For many of us, this spring semester has now truly started. With the arrival of this third week of school, we've slowly managed to drag ourselves out of the lazy, carefree days of winter break and found our way back on the path of productivity, either willingly or forcibly. In addition, our determination and dedication to our New Year's resolutions have been, and will continue to be, increasingly tested. It is, however, not too late to get back on track and follow the goals you want to achieve for this year. Regardless of what your goals may be, they all share common prerequisites: a powerful devotion, a positive mind, and time and effort. Unfortunately, this sometimes brings up the issue of how much devotion one should put toward said goals. Even if a person may be fully committed to his or her ambitions, this dedication can backfire and end up hampering a person's progress.

Everyone either has a friend or knows someone who has braved numerous challenges and obstacles in order to attain difficult and high-level goals — we see these people as the trailblazing leaders who inspire others with levels of leadership and skill that we can only dream to attain in our lives. As we strive to accomplish our own goals, we look up to these forerunners, trying to emulate them and become successful as well. Instead of making headway toward our goals, unfortunately, this emulation can hold us back and prevent us from moving forward.

The countless sacrifices that these people endured in order to become successful, such as the lack of social development derived from many lonely nights of burning the midnight oil, to the rising health problems that they face now and later in life, are not to be underestimated. It is a common misunderstanding, especially among students, that a successful life is gained only through unyielding and heavily strict curriculums. I say this with first-hand experience, too. I initially thought that, in order to do well in college, and later in life, you must focus completely on studying and working; anything else, such as having friends or going to parties, would only serve to distract you and undermine all the work that you had done up to that point. Thankfully, my friends, old and new, were able to show to me that this single-minded plan wasn't the only choice for my life. They added a new factor into my life – spontaneity.

As human beings, we are social creatures that need variety in order to work at optimal performance, in more ways than one. Just like how we require and obtain essential vitamins and nutrients from a variety of foods in order to stay healthy, we need to change up our daily routines every so often so that we stay mentally sane and healthy too. It helps to do some things without overthinking or doting on them too long; otherwise, you end up missing out on future enjoyable events. You could say that although studying would give you some "nutrition," it would not be equal to the amount or type of "nutrition" that you could get from, for example, suddenly joining a big snowball fight in PCB courtyard or impulsively sliding down an ice-covered Pedestrian Walkway at night, shivering to death, with friends. There is no doubt that the sudden thunder/snow event last week was an enjoyable and good example of a spontaneous way for us college students to change things up and stay happily sane and healthy.

It's good to have a curriculum planned out for your future goals, but don't let yourself get so overconfident that you ignore your limits and think you are as superhuman as those high-achievers that you look up to. Getting to their level will take a lot of planning and effort, but also remember that they are human too. More than likely, they didn't get to where they are now by being emotionless and monotonous.

Remember to break up your schedule so you get a healthy dose of studying and leisure time, along with periods of free-spirited and unplanned activities, and you'll attain your goals faster and more happily.

— Jan Urbano is a senior in biochemistry and molecular biology. He can be reached at jurbano@utk.edu.