Why They Don’t Work and What to Do Instead

One of the most powerful words in any language is “imagine.”

When you imagine something, two areas light up in the default mode network of your brain, which is activated when you’re not being asked to do a specific task. These pay attention to 1) the vividness of an idea, and 2) its positive or negative qualities.

“Imagine” invites us to daydream — and not get bogged down in the “how” of things. We’re much freer to come up with unique and unusual ideas.

Contrast this with writing a list of New Year’s resolutions.

I’m betting somewhere in your body or mind you’re already getting tense. This becomes a list of “should” or “must” dos. Too often we use them as a stick to beat ourselves. That’s often why the average number of times most people go for a goal they’ve set is less than once.

Let’s create something better for ourselves. Try this technique (as shared with me by small business coach Dave Bruno): the New Year’s Eve Retrospective. Here’s how it works.

Base It on Your Brain

It helps to know if you like to process information visually, auditorily or kinesthetically. To figure this out, watch my TEDx video on How to Be a Mind Reader.

Now create some space to imagine what your life looks, sounds and feels like on next New Year’s Eve. Write down what you envision. Then use that to motivate you throughout the year — especially pulling it out when you’re facing a challenge.

This also works for getting your team motivated for the coming year.

Avoid the “stick” of goals and feed everyone something better than a carrot.