For most of us, the New Year means a push to do things differently, even creatively, or at least to try.   We often start our new resolutions with great fervor.  Mine usually die a few weeks later with a tiny whimper.   So this year, I’m going small.  I have just a few changes and they’re small enough I’m hoping I’ll succeed.  Here’s to the Year of Small Changes.

Start with stop. 

Creativity often involves looking at issues upside down or in ways that seem non-intuitive.  Start with stop is one of those that generates a “huh?” from many people.  It comes from an entrepreneur starting her third new business venture in six years, who has two young children and a husband building his own new company.  One busy lady. 

So she has learned to “start the day with a stop.” Early on, she hides from her family –in the closet, the bathroom, under the covers – for five minutes, to calm her mind.  As her day goes crazy, she can do a small stop to recapture  that feeling of calm. 

From Laura West's Joyful bliss blog!

Maybe it’s a type of “speed meditation,” but it works.  And, best of all, it’s a small and doable change. 

Solve a mini-mystery, every day. 

A mini-mystery is, of course, a small problem and I’m trying to look for odd ones to solve every day. 

Right now, the mini-mystery is in our backyard, which is a murder scene. 

Almost daily, a quail ends up dead, usually right by my office window.  Unmoving plump body, skinny legs and feet, feathers strewn on the deck or on the snow.   

When the birds began to die, I knew I had to play Sherlock Holmes, thinking logically – and creatively – about this mini-mystery.  My initial assumption was that the birds were dumb enough to ram the window, thinking they were flying toward other birds.  But these deaths have only started recently.  And when a hawk smashed into the window, I had to reassess. 

Quail, alive.


Our large dog used to roam the yard but she died a couple of months ago, meaning the yard is now fair game for hawks and foxes.  So now that the “who-dun-it” mystery is solved, I’ve got to solve the practical problem….how to chase those pesky predators away.  Small problem, good brain practice. 


I'm a super disciplined person ... in every way but exercise.  Hate it, know it's good for me, have great intentions, but always fail.  So I was thrilled to read a book called Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, by John R. Ratey and Eric Hagerman.  They claim that movement, even a bit, helps create more connections in the brain and even new brain cells.  THAT at last is the inspiration for small change I can deal with.

Spark, by Ratley and Hagerman

Almost anything helps - even 10 minutes a day.  So my last small change will be just that - small movement. 

Small stop, small problem, small movement.  Here's to the Year of Small Changes, that I hope will stick.

Now I'll sign off and go for a walk.

About the Author

Nancy K. Napier, Ph.D.

Nancy K. Napier, Ph.D., is Professor of Strategy and International Business at Boise State University.

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