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10 Resolutions for a Creative, Inclusive New Year

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Dec 29 2017

The start of a new year offers us the chance to both reflect on the past and look ahead to a more fulfilling, generous, and hopeful future. What are your aspirations for the next trip around the Sun? We asked our designers and some of their creative friends, including the founders of Behance and Airbnb.

Here are just a few of our resolutions for 2018:

1. I want to start using my calendar to evaluate whether or not I’m spending my energy on my priorities. All too often, calendars get hijacked by old habits, process without purpose, and trying to please others. I want to start holding myself accountable. —Scott Belsky, founder of Behance

2. My resolutions this year are the same as they were last year: to use the complexity and swirl in the world as a source of inspiration, not just frustration. To look for light, joy, and optimism. To trust the inherent good in people. To be part of the renaissance that always follows the revolution. I’m keen for design to step up to the plate and take on topics such as inclusion, tolerance, equality, and masculinity. 2018 is a year of making change, not just wishing for it to happen. —Paul Bennett, Chief Creative Officer, IDEO

3. I plan to do more design with my kids. My four-year-old is a self-proclaimed artist who draws in every spare minute; my two-year-old is beginning to spend more than one minute on art at a time. I want get both of them involved in coming up with their own "design challenges" and to surround both of them with the materials and space to get inspired. —Sally Madsen, IDEO

4. One of my goals is to bring new technologies to the forefront of the social impact work we're doing at IDEO.org. With short design sprints, it’s hard to bring new, wild inspiration into the solutions we create, but I'm trying to adopt this perspective as much as possible. For example, I have an idea to use blockchain and mobile money to create a credit-rating system in countries where unbanked people struggle to apply for loans. —Angie Fu, IDEO.org

5. In 2018, I will continue doing "fewer things better." One way that shows up for me is reducing social media. I placed all my social apps in a folder titled "AM/PM" on the last screen of my phone. Unless it's work related, I stick to opening the folder only in the morning or evening. Additionally, I moved the iBooks app to the front screen, so whenever I get the itch to tap, I'll distract myself with a book instead of a blog. —Joe Gebbia, Co-Founder and CPO, Airbnb

6. My New Year’s resolution from four years ago was to post a sketch on my Tumblr for every day of the year, and it’s continued. It’s the only resolution I’ve ever kept. I’m doing it again this year, by hook or crook! —Lisa Brown, illustrator 

7. I'm getting close to finishing my fifth sketchbook. I've done 57 full-page illustrations so far! I would love to make it into a coffee table art book through a Kickstarter next year. I also want to get back into 3D work in my free time (woodworking, sculpting, etc.). I find that making things in my free time fuels work in other areas of my life and helps boost and maintain my creative energy. —Felicia Chiao, IDEO

8. I'm working on allowing the entire design process to yield reward, joy, and satisfaction, rather than just the end result. This is necessary when working on major house projects with a finish line dangling from an impossibly long stick that seems too far away to reach. I can spend the next year (or three) wishing it were done, or enjoy the process as much as possible and suffer less. —Sally Sosa, IDEO

9. My New Year's resolution is to focus on women as users of design. The #MeToo movement has shown that women experience so many things in common, but don't have a voice or community of support during difficult professional moments. I care so much about advancing this cause, and yet I realize that in my work as a business designer I almost never think about users’ genders; instead, I think about their physical, emotional, and psychological needs.

I believe women are worthy of being addressed as a user group (with the understanding that there’s a ton of nuance within such a huge population). For 2018, let's look for all the ways women are not seen or heard and give them a better, more equal stage through design. —Kerry O’Connor, IDEO

10. I’ve been making a conscious effort to travel to at least three new cities or countries throughout the year. (This year’s cities: Malaga in Spain, Lisbon and Peniche in Portugal, and Trieste in Italy.) This resolution helps me step out of my comfort zone by removing any bearings I have and forcing me to look at simple things, such as getting around town, eating, and exercising, through the lens of the place I find myself in.

Just sitting in a cafe in the town square gives me interesting insights into a local culture and can easily trigger a new way of thinking about a problem I’m currently mulling over. Don’t just travel—explore. —Irene Novicelli, IDEO

  • Heather Kathryn Ross

    IDEO Alum
    As a lifelong storyteller, Heather has crafted articles about the legacy of civil rights abuse on North Carolina factory farms, the trillions of helpful microbes living in the human body, the wild art of Japanese butoh, and the ancient history of cheese. A jewelry maker, photographer, and amateur archaeologist, Heather can often be found on the lam with her camera or biking through San Francisco en route to the California Academy of Sciences.
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