As the New Year beckons, I figured it was time for a post on affirmations, which I remember being interested in when reading about it one of Scott Adams' (of Dilbert) books (though I don't think he called them that). If you haven't heard of affirmations, it's basically the power of positive thinking. There are various forms; one is, take a list of goals you want to accomplish, write them down or repeat them to yourself every day, and you'll find they start happening.
Now, while I don't actually believe that positive thinking alone will allow me to prove P = NP (or the other way) in the coming year -- or, for that matter, win me a lottery! -- I do believe that the act of thinking clearly about the goals you want to achieve, and keeping them firmly in your mind, increases the probability that you will actually accomplish these goals. I personally find that when I set myself goals over multiple time scales -- a task list for the day, for the month, and for the year -- I'm surprisingly much better about getting things done. When I get distracted from setting goals, less happens. The conscious effort of writing tasks down and reminding myself of them makes them easier to accomplish.
So I encourage all my readers to take some time around the New Year and set some tangible, if difficult, work-related goals for the coming year. Maybe it's time to learn a new area or work with that person you've always wanted to work with. Or there's that result you know is just out of reach -- but you should keep reaching for it. Post them somewhere, remind yourself of them, and work to make them come true. I'd bet more do than you'd first think.
Whatever your goals are, best of luck with them, and for the New Year.