With New Year's Day right around the corner, many people will jot down a list of things they would like to accomplish in 2014.
These so-called resolutions can run the gamut from losing weight and quitting smoking to finally taking that art class or trip you've been thinking about for years.
Brett Denkin, a Westport-based life coach, psychologist and business consultant, said if you do want to achieve success, you need a plan, a vision and a goal.
With his clients, he first talks to them about the benefits of eating right, exercising and meditating. "These are great foundations for living," he said.
He also suggests getting "a coach, mentor or guide" to help you achieve your goal. "Find someone who will help to get you motivated," he said.
That person needs to make sure you stay on track, in particular that you be accountable. "If someone says `I will run five days a week,' they need to be held to that," he said.
And, he added, when finding someone to mentor or coach you in something, "turn to those who are doing it better than you."
The bottom line, he added, is that you can have the skill, but not the will, and that can leave you "like a salmon trying to swim upstream."
Denkin also said you don't need to wait until the end of the year to start making resolutions. "From my perspective, the start time can be anytime -- even in June," he said. He said the bottom line is not to procrastinate.
"When you are ready, that's the time to start," he said.
This week, a number of town and state officials sat down to write their personal and professional goals for the coming year:
Marpe said his personal goal is to "slow down from time to time and enjoy the many beautiful and `quiet' locations in Westport -- in our parks and beaches and on the water." He also wants to make more time for his family and friends.
As first selectman, Marpe said he wants to "create more opportunities to meet with members of the Westport community and get their input on important town issues." He said that he also wants to begin "implementing initiatives that will help achieve our goal of making Westport one of the top five places to live in America."
Selectman Avi Kaner
Kaner said his personal goal is to "spend more quality time with family and friends, listening more and talking less."
As selectmen, he would like to "implement projects to improve quality of life and increase Westport pride." He said examples include moving forward for seniors on Baron's South, re-greening Main Street, further streamlining railroad parking, and improving the experiences at Longshore and Compo Beach.
Selectman Helen Garten
"Personally, I hope to be able to spend more time next year giving back to the community through volunteer opportunities with the Humane Society, Saugatuck River Watershed Partnership and Sunrise Rotary," Garten said.
As selectman, she said she plans to work with "Jim and Avi to make our town the best it can be." She said that "in particular, during the coming year we have an opportunity to take steps to make our downtown once again a destination for Westporters, with vibrant streetscapes, diverse businesses and places for young and old to gather." She said it is "going to take leadership and consensus building, but together we can get there."
BOE Chairwoman Elaine Whitney
Whitney's personal resolution is to renew her "commitment to carving out more time to spend with my family and friend."
As BOE chairman, her goal is to "maintain our collective focus on engaging and supporting each of our students and preparing our next generation to thrive."
Town Clerk Patty Strauss
For Strauss, her personal resolutions are to "eat healthy and to spend more time gardening, reading and relaxing at Compo Beach."
As the town clerk, she said she wishes "joy, happiness, and peace in 2014 to our friends and neighbors of Westport."
Library Director Maxine Bleiweis
Bleiweis said her personal wish is for "patience and thoughtfulness that allows us to pause and show respect for one another in an all-too-hurried time."
She also wishes "for Westporters to turn to the Westport Library when they need to negotiate new ways of learning." She said what used to be straightforward is now complex and multi-layered with the addition of technology. "Library staff are here to help you navigate," she said.
State Rep. Gail Lavielle
"I wish my family, friends, and the many warm and caring people I've been so fortunate to get to know in the communities I represent a happy, productive, financially secure, and above all healthy 2014," Lavielle said.
As for the General Assembly, Lavielle said her wish is to see it "rise above politics and special interests to consider all viewpoints and find nonpartisan solutions that will revive the state's economy and restore people's hope for a bright future in Connecticut."
State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg
Steinberg's personal goal is "to call my daughters, who are out of the house on their own, more often, and to be more understanding of the one who's still home."
In the state Legislature, Steinberg's goal is to "redouble my efforts in pushing for real budget reform, and to protect the public health by passing a bill to ban the processing of hydraulic fracturing waste in the state."
State Sen. Toni Boucher
"My hope for my loved ones who are facing serious health issues is a return to good health in 2014 through their remarkable courage and with the love and support of family and friends," Boucher said.
Professionally, her resolution is to "intensify my efforts to help return Connecticut to a national leadership position in education and innovation, champion and support Connecticut's job creators, bring greater transparency to state government and focus on what unites us to get things done."