Planning & Shaping Cities: Resolutions

Planning & Shaping Cities: Resolutions

Editor’s note: this post is late because of me, not the wonderful AJ Fawver. Even though it’s February, AJ’s wisdom is still useful and relevant as we begin the new year. Read all of AJ’s posts from the “Planning & Shaping Cities” blog here.


New Year’s resolutions are often approached with skepticism. We’ve all notice the number of people at the gym on January 1 as opposed to, say, June 1. Everyone has a friend who waxes poetic about the changes they will make in the new year – only to have forgotten about them in two months.

That said – the optimist in me (a necessary requirement for a city planner!) believes the new year brings a spirit of reflection and vision that serves us well in our work of bettering cities. Cliché or not, I think periodically taking stock serves us all. I also find it a great time to engage in this with our teams.

Planning out the project calendar for the year ahead, working on individual growth plans, celebrating the successes of last year’s completion of strategic goals, or nudging everyone out of their comfort zone to stretch their capabilities – these are all worthwhile endeavors.

So, in that spirit, I offer you food for thought about how you can usher in 2018.

  1. Remind yourself why you chose public service.  We can get so caught up in the stress, the demand, the routine. So caught up, in fact, that we forget about what led us to public service. What a great time to reflect on what initially inspired our choice of profession, and think about how your past victories (and defeats) helped you develop.
  2. Start fresh and reconnect with those you work with and for. Yes, personality, organizational culture, and other external dynamics can plague our relationships with peers and colleagues. You will appreciate your co-workers even more if you view them through the lens of what called them to public service. Take time to ask about their story. You will learn to appreciate individuals in different ways.  
  3. Don’t play it safe. Most of us are not the ultimate decision makers in our organizations; however, that doesn’t excuse us sitting back in full status quo mode! Identify an idea (and if it feels safe, it isn’t big enough!) that you think would make a difference in what you do. Ask questions fearlessly, and work in earnest to carry your idea from concept to reality.
  4. Find a mentor/be a mentor. Seek out a new connection and open yourself up to finding a mentor to help you tackle 2018; if you’re further along in your career, consider being a mentor to someone. Don’t get hung up on experience level or age; we can teach others – and be taught – regardless of those factors.
  5. Renew your commitment to learning. Freshen up your skill set by taking a course, enrolling in a leadership seminar, or picking a hot topic in your field, and commit to becoming an expert on it by end of year. Inspire your team to do the same. Create a culture of excitement about exploring new ideas or techniques.
  6. Remember why you chose the community in which you live and work. What do you feel a vested interest in creating there? What problems or challenges do you feel compelled to address? Purpose is a huge motivator.

Go forth and conquer, ELGL members! There is important work happening all around us – be a part of it, and make 2018 your most accomplished year yet!