The year end is a great time to look back at the past year and make plans for the next. Most of us make new year's resolutions but I find them hard. They often repeat what we haven't been able to do in the past and re-serve it for next year, as if the resolve we lacked last year will magically materialize in the new year. To me what we often lack is not the resolve, but the creative thinking necessary to imagine a future we would want to bring to life.
So this year, instead of a new year's resolution, do a creative exercise to craft a manifesto for your work in 2018. The exercise is called a 6-Sided Box and was taught to me by Jim Long, the former director of research at Herman Miller. We use it as part of my studio's Design the Work You Loveprogram.
Ground rules: Give yourself about 25 minutes. Speed is part of the game in that it helps you go with your gut feeling and leaves less room for unnecessary self-judgment.
Deconstruct your work life in 2017 across the following 6 columns (see diagram).
1. Emotion: What was your emotion this morning? How about when you think back to 2017. The good and the bad. List them in one column. Remember, when it comes to work, emotions often run in opposite pairs, love/hate, having a sense of purpose/feeling lost.
2. Information: What can you quantify about your work in 2017? Your salary, number of people you worked with, number of projects you worked on. List tangible information in this column.
3. Constraints: What were your constraints at work, the negatives that held you back? Some of these may have been your own constraints, like procrastinating and leaving things to the last minute, and others may have been things that are out of your own control, such as decreased project budgets.
4. Opportunities: What were your opportunities, the positives? Things that were in your favor, that excited you and can helped you to grow, give, share more. Often constraints can actually be opportunities (having a small team can be limiting, but is also easier to manage)--take a look at your constraints and see if any can be transformed and added to the opportunity list.
5. Out-of-the-box opportunities: What are the big goals that you only admit to yourself? These could be big shifts, dreams and changes. If opportunities are "evolutions" these are the "revolutions". List them without restraint since this list is for your eyes only.
6. Choice: What would you choose? We cannot always choose what we want, but it is important to know that we always have choices. You can choose to walk away. You can choose to do something you love for less money or the reverse. List your choices for 2018, the things that really matter to you.
Take a moment to reflect--do you see some patterns, are there hidden opportunities, what would it take to bring your out-of-the box opportunity to life and what choices really matter to you.
Now do your own dot-voting. What is the one thing that rises to the top in each column? Go with your gut. Mark your choices with a big star or circle it. These are your 6 ingredients with which you will write a manifesto for 2018.
Take your 6 ingredients and add them together to write 1 paragraph. Your paragraph will contain your top emotion + information + constraint + opportunity + out-of-the-box opportunity + choice. You can make it into a manifesto by choosing action words like, I will. Or you can turn it into prose (see diagram).
Now that you have your manifesto or story of intentions for 2018, who are your partners? The people that will help you to bring this to life? They can be your family, a mentor or an accountability partner. Imagine how you can collaborate together to prototype your vision for 2018.
We have used this tool with our clients, from LuluLemon to Philips to Colgate Palmolive, to help them think differently about their work with great success. It is efficient, methodical and leads you to a new, constructive POV to help you imagine tomorrow based on what you know today.
Wishing you a happy and creative 2018.
This article first appeared on Inc.com on December 29, 2017