New Outlook: How Will You Find Yours?

Posted on January 6, 2014


January 1 is just another day, for the most part.

Somehow it gets weighed down more than other days with expectations we call Resolutions.  I am a firm believer in resolutions though, because well, you have to choose to make a change sometime—even if the failure rate of New Year’s Resolutions is >85%, or so I’ve heard.  The other time I have found change to be appropriate, especially for us Catholics, is during Lent.  In fact, I have made some of my most proud personal improvements that way.  I stopped biting my fingernails (a habit for 23+ years of my life) during Lent.  I stopped engaging in road rage (I lived in Baltimore for six years, and often drove in and around Washington, D.C.) during Lent.

Something must initiate willful, positive change or the vicissitudes of life will impose themselves in a largely negative way over time.

This year, my professional goal is not so much new as it is a return to the old:  I will reinstitute good habits that I stopped during 2013 for no reason.  2014 is a year to blog more, meet more people, read more, and get back into old productivity grooves from which I was somehow derailed.  This takes a pointed effort, and without January 1, it would be more difficult to both end and begin.

Last year, I attended the two largest healthcare design conferences, PDC Summit and Healthcare Design (HCD.13).  I typically meet more healthcare administrators at PDC, and more designers at HCD; thus, I find the educational material (sessions) at PDC more business-focused, and HCD’s more design-focused.  After last fall’s Healthcare Design.13 Conference, my boss Jim Eaton, opined quite astutely:  it would be more beneficial to have the PDC crowd attend HCD, and vice versa.  How true.  Two messages exist to two different crowds, both of which work together to solve healthcare facility problems but who often never have the opportunity to hear or see that very important ‘other perspective’.

I spent a lot of the summers of my youth playing whiffle ball.  As savant-like students of the major leagues, my friends and I could mimic the batting, pitching and fielding idiosynchrasies of our favorite players from the 1980s to great effect on the whiffle ball field.

A quirky and interesting rule we instituted was a “switch-around” inning.  Each game everyone was required to bat opposite their strength; right-handers swung “lefty”.  Pitchers had to pitch with their opposite hand; fielders had to throw with their opposite hand.  Outside of creating a lot of laughs, the inning always reminded me to try out—and in some cases, practice—a totally foreign approach.  It became a matter of pride to be able to not only serviceably pitch opposite, but strike someone out.  And, in rare instances, we saw our friends excel when they had nothing to lose; they were relaxed with no expectations.

Each year, I remind myself to “switch-around” every once in a while for a new outlook, a source of new skills.  I may do something small like take notes left-handed, or drive an unfamiliar route to try to get lost—and then try to find my way back.  At work, I am considering conferences I have not attended, books on unrelated topics that may spur a new approach.

The ‘other perspective’ is quite elusive to see, so grab it when you can.  I believe a switch would help most people out, personally and professionally, in ways they could not anticipate.

Where do your resolutions for positive change come from?  How do you find new ideas for 2014?

Posted in: Design Zeitgeist