Hey, it’s a new year and you know what that means… time for those new year’s resolutions. Technically, you should have done this already. Generally, these are written before New Year’s Eve, but I know you. You are the kid who waits until the last minute. You are the kid who turns in your assignment the day after your teacher won’t take them anymore. So let’s write some today. It’s about time that you started thinking about how you can shape your life. A little history on the subject, people have been making some form of New Year’s resolutions since at least the Babylonians who would make promises to their gods in order to gain favor with the gods. These are the people credited with building the Tower of Babel. That is an ambitious group. Even if you don’t have a god to appease, you still probably have stuff you want to do, so let’s get started. According to the American Psychology Association, one of the big problems people have when making these resolutions is being too ambitious. You have to break these resolutions down into something that is measurable and reasonable. Make sure that your goal is something that you can achieve. “I want to be famous,” is a foolish resolution. First, you have no control over fame. Other people determine that. Second, how are you going to measure that? Are you going to ask people on the street, “Do you think I’m famous?” Are you going to start a YouTube channel and shoot for twenty followers? Maybe the easiest way to go about this is to begin with how to structure a goal, after all that is what these resolutions are. Have you ever heard of a SMART goal? SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time bound. This is a tool used by people from all professions and walks of life to help them structure goals. It can work for you too. Let’s take a look at this SMART structure from top to bottom. First, Specific, what do they mean? If you have a goal that isn’t specific, it’s not really a goal. “I want to lose weight,” is a strange way of setting up something like a goal that really isn’t much of a goal. It just isn’t specific, and yet it is one of the most common resolutions made each year. How much weight do you want to lose? If you just want to lose some weight, cut your hair or use the bathroom. Resolution met, right! Good for you! Most people who want to lose weight usually have something else in mind. They want to be more fit, and this could be a problem because if you start exercising, you may lose fat but gain weight in the form of muscle. What is a specific indicator that one could use for his or her goal? Does this person want to lose inches on his or her waist? Does this person actually want to lose five or ten pounds? Those are specific and measurable. Do you want to complete enough credits to graduate? Do you want to earn a GPA of 3.5 or higher? Do you want to just show up for class on time for the entire quarter? These are measurable, specific goals. To make your goal specific, ask yourself some questions. What do you want to do? Why? Next, your goal needs to be measurable. Yeah, we covered some of this two paragraphs ago, so to recap. If you can’t measure your goal, how will you know that you have achieved it? Wanting to “do good in school,” not only is grammatically incorrect for your purpose, but it also means nothing. What does doing well in school look like? To ensure your goal is measurable, think about how you will know when you have achieved your goal. When has success been achieved? Your goal must also be achievable, which means that you have to be able to realistically attain that goal. “I want to read more books this year than Warren Buffet, a man who is reportedly worth as much as 73 billion dollars,” may not be an achievable goal. Buffet claim he reads 500 to 1,000 pages a day, but “I want to read more books than Kanye and Donald Trump combined,” may be achievable because neither of these men read books. All you would have to do would be to read one book this year and you have succeeded. So make sure that you can accomplish your goal before you set it into your resolution. To make certain that you can achieve your goal, ask yourself if your goal is realistic. You should also know that the value of a new year’s resolution is the challenge you set for yourself, so don’t make it too easy. Next, you need to make sure that this goal is relevant. How much does this goal matter? Is it worth investing time and resources into? Is it worth the effort? You could have a goal to develop a skill to sole a Rubik’s cube in under five minutes, a pretty interesting goal, but if you aren’t invested in this, if it doesn’t matter to you, that 30 hours you may have to invest in developing this skill may not be worthwhile. Ask yourself this of your goal: Do you really care? If the answer is no, maybe you need to find a new one. Finally, we have come to the time-bound portion of a SMART goal. It is important to give yourself a date of completion. If you don’t, you probably will procrastinate and not complete it. When do you want your goal completed? Is it something that should be done in two months? Does it need to be done in ten months? You could even break a larger resolution down into smaller goals. I want to read 24 books this year. That means I need to read two books a month. That means I need to read a book about every two weeks. That is a doable challenge. You can imagine the same thing for savings. At the end of the year, I want to have a savings account with at least $2,000. That means I need to put away $167 a month. That is an achievable goal for many people. This year, make some goals. There is value in setting goals. As you trudge through what can sometimes be a mundane day at school, you can see that there is graduation coming. That goal is a motivator for many students. Your life should be filled with these goals that you are achieving. Save money, exercise more, read more, learn more, be more. You can do it. Just remember that your goals should be SMART goals.
Millennials: DON’T WASTE YOUR VOTE!
By Kayla Rask
When November comes and the leaves have fallen, there will be a much more serious topic than pumpkin pie on our minds: the 2016 presidential election. With everyone focused on our two charming leading candidates repetitively humiliating themselves and the entire nation, the amount of people opting to not vote is going to be much larger than it has been in decades. One of the biggest contributing factors to this growing population of passive citizens is the fact that millennials are coming upon voting age, and few of us want to. You can’t blame us for that. After all, it is the first election for most of us, and it can be a scary experience, before the added stress of not having a candidate to vote for that resonates with you morally. But the scariest thing about these realizations is the fact that millennials have surpassed the baby boomers as the largest generation, a whopping 83.1 million teenagers, and our collective vote is going to count much more than we have anticipated. That means it’s time to get it together and choose whatever stance best fits our interests.
My goal with this article is not to persuade you to change your opinion towards one candidate or another, but to help you find your own opinion based on how each candidate’s stances on the issues fall in line with your very own beliefs. Too often do people get their information from biased or opinion driven news websites or broadcasts, opinionated Facebook memes and videos, or simply their own relative’s standpoints, and let their emotions overpower their reasoning rather than looking for the stone facts. This truly is the generation of technology, which is beautiful and tragic all at the same time. There is so much access to information, and it’s right at our fingertips, yet our discretion is being abused and credible sources are becoming scarce. 100 years ago, women peacefully protested and fought and made it adamantly known that they would not stand for gender inequality any longer. In 1920, the 19th amendment was passed and women were given the right to vote. 230 years ago, the fight for equality between black males and white males began. The fight has been alive ever since, but in 1870 black males were given their right to an equal vote. 230 years seems like a long period of time, but it is only a tiny sliver on the cosmic calendar. It looks especially small when compared to the birth of democracy in 430 B.C.E. and how long those ideals have been alive. One would assume that with almost 3,000 years for humanity to ponder the ins and outs of democracy, the minority citizens of America would not have become lethargic and apathetic within the first 100 years of being granted the gift of having a voice. It’s so important for us to protect those rights. It’s not likely that history will repeat itself or that we will lose those rights again because we have the ability to learn from the past and use it in regards to the present and future to prevent mistakes that have already been made. However, there is something special about our generation that has never been seen before throughout history: advanced technology. Because it’s so new to us, everyone is engulfed in it. This makes it easier for larger scale profiles to manipulate groups of people. But we are not fully aware of the power it holds or the possible consequences it could bring, and we must protect what we had before it’s reign: unity in our communities. So often have I heard people wonder aloud how the two worst possible candidates ended up representing their parties? While pondering this, take into consideration that this election has had more social media coverage than any election in history. I won’t put the blame on that factor solely, but there’s no denying that the election would probably have been completely turned around if social media were to cease to exist. I’m not suggesting everyone ditch social media, as it’s become an important part of all of our lives. I’m suggesting that you understand it is important to your future that you be involved in your own community and you need to go out of your way to find credible sources. Voting on issues in your own town could bring on a lot more stress, because you will see the effects of the turnout around you every day. Voting on a federal scale is different because, even though we see nationwide issues on the internet and television all the time, it doesn’t necessarily affect us as directly. It’s important that you recognize the advantage of caring about what you’re voting on, so you can see how it affects everyone around you. Then you can use that knowledge to open your mind and compare your opinion to your values when it comes to the national election. Volunteering in your community is a good way to become involved and gain knowledge before you are able to vote, so you can be prepared by the time you are of age. As for credible sources, any website with the suffix .gov and sometimes .org should offer direct, accurate information and sources. Some information websites that could provide information to help you with forming your beliefs and values include: www.pewtrusts.org, www.procon.org, www.wikinews.org, www.alternet.org, and news broadcasters PBS and BBC. While browsing these sources, some important issues that could apply to your life and atmosphere to look out for include the following:
Supreme court appointment of new Associate Justice. Look for the importance of the title, duties of the position, whether the current president will appoint someone or if it will be held off until after the election, and who each candidate plans to appoint.
Obamacare and its affect on our country, both negatively and positively in the past eight years (you could make a list of pros and cons and see which outweighs the other), how each candidate views those effects, and if they plan to make any changes if elected.
Where each candidate stands in regards to the Black Lives Matter movement and what they plan to do to improve systemic racism.
Each candidate’s thoughts and plans on Gay Marriage, Abortion, Planned Parenthood funding, and other social issues.
Read the 2nd Amendment or an easier understood modified version of it, but be careful to avoid versions that show bias. Go through some news headlines from the past year or two involving gun violence and shootings. Next look at each candidate’s stance on gun control and compare.
Gather background information about our economy and how the free market works. Once you have an understanding, compare each candidate’s proposals about raising minimum wage or keeping it where it is, and how they will affect the economy and each of the social classes.
Using your knowledge about the economy and free market, compare each candidate’s stance on tax increases, decreases, or redistribution.
Once you have solidified your political values in correspondence to the issues, you can begin to look at liberal and conservative media in a different way. Because you can think for yourself, you have discretion to counter or agree with any source. Remember that once a candidate is elected, your job isn’t over. It’s still important to stay active in your city’s politics. The more people that participate in community politics, the more you will be represented accurately on a nationwide scale. Now, you have a background of information to put