$20 Million, No Strings

Suppose you woke up tomorrow and received two phone calls. The first phone call tells you that you have inherited $20 million, no strings attached.

The second tells you that you have an incurable and terminal disease, and you have no more than 10 years to live. What would you do differently, and, in particular, what would you stop doing?

That’s the scenario internationally acclaimed business author Jim Collins (Good to Great, How the Mighty Fall) sets each New Year, as he sits down to do his annual resolutions.

Time Most Precious Resource

Being the sort of ambitious, organised guy he is, he’d always set himself Big Hairy Goals (BHAGs) but it wasn’t till he was in his 20s that a teacher at Stanford Graduate School of Business challenged him to “banish busyness” and streamline his life.

Jim Collins describes the “stop doing” list as a turning point in his life – “a mechanism for disciplined thought about how to allocate the most precious of all resources: time,” he says.

The start of the New Year is a perfect time to start a stop doing list and to make this the cornerstone of your New Year resolutions, he says, whether it’s for your company, your family or yourself.

What’s Most Important To You?

Ask yourself:

1) What are you deeply passionate about?
2) What are you are genetically encoded for — what activities do you feel just “made to do”?
3) What makes economic sense — what can you make a living at?

Then take an inventory of the activities which fall within this realm – and those that don’t. If you are spending more than 50% of your time on things that fall outside you these three realms then the “stop doing” list is a must for you.

Says Collins: “It’s a discipline to discard what does not fit — to cut out what might have already cost days or even years of effort — that distinguishes the truly exceptional artist and marks the ideal piece of work, be it a symphony, a novel, a painting, a company or, most important of all, a life.”

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