“What you don’t do doesn’t matter” – my new mantra

I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about intent and follow through. It’s a theme that seems to popping up all over the place for the last few months.

For me, it began with Chris Guillebeau’s article, “What you don’t do doesn’t matter.” The article is fantastic, and I highly recommend that you click over and read it, but, even if you don’t, the title says it all. For example, if I just think about sending someone a thank you note, but don’t actually send it, the thought doesn’t count. Nothing has changed. Maybe you feel a little better because, hey, you did think about it – but I usually feel worse, because I didn’t follow through.

While Chris’ article focused primarily on relationships, I think that “What you don’t do doesn’t matter” can be expanded to include personal and professional work – which is why I’ve adapted it as my new mantra.

I could’ve done that.

Have you ever said, “Psh. I could’ve done that.” or “I could do better than that.” I know I have. The critical difference is that this other person invested time and energy to create something, whereas I just thought about it. It’s the difference between having a bunch of recipes and opening a restaurant. I have a long list of things I’ve been meaning to do. Some have been started, but not finished. Some are nothing more than a bullet point on the list.

I don’t have a very good reason for not doing these things. I used to say, “I’ve just been so busy lately.” But thanks to this other article by Chris Guillebeau, I’ve tried to drop that excuse. It’s a terrible excuse. We’re all busy. It’s up to me to decide what I want to be busy doing.

What are you passionate about?

Seth Godin wrote about modern procrastination. We can keep scuttling along, staying very “busy” and yet not do anything important. Not creating anything of value. You might consider doing this interview with yourself as an exercise to compare what you are doing vs. what you’re truly passionate about.

In the past week or so, I’ve swapped TV, email and Facebook for reading real books, writing, and exercise. And, you know what? I feel better. Writing the SEO series last week was challenging, but also so much more rewarding than watching a Law & Order: SVU marathon.

What are you keeping busy with right now? What could you be doing instead?

Share your thoughts in the comments.


  1. Deb Pang Davis on March 29, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Wow, great post. You have me thinking more about things. Hmmm… Should I be thanking you? – LOL. Is there a solution for people who are already busy and finding themselves trying to veg out in with Criminal Minds while making notes for their new ideas? ~ deb

  2. Chris Guillebeau on March 29, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Hey thanks Danielle! You’re awesome. Thanks for adding to the idea and taking it further.


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