The start of a New Year often brings with it great expectations. We look back at the previous year, consider what went well and what didn’t go so well, and look ahead with excitement regarding what we will do in the year ahead.

It’s a valuable process and one that merits attention from all of us, since one of our goals for the year ahead always should be to make it better than the last one.

But there is a need for caution amid the enthusiasm.

As you map out your action plan for the year ahead is to address the critical question: What are you not going to do?

Think about this carefully, and be brutally honest with yourself. Don’t let your action plan be derailed by too many ‘nice to do’ items that will never actually get done, and don’t let the year ahead look just like the one that you just left behind because you keep doing things that you really don’t need to be doing.

Taking time to say ‘NO” to things that aren’t leading you toward the outcomes you are seeking in the New Year will be the best action step you take this year!


1. Make a list of the things that you are NOT going to do in the year ahead.

2. Evaluate each item on the list to determine whether it in fact needs to be done at all.

3. For the items on the list that need to be done, find someone else who can do it or outsource it.

4. For those that don’t need to be done, stop doing them and communicate with those who need to know.

5. Discuss items you are unsure about with your leadership team and decide whether they merit continued attention.

This simple action plan will likely reveal a number of things that can be taken off of your personal to do list, and off the list of your entire team…freeing up time and energy to focus on the things that really need to be done because they are the ones that produce real results!