First post of 2020 (AND first day back in class. yikes). This year I’ll turn 26, finish a year of law school, pin on a new military rank, and head into my third year of marriage. I do love the new year, but I’m not the biggest fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I like having goals, so here are ten of mine to tackle in the next 12 months!
Goals for 2020
1. Crush the Veteran’s Impact Initiative
This semester, I’m part of a service project to connect the veterans of Harvard with Boston vets and Harvard’s civilian population. Initially, I was surprised by how little exposure my classmates had to service members. But then I realized – that easily could have been me! There are no bases close to Chicago, and I probably wouldn’t have seen a uniform besides the occasional soldier in airports. With that realization, I feel a larger responsibility than ever to inform and represent the military population.
Luckily, this sentiment is shared by the Black Family Fellowship (we’re all vets or Active Duty), the Center for Public Leadership, and the Harvard administration itself. We’ve already done a few civilian-military panels, but we have a Day of Service coming up in April and I’m leading it! (Kind of – they weren’t silly enough to ONLY put me in charge). I really want to dedicate as much time to this as possible, spreading the word across all Harvard communities and getting as many people involved as I can.
2. Save More $$
Right now is a HUGE opportunity for me and Ben to rack up the savings. In addition to a standard paycheck, military members are given a monthly housing allowance based on where they’re stationed. The more expensive the area (DC, LA, BOSTON, etc), the more BAH you’re given. Since Ben and I are both active duty, we both get this allowance. And rather than getting a really nice apartment, we chose a place that lets us save over 50% of that amount!
This year, I’m really working to minimize “dumb” purchases and maximize additions to high-interest saving accounts and traditional retirement methods. It is SO fun to see those numbers add up!!
2.5 Save [CHRISTMAS] $$
As a subset of #2, I created a savings account specifically for Christmas. In 2019 I did an end-of-semester “treat yoself” that coincided with all my Christmas purchases…and that was NOT the most fiscally responsible move. This year, I’ll be prepared ✔
3. Print some DANG wedding photos
Haven’t printed a single one. Ben is sick of me scrolling through my phone to look at them…every day.
4. Mentor More
I got a head start on this one! In November 2019, I was selected as a Harvard Law Admissions fellow. This means I’ll lead tours, answer questions, and meet prospective HLS students after they’ve been admitted! I am REALLY excited about this for several reasons. First, it’ll help me accomplish Goal #1; each candidate will walk away from meeting me with a positive veteran encounter. Second, speaking to HLS students sold me on Harvard. Atmosphere and attitude are everything, and I want to be the smiling (but honest) face to make new people feel welcome. Third, the Admissions Fellow gig is totally volunteer, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to give a little back!
5. Explore the Northeast
It’s already been one semester and I haven’t seen a lot of my city, let alone New England. On New Year’s Eve Ben and I visited the Boston harbor, went to the Aquarium, and had drinks at the Cheers bar near Faneuil Hall. It was wonderful. I’ve also been to the Museum of Fine Arts, Cape Cod, and a symphony through the BFFs, and that made me so excited to see more of this wonderful coast.
Ben and I are planning a Vermont ski trip in February, and we have a wedding-present Boston wine tasting tour that we need to use! We’ll definitely go to more museums and walk the Freedom Trail this spring, if not this summer (Ben is a HUGE history guy so this is almost guaranteed)
6. Abuse that yoga membership
#6 is off to a good start – I was consistent with yoga through the holidays, and each day is a little less painful than the last. But during first semester, I dropped to one or two yoga classes a week when I felt stressed (aka, ALL the time). I would tell myself, “oh you’re pretty tired, might not be able to get through a hard class today”…which was a BIG fat lie. Even on a tired day, taking it easy during class is leaps and bounds better than doing nothing at all!
7. Expand the Blog
This will also assist with goals #1 and #3, I think! I’ve been AMAZED with how many people have reached out through email, facebook messenger, and instagram to comment on the blog and ask questions. NOTHING MAKES ME HAPPIER because that’s the whole point! I’m in a pretty unique place with a pretty unique job, and I want to pass along any perspective I can.
There’s a caveat with this goal, though. During first semester I found myself stressing when the blog followership wasn’t growing, and feeling like I needed to promote it more.
Each time, I had to put the phone away and remind myself that I’m in law school, at Harvard, and it is PERFECTLY FINE to go weeks without social media or improving this site’s SEO. So, #7 will be a balance. I’ll definitely continue to blog weekly, but back up on everything else!
8. Join Something
Okay, I don’t mean like a facebook group. I want to find a legal topic or cause that I feel strongly about, and then join the corresponding journal, practice organization, or clinic. I have a few ideas – Managing the Atom Project through the Belfer Center, the Harvard Law Negotiators, or the Prison Legal Assistance Project. There are many amazing options (check them out here: https://hls.harvard.edu/dept/clinical/student-practice-organizations-spos/) and I need to choose one.
9. Keep Reading
I read for fun every night, but I’m not great at “branching out” in my choices. I read a couple great fiction books in the fall (Where the Crawdads Sing, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, One Second After, and My Sister, the Serial Killer) before ending 2019 with my #1 fallback, Steven King (long, horrific, well-written…pure perfection). So I have five VERY diverse, nonfiction books to hit first in 2020; I’m currently reading Memoirs of a Geisha (the PERFECT gift from my mother-in-law!) which I highly recommend.
- Dumbing Us Down – an examination of the compulsory public school system
- The Dead Hand – a history of the Cold War
- So You Want to Talk About Race? – yep, I do. It’s an issue and it’s time to educate myself.
- Lincoln on Leadership – One of my military bosses told me to read this!
- Just Mercy – a young defense attorney defends a man wrongfully convicted of murder.
10. Call My Mom More
No, really!! And not just my mom, but everyone else I’m close to. I’m pretty bad at making time for phone calls and FaceTime, but that’s essential to maintain my relationships through school.
And that’s that! In a nutshell – I’m going to take advantage of service opportunities, go to yoga, continue growth as a person and student, travel, see new people and places, save save save, and expand my contributions to the community. Time to drink that last bit of NYE champagne, get to this 9am class, and get 2020 rolling ✔