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New year is an opportunity for a fresh start

New Year's Eve is a night of great excitement and anticipation marked by gatherings with family and friends and the ball drop. However, as teens reminisce about the special moments of the past year and ring in the new, they often look past the holiday's representation of change. This year is a chance for a clean slate; an opportunity to evaluate your life and the choices you make and create constructive resolutions.

Teens sometimes don't make or keep these resolutions, failing to realize the impact they hold. These promises you make to yourself can help you live your life to its full potential. Resolutions are also a major mood booster. You have the power to keep your promise to yourself. And when you have that satisfaction of keeping your promise, the feeling of accomplishment will make your self-confidence rise. If you can keep a resolution, then the sky is the limit.

One of the reasons teens sometimes feel overwhelmed when making resolutions is they set the bar too high. The key to making and keeping your resolution is starting small. Following through with a small resolution is far better than failing to stay true to your promise to end global warming by 2012.

*Slow down. Teens' numerous commitments with school and extracurricular activities make taking breaks and relaxing crucial to keep from being stressed. Setting aside the half hour that you would be on Facebook to sit down with your family or call a friend to talk about the day will help you stay calm. Even taking a 15-minute nap during the day can help when life is moving too fast.

*Read a book instead of watching TV. Electronics have taken the place of reading in the lives of many teens as they fail to understand how vital reading is. Not only do readers almost always do better on standardized tests but they have better grammar and become better writers. And if it's gadgets you want so badly, then go buy a Kindle.

*Make lists. Every morning write down a list of things that must be completed. They will more likely get done and you will accomplish more.

*Stay true to yourself. In every decision you make and in everything you say, take a moment to reflect, making sure that the choices you make reflect the best of yourself. If you make decisions based on other peoples' judgment, then no one will ever know the real you.

*Document your life. Keeping a journal serves as a key to tracking the changes in your life. Whether you write down everything you have done for the day or only a few lines, looking back on old events and accomplishments will help you remember old memories and how events have shaped your life.

*In times of tension, count to 10. When teens are angry or upset they often lash out at people. So when you think you are going to scream or say something that may be offensive, count to 10. It is simple and it works.

*Get to know your grandparents. Teens obviously know their grandparents but they most likely don't know about their lives and where they came from. Asking about where they went to school, how they met or places they have traveled can help you better understand not only them but your family history and heritage as well.

*Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth. Even though brushing your teeth only lasts a couple of minutes, that time you keep the water on is extremely wasteful. Turning off the faucet can save up to two gallons of water each time you brush. Multiply that by the three times a day you brush, and that's a lot of saved water.

*Don't worry; find the silver lining. Your attitude ultimately influences your happiness level. Worrying about things you cannot change will not help you solve a problem, it will just get you stressed. If you find positive aspects to less-than-stellar situations you will ultimately come out on top.

*Don't text when you are talking to someone else. This is a habit that should be erased, because it is impossible to intently talk and listen to two people at the same time. When you're with someone, put your phone in your pocket and keep it there.

*Wear sunscreen. Just do it. Even if it isn't sunny, ultraviolet rays still shine through the clouds, causing damage to your skin. So lather up.

So this year make a pact with yourself to make a resolution. Whether it is one of the above or one of your own, keep it in your mind and stay true to it. These small resolutions will make a big impact on your life.

Shaylyn Livingston is a senior at Hamburg High School.

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