It is the time of year to start reflecting on the previous year, and set goals for the coming year. Here is a list of 7 resolutions that you can keep, and will make you more creative in 2017.
1. Set the right goals.
The first business book I ever read was Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. That book grabbed me. One of the concepts I learned from it was BHAG: Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal. Your goals must be stretch, but achievable ones. In July 2012 I decided to lose 32 pounds over 6 months. It wasn't unachievable. It was a stretch, though. But I could see myself getting there. Don't set goals that require hardly any effort at all just so you can check them off. On the other hand, don't set goals that there is absolutely no way to achieve. Focus on what it would feel to be there. In a recent book I read, With Winning in Mind, author and Olympic gold-medal shooter Lanny Bassham suggested that you write your goals as if you already achieved them. Your ability to visualize being there would inspire you to get there. Instead of writing "I will publish one more book in 2017," write "In 2017 I have published my 6th book." This will help you overcoming the biggest obstacle to your success in achieving your goal--the mental one.
2. Make a plan to achieve those.
Having a goal is not enough. You will not achieve your goals if you don't have a plan to get there. Too often I see people setting goals, even achievable ones, but without a plan to get there--they never do. Most goals cannot be achieved with a single action. They require continuous effort, and you gradually get there. I may have a goal of publishing my 6th book in 2017. However, if I don't set aside the amount of time (and money, and other resources as needed) to actually do it--it will never get done. Make a pragmatic plan to get there. In July of 2016 I had just under 300 followers on Twitter (@yoram). I decided that by the end of the year I will have more than 1,000. I know, others have more. Many more. Plus, I didn't want to use any "trick" that would fictitiously increase the number of followers, but rather to reach my real target audience who truly value my content. So I read a lot, and found the way to engage new followers who will stay with me. The year is not over, and I have more than 1,000 followers. Here is a tip: put all the parts of the plan on your calendar. Winter break and summer seem to be "slow" times of the year for my business, so I set those times aside to generate "major" new content. But I actually put it on my calendar.
3. Put metrics to know that you are getting there.
"If you can't measure it, you can't manage it," Peter Drucker said. Most goals are not "step" goals. Even though publishing a book is really a binary goal (you either did it or you didn't), there are steps along the way that should be measured. If this is to be a 10-chapter book, and you want to spread writing it throughout the year, you probably want to complete one chapter every month (leaving only 2 months for editing and everything else). If at the end of June you don't yet have 6 chapters done--you are not executing your plan well. Make sure you have metrics for your input, as well as your output. The inputs are the efforts you need to be putting in. To lose weight, appropriate inputs would be the amount of exercise you do, and your daily calorie intake. The outputs are the results you are trying to achieve. When losing weight the output is, well, your weight... Your goal may be to lose 24 pounds over the year, but this means that by the end of June you should have lost 12. Did you?
4. Get inspired. Make time to learn new things.
I found that the strongest motivator to creativity is inspiration. Make sure you let yourself be inspired. I'm not asking you to only keep an open mind to be inspired. I'm actually asking you to schedule activities on your calendar that will inspire you (the activities, not the act of scheduling them...). Read books. Watch movies. Listen to lectures. Attend (or watch) TED talks. Remember also that this is a critical first step out of the four required to generate great ideas, using the most common "Combinational Creativity" method. Learn new things.
5. Try new things.
Another creative idea generation method is the "Exploratory" one. While the "Combinational Creativity" method fills your head with "old" ideas that then combine into new ones, "Exploratory Creativity" gives you ideas when you try things without knowing what to expect. My wife hates seafood. Any kind of seafood. She wouldn't try it, no matter what. It might have something to do with the fact that her mother is the same. They are not allergic to it. They just hate it. With prejudice. And therefore, so are our two daughters. I asked them to try seafood. I begged them to try seafood. One day I did the unthinkable. I "traded" something that my younger daughter really wanted for trying sushi. She tried it. Now she loves seafood. All she had to do was try. I tried things and failed. But I also tried things that gave me ideas I would have never reached before.
6. Use reinforcing words.
And speaking of the word "try," remember that there are 5 simple, 3-letter words that, if used regularly when you talk or write, will increase your creativity, simply because they force your brain to think differently. Those words are Why? (challenge everything, learn more), Yes!, And (so much better than "or." Think about how to combine things, rather than select between things), Can! (have a "can do" attitude instead of doubting yourself and others), and Try (see 5 above). The more you use those words, the more you think and act creatively, and the more creative you become.
7. Inspire others.
There are two reasons to do this. One is to give back. The 4th item above required you to be inspired. Well, you can't be inspired if there is nobody to inspire you. Inspire others. What are you passionate about? What are you knowledgeable about and can inspire others with?
The second reason is that when you say or write things, you think more clearly. I wouldn't have had many of the creative ideas I had without first sharing bad ideas with others, and through sharing, improving them. Whether through feedback from other people, or even through hearing myself say those ideas out load (or on paper). Through inspiring people you don't only increase their creativity, but also your own. The tools to inspire are mainly two: speaking and writing. Of course, you can inspire with words, images, or music.
What not to do.
I can't leave you only with what to do without telling you what not to do. Don't work on your weaknesses. Work on your strengths and turn them into greatness this year. If you work on your weaknesses you will only reach mediocrity.
Let's have a great, creative 2017!
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