As we leave the warm, embracing, and joyous atmosphere of our homes and families and begrudgingly head back to school in cramped buses and cars, full of items to prepare us for the rest of the freezing winter and bipolar spring seasons, we reminisce on the holiday memories and the time spent. As most of us would agree, the break went by too quickly — it feels like only yesterday when I arrived back at home for break, eating and stuffing myself with succulent Filipino dishes to make up for the weight I lost due to studying throughout the previous semester and for finals week.

Although I enjoyed being able to come home, lounge around and finally play Halo with my brother and rage at people over Xbox Live, the holidays were meant to be more than just relaxation. With 2012 now completely in the past, after the arrival of this New Year we should not let ourselves be shackled to the depressing events and forlorn tragedies of the previous year. Instead, we should keep those experiences as memories and use them as fuel to continually propel us forward, both through our college careers here at UT and in our lives outside of the university. It should be our goal to become better people in 2013, and the most effective way to do that is to set benchmarks for what we want to achieve this year.

Before anything can be done, you should have a rough idea of what you want to do. Regardless of what goals you have in mind, after you've set your mind on what you want to achieve, the next step is to begin setting smaller sub-goals that relate to the ultimate goal you want to reach. This helps pace your progress. Doing too much at once is ambitious, but more than likely you will be too tired and end up taking too much time off. For example, if you run too much, or suddenly run after a long period of inactivity, not only will you tire yourself out quickly, but you can also injure yourself – for those who run often, the term "shin splints" is all too familiar – and you'll soon find yourself back where you began.
The next step is to then stick to what you've planned. It is, unfortunately, deceptively easy – if you don't have a lot of self-control and are not serious about your goal, you will never finish it. There aren't many tips that can solve this, as the rest of the work is up to you and your willingness to truly accomplish your goals.

Think of your progress in a different manner. A friend of mine had sent me a link that likened achieving real-world goals to certain aspects of video games, especially role-playing games (RPG). In RPGs, players usually gain levels after earning experience, which in turn is earned from doing quests or tasks. In real-world terms, these levels translate to the ability of a person to do a select action or skill – for example, a person who is a veteran at lifting weights would be judged as having a higher level than someone who is only just beginning. By comparing one's progress to such games, it gives the normally boring real-world tasks the addictive catchiness of popular video games and RPGs, thus making it more varied and interesting. Although this is only a brief outline, using this unique thinking and curriculum will make earning those six-pack abs much more interesting and satisfying, especially for those who love video games. Let us make 2013 a better year than the last, and good luck to all those who have their minds and goals set to become better people every day. The website is:

— Jan Urbano is a senior in biological sciences. He can be reached at