What I’ll STOP doing in 2021

I complement my “to do” list with a “stop doing” list. Too often in our work-obsessed culture, we focus resolutions on new or different stuff we force ourselves into.

As we run excitedly toward 2021, here are some of the things I’ll stop doing in the new year:

  • Stop checking daily stock market fluctuations
  • Stop checking daily COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths
  • Stop checking Twitter multiple times a day

No, I’m not burying my head in the sand. It’s actually the opposite.

These habits – all intensely short-term in their focus – have made me less effective at evaluating the environment and making the best decisions for myself and my clients.

Prior to March, I would often go weeks without noticing where the major stock indices were. And months without checking my retirement portfolio. My buy-and-hold philosophy has served me well, both financially and even more importantly, emotionally. I’m not an investing expert – not even close – so I get the best returns when I focus on what I do best: helping PR people get better results.

More than that – I’ve earned a bit of a reputation for preaching the contrarian idea that PR people need to eschew the “always plugged in” culture and prize focus and clarity instead.

But when the economy fell off a cliff in March, I understandably needed a keener and more fluid understanding of the world. Once the economy stabilized, I kept checking those tickers – and started adding the daily WSJ markets roundup story, which cost me hours of distraction a month and eventually led me into an ill-fated experiment with timing the market. I won’t make that mistake again.

You can see the same pattern in my next two “stop doing” items. Justified increase in COVID news consumption in the spring calcified into passive capitulation to jonesing for a news buzz. I don’t need daily case counts to know how to keep myself, my family and my community safe – those guidelines solidified months ago.

And I certainly don’t need to cave to the dopamine fix and “take a break” to check Twitter to see if my favorite sports team got an injured player back in the lineup.

I can accomplish all of the good things about being well-informed with a purposeful, scheduled check of my reliable news sources once my deep creative work is accomplished.

And be in a lot better mood while I do it. 🙂

What will you stop doing in 2021?

This article was originally published on December 29, 2020

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