People will always try to say that New Years resolutions are overrated, and cynically insist that no one ever keeps them anyway.

But at the end of each year, I feel it's important to look back and reflect upon the strides I've made, what I've accomplished and what I haven't, and the areas in which there is still room for me to improve. I try to see life as a continuous journey to become the best person I can be, knowing that each year will bring new and more difficult challenges than the previous one, and I'll have to figure out ways to accept them and cope with them. I know this coming year is going to bring big changes--in school, at work, in the world around me. So, yes, like so many others who are on a continuous journey of self-improvement, I'm taking the new year as an opportunity to set some new goals for myself on that path. I guess you could say I'm preparing for the next level of the game that is my life.

And yes, I DO have faith in myself that I can keep these resolutions--this year and beyond.

1. Relax

I never realized just how many thoughts constantly raced through my mind, or how that might be affecting my life, until a few days ago when I downloaded a meditation app and began doing 10-minute daily exercises. Slowing down, quieting my mind and letting all those thoughts go felt better than I could have ever imagined, and I couldn't help thinking of how much more productive I could be if I always felt relaxed, centered and clear-headed. So this year, I'm going to continue taking time at the beginning of each day to meditate, and at the end of each day to unwind and de-stress. When the new spring semester begins, I know I'll be able to improve my GPA, my relationships and my general way of life in a more relaxed state.

2. Keep a journal

At the same time, when I'm going through something big in my life that brings confusing feelings with it, I know writing in a journal is a good way for me to sort them out. It's another way to make more space in my mind for clearer thinking.

3. Become a better communicator

Communication is essential in all relationships--romantic, friendly, professional, and so on. It's how people come to understand each other's feelings, thoughts and ideas. This year, I want to make sure my feelings, thoughts and ideas are heard, and that they're heard in the right way. I want to be able to let others know what I need from them, and be there when others need something from me.

4. Keep my word

I'm not just going to say "We should really try to hang out more!" and then let weeks pass with no contact at all. I'm going to make sure it actually happens. I want people to know me as the type of person who really means what she says--especially when it comes to nurturing friendships.

5. Stop degrading myself, and start praising myself

I'm now entering my 21st year. I believe now is as good a time as ever to realize that I'm going to make mistakes, and it's going to be okay. They're not a comment on my character and they don't take away from the good parts of me. I'm really going to try and have more faith in those good parts.