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Resolutions for the New Year

James R. Thornton, CSP, CIH, FASSP, FAIHA, 2023-24 ASSP President and ASSP Foundation Chair
Jan 01, 2024

Jim ThorntonThe start of a new year is always a time of reflection, introspection and resolution. By assessing what we have achieved, reviewing what we have experienced and understanding what challenges we overcame, we either confirm we are on the right path or we make needed adjustments and identify new goals.

I am a firm believer in the power of resolutions. But rather than view them as strict rules—and thus disappointments if not achieved—I use them as friendly reminders that encourage me to grow as a person, as a safety professional and as a leader. My resolutions reflect my desire to be intentional in my pursuit of new experiences and knowledge, and they reinforce my commitment to continuous improvement. I believe it is important that we look ourselves in the mirror not only to make sure we like what we see, but also to identify what we want to improve.

Let me share some of my personal and professional reflections and resolutions for this year. For a scrawny kid from a tiny town in Alabama, I have much to be thankful for, including my health, loved ones and many blessings in life. But I know that not everyone experiences similar good fortune, so in 2024, I plan to ramp up my efforts to help others by increasing my engagement with the nonprofit organizations for which I volunteer. I also am the primary caregiver for a loved one, and I am committed to providing her with better care and attention.

In my role as ASSP president, I want to be able to look back and take pride in knowing that I made a difference, that my contributions led to improvements and created a positive impact that helped others. Through implementation of our new strategic plan, I am confident that we will all make a difference because many more workers will return safely to their families at the end of each day thanks to our efforts to achieve those strategic goals.

When I was responsible for workers’ compensation at a large company, I interacted closely with the families of severely injured workers and was involved in responding to a few occupational fatalities. I witnessed firsthand the agony created by these tragic events. These situations strengthened my resolve to “never let this happen to anyone else.” I do what I do to keep that promise.

Delivering on that promise also requires a commitment to continuous learning. My mother used to say, “They can take everything away from you, even your name, but they can never take away your education.” She was right (as always). As a lifelong learner, I have been known to say, “If you are breathing, you should be learning.”

To remain as current as possible on the latest innovations in the practice of our profession, I have set a goal this year to increase my engagement in programs that enhance my continuing education. I also have set a personal goal to learn more about higher learning opportunities for young adults with special needs so I can help my granddaughter continue her learning when she graduates from high school this year. I am truly proud of her hard work and resolve in overcoming many obstacles while learning in a “normal” world.

As you think about the coming year, I encourage you to consider committing to learn one new skill or tackle one topic of personal or professional interest. The possibilities are truly endless. Here are just a few suggestions to spark your thinking:

  • Learn a new language.
  • Learn how to play a musical instrument.
  • Embrace your digital literacy, including artificial intelligence.
  • Hone your leadership skills.
  • Cultivate sustainability practices.
  • Improve your communication skills.
  • Whatever you resolve to do, I sincerely hope you savor the journey of discovery and experience the joy of acquiring new knowledge as you grow personally and professionally. By committing to even just one goal, when you reflect back next year on what you accomplished, you will be able to proudly say, “I set out to achieve this goal, and I did it.”


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