It is a blizzard day on the East Coast and the end of another year. This is traditionally a time to be thinking about New Years Resolutions. Resolutions are often belittled, and with good reason. People use this time to say they are going to quit smoking (keep trying! It took my father seven years of trying but he kicked a 40 year two pack a day habit, you can do it!) or lose weight or whatever and then for a million good rationalizations don’t follow through.

At the risk of sounding all “New Age-y” there are things that each of us can do to make our attempts at following our resolutions more likely to succeed. They sound goofy, but I am hear to tell you that they do increase the chances of success if you’re willing to do them.

The first is so simple it is nutty. Write down what you want to have and do by the end of the year. That’s it. I am not sure why they works so well but it does. My wife and I have been having a little meeting on the 1st every year to make a list of the things we want to accomplish and would like to have in the coming year. We write it all down from losing weight to songs we would like to have. Then we pull out last years list and cross off all the things we did on that list. We usually have not looked at the list in 12 months but every year we have completed over 90% of the items.

There is something powerful in putting it on paper (or electrons as the case may be). Without referencing it again it is set in our minds as goals. It seems to focus our attention on the goals, even months and months later.

The next step is to frame your goals in positive terms. Too often we think of things like “I don’t want to be fat” or “Gitmo needs to be closed!” while both of those are worthy goals we are more likely to achieve them if they are set in positive terms, as “I will lose 20lbs and keep it off this year” or “I want all the prisoners held in Gitmo released or moved to some place more humane”.

Again, the rationalist in me hates this New Age spin to these prescriptions, but my experience is that when goals are stated positively they tend to be achieved more often than when they are phrase as a negative. Why this is so is completely open to interpretation, but I am less interested in why it works than the fact that it does.

The final thing that can help you achieve the goals you set this year is a touch of realism. You should have aspirational goals, big things that are life or world changing, but you should be completely aware that such things rarely happen in 12 months. It is very important that you go from success to success in order to establish the habit of setting a goal and achieving it. The “win” of being able to cross a goal off your list is important. It is addictive, and in this one case it is a good addiction to develop. If you have goals that are huge, it is worthwhile to break them down into steps for each year. There is no problem with getting a major goal completed early, but consistently treating progress towards a goal as failure is a good recipe for giving up on that goal.

We should also not underestimate the power of achieving small goals, they add up, and sometimes those small wins are what get us to the big ones. Don’t be shy about something as small as having great looking teeth by flossing every day for the whole year (yeah I know everyone will say they already floss, but the multibillion dollar dental industry says different). Small goals that establish a habit are important ways to improve our effectiveness and our lives.

So to review:

Write It Down
Frame It In Positive Statements
Break Down Large Goals
Don’t Forget Small Goals

Now that you’ve had the primer on getting your goals achieved it is time to think about what those goals are. Since this is my post I’ll go first. Let’s lay down some ground rules though. What we’re looking for here is a single goal for each of the categories I’ll lay out. You can, of course, have more, but these would be the A-1 priority goals in each.

The categories:

Personal
Family
Financial
State Political
National Political
Policy

As you can see three of these are about politics, this is because we are on a political blog after all and so I assume that politics is important to each of us.

Since this is my post, I’ll go first:

In 2011 my goals are as follows:

Personal: I will increase my exercise from 30 minutes a day to 60 minutes a day and do it everyday.

Family: This year we will find five weekends where Liz and I will only do things together and they will all be non-essential things.

Financial: This year we will start the process of rebuilding from our bankruptcy. We will re-establish our savings and end the year with at least $2000 in that account.

State Political: This year I will be a delegate to the Colorado Democratic State Assembly and will bring 5 new Liberal Dems into the structure of my County Party.

National Political: This year I will be in monthly direct contact (messages do not count) contact with my Senators and my Representative to push them to for the Liberal policy agenda.

Policy: This year I will speak fearlessly and constantly for accountability for torture and for full civil rights for all citizens. Where I am there will be no room for bigotry or racism or religious intolerance, I will speak positively for the values of equality that are the foundation of my nation.

So, there are my goals (some of them, the actual list is not done and is longer) what are yours? Don’t be shy, lets hear them in comments!

One last rule; these are peoples personal goals, so no pissing on them from a great height, eh? Some might have a goal of unseating the President or have a policy that you disagree with. This is not the place to argue about them. The best thing you can do for a goal you find objectionable is to make one to counter it, not to get into a pissing match. I think we can all agree that we’d like the Left to be more effective and one of the ways that can happen is if we all get in the habit of setting our goals out clearly.

The floor is yours.

Bill Egnor

Bill Egnor

I am a life long Democrat from a political family. Work wise I am a Six Sigma Black Belt (process improvement project manager) and Freelance reporter for Govtrak.org

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