Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Top Five Goals and Resolutions for 2018

New Year’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. While I know I can strike up a new habit whenever I want, there’s something so refreshing, peaceful, and contemplative about embarking on a new chapter in our shared story on January 1. It’s like that Anne of Green Gables quote—"Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” —only it’s a whole new year, and everyone is starting anew together.

In the past, though, I haven’t set effective goals on January 1. I tend to be too rigid, and my resolutions are filled with words like never and every day, which (for most people) only leads to frustration. So this year, I’ve settled on five bigger-picture goals that I plan to incorporate into my life—perhaps not every moment of every day, but certainly as much as I can.

Last year, I resolved to stop saying “I’m sorry” when I mean “Thank you” (e.g. stop saying “Sorry for bothering you” when I mean “Thank you for your help”), and this year I want to take it one step further. I’m not going to apologize when I should be dealing with the issue instead.

If I can’t make it to a proposed meeting time, I’m not going to apologize profusely and give a long-winded explanation of my prior commitment. No one cares. They just want to know what time would work. If it’s not my fault, I don’t need to waste my time or your time apologizing when we could be solving the problem.

This year is probably going to be the busiest of my life so far. This semester, I’ll be taking what I’ve been told is the most difficult courseload in my degree program (essentially, it’s an integrated introduction to all aspects of running a business, tied together with a semester-long group project) as well as interning for 20 hours per week. Next semester, I’ll hopefully be studying abroad. (I’ll get to that in a minute.)

I won’t have time to be the perfectionist I’ve always been. So, when possible, I’m going to strive to make my work 80% as good as I can. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s an inspiring video that changed my perspective on trying to make my work perfect.)

I’ve dreamed of spending a semester outside of the United States (preferably in London) since I was about nine or ten years old. Now it’s finally time to make it happen. Stay tuned for updates.

When I was a freshman in high school, one of my teachers shared with my class a quote from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Ever since, I’ve been trying to listen to understand, and many friends have called me a good listener, a label that I truly believe must be given to you by others.

I’ve prided myself on being a good listener for years, but lately I’ve started to feel more distracted by my obligations, my incessant internal monologue, the impending demise of society (you know, the usual), even when I’m trying to listen to someone else. This year, I’m going to quiet these distractions when talking with a friend (or trying to listen to myself).

I’m terrified of making mistakes, whether that means getting a B (or worse) in a class or getting lost while exploring a new city. But like I said before, 2018 is the year I don’t have time to strive for perfection. I’m going to prioritize learning and gaining new experiences over staying in my comfort zone, especially if when I study abroad. (I refuse to stay in my dorm because I’m worried about mixing up a train transfer on a trip to Berlin.)

As J.K. Rowling once said, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.” This is the year of not failing by default.

What are your goals for the new year? 

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