Habits, Not Resolutions: How to Break the New Year Cycle

January 14, 2014 by Bruce Jones, Programming Director, Disney Institute

Every year, Americans resolve to do something new, different, better in the upcoming year. Yet, only 8% succeed. Why? Maybe we tend to treat our resolution as another item on an already full to-do list. 

While there is nothing inherently wrong with to-do lists, lets try something different this year. Lets turn just one New Year’s resolution into a habit. Why are habits important? According to Charles Duhiggs book, "The Power of Habit," they allow our brains to conserve mental effort. Think about how you drive to work each day. If you dont have to think about alternate routes, you can allow your brain to think about a creative solution to that ongoing problem your team has been working on.

Engaging the brain in creative thinking is critical to sustained growth and success. We have learned over the years at Disney, that, in times of significant change, stronger innovators inevitably outperform weaker innovators. So, how do we make creativity a habit?

In our Disneys Approach to Creativity & Innovation curriculum, we have developed what we call "right-brain warm-ups." These brief activities can be used to help you and your team reignite and strengthen the creative side of the brain and foster whole-brain thinking. The idea is to enable people to be successful in a changing economy – to perceive the world in new ways, recognize patterns, make connections between seemingly unrelated details, ask probing questions, and generate new ideas. Just as some people resolve to improve their physical health, we can also resolve to improve creative health. 

Here is one right-brain warm-up with which you and your team can begin developing new habits around creativity. It can be done individually or as a group prior to a meeting or brainstorming session, and we call it, "Happy Memories:"

Laughter is a pure right-brain activity. Write down or draw three of your happiest or funniest memories. Be specific as to why the memory was so happy or funny.


For more habit-forming exercises to shape your creative muscles, pick up the book, The Imagineering Workout, by The Disney Imagineers. And please let us know how you are doing with your resolutions!

How do you turn your resolutions into habits? 

Posted in Creativity & Innovation | Tagged New Year Resolutions, Creativity, Innovation, Bruce Jones | 0 Comments

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