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Thanks!    Dennis Stauffer

I’ve never been big on New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t find them very motivating and apparently I’m not alone, judging by the number of people who crowd into my health club in January who are gone by April. Resolutions just don’t stick with me. The few that I’ve made over the years, I’ve quickly forgotten. Resolutions tend to be about “fixing” something (usually ourselves). The most popular resolutions according to the polls are about dieting…which says something about their effectiveness. (If those resolutions worked, wouldn’t we have moved on to another topic by now?)

I think one reason for the enduring popularity of New Year’s Resolutions is simple peer pressure. We adopt them partly because we think everyone else does and we don’t want to be left out. I’m not immune to this sort of pressure. (Hence this blog post.) So I’ve been musing about finding an innovative way to practice this tradition. The answer I’ve come up with: Instead of a New Year’s Resolution, why not a New Year’s Vision?

Innovators don’t just fix things when they’re broken; they imagine new realities and then achieve them. So instead of resolving to lose weight, what about developing a clear vision of ourselves as being fit and energetic?

Instead of resolving to stay in better touch with old friends (a personal favorite of mine), how about seeing ourselves as curious about other people’s lives and helpful whenever we’re needed?

Instead of resolving to keep our home or office more tidy (a common issue for many creatives) what about developing a clear mental image of just what a more ordered life looks like and the joy of knowing where we’ve put things?

Or better yet, make the vision less focused on “me” and more focused on “us.” What would we like to see improved about our family, or community or the world and how can we be part of making it happen?

Granted, the steps required to get there may be much the same. To become fit, we will probably need to watch what we eat and get more exercise. To keep things more tidy, we’ll have to do more picking up after ourselves. But resolutions tend to focus on the drudgery of those tasks, whereas a vision pulls us toward a desired outcome. Isn’t that likely to be more motivating? Isn’t creating a better future a more compelling goal than just correcting what’s wrong? Isn’t that what innovation is all about…being less reactive and more proactive…not just solving a problem, but creating new value?

So now, while you have some time to think about it, what’s your New Year’s Vision going to be?

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