Ground Hog Day Resolutions for 2008

Ground Hog Day Resolutions for 2008

Ground Hog Day Resolutions I’m way behind on my Ground Hog Day’s Resolutions this year, but it is primarily because I was creating new custom forms to kick off the 2008 season based on last year’s experience.

What are these “Ground Hog Day Resolutions” you ask? You can read the original writeup, but the general idea is that I’m not ready to make any resolutions come January 1st. For one thing, I’m exhausted by the holiday season. Secondly, I’ve got to catch up with all the stuff I didn’t finish, and am in no mood to make any new resolutions. Thirdly, I think Ground Hog Day deserves more recognition than it gets, as it’s one of my favorite “holidays”. Lastly, “Groundhog Day” is one of my favorite movies ever, the crowning jewel of Harold Ramis’ directorial accomplishment, and extols themes that are close to my own heart: self-improvement and establishing genuine relationships.

The goal of Ground Hog Day Resolutions is to make tangible progress on a few self-improvement goals, so I have specified several review days that follow the January 1st, February 2nd pattern. March 3rd (3/3), April 4th (4/4), and so on are all Ground Hog Day Resolution Review Days (GHDRR), when you check up on your progress.

Setting My New Resolutions

You can read all my progress reports if you’re curious, but to recap there were three main goals:

  • Commit to Deriving Income from Writing and Making Stuff
  • Build Sustainable Social Networks
  • Sell a Product

These were goals that were pretty much business related, though I did get a few bonus personal goals like going to the gym and waking up early out of the way as well. What was really on my mind for 2007, though, was how to become happier and more independent. The first and last goals were related to independence by way of acknowledging that I would love to be writing and making my own stuff full time. The middle goal acknowledged that I can’t really stand alone, and I need regular human contact to be happy.

For 2008, my goals are largely the same business-wise, but I don’t feel the need to set them as my Ground Hog Day Resolutions (GHDRs) because the change has already been set in motion: I totally want to continue to make things, shift toward independent content creation, and meet as many awesome people as possible. I’ve already shifted my development environment to a laptop so I can theoretically work anywhere in the world, though I have to finish my current commitments for 2008 before I can really explore that option. So this year, I want to choose some resolutions that are related to future mobility:

  • Pillar 1: Reputation as a writer and designer, so people outside my home area are interested in talking to me or working with me in their home town or country. My theory on reputation is that people find it much easier to assess you when they can actually see what you’ve done and what you’ve written. Also it has to do with how you present yourself in public, and how visible one is in the community. The way I approach this is by figuring out how best to contribute to it. Reputation is an important currency; if you have it, people will tend to invite you to participate, which gives you something to do with mobility.
  • Pillar 2: Financial Resources fund possibilities. Reviewing the 4-Hour Work Week last year helped snap that into focus, and for me this means making things and trying to get that “idea-to-product-to-fullfillment-to-revenue” cycle going. Last year’s goal of selling a product for the first time was the first step. Expanding this into a self-sustaining revenue stream is step 2. With this in place, I could actually afford to go places and work on my writing projects.
  • Pillar 3: Chutzpah to self-promote and just be unafraid of trying things publically. I’m quite shy when it comes to making claims about myself one way or the other (which is one reason I prefer to concentrate on letting the work speak for me). Need to get over this, though every fiber of my being is rebelling against the idea as I type this. I have absolutely no desire to push myself in this area…which is why I am listing it. At the very least, it means publishing an ebook for download, initiating contact with like-minded people I find out about, and figuring out ways to (sigh) monetize the site. The relation to mobility is, I think, one of adjusting my attitude toward business collaboration. I tend to think like an independent, but I am increasingly aware that it’s possible to “roll up” opportunities if you can see how the connections between people are made AND can carry it through based on strength of character and willfulness alone. It baffles me a bit, but it’s something I want to get a better handle on.

Personally, there are also some personal creative goals I’d like to pursue:

  • Play an instrument / Play one song well
  • Compose a song with an interesting arrangement
  • Do some illustration with character, become more comfortable drawing
  • Master a physical activity or sport
  • Develop an effective physical training regimen

So that’s what’s on my mind right now. I am actually going to defer my specific Ground Hog Day Resolutions until next week, as I haven’t had time today to reflect on what the tangible results should be, and I have to prepare for a trip to California.

In the meantime, though, I can share the new forms I was working on to help guide the process.

Tangible Goals and Downloadable Forms

If you’re familiar with my Concrete Goals Tracker, you know that I tend to emphasize tangible accomplishment; when it comes to making a real impact on the world, the accomplishments that matter are the ones that leave an impression on someone OR creates something useful in the physical plane. Things you can see are also countable, which helps create a sense of progress.

This year I’ve added some of this process into two new forms for tracking my Groundhog Day Resolutions. The first is a worksheet for establishing your resolutions:

WorksheetThis worksheet asks you to:

  • List your general resolutions. Just get them out on paper.
  • List the tangible results that you expect to happen as a result of achieving your resolutions. This takes some imagination and understanding of the world. Get help from a friend if you get stuck.
  • List the specific actions you can do that will actually achieve those results.

This is a pretty basic methodology that should be familiar to many people.

CalendarThe next step is to figure out when you’re going to do them. The second sheet is the compact calendar adapted for the Ground Hog Day Resolutions schedule. There are a few additions to the schedule this year:

  • In June, there is a summer break during which you are not expected to pursue your goals. Last year I and others found ourselves losing steam, possibly because the weather started getting too nice. Of course, if you’d rather work just do it; the summer break is just a suggestion. I figured since there was a winter break it made for a kind of symmetry.
  • There is a goal reassessment on July 7th, to make adjustments to your GHDRs given half a year of doing them. You can chose to discard or refine your goals at this point.
  • There is a mandatory pick your finishing tasks directive for the November 11 review day. You basically have a month left to finish your GHDRs well, so plan on finishing something on December 12. It may not be what you had originally planned, but it’s important to have that ship or die mentality to push that last real bit of accomplishment out for the year.

Otherwise, the GHDR Calendar is very similar to the Compact Calendar I use for project management. Print a bunch of these special GHDR calendars throughout the year to help plan when you’re going to do things.

Download the Ground Hog Day Resolutions Forms

Although these two forms should be useful to the new GHDR practitioners, I’ll just have to see how it goes this year. In the meantime, feel free to download these forms below and give the system a go.

When I get my specific GHDRs ready next week, I’ll post pictures of my actual filled-out sheets.

Last year there were 3 or 4 other bloggers that were using the system to push themselves through their goals, and it was fascinating to see what people were doing. It also helped me keep pushing forward as well. Let me know if you’ll be doing it this year, and I’ll add a link to this page to your kickoff entry.



  1. Doug Martin 16 years ago

    Towards your self-promotion goal, I just listened to audiobook CD “BRAG! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It”, by Peggy Klaus.  Quite approachable for the topic.  I need to pick a couple ideas to implement from the book.  She addressed exactly your thoughts of “letting your work speak for you”. 

    I’ve been using a audio book rental site to make my drive in more useful.  I have also found that removing the purchase “risk” or stigma from self-help material has helped me expose myself to material I wouldn’t have purchased outright.  Although I think that feeling about self-help material is changing…

    Thanks for the site!  It has been a part of getting my act together.


  2. Corrie 16 years ago

    Hey, nice forms!! I love the groundhog silhouette. I’m moving forward w/ groundhog goals this year as well—but doing my “mid-year” review in April after the baby comes. :-)

  3. y0mbo 16 years ago

    I’m down with GHDRs again this year.  Good luck with yours, Dave!  I put the link in the URL field.

    As I mentioned in my post, I’m using a self-designed form to track my goals as well.  I’ve already decided that I’ll be redesigning it for March as it’s cumbersome and not exactly what I’m looking for.

  4. lynnoc 16 years ago

    Dave, I have been thinking about the Ground Hog Day Resolutions for a few days now, knowing Feb 2nd was time to get cooking. I posted several up on Leo’s (zen habits) feb habit change, but I knew that was not quite enough. Then you come along with your post, just in time. I am planning to describe something about the process on my sporadic blog (with a link to you). The addition of forms is perfect. As an avid user of ETP,—I literally use it every day to handle my hard edged appointments, planned next actions, and everything that pops out at me during the day—I testify to how much “forms” can help me. I am afraid about posting my ground hog’s day resolutions, as there are so many things I ‘promise” but don’t deliver, or deliver much later than I promised. Do I risk embarrassing myself by posting the GHDR on my blog? They are simple and direct. I don’t need to write much about them. They link to my larger “life goals.” But what if I fail on some of them again, since I’ve tried them before? I can’t wait to print out your new forms, I’m not going to blog about my GHDRs until I’ve given them another 12 hours, and worked with your new forms. Maybe one GHDR should be to have more courage and not be afraid of “looking bad” to anyone. If fear prevents me from putting into print my major goals for 2008, then overcoming fear should be my first and foremost resolution.


  5. TERESA 16 years ago

    I’ve made my groundhog resolution too, this year, having read your post from last year.. It’s true that it’s no use having new year’s eve as a fixed day to state new resolutions, and i just wanted a month more, so this day is perfect. As a student, my resolution is to have an exam every two months (it’s a big deal, but it’s my only main resolution.. i’ll have some little ones besides it, but that will have the priority). So thank you for inspiration!

  6. penny 16 years ago

    Thank you Dave. You rock. This was just what I needed…

  7. y0mbo 16 years ago

    lynnoc –
    I won’t speak to the others who have posted their GHDRs, but I failed on several of mine for many months in a row.  These, for me, were also goals I’ve committed to year after year.

    Part of posting your resolutions is a bit of anonymous public accountability.  One think we’ve all noticed is that there seems to be a “fall reboot” when goals seem to get out of whack with reality.  Because everyone went through the same thing at roughly the same time, we all saw that as a normal part of the GHDR.

    For me, the biggest change I’ve made is tracking my goals on a daily basis (not on the blog, but privately). In the two days so far ;-) it has been a big help keeping those tasks in mind.

    Good luck with your goals!

  8. Gaz 16 years ago

    Hi Dave,

    Nice to see you’re ploughing on with your GHDRs again this year.  Late to the party as usual, 2nd of Feb passed me by before I realised it, though I made a belated post at my blog yesterday.  I’ll be interested to hear whether you like my tweaks…


  9. lynnoc 16 years ago

    Hi again Dave:

    Sometimes I like to print out to read your posts—I can concentrate more effectively with hard copy. This is one of the posts that I want in hard copy format. But somehow when I ask my computer to print, it only prints the first page, Likewise when I save it to pdf, only the first page gets saved. To get hard copy, I had to copy the post, and put it into a ms document. Is there something I am missing here, about printing out your posts? I didn’t used to have this problem.


  10. Dave Seah 16 years ago

    I never thought of the public accountability as being part of the groundhog goals, but that makes sense. One general principle I keep in mind regarding my GHDRs is that I’m only counting progress made, not failure to achieve some goal. I don’t consider the GHDRs to be mandatory…they are direction setting tools for me, and I mostly want to keep them on my mind. I find that things happen anyway when I do that.

    Regarding the printing: I’m not sure what the problem is. I’ll give it a try and see. It could be a browser printing setting that’s interfering.

  11. Dave Seah 16 years ago

    @lynnoc: I’m getting a similar problem. I don’t have a stylesheet defined for printing, so it is laying out funny when it prints. Not sure why this is happening now…mysterious. I won’t have time to fix this for a while, but thanks for pointing it out! You might just pull the text from the feed directly and print that.

  12. y0mbo 16 years ago

    I know for sure that if I post something to my website, I’m more likely to follow through on it just because I know someone else has seen it and might ask me about it.

    I think the way you’ve structured your goals its easier to follow the “progress made” motif.  With mine, I’ve structured them in a pass/fail kind of a way where they are easier (for me) to measure.

  13. Charles Gilkey 16 years ago

    Great post.  I wrote an article that addresses your goals to play an instrument and learn to play one song well.  I warn you, it’s pretty long.  Take a look at it at if you’re interested.

    Update: Now that I think about it, I’ll probably have to write another post about learning to play one song well, since my whole post is just about picking an instrument to learn to play.  On further reflection, that’s at least three posts that I can think of.


  14. y0mbo 16 years ago

    Charlie – Thanks for the post. I also had planned to start playing the guitar again this year, so I look forward to your future articles in this series.  I may also ditch the acoustic and go with electric until my fingers can keep up.

  15. B Street 16 years ago


    I love the GHDR concept and just starting using it.  It is giving me a lot more clarity in working toward my goals.  Just like Phil, I found myself waking up to the same thing, him – each day, me – each year.  I decided to make my GHDR those items I’ve been “swearing” to do each year, and waking up Jan 1st with them still undone, back on the list.  Since proclaiming your goals is a significant step to reaching them, they are:  1.  Write a book and put a finished copy in someone’s hand.  2.  Do 100 consecutive push-ups. 3.  Create financial momentum.  4. Have a daily fitness program or routine.  5. Consistently talk my wife’s love language. 

    The GHDR Tracking Sheet helped me build visual accountability and reminder I can refer to, and to build the activities and milestones I need to stay on top off to ensure I am moving toward my goals.  I’m not a designer, but I’m going to try to develop a pocket cart (3×5) or wallet card so I can have them handy.  Thanks again.

  16. Dave,
    Great post and interesting concept. I like how you’ve organized this and your goals really resonate with mine.

    I also really dig the ‘public accountability’ aspect.  I usually don’t advertise my goals….but gee now i think i might.

  17. DC Jim 15 years ago

    Any update for 2009? Now that Phil has already spoken…

    Any chance of automating this so we don’t have to rely on your efforts? I know you’ve mentioned control of design elements – ie year – as a reason for not having other forms available (such as ETP) as blanks, but isn’t this a case of form TRUMPING function, the direct opposite of the productivity we’re all looking for? And, personally, do you want to always have a Form update waiting for you? Does it still garner 5 points from the CGT as “Sharp Visual Design” if it’s the same thing with a new year?

  18. Dave Seah 15 years ago

    DC Jim: One of these days I’d like to have a Print On Demand solution, with a universal form designer. That should make it a lot easier not only to do yearly updates, but will also lead to a more integrated software solution.

    With regards to the Groundhog Goals, I didn’t end up using the forms at all last year…they were never handy, so I haven’t bothered to update it since it doesn’t work for me. Some of the process is probably still applicable, but I think it might work better in booklet form.

    To answer your general questions:

    The reason I put the year in the form is twofold: for one thing it looks nicer, and it keeps people coming back to check out the site at least once a year to see what’s new. I don’t think that’s asking for much.

    I wouldn’t call it the “opposite” of productivity either, but depending on your hierarchy of principles it may seem wasteful if you are unwilling to adapt your use patterns. For example, I’ve heard that some people like to print out a bunch of forms at once, and they don’t like having extras at the end of the year, but that’s not the fault of the form design. Print one at a time! Or cross out the year! The one nod I did make to this was in the pre-printed (commercial) forms, which do have a blank year field. Not as pretty, but it keeps the stock “fresh” from year to year.

    I don’t really look forward to Form Update Time every year because it’s a huge pain in the butt, but it does force me to review all the forms at least once a year, which is good for the refinement process. And every year, I get a little more efficient at structuring the documents to make the update easier every year; I had an idea this year that would make it easier.

    Although your last sentence sounds like it might be a troll, I think it’s a valid question: I personally wouldn’t award myself 5 points for re-issuing old designs, though it’s arguable that if the goal of the particular CGT worksheet you’re referring to is to get your work in front of more people, a yearly update does mean more eyeballs, which means more promotion. So I might get points back on that. I try to keep the broader strategic goals in mind, and not get bogged down in dogma.