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

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

Every year, we resolve to do something new, different, better in the upcoming year. Yet, in a study published by the University of Scranton, only 8% of people actually succeed in fulfilling their New Year’s resolutions. Why? Maybe we tend to treat our resolutions as another item on an already full to-do list. 

While there is nothing inherently wrong with to-do lists, let’s try something different this year. Let’s turn just one New Year’s resolution into a habit

Why are habits important? According to Charles Duhigg’s book, "The Power of Habit," they allow our brains to conserve mental effort. Think about how you drive to work each day. If you take the same, predictable route day after day, and you don’t have to think about alternate routes or challenges, you can use that time to allow your brain to think about other things...such as coming up with a creative solution to an ongoing problem your team has been working on.

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

As part of the learning curriculum in our Disney’s Approach to Creativity & Innovation professional development course, we share 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:"

Right-Brain Warm-Up: 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, see "Creativity Challenged? Add a Right-Brain Warm Up to You Daily To-Do List," or 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? 


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


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