neglect old friends
  52. Do not avoid new friends but be selective about who you let into your life
  53. Do not believe all you hear or see at face value alone. Dig deeper, defer judgment
  54. Do not let other people’s impressions of you determine your self worth
  55. Do not let people walk all over you. Show them their boundaries and keep them firmly behind them
  56. Do not skimp on planning and goal setting. If you don’t set your own goals, you will find yourself fulfilling someone else’s goals
  57. Do not let time slip by. It is your most finite resource. Guard it jealously.
  58. Do not let creative pursuits decentralize your energy
  59. Do not pursue random things. Focus your energy on meaningful tasks
  60. Do not be fearful
  61. Do not be weak eared (don’t believe everything someone tells you)
  62. Do not try to overachieve. Stick to your core duties and do them well
  63. Do not ignore what you have planned for or put on your calendar. Follow-through
  64. Do not tolerate injustice against yourself
  65. Do not underestimate the power of positivity. Try to objectively and positively approach each challenging situation
  66. Do not ignore the signals of your body
  67. Do not burn bridges
  68. Do not give up your autonomy in how you work. Fight for it
  69. Do not give up on yourself
  70. Do not give in to your circumstances
  71. Do not give up on the people you love. Fight for them
  72. Do not allow love to dry
  73. Do not nurture indifference
  74. Do not stoke anger
  75. Do not breed hatred
  76. Do not be mistrustful and yet…
  77. Do not be naive
  78. Do not hurt others
  79. Do not hurt yourself
  80. Do not let others hurt you
  81. Do not ignore the truth
  82. Do not disregard the flaws of your loved ones
  83. Do not disregard their virtues
  84. Do not discount their pain
  85. Do not neglect your family – immediate and extended
  86. Do not forget other’s good deeds and strive to pay them forward
  87. Do not begrudge other’s bad deeds and try to avoid them in our actions. Just move forward
  88. Do not underestimate quiet and soft-spoken people. They often have tremendous inner strength
  89. Do not chase money. Focus on acquiring excellence in your profession. Money will follow
  90. Do not deprive yourself of everyday joys while you pursue your lofty ideals. Stop to smell the roses, watch the sunset
  91. Do not hold on to the past. Do not worry too much about the future. Be here now
  92. Do not ignore your favorite books. Read them. Even if you can do just one page at a time
  93. Do not be shabby
  94. Do not be unclean
  95. Do not wear too much makeup
  96. Do not try to disguise your true appearance
  97. Do not try to disguise your true feelings
  98. Do not argue with foolish people
  99. Do not surrender to racial injustice
  100. Do not give up, ever

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