( Shanice-Kimberly Niebank )For me, the word ‘resolution’ is full of failure. It is full of holiday excuses, month-only gym joining, and perpetually enslaved to the month of January. But the simple little act of rechristening my ‘resolutions’ to ‘goals’ creates something that I want to strive year for weeks, months, even years. Goals seem more attainable, more realistic, more mutable. Goals can change with who you are as a person, align with your values in March only to be reshaped again in September. And better yet when your goals, when possible, turn into good habits.

I wasn’t originally going to follow suit and come up for any overarching goals or mantras for the new year. I figured my 101 in 1001 project was enough to keep me busy; yet the first few days of 2012 felt empty for some reason. Perhaps it’s best to have sat on my goals and made them more personal, more real, without the temptation of setting superficial resolutions on the first of the month. There are some personal goals that cannot be summed up in a neat little list of to-do projects and, list-lover that I am, just thinking of the things I would like this year to become has made me giddy with excitement.

Creativity: I was named “most artistic” in my high school yearbook. I spent 3/4 of my senior year working on art projects in the art wing or taking painting classes for fun during study hall. I painted our prom photo backdrop and murals around the school. And now it’s been four years since I’ve even looked at a paintbrush, much less picked one up (though I did paint a small picture for Mum for Christmas, which is perhaps what really threw me over the edge at getting out of my slump). I’m one of those people who looks back on old sketchbooks and doesn’t see growth, but really bad art that isn’t perfect and must be burned. I need to get over my perfectionism, just keep something daily to feel inspired again, and really hone my style.

My high school evidently was not aware of the ability to resize pictures…and I was evidently channelling the grunge scene that day…
Plan meals/Buy less cheese: This may sound silly, but I’ve discovered the root of my unhealthy eating. Between running through the drive-thru window after a late night at work or class and currently having no less than ten different cheeses in my refrigerator, it’s safe to say I have a bit of a problem.

Offense number one lies in my rather unreliable schedule. Working retail, there are nights I work until six, and nights I don’t get home until ten. And with classes scattered throughout, most nights I’m not in the mood to cook anything and stop at the Wendy’s conveniently located on my route home. I’ve gotten better at packing my lunch, but still find myself in a place where I have no idea what to eat. And that’s where Wendy’s happens.

On top of the spontaneous fast food (that doesn’t even really agree with me), the meals I do plan are still somewhat helter skelter and I end up with random ingredients that either go bad before I can use them in another meal, or specialty items that I’ll never use again. I like making interesting dishes, but have trouble coordinating them, or reusing leftover ingredients without feeing like I’m making the same meal two nights in a row.

Not only can it get ludicrously expensive, but I really should not be eating cheese with every meal. I blame this on being raised by macaroni & cheese until the age of eleven. Now, I don’t hate fruits and veggies, but until recently I’ve been more or less a picky eater. I grew up on broccoli, applesauce, macaroni, and chicken nuggets. Now that I’ve branched out, I can’t seem to kick the habit and have trouble finding delicious sounding recipes outside of the realm of pasta with some kind of cheese. I don’t want to give up cheese forever, but it’s time I expand my horizons, put a stopper in my cheese budget, and  find some good, healthy, quick alternatives. But the string cheese can totally stay.

Exercise: Most cliche goal of all time. But really, I feel better when I get some physical activity in, don’t start heaving after 4 flights of stairs, and plus, I have a snazzy new yoga mat. Aside from yoga and walking the park trails (which is somewhat hindered when it’s -3 degrees out), I haven’t found much that I enjoy doing or can do within the confines of a part-time retail job/senior year school schedule.

Don’t be a hermit: I’m not the “typical” college student; I don’t really do parties or going out in Oakland. Honestly, I prefer to stay home and have dinosaur documentary marathons or play video games with friends. Or by myself. Which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy my friends and time spent with them, but with my schedule, I’m either exhausted by the time I get home, on a completely different schedule as everyone else, and without weekends to spare. I really need to make an effort to spend time with the friends I really cherish, even if that means planning a day to do it. I feel like once my schedule becomes a little more regulated this won’t be as hard, and though I’ve gotten better with fairly frequent girls’ nights with April, there’s more to be done. Surely, Stevie B! and I can squeeze in more than a 20-minute coffee break once a week…

Internship: I never really entertained the idea of an internship while in school, either because of not really knowing what I wanted to do with my degree, or because, once essentially a pre-education major, how do you have a relevant intern experience as a teacher before being legally certified to work with students? So I brushed the idea off. I’d love to have the experience, but truth is, to finish my degrees I’ve never really had the time to work one into my school schedule, and it always seemed like there was nothing an English Lit/Japanese major was qualified for without the added help of a Journalism minor or business certificate (more things I didn’t have time to add on – I would stay in school forever if you’d let me). And so I always felt that there was nothing for me. But I’ve resolved to at least try applying for some, since I may have this summer off, and publishing and editorial work has really sparked my interest. It never hurts to try!

To me, a resolution has an expiration date of January 31st, if I can hold out that long, but a ‘goal’ is a vehicle for change. A great, hulking, ocean liner of change.

What’s your mantra for 2012?