The power of a to-DON'T list

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Earlier on on the year, my coach asked me to stop making to-do lists, and instead to make a to-don’t list.  

I came to my session saying that I was tired of constantly disappointing myself. Every week I would write a list of inspirational, life-changing, income producing things to do - and then I wouldn’t get any of them done.  

She would ask “why?” -  Well …there are many legitimate reasons (by which I meant excuses) I replied

“My son was sick,


“I’d had a week of migraines,

“My son was off the wall and wasn’t letting me do anything,

“My child-minder cancelled,

“I had too many appointments,


“My sister was in hospital,

“My mum was in hospital,

“Did I mention I have a high-needs son at home with me, ALL DAY?”

On and on and on it went.  This is just life right?

And so she said to me, “this week, no to-do list, I want a to-don’t list.  Give me the list of things you are NOT going to do and say to yourself this week”

Hmmm…...record scratch.  That means actually changing my thoughts and my excuses.  I suddenly wished I had a dog who could eat my homework.

This was one of the most painful (but powerful) things to date that she asked me to do.  

It was a hard list to write because it involved actually looking at what I needed to change, instead of just coming up with the same people to blame for my in-action every week.  I was desperately struggling to break the habit of being myself, and it was not an easy exercise to work through.

Here’s why:

My things to NOT do this week:

Talk to myself like crap

Skip breakfast



Stay indoors

Spend too much time on FB

Compare myself to others on FB

Sign up for things on FB

Damn it…..GO ON FB!

It was not a pretty list, suddenly I much preferred the list of jobs I had to do from weeks gone by!  All those blogs posts, pitches and early morning starts felt way easier that THIS list!

But I did it, and I still do it, every couple of weeks when I start to get that same disappointed feeling that i’m not doing enough and I can feel the excuses creeping in.  I ask myself, what do I need to NOT do, in order to achieve more.

Why don’t you try it?  What could you actually achieve if you stopped doing some of those crappy things that fuel your self-doubt and keep you stuck in blame and shame?

Hit up your very own to-don’t list and let me know below.  We’re in this together you know!  Change never stops, but neither does the delight if you are willing to start changing some of those stories we tell ourselves, and write new ones instead!  

BTW Did you know that I have 1 spot left for my 1:1 coaching right now?  So if you want some loving butt-kicks to help you on your way then let’s talk.  One of my clients recently told me, she never knew discomfort could be so fun!  Seriously though, she also said that her life is completely different in just a few sessions - what if that was you?  Don’t forget to send me your to-don’t list.

Mary HoustonComment