The most critical business resolution you can make this year isn’t about what you will do; it’s about how you will think. This New Year’s, I propose making a powerful shift away from doing things differently to thinking things differently. There’s a saying that goes, “Unless you’re the lead dog in the sled, the view never changes.” Aside from the desire to survive in a fluctuating market, the saying is perhaps one of the key reasons why it’s relevant to really tackle your own self as your 2014 New Year’s resolution. If you’re tired of just keeping up, or frustrated with having to constantly learn a new way of doing business, then changing how you think ensures you’re less rigid when changes arise – while still priming yourself to be the leader of the pack. The most important resolution you can make this year boils down to you. The most important reason why is because it lets you be a game changer instead of just a player at the table.

As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” With that in mind, training yourself in the New Year doesn’t come with one bold stroke. It’s an evolving picture painted with a thousand small brush strokes. A wonderful tip I picked a long time ago (that helps you reach this final goal) starts with actually thinking less. Think less about things that don’t really require your input; automate tasks so that you’re thinking less about them on a daily basis. If there’s one go-to meal you can have every morning, then that takes the guess work out of breakfast. If you can save all your errands or social phone calls for one day a week in a set window of time, then that shaves off additional brain fatigue. The idea is: the less time you waste on distractive tasks, the more “brain power” and time you have to dedicate to the really important things. But first you have to know what to think about, what to change – in short, you have to recognize what issues of merit deserve your attention.

An excellent Fast Company article by Kaihan Krippendorff, called “5 Ways to Reframe Your Thinking to be More Like Elon Musk”, does just that. It applies its own problem solving faculty to help us shift how we think. Drawing on a strategy used by Krippendorff’s firm, Outthinker, to help 5th graders chime in on solving world problems, the article states the five key ways to develop strategic thinking: (1) visionary thinking, (2) systems thinking, (3) creative thinking, (4) critical/analytical thinking, and (5) influential thinking. Perhaps one of the most useful pieces on divisional thinking, the article is a must read that leaves you with a fuller understanding on how compartmentalized thought process can not only target niche issues, but also be used to create a fuller portrait of a true mental shift. With the parts equaling the whole, Krippendorff’s noted approach is one that can be applied by any entrepreneur toward their greater business goals. It’s nothing short of a breakdown in how to think effectively.

Changing how you think versus what you do is a powerful recipe for real change, whether in your personal life or your business life. It’s about fine tuning the most powerful tool all the while reserving the most valuable resource you have – your mind. It comes down to this: while resolving to do something differently changes one or two things in your business, resolving to think differently changes every aspect of your business. It lets you take on new challenges and adapt to changes with greater flexibility. With consistent effort, it literally starts changing how your mind works – allowing you to emerge not only as a trend forecaster but a thought leader that wields the way business is done tomorrow. It boils down to efficiency and salvaging creative energy. These small changes here help your mind filter excessive wasteful thoughts and trap needless distractions, so that you’re thought stream is more filtered and focused.