Daniel Negreanu uses his yearly goals list to keep himself focused and motivated (PokerStars/Neil Stoddart photo)

In the last few days of 2016, and the early days of 2017, a lot of people most likely sat down and came up with one or two or three New Year’s Resolutions. “New Year, New Me” they wrote at the top of the list. It may have included working harder, or losing weight, getting healthier. The list also probably included something about poker.

And then you managed to break all of those resolutions in the first couple of weeks of the new year. Daniel Negreanu has an entirely different approach. Rather than create a list of resolutions, the six-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner, builds a set of year-long goals almost entirely built around poker.

Each January, Negreanu publishes his list of goals for the coming year on his blog and also reviews his goals for the previous year. Publishing the goals for the world to see doesn’t give Negreanu anywhere to hide and forces an honest reflection on which goals he hit and where he fell short.

“It’s a philosophy that works like this, essentially whenever you do something that didn’t work, you look back at the year before and say, ‘What worked? Let’s do more of that. What didn’t work? Let’s see if we can adjust or change that.’,” said Negreanu. “Then I look at what do I want to create in the next year, like what do I want to have happen and what’s a good way or what’s a good barometer for me to get there in an all encompassing way.”

As he usually does, Negreanu has set some pretty lofty goals for himself in 2017 including cashing for $2.5 million, winning three WSOP bracelets, winning WSOP Player of the Year and win $250,000 in cash games. Last year he set 10 poker goals for himself and fell short in all but one.

“So one of the things for example that I noticed wasn’t really working well was setting a number of tournaments, either a minimum or maximum,” admitted Negreanu. “I realized that I would start to manipulate myself to play events maybe that I didn’t want to or not play events because I didn’t want to go over my number and I wanted to play (better).”

While the yearly goals are an important part of his process, Negreanu also talks a lot about intention, but don’t get those two mixed up at all

“Having clear intention and setting goals sound like they’re the same thing, but they’re really not. In the morning, you can wake up and say it’s my intention today to make a positive impact on somebody. It’s not a goal, per se, it’s a way of being. Then, at the end of the day I can look back and say did or I didn’t?,” said Negreanu. “Goals are much more specific. The key aspect of doing all of this is to not be attached to the results. That’s the most important part, because if you’re attached to the result, then you’re going to start to manipulate your play.”

When he first started using intentions, Negreanu found himself changing the way he did things for the wrong reasons and it often had disastrous results.

“It screwed me up actually because I remember saying to myself ‘Okay, my intention is to have 150K at the end of Day 1’ and then with like 30 minutes left I’ve got like 95k and I’m thinking I’ve gotta get to 150K,” said Negreanu. “And then I felt like a failure when I didn’t and I started to play differently. That’s not how it works.”

While some might obsess throughout the year over how they’re doing in terms of the end goal, Negreanu doesn’t. For the most part he simply forgets about the target and focuses more on the process.

“When I set my goals in January, I don’t even look at them until next January. I don’t even look at them until next January. I don’t look to see how I’m doing, I don’t check the progression,” said Negreanu. “Physical goals and different things that i have that are in my personal life, I do sort of keep a barometer, but with the poker ones that I throw out, I’m basically just telling the universe what I’d like to have happen.”

Those looking to follow Negreanu’s line of thinking in terms of setting and achieving goals, the jumping off point might not be where you think it is.

“Start at the very, very end in terms of the end goal. What do you want to accomplish in the bigger term? Then work backwards and say ‘Okay, if I’m going to get there, how am I going to get there? Who am I going to have to be? What am I going to have to do? And by when am I going to have to do it?,” said Negreanu.

Having gone through the process of setting and evaluating his goals for more than a few years now, Negreanu has learned a lot of things about himself along the way.

“It’s reinforced for me how important integrity is to me. And integrity to me essentially means being your word, dong what you say you’re going to do. Keeping your word to yourself and keeping your word to other people in your life, and the rest of the world,” said Negreanu. “These goals, especially when I don’t meet them, I’m not hard on myself but I just take a honest look at myself. Did I at least put in the effort in a way that I said that I would?”