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Stopping Is As Important As Starting

It’s a lot easier to start things than to stop them. Starting feels like growth and adventure, and things feel alive. Stopping can feel like loss and failure, but it shouldn’t be.

When you start something:

  • Always couch it as a trial. That’ll make it easier to stop w/o that sense of failure.
  • Try to estimate a duration. “Let’s do this for ___ years.”
  • Don’t let yourself do that (start something) without making room for it by stopping something else, or at least reviewing what you’re already doing to see if something has come to a natural end.

Think of Things in Seasons

I haven’t gone to church regularly in more than a decade, but I have a four-year degree from a seminary, and I’ve always loved this passage from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”

Don’t be trapped by the things you started. Make your life simpler. There’s something about the momentum of a spinning wheel (our lives) that gives us comfort in just getting through another day, putting one foot in front of the other. But as the economists say, we have agency, which means that we are constantly making choices, even when it seems like we aren’t.

Be Resolute, But Not Reckless

Pick out a few of your friends—the ones you have an opinion about—and think about what you would do differently if you were in their shoes. Now, think about the advice that some of your friends would give you, too. Now give yourself a dope slap and wake up.

Is growth essential for this year? Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. Is your obsession healthy or necessary?

You have a team member or two who is a mixed blessing. She’s taken over lots of the things you used to have to do, but she brings some angst with it, too. Are you making the right trade off? Have you addressed the issue very specifically?

You’re 49 years old. You’re making $190k on a fixed basis and you take some extra money here and there. You have $469,000 set aside in your retirement account. At this rate, you’re going to have to work longer than you wanted. Is your own comp at an appropriate priority level?

You are proud that you finally took three whole weeks off last year. It was good for you, and even the business did totally fine. So take five weeks off this year. Go ahead and block them out on your calendar tonight, make dog arrangements, tell your staff, and start dreaming.

There are two people on your team who show a lot of promise. Who knows how long they’ll be with you, but you want to impact their lives. Tell them about the promise they show, be more transparent about how your business is doing, help them with financial literacy, ask them about their hopes and dreams, and take them under your wing. Do it because it’ll make you feel awesome.

Pick a client and fire them. Have a party.

Don’t Just “Make It” Through Another Year

You made it through another year. Don’t just “make it” through this one, okay? And if you’re having trouble making up your mind, concentrate on these four things:

  • How much you work vs. take off.
  • How much you are making on a fixed, predictable basis.
  • Your profit after all that.
  • How disaster proof your firm is.*

*No client too big, repeatable lead gen system, available cash.

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