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Reset the Clock

In uncertain times, starting over with a clean slate may be the best way to learn something new.

Really go for it in 2001. Resolve not only to learn about yourself but to know yourself. Then you can bring that great potential you have to bear on the chaos that we all will certainly face in the challenging new year.

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How do you do that? How can you maintain a learning and action focus? The best way I’ve found is to live with each of the 10 heuristics below for a period of time, say, for one week or so each. Be conscious of what happens. Then you may want to go back and explore certain ones more deeply. You might make only one of them your resolution for the year. In any case, celebrate and apply what you learn as you hone in on your style and bring it into the world.

Have no expectations. Develop faith in your own creativity by being open to a situation’s potential, and develop faith in yourself instead of being stuck with what you expect.

Destroy judgment, and create curiosity. Conquer the main obstacle to keeping your learning resolution: the VOJ, or inner Voice of Judgment. Observe it. Attack it. Discredit it. Let your curiosity bubble up to see what’s really happening.

Be awake. Awaken your powers of precise observation to see the potential and beauty of everything around you. In conversation, listen instead of reloading and waiting to add your own thoughts.

Ask dumb questions. Let your faith and observation lead to penetrating questions of yourself and others. Destroy mental obstacles to openness. Watch how challenges and possibilities begin to blossom for you.

Do only what you love, and love everything you do. I dare you to do this consistently for one week. If you do, you’ll begin to discover your essential work in life, and you’ll begin to learn how you can make every moment — and, therefore, your life — meaningful.

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Don’t worry: Just do it. How can you lose by combining Bobby McFerrin and Nike? Eliminate time pressure and stress. Turn fears into breakthroughs by applying your creativity to action.

See with your heart. Recognize the best aspects of yourself and others. You can turn even difficult situations with others into creative ones.

Yes or no? Everything in life is either a “yes” or a “no.” Get into a flow of intuitive decision making that brings balance into your life.

Be ordinary. Are you experiencing that “Is that all there is?” feeling? Now you can have true prosperity in your life by simply being your own creative self. Don’t know how? Do all the above heuristics. Do what you do for its own sake, and be your best without seeking approval, comparing, worrying, regretting, or pursuing recognition.

Be yourself, and do your work. Now make your discoveries from the other resolutions a foundation for living creatively all year long and for sharing your gifts with the world.

Michael Ray (ray_michael@gsb.stanford.edu) is professor of creativity and innovation at the Stanford Business School.