When I shared my top ten lessons learned in September, #1 said:
A ‘won’t do’ list can be just as valuable as a ‘to do’ list.
This lesson garnered more feedback (particularly on LinkedIn) than any other.
A ‘won’t do’ list is just as it sounds: A list of things you will not do.
I also think of it as a sort of ‘best practices’ for my boundaries.
Your ‘Won’t Do’ List
So, how do we create our Won’t Do lists? I suggest the following three steps:
First, envision when you feel your best. What contributes to that experience? What is generally in place? How, specifically, does it feel? Start by placing yourself in your ideal.
Next, consider times when you feel drained, depleted, or ‘off.’ What contributes to those experiences? Are certain traits nearly always in place?
Finally, look at your two lists, and start identifying what you need to stop doing or tolerating in order to experience more high-quality moments.
This will form the beginning of your Won’t Do list.
Your Won’t Do list will be unique to you. But to get some ideas flowing, consider the following examples:
I won’t engage in arguments with strangers on the internet.
I won’t take Aunt Enid’s questions about my home-buying decisions personally.
I won’t check email after 7pm.
I won’t start work for the client until all the paperwork is signed.
I won’t say Yes to requests for my time until I’ve given myself an hour to consider them.
You can think in terms of relationships, work, home care, personal life, and beyond. If your list grows long, consider prioritizing so you can pay attention to the top handful of ideas.
Don’t Forget The Final Step!
Now that you’ve created your Won’t Do list, remember the all-important final step:
When faced with an opportunity, challenge, or uncertainty, ask yourself your usual questions, such as:
Does it align with my values and purpose?
Will it move me closer to my vision?
How does it feel?
If you still need further clarification, or if it doesn’t yet feel 100% right, refer to your Won’t Do list.
Let this additional layer support your meaningful, purposeful decision-making!
Christi Hegstad, PhD, PCC, is the Practical + Purposeful Coach for Achievers! Join our email community for coaching tips, book recommendations, tools, resources, and more!