This is the year that I graduate—the year that I can walk away from the university I’ve spent four year at with a diploma in my hand. With a piece of paper that will be the ticket to the gates of my dreams and goals. And then, immediately, I’ll be using it to get classfuls of other people’s children on the same track to get their tickets to their dreams. This is a big year. It will be the last time I step into a classroom as a student (at least for a while) and the first time I walked into one as a teacher.

I’ve been reading a book about leadership in the form of teaching and being a teacher. I have a lot of work to do in preparation for this role that I’ll be taking on—the role that I’ve been waiting to fulfill for years now. The trajectory of my students lives will be in my hands. No, it already is in my hands. The preparatory work is just as important as the actual time in my classroom. And that preparation begins now. Today. This moment.

That’s why, this year, my resolutions for the new year are of critical importance. They aren’t just for me—they’re for all the children I’ll be working for for the next two years of my life. My new years resolutions are to make me better for them. They are at the heart of everything now—my every action, my every daily and monthly goal. Everything comes back to those children, my children. Never have the stakes been so high, so real. The only thing I’ve been striving for have been good grades and a promising resume.

From now on, I’m striving to change the lives of actual people—directly. The challenge is daunting—terrifying, really. But it’s doable. I’m scared, but I’m eager. I’m nervous, but I’m excited. The mixture of emotions is already stressful, but it will be well worth it.

This is the list of my new years resolutions—they are ambitious but feasible, and they reflect the very kind of goals that I plan to set for my students in the coming two years. These goals are my practice and are meant to get me into the mindset of setting goals and working to achieve them and doing everything I can to ensure that I do. The art of self-motivation and perseverance are vital to being an effective teacher. If I want my students to be the kind of people that demonstrate these characteristics, I myself must be a paradigm for them to follow. This year is for them. Here are my thirteen goals for the thirteenth year of this millennium.

1.   I will run in the Oklahoma City Memorial Half-Marathon on Sunday, April 28, 2013. To do this, I will begin training the first week of January, following the half-marathon training schedule I’ve created. I will make time in my daily routines to work out for the necessary time, and I will track my progress each week. By April 28, I will have trained for the sixteen weeks, and I will be ready to compete in the half-marathon race.

2.  I will make sure I am physically healthy this year because it is necessary to be physically healthy to maintain mental health. Therefore, in conjunction with my workout routine, I will eat well and cut back on my sugar intake. I will cook healthful meals for myself, take vitamins for my skin and immune system, I will drink at least 16 ounces of water every day (moving to 32 ounces by the end of the year), and I will take other necessary measures to look my best and feel my best physically.

3.  I will continue to see my psychologist throughout the school year and work on dealing with my depression and other issues until I can effectively cope with them and resolve them when they come up. I will help myself by practicing introspection daily by writing or meditating. I will practice gratitude by writing in my journal regularly (at least 4-5 times per week) about the positive things in my life.

4.  I will work on my relationships with my family members, my friends and my boyfriend. I will work on expressing my gratitude, appreciation and love in a more tangible and consistent way. I will stop taking them for granted by having a negative attitude. And I will demonstrate acts of love by writing notes, sending cards, calling them, including them in my life more, and working through problems maturely and lovingly.

5.  I will finish my novel’s first draft all the way through and make edits on at least a third of the book by setting clear and definite milestones for each week and meeting each of them on time, wasting no time in the beginning or end.

6.  I will make straight As in my final semester and work to bring my GPA up to a 3.9. I will do this by investing myself into my school work, ensuring that I study enough to make As on all quizzes, exams and essays.

7.  I will graduate summa cum laude in May with two degrees and three majors. I will also graduate having won at least two scholarships and having been published in an undergraduate academic journal.

8.  I will make more connections with professors and strengthen the ones I already have in preparation for applying to graduate school after Teach for America.

9.  I will start researching and preparing for applying for graduate school and law school by talking to administrators in Career Services, studying for the GRE, and attending Pre-Law Club meetings.

10. I will update my blog on a weekly basis about quality education and education equality as I complete my pre-work for TFA Institute. I will follow education blogs on renowned news websites and do my own outside research to present on my blog and help me prepare for teaching in August. I will also continue blogging about my experience as a teacher-in-training and as a teacher during the school year.

11.  I will be financially responsible, not spending my money on things I don’t need or spending it when I can’t afford it. I will save as much as I can and update and maintain my financial spreadsheet every week so that I always know how much I have, how much I will have after bills, and how much I can afford to spend otherwise.

12. I will do twelve 30-day challenges that help me reach these goals or some specific goal. They will be thoughtful and will address my personal need or something I need to work on for that specific 30-day period.

13. I will be the best teacher I can possibly be and give my students everything I can to provide them with opportunities and give them the skills they need to make the most of them. I will work every day, knowing that I am working for them and that I can and will make a difference in their lives. I will treat them all with love and kindness and hold high expectations for each of them, doing everything I can in the meantime to ensure that they meet those expectations.