January is typically a month for cutting things out of our lives after a gluttonous festive period; alcohol, chocolate, shopping, (the list goes on…) and in a poll from YouGov, work-life balance was listed as a top 10 focus as part of New Year’s Resolutions. But, a commonly cited statistic is that only 8% of us actually stick to our New Year’s Resolutions, which let’s face it, isn’t a particularly inspiring thought.
A few months back I watched a TED Talk from Matt Cutts, an engineer at Google, who talks about setting and achieving goals through ‘trying something new for 30 days’. It’s no secret that exercise, trying new things, meeting new people, these are all things that increase our productivity, our creativity and ultimately our happiness. But, they are also things that due to human nature, we can be really bad at prioritising. (Isn’t it funny how it’s a lot easier to find an hour to go to the pub, than for a run). So what Matt suggests, is making smaller changes, which are more sustainable by trying something new and trying it once a day, for thirty days.
Following watching that talk, I took the theory and tweaked it a little, taking an hour a week and changing how I used it. So, each Wednesday evening for the past few months I’ve spent an hour learning the art of campanology – yup – bell ringing. It’s maybe not the coolest thing I could have turned my hand to. But it’s something I’ve always fancied trying (and it turns out that it’s a surprisingly good physical and mental workout). Consequently, I’ve noticed that I’m more productive and I’m also more confident in trying new approaches. And you know what, it turns out that having made one change is contagious and it leads to other small changes that have an even greater positive impact.
So, my invitation to you this January is rather than cutting something out, add something in. Think differently about just one hour of your week and then eventually each day in your month. Circle your time and make it count. If you struggle for ideas on how to spend that hour, check out the #constantlycurious hashtag on twitter and Instagram to see how some of our employees used their hour of creativity as part of our Founder’s Day initiative last year.