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Real change means more than a Heisenberg T-Shirt*

It is the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007 which is a popular time to take stock and think about what we might want to do differently in the coming year?

When we are growing up we have many well meaning people trying to guide us. We may even be doing this to our friends. As we get older - hopefully we can notice more about what we need to change and be guided more by self awareness and motivated by the results.

Having a goal or new years resolution is one thing. If we really believe in the goal then we need take the next steps.

As David Maister suggests in his excellent essay called Strategy and the Fat Smoker BTW he was the fat smoker and his personal goals got a rev-up when his health was threatened.

The necessary outcome of strategic planning in not analytical insight but resolve. .....The essential questions of strategy are these: "Which of our habits are we really prepared to change, permanently and forever? Which lifestyle changes are we really prepared to make? What issues are we really ready to tackle?"

This can be confronting and unpleasant but also insightful and empowering if we actually take the next step which is doing something differently to get to a goal.

The essence of successful strategic change is not technique, but will (determination, commitment or resolve) To achieve any goal - 'We' must really want the goal

The smartest people I know are those who really enjoy what they do. It can take a while to define what that particular mix of pleasure and work looks like. Years even.

Jim Collins describes this as a Hedghog Concept ( and definition of disciplined thought)

Hedgehogs are relatively simple animals who know just one big thing and stick to it. Good-to-great companies do something similar – they consistently stick to doing what they do best and avoid getting distracted into new fields of business that are away from their core competencies. Good-to-great companies move ahead of their competitors by pursuing only those projects that have three traits:
1. What they can be “best in the world” at.
2. What drives profitability for their business model.
3. What their people are deeply passionate about.

Or another version I like – sometimes we have to stop doing something we don’t like! (Yahoo!) however more often than not we may have to do something we find unpleasant like stopping smoking and getting more exercise. Or getting a new job. I did that almost 3 years ago and a continuing goal for me is to have a job that I love. In the words of Bob Dylan...

I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more….
I ain't gonna work for Maggie's brother no more….
I ain't gonna work for Maggie's pa no more….
I ain't gonna work for Maggie's ma no more….
I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.

To stop doing things we don't like - we may need a circuit breaker or way to redefine ourselves. Using creative tools and techniques works for me and also for Hugh Macleod. Its time to get out the crayons!

26 tried-and-true tips for being truly creative

Merit can be bought.
Passion can't.

The only people who want to change the world are people who want to. And not everyone does.

p.32 essay by MacLeod, an advertising executive and popular blogger with a flair for the creative, gives his 26 tried-and-true tips for being truly creative. Each point illustrated by a cartoon drawn by the author himself.

How to do What You Love - Paul Graham

To do something well you have to like it. That idea is not exactly novel. We've got it down to four words: "Do what you love." But it's not enough just to tell people that. Doing what you love is complicated.“Constraints give your life shape. Remove them and most people have no idea what to do: look at what happens to those who win lotteries or inherit money. Much as everyone thinks they want financial security, the happiest people are not those who have it, but those who like what they do.”

Many of the source essays I have quoted today come from ChangeThis.com In my view the essays there have all been great at promoting insights and actual outcomes. For me getting closer to what I love and want to do is important and this is an ongoing goal.

ChangeThis is committed to providing you with the tools to change your life. Whether you yearn to tap into your creativity, be motivated to start your own company, make more of your work day or more from your money, or even just be able to write a more concise email…visit ChangeThis to get excited again, excited enough to do something different, to make a small change that could just change your life.

The note below comes from their end of year newsletter. Three more essay links that rated very highly with readers in 2006. They are creative commons licenses so download and pass on if you like them.

Most well-written:The Power of the Marginal by Paul Graham (If you’re reading ChangeThis, you’ve probably spent some time in the margin, taking a risk, looking at life differently than your officemates. This manifesto includes diverse cultural references and spot-on insights sure to keep you off the beaten path.) In the essay Paul discusses how outsiders, free from convention and expectations, often generate the most revolutionary of ideas. Clever and entertaining, this manifesto will energize you and spark your creativity.

Most intriguing:Know the Codes by Clotaire Rapaille and Getting Out of Embed by Michael Mauboussin (Both authors use psychology to illuminate how we make every day decisions. You’ll never look at yourself the same way again.)

Rapaille reveals the unconscious motivators behind how we act and what we buy by unearthing the unique culture codes found within each of us. This could also be very insighful for personal change as well.

Getting Out of Embed: The Role of Social Context in Decision Making. Decision making is an inherently social exercise. Here, Michael Mauboussin details three shocking psychological studies that reveal just how another’s action or opinion can profoundly change your own.

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi.

* Check out this T-shirt if you still want more. Best wishes for 2007