New Year's in July


It’s New Year’s in July!

You know – Resolutions, new habits, turning over a new leaf. I have a trick up my sleeve!

In July – REALLY Virginia?

OK, I know it’s the wrong time of year for that sort of thing! But stick with me here because strange things happen when you turn an idea on its head!

That feeling never really goes away. You know the one. As creatives, we’re always thinking about getting in there and doing something. We’re always turning over a new leaf and promising now is the time we’ll start. If your anything like me, you may be telling yourself that this is the week you’re finally going to be better at doing the “thing.” You get pen and paper, then make a list and a plan for your creative practice and swear, once again, you’ll stick to it!

Anybody else?

We have all the good intentions in the world, but then life happens and a week later, well – you know the scenario. There’s a well know road that’s paved with good intentions!

But what if we turned that tale on its head? What if we did it in reverse?

That’s right. This week I’m suggesting we STOP making lists and plans of everything we want to or have to do!

No more to-do lists! No more priority lists. No more post-it reminders. None of it!

Because you know what happens. We feel overwhelmed with all of that stuff. The pressure gets to be too much. All we want to do is go back to bed or scroll the World Wide Web to numb the anxiety.

So, here’s the plan…

It’s called a STOP DOING list!

What are you going to stop doing this week? You can also think in terms of a month, but I like to keep things small and doable.

What would you like to stop doing this week?

YES – You get to lessen the load and say NO to some things!

It’s a brain hack. No, it doesn’t mean you get to quit bathing! Let’s be real here. But there are probably a lot of things we do because we think we should. Or we do them more often than is necessary. Or worse yet, we don’t even realize we do them!

Full disclosure – Yes, the whole idea behind this is to create more time for, well you know, your creating. This method works because of the outward appearance to your brain. You get to say, “I’m NOT going to do this or that.” It’s the refreshing appearance that is in direct opposition to the shoulda, woulda, coulda we are always saying to ourselves.

An Example or Two

“Oh, I should be in there drawing. I have 10 minutes of drawing on my to-do list, but I feel so overwhelmed, I just need a break. And now, I’ve wasted 30 minutes playing on my phone! UGH!”


“I’m not going to carry my phone around the house today. I’m not going to check social media every 30 minutes. I’ll leave it on the desk and do all that after dinner tonight. What can I do with my time now?”

In the first example, there is pressure and expectation. You’re not feeling overwhelmed by the drawing. It’s the pressure and expectation from the overscheduled to-do list. It’s the “shoulds.” The “break” you need is from the feeling of expectation, so you end up causing more pressure by wasting time.

In the second example, you’re “off-the-hook” so to speak. Your brain is hearing “I get to choose not to do X.” You’re feeling less pressure and more in control of your time. You’re not saying “I shouldn’t be doing this. I should be doing that.” You have simply chosen NOT to do something. It’s the positive spin you put on “choice” that’s the key. Your brain loves it!

To be sure, that’s an over-simplified comparison, but you get the idea. This week, you’ll start to work on a “stop doing” list of sorts.

My “Stop Doing” List

You’re NOT alone in this. I have all sorts of things I could stop doing that will take me off of the shoulda, coulda, woulda path. Granted, we all know that this list is going to include several things we consider “bad habits.” And you would be correct. We’ll call these “Type A.” But it should also include things that are good on the surface, and yet take an enormous amount of mental energy that may be better spent elsewhere – like self-care and relaxation. We’ll call these “Type B.”

I’m going to share some of mine, and I would love to hear from you. Spoiler Alert: There’s a caveat coming down the road!

So, the question is “What are you going to stop doing this week/month?”

~I’m going to stop comparing myself to other creative entrepreneurs. I have something of value to offer that is different from their something of value. I am doing the best I can with what I know. I will stop comparisonitis for the week. (FYI – Type B from above)

~I’m going to stop being afraid of all the stuff I still don’t know how to do. I have a lot of video production, audio production, and new technology at my feet, and I can learn to do it one small step at a time. I will stop being afraid and do it anyway. (Also Type B)

~I’m going to stop getting up from my desk and going to the kitchen when I’m stuck or bored. I’m also NOT going outside to walk because it’s too D@%# hot outside. I actually have a new binder on my table to organize some surface pattern designs in, so I’ll sort and file a little, then get back to work. (That’s a Type A for sure)

~I’m going to stop checking business metrics several times a day. I’ll check on them first thing in the morning and then let it go. There’s nothing I can do about them hour by hour anyway, so I’ll notice the trends over time and then decide if necessary. (Type B)

~I’m going to stop carrying my phone around the house with me. I’ll check the important stuff and then let it lay. There is no need to respond to every notification that pops up at a moments notice. They’ll always be there. That’s how social works! Besides, the emergency notifications have a distinct sound, and I am smart enough to tell the difference. I’ll catch up at dinner time. (Type A)

And Here’s The Caveat

I want you to notice something about my examples.

Notice I didn’t say we must stop watching television in the evening or stop scrolling Instagram. Granted, if you tend to do those things MINDLESSLY to avoid uncomfortable progress, then I would like to suggest a rethink. I chose things that get in the way of my growth, my progress, or my well-being.

It’s OK to relax and watch TV with your family in the evening. It can be a lovely way to spend that time with loved ones when you’re exhausted from your day. It’s quite another thing to zone out in front of the set and not even remember what you watched. If there’s nothing on or you can’t decide what to watch on Netflix or have nothing recorded of interest, choose to read a book or do something else creative.

I also didn’t say no scrolling, but the same ideas apply. If it’s scrolling to avoid boredom or a decision about your craft, maybe a rethink is necessary. I’m online all the time. Just this morning I had to visit YouTube for help in propagating a Jade plant from its fallen leaves. The poor thing has been scorched in the heat wave we are having so all my plants had to come back inside. Hopefully I can save the little guy!

Your “Stop Doing” List

You will need to make these decisions for yourself. Your lifestyle is yours alone, and I would never think to judge you on it! You get to choose what your “productive” hours are. You get to choose what that “productivity” looks and feels like. And you get to choose what you are not going to do anymore if it hinders your creative productivity. Housework included! (There’s a time and place, by golly!)

So, share your “stop doing” list below. I only listed 5 here, but there are so many more I could have chosen, and probably just as many that I haven’t even thought of yet.

I’ll check back in with you in about a month right here! We’ll share our progress and talk about how it went. We’ve talked about the “debrief” before and this will be a stellar place to give it a try! It’s HERE in case you missed it!

Join me LIVE on my Facebook page, Virginia Leigh Studio, at 3:00 pm Central every Wednesday and we’ll chat about this. I’d love to hear from you.

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