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The pandemic continues to present us with one challenge after the other, even as we attempt to adjust to a new normal. But with challenge comes change, and many of us have gained clarity and newfound wisdom over the past year and a half. We’ve ditched bad habits and let go of things holding us back from living our best lives. We asked 10 noteworthy Birminghamians to share what they’ve eliminated from their lives once and for all.

Collage of 10 notable Birminghamians

Top row, left to right: Shella Sylla, Jamie Golden, Deon Gordon, Eunice Elliott, and Dr. J. Paul Koch | Bottom row, left to right: Chasiti Shepherd, Nicole Allshouse, Harold Kushner, Lacey Woodroof, and Shannon Spotswood. All image credits can be found at the end of the article.

The One Thing I’m Eliminating from My Life Once & For All

1. Shannon Spotswood, president of RFG Advisory

“I gave up jumping on Delta to attend every important meeting and conference in person. Being home more with my family and traveling less has dramatically changed my life for the better. While I plan to continue to do some work travel, I will never go back to weekly business trips when a Zoom call can be just as effective, and it means I get to be home in time to cook dinner!”

2. Eunice Elliott, comedian and author

“I’m eliminating relationships that don’t respect my time or boundaries. I have always been attached to my own mortality and my time in general. During this past year, I’m not only more grateful for the time I’ve already spent on this journey called “life” — I’m more respectful of the moments I’ve yet to experience. This includes creating and enforcing boundaries for people in my life who don’t hold my time in the same regard that I do. It’s my most valuable asset, and I try to not waste any of it. I’m protecting my peace!”

3. Jamie Golden, co-host of The Popcast

“Facebook was a stressor cherry on top of pandemic ice cream. Family and friends who I love and also want to like, started to post thoughts and opinions that pinched me right behind the knee. I removed myself from the Facebook narrative. Now, when I see my uncle or my high school friend, I can have a one-on-one conversation about difficult topics without the weight of their frustrating posts poisoning my perception of them.

As I continued to engage on Instagram and Twitter to stay connected and informed, I realized I needed to reduce the stress it caused. That tension would rise as I looked at accounts that prompted me to feel jealous or inadequate or failing to achieve. I left behind the influencers with the lavish lives and business hustler bosses and replaced them with comedy and dog videos.”

4. Dr. J. Paul Koch of Koch Aesthetic Dentistry

“I have eliminated the perceived need to fill up my entire weeknight and weekend schedule with in-person meetings and commitments. I have enjoyed being at peace with only saying yes to activities that allow me to serve God in ways that He has called me to serve. By eliminating other good causes, I can focus on the best causes.”

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5. Harold Kushner, partner at Bradley

“During the pandemic, my wife and I stayed home. I worked remotely from home. I realized that I do not have to go into the office seven days a week, as I did pre-pandemic. I will probably work some from home and some from the office going forward.”

6. Chasiti Shepherd, president of BGrace Media

“COVID has taught me to make business decisions with my head and not so much my emotions. In the past, I have led with my heart in decision-making, which has caused some headaches. I learned to make practical decisions in an impractical world to ensure the longevity of my company.”

7. Lacey Woodroof, owner of basic.

“Letting go of relationships with folks I don’t respect did wonders for me both personally and professionally. Integrity is important to me, and I realized that the added anxiety of trying to please people whose values don’t align with mine was taking away from productivity in other areas of my life. I’m a better friend, spouse, boss, employee, and person when I operate within systems that feel healthy and supportive.”

RELATED: Back to Basics: A Passion for Classic & Sustainable Fashion

8. Nicole Allshouse, communication coach

“I have three kids, and every night at dinner I was constantly screaming ‘Dinner time!’ because the kids were all over the house. And I was tired of yelling. It always put me in a bad mood. You want your dinner to be peaceful. After spending an hour cooking – and I cook every night of the week — then having to scream to get everybody to the table, by the time I sat down I was frustrated. So, I went to an antique store, bought an old antique bell, and I hung it on the wall. I refuse to yell one more time in my life that it’s dinnertime. I told my kids, “When you hear this bell, you come down and you eat. And only I am allowed to ring the bell.”

As minute as that sounds, I think every mom in America can relate to the fact that it’s so annoying to have to scream and yell to get the kids to the table. I put a lot of love into my dinners, and mealtime is the one time we can all collectively sit down, and now I’m in a much happier space because I’m not frustrated that I’m having to rally them.”

9. Deon Gordon, president and CEO of TechBirmingham

“I’ve eliminated poor sleep habits. My sleep habits were trash. I would go to sleep at 3 a.m. and wake up at 6 a.m. I no longer do that. I make a point to get decent rest. And I’ve even started tracking my sleep and what I ate the day before and what I did the day before because I think that impacts how much sleep I need to recharge. I watched a TED Talk that declared sleep is a superpower, and it really convicted me. I took that as a personal wake-up call and a challenge to get better at going to sleep at a consistent time and establishing a nighttime routine.”

10. Shella Sylla, president of SisterGolf

“I stopped watching the news for my mental health and happiness. It just got to a point where I felt like the news was making me depressed and giving me anxiety. That 24-hour news cycle was just too much. My life was better once I just turned it off. I noticed a difference in my overall disposition and in my productivity level. I will just find out what’s going on if I’m scrolling through Facebook or if something major is happening, I will read about it. But as far as deliberately putting on a news channel — I completely eliminated that.”

Image credits in order of quotes: Eric & Jamie Photography, Tara Seay of Daddy’s Dream Photography, Eric & Jamie Photography, Liesa Cole, Bradley, Jerome Smedley of D Jerome Smedley Photography, Kristopher Broadhead, Eric & Jamie Photography, Deon Gordon, and Eric & Jamie Photography.

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