A few years ago when sitting down for my annual tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions and sticking to them no matter what (a practice I abandoned last year, but I’ll get into that tomorrow) I ran across an article on Time.com that pops up every year somewhere. The Top 10 Commonly Broken New Year’s Resolutions.

I reflect on that annually and the more I think about it, the more I realize that probably everyone in the country makes these resolutions at some point in their lives in some form or fashion, and your goals for your association in 2014 probably aren’t that far off.  So we’re going to break them down, translate them for your association, and figure out how to actually keep them.

*Word of caution: If you try to go at these all at once you’ll go nuts. Pick the top one or two, and then go from there as the year goes on. Don’t overwhelm yourself!

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Lose weight and get fit
Eat healthier and diet

These two aren’t exactly the same, but they’re similar enough to group them. Let’s call this association resolution “improve wellness.” What does wellness mean for your association? A thriving membership base? Active volunteers? A happy board? Lots of political movement and successful lobbying? None of these are wrong answers. The key to overall wellness in associations, and people for that matter is identifying the behavior that you want improved or changed. Start there first!

Quit smoking
Drink less

While we’re lumping goals together, let’s put these under “drop bad habits.” There are a few things that may spring to mind when I ask the question, “What annoys you about your association job?” Are those things your personal challenges to solve, or a bigger association issue? Have you had any complaints from members? Targeting those bad habits to change in 2014 is a step in the right direction, tackling one or two at a time.


Learn something new

Two words: Learning. Programs. You should always be learning and growing, and that is especially true for your members who are paying for that benefit. If this is among your resolutions, take a look at your 2013 learning sessions and feedback. What could you change or improve?


Get out of debt and save money

Oh the old balance sheet. Instead of stripping funding for programs that may be getting some attention to save money, why don’t you focus on non-dues revenue for your association? Or maybe there is some spending that can be cut out. It’s worth a look for the financial health of your association in the coming year.


Spend more time with family

Let’s call this one the work/life balance. Make sure your members aren’t expected to forego valuable family time in order to be successful in your association, and make sure you have a good balance as well. Set aside a few tech-free hours a week where you are unreachable digitally and focus just on face-to-face family time. While you’re at it, encourage your members to do the same.


Travel to new places

We can interpret this one as bumping up your association travel to visit more conferences and attend more events, or perhaps in the less daunting, more budget friendly goal of simply expanding your horizons. Read new books! Hear new speakers! Try out new ideas!


Be less stressed

This one is a stumper. Americans in general have a problem with overwhelming stress and we’ve been struggling with it for years. The best advice I have here is to just step back every once in awhile, make sure you have a good balance in your life, and get plenty of sleep and exercise. If you get this one completely figured out, let me know, however we know that an AMS might take some of the stress off of some of your organizational requirements!



Three ways to interpret this one; you can branch out to other related associations and help them out, reach your members and benefit them personally and/or professionally, or simply love your volunteers more. All of these are good goals, and will add to the health of your association, your members, and yourself.


How to stick to these resolutions (yes, all of them.)

Write them down and check in on them often

Post them in a place you’ll see them regularly

Tell someone else who will hold you accountable

Make little changes that are easy to adopt rather than huge ones

Forgive yourself if things don’t go according to plan


Don’t panic. This list is just a jumping off point. All it takes to get on the road to achieving all your association goals is a priority and a meeting maker to start the discussion. That’s it! You can do it. We believe in you. Welcome 2014!