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6 things to stop doing


We experience many different behaviors as we journey through life. Some help us grow and thrive, while others serve to help us in coping and become our defense mechanisms. The key is to recognize which behaviors are helpful and which are not. Once we do that, we can stop doing the things that no longer serve us and start living the life we deserve.

What I thought was a “better life” in my twenties was very different than what I believed was a better life in my forties. In my twenties, a ‘better life” was about acquisitions – a nice car, my own house, branded clothes etc. which I believed would make me happy. Now a ‘better life” for me is more about living my life with lots of passion, laughter and love, which of course brings happiness to me. Clothes remain the materialistic pursuit for me though.

And, as this year comes to a close, I prepared a list for myself – a To-Not-Do list – things that I really need to stop at. I actually came up with 24 things that I should seriously stop doing ASAP for my greater good!

I started with the first 6 and it was not easy – and I think these 6 may help others too.  After all, to truly live, we must stop doing the things that hold us back and start doing the ones that will push us forward.

I have understood that we tend to pick up self-sabotaging habits and thought patterns that make it particularly unpleasant at times, but if we could stop doing those things, our life can be filled with wonderful moments. My POV of course, but it could resonate with some of you.

The list below has no order of priority. And, if you do want to create change in your life, be clear about the definition of what a ‘better life’ is to YOU. This will help you identify the key things that you need to STOP DOING. Let’s dive to my 6 To-Stop which is still a work in progress:


🎌 REGRETTING THE PAST – Focusing too much on past events doesn’t allow you to live in the present or strive for the future. You can’t change the past and focusing on something without a solution is a mood buster. It’s better to live in the present, and to channel your energies to what you can do as opposed to what you can’t. Practice mindfulness, which is the mental state of being completely aware and engaged in the present. Being mindful opens you up to experiencing new things that you have otherwise overlooked — and, just as importantly, often blocks out unneeded distractions.

The past is over and done with. There is NO way you can travel back in time and undo anything, so take the lesson and move on. All my past experiences, mistakes and even failures in life have prepared me for living my life fully now in the present, and also with hope for the future. Once I acknowledged my past and took cognizance of what I learnt, then letting it go and moving past it became easier and also enabled me to focus on the future.

I still make mistakes, but rather than lament over it, I tell myself I have found one of the many ways that won’t work (a la Edison style!)


🧿 BLAMING YOURSELF AND OTHERS – Life is not perfect and its full of challenges, hard times and bad times. The challenges and problems we have in our lives have to be dealt with, and sometimes we have to be courageous and make difficult decisions.

Shifting responsibility outside is very convenient, but at the same time, it is a very tricky trap. It is best to accept the issue or challenge as the state of affairs and take responsibility for what is happening, without letting yourself get bullied or taking on someone else’s responsibility. Put yourself on the pilot’s seat and think about what you can do to change it.

Assigning blame — either to someone else or to yourself — is a common pattern for many people. Often a knee-jerk reaction whenever something goes awry, blame can be a convenient way to sidestep fear, frustration and even anger.

Once I stepped away from reacting emotionally to a situation, I could analyze it from a rational perspective and see the facts as they were. This objective view helped identify what went wrong — and why. It was a good lesson, and I apply it till date. I also realized that when I enlist the help of another person, it is important to understand the boundary between their role and your responsibility and a lot of angst on communication issues can be avoided. And it helps if you establish realistic expectations for yourself too.

If you’re critical of yourself, chances are you are critical of others too, perhaps without even realizing it. The first step toward forgiving yourself for making a mistake is to be more forgiving of others. Once you fully understand that everyone makes mistakes, you’ll be more apt to forgive yourself. You don’t have to be perfect — because nobody is.

Assigning blame to myself is an unhealthy way of trying to be in control of the situation. When I used my expertise to help others and give back to the community, I actually moved away from the mistakes I had made. I forgive myself easily, and others too and move on. This is not to be mistaken for being a tacit acceptor of a wrong being done to you.

Bottom line, accept your responsibilities and ensure you know other’s responsibilities too. Take ownership squarely – it has helped me immensely.


🌼 EATING UNHEALTHY FOOD – I am not endorsing you become a ‘health food ‘freak but it is important to watch what you put in your body. Unhealthy food for me also includes food that I don’t enjoy eating. It is helpful to make mindful shifts in your diet as you notice foods that simply don’t work with you, or that you just don’t really love. I don’t think I will ever develop a love affair with brussel sprouts, and I am just not going to convince myself to eat them either.

I find that drinking water is a good antidote the cravings for junk food or any food fetish for that matter. And it has huge benefits. So hydrate up! When I plan my meals there is less chance of panic bingeing. And good sleep also ensures that my metabolism doesn’t yo-yo. Understanding my eating habits, energy levels and even emotions and distinguishing between hunger and cravings has helped me become a mindful eater.

So, pay attention to your body and figure out when is the best time for your meals, how many meals and what should go into those meals.


🎃 SAYING YES WHEN YOU WANT TO SAY NO – This is a tough one to manage, especially at work. Sure, you can become very popular saying YES to every request. But remember, one YES is one NO to something else. You simply cannot do it all. So, stay focused on your priorities. Simply explain respectfully why you cannot entertain the request at that time. You will be fine if you simply say NO at times.

Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor in social work, has spent two decades studying shame, empathy and vulnerability. Brown says we often don’t set boundaries, we let people do things that are not okay and then we’re resentful. We tend to imagine that setting a boundary means being rude or pushy. But setting boundaries doesn’t mean you’re being coldhearted.

Being compassionate doesn’t mean being a pushover or a doormat for other people. As Brown explains, she’d “rather be loving and generous and very straightforward with what’s okay and not okay.

I never said No to people earlier as then I was afraid of rejection. I was scared that I would disappoint someone or hurt their feelings or come across as rude etc. I this, I would disappoint someone, make them angry, hurt their feelings, or appear unkind or rude. I would tell myself these stories and kept on getting overwhelmed because I could not say a simple no.

It became a heavy burden till I had no choice but to say no. And, as if by magic, when I put my foot down it was not perceived as incompetence or rude or hurt anyone – none of the stories I told myself were true. I realized my value and no longer hesitate to say No if I do not have the bandwidth to do it. It is the best thing I did for myself – I have a feeling of control and am totally empowered to take this decision in the best interest of myself.


🎁 NEGLECTING YOURSELF – Make your time, your life and your moments count. Unpleasant events happen to everyone. Choose which things truly matter to you, and let go of the things that don’t. If you spend less time dwelling on negative thoughts, you open yourself up to receiving happier ones.

Do not keep waiting for the “right time” and in the process end up not doing anything at all – make the change you are planning, follow your dream, do whatever you have been thinking of and make it a priority. Priortize yourself.  and have a better life. There never is a right time to be courageous, to initiate change and chase your dreams. If you choose to keep waiting for the right time, accept that your life will pass by and it may be too late to do the things you desired.

One more realization that was hard hitting was that my worth is not tied to my productivity or accomplishments. I call myself a ‘recovering’ perfectionist – and this was a hard lesson – that pointed out the truth that I’m already good enough and that’s enough. And it’s the same for most of you too – our accomplishments and all our wonderful achievements are the razzle-dazzle, the icing on the cake – for us to savor – not to prove our worth to anyone!

If you win the rat race, you are still a rat – Lily Tomlin


🎭 EXPECTING PEOPLE TO CHANGE – Life is all about perspective. And the best perspective I have grasped is that you can influence only what you can control – yourself! So, I have stopped going to the hardware store to get milk –  having expectations that are way out of alignment with reality is sure to lead to disappointment.

Don’t get me wrong. Expectations are nice to have. They give you goals, purpose, joy and even something to look forward to, but you have to understand that life happens: you’re not always in control. There’s nothing wrong with having some expectations from people, but understand that they still tried even when they failed. On the flip side, if I expect people to fail me, I am not giving them the chance to succeed. So the best way is to encourage those around me – Help them in whatever way possible, coach them, explain patiently etc. That way I can help them grow and accomplish things.

Having expectations is about finding the sweet spot in life – you need to know when you are over expecting and when you can ask for more.

Change is a personal choice and either people want to change or they do not. Complaining about it is not a solution. Instead address the issues, focus on the behaviors and give yourself a timeline on what you will do if they do not change.

Ideally you should let the person know how you feel about it. When sharing, focus only on the unwanted behavior without blaming or attacking the person, especially if it is someone you care about.

The behavior should be addressed as soon as you notice it, not before, not after. If you wait days or weeks it will only serve to annoy the other person. So, the moment you see or hear something you don’t like, please say something.

The last thing you can do post sharing your concerns is setting personal boundaries. It is also a good time then to give the person ample time as well as opportunity to work on the undesirable behavior. However, if the behavior continues, then you have the right to decide whether you want to put up or close out the relationship.

Let’s get one thing straight. I have expectations of others. And others have expectations from me. Believe me, not expecting things from others is the first step towards preventing people from dictating how I live. If you don’t push back, people will assume you are okay with it. So, if you want to prevent people from invading your life, the only way you can prevent the invasion is to Speak Up. This part is totally up to you and in your control.

Life works in a reciprocal equation (that’s the mathematician in me speaking) — when I realized no one owes me anything, I don’t have any expectations either and I don’t need to live up to their expectations of me if they have not shared it with me.

Bottom line, Change is a possibility, not a given. It’s important to recognize that people can change, but it’s just as important to know when to move on.


What are you going to stop doing so you can live a happy + kind life?


The life you want to live is possible, and so are the goals you want to achieve. All you need is to believe in yourself, trust the process and most importantly, get out of your own way!

More shares on the next 6 Not-to-do coming up next month.


➡If you are looking to enhance your life and career and evolve into a better leader and want support on what you need to stop doing and focus on what you should start doing – reach me!


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