In a previous blog, I introduced the Stop, Start, Continue method as a valuable tool for clearing out clutter and prioritizing your efforts to reach a particular outcome.

As a brief refresher of this method, you document your goal and your current and desired states related to it. Then, you determine actions to close the gaps between the two states, including what you need to stop, start, and continue doing to attain the desired goal. For more details, watch my video tutorial and download the template.

However, this exercise doesn’t need to be restricted to tactics or long-term projects.

You can use the Stop, Start, Continue method to increase activities that build on your expertise, values, and interests, as well as define situations or behaviors that may be holding you back. Here are a few things to consider:

Begin with what’s going well – what you want to CONTINUE doing.

The Stop, Start, Continue tool doesn’t need to be used in one specific order. Think about what kinds of work you like doing and write those projects or tasks in your template’s “continue” column. As appropriate, make sure to express to your key stakeholders how much you appreciate working on these activities so that they are aware in case a similar opportunity arises.

Then look at what you need to STOP doing to achieve your goals.

These can be behaviors or actions that you’ll put in the “stop” column of the template. Include anything you think might be relevant. Sometimes what you want to modify is as simple as “I will not get frustrated when talking to X” or “I will no longer rush through my presentation.”

Years ago, I created a “Don’t” list as an off-shoot of my “stop” column to emphasize those exact sentiments, written as “Don’t get frustrated” and “Don’t rush.” Back in the early days of online meetings, I’d be jumping from one discussion to the next and always felt there wasn’t enough time to get through my agenda. I was skipping over important details and getting annoyed by questions. By choosing to change my mindset and approach, I was able to set the context and slow down my pace. As a result, the number of questions diminished over time, and I could get through my topics with little to no frustration.

There is also what you want to START doing for your growth and development.

These qualities can stem from feedback or be character traits that you’ve seen others excel at and want to emulate. You’ll add these actions to your “start” column. For instance, I appreciate those who remain neutral and straightforward when challenged. To help me strengthen this capability while remaining empathetic, I’ve learned to process my feelings before communicating with others, so I can be direct and minimize my need to please. This slight shift, initially a blind spot, has made a significant impact on my well-being. By uncovering what triggers you, you can witness it and manage your responses instead of just reacting.

Your career is in your hands.

You don’t need permission to evaluate what you would like to stop, start, or continue to fulfill your career aspirations. It’s all in your control. About seven years ago, I purchased a notepad that had in big block letters the words “Don’t Freak Out.” The message was so relevant back then, and I prioritized reading it every morning. Then a couple of years ago, I had a good laugh and tossed the notepad in the donation pile as the message no longer resonated. That was a momentous moment for me. I had detached from a conditioned behavior that was no longer serving me.

As Lao Tzu states, “The journey of a thousand miles, begins with one step.” The Stop, Start, Continue tool is one way to help you get moving. If you’re looking for more career tips, sign up for my monthly newsletter Activate Your Best, to receive insights you can put into practice now.

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