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Commentary: Find motivation, challenge yourself to be better in 2014

Let’s get one thing straight — I hate New Year’s resolutions.

Most people won’t lose those pesky 20 pounds, learn a new language, start doing yoga every day or keep a journal. New Year’s resolutions are, by name, doomed to fail.

But let’s get another thing straight — I’m an optimist.

And so, yes, I believe this year can be great. But I don’t think we need to slap a big label on the changes we want to make in our lives, nor do we need the gleaming gateway of a new year to make them.

What we need, is motivation.

In college, motivation can be hard to come by. Ohio State is crawling with procrastinators, and I know this because I’ve sat through enough “study sessions” in various campus locations that were really just an excuse for my friends and I to explore topics such as “American Horror Story,” Facebook creeping, Eminem’s best music videos and the optimal time to order a pizza.

I will likely never know why we procrastinate on studying, writing papers and finishing class projects, but perhaps more importantly, I think it’s time we stop procrastinating on another aspect of our lives that will follow us far past college: making changes to become better people.

The best way to decide it’s time to make big changes in your life is to have a devastating, earth-shattering, rock-bottom moment. It’s easier to wait until our lives feel so irreparable that we must do something about it. However, whether we hit that point or not, there is always room for improvement.

So my challenge for the year — I’m going with challenge rather than resolution, because I will not destine myself for failure — is to do a simple thing: be better. Perhaps that sounds a bit rude. It’s not. It means simply, to improve every aspect of myself and my life that I have control over. Because who I am as a human being is too important to procrastinate on evaluating and improving.

This year, if we just go out of our way to challenge ourselves a little more, we can be better. So pick a few areas of your life that you’re unhappy with, and run with the possibilities of improvement.

I’m challenging myself to be more present wherever I am — to put down my phone, put away social media and just pay attention to what’s around me. I’m challenging myself to meet new people and develop deeper bonds with everyone in my life. I want to think a little longer before I react, worry a little less about others’ negativity and take better care of myself.

I want to be more fit, and I know that takes work. But my challenge is to remember each day that I’m not just deciding whether or not to go for a run. I’m deciding whether or not to be better in a certain part of my life.

So immerse yourself in something new, become distracted by nature, talk to strangers, be more spontaneous and less negative. Don’t just ignore the parts of your life you wish were different. You’re young and malleable. Make some changes.

Whatever your challenge or resolution this year, make it count. And don’t just make them now, challenge yourself every month, every week, every day. Adopt a mantra and repeat it to yourself daily, or post gentle reminders around your room so you can’t avoid the changes you want to make. Don’t just carry on about how 2014 will be “your year.” Put your money where your mouth is and be the best version of yourself every day.

Simply put, make 2014 the year you begin to commit to being better. And then never stop.

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