Robot-proof your career with this New Year Resolution

A Stop-Do List.

The future looks cloudy. Will robot eat our jobs? I have to admit that I'm a bit scared. What will all this mean for our children and our society? 

I am curious. I've been spending quite some time figuring out what we can do to secure our future. It is my sincere hope that by sharing my adventure, we can figure a path forward together. 

Starting next week, I will publish a weekly blog series "Robot-Proof My Job." I am really excited about it, but before I step forward, I realize I need to step back to make space for this new venture. 

When I started to put together my usual new year goals, I felt my shoulders getting tighter and my breathing shallower. My brain was yelling:


I pushed myself back from the computer and stared at it for a long time. I am already overwhelmed, exhausted and tired. Then I heard the voice of my Ikebana teacher.

More, Less Is

Ah sorry, she's not Yoda, but I got the point. My first step to robot proofing my career is to do less. A Stop-Do List is born. 

1. A Stop-Do List makes space for a To-Do List

Camilla (not her real name) is a rising star in an entertainment company with boys under the age of 5. She told me she has focused her energy at work and got to where she wanted to be career-wise, but there is a problem. Her memory of how her kids were growing up was blurry. It bothers her. 

Most of us will expect a guilty mom to say "I'll spend more time with my kids from now on", and then really struggle to make it happen. Instead, she did something different and very smart.

She ran a little experiment at work. She decided to focus on two critical programs only, and move all other "Hey can you do this?" to her stop-do list. The perfectionist streak in her was afraid that sky is going to fall, but with the smile of her boys in her mind, she held her nose and dived in.

The result? Nothing. Nothing blew up, no one notice. And then something magical happened. She is no longer exhausted after work and can be fully present for her kids.

She said, "I have to remind myself, at the end of the day, it is just a cartoon." 

2. Believe that we will stop doing something without writing it down is a pipe dream

When was the last time your CEO celebrated "saving $100M by not going headlong into a bad M&A deal"?

Like, never?

Let's face it. Research showed that the act of doing something feels great. The sense of accomplishment gave us a momentary high (double chocolate chip cookie? Spending 30 minutes that you don't have on Facebook) before it dawned on us that it is something we really shouldn't do. Not explicitly committing to writing something you will not do and think that you will do it? 

3. Steve Job did it. So did Howard Schultz.

When Steve Job returned to Apple in 1997, he made it a mantra that what Apple removed from products was just as important as what it added. Floppy disk drives, computer mice with two buttons - they were all gone in the new iMac. 

When Howard Schultz returned to run Starbucks in 2008, he removed heated breakfast sandwiches to accentuate the aroma of coffee and closed and scaled back the CDs and books that were crowding the store. 

So, here is my To-Stop List. Any advice on how to help me stick to my new year resolution?