Northbound: If 2016 could be anything you wanted, what would it look like?

With the start of a new year, we have an opportunity to reflect on the prior twelve months, and start fresh with new goals for the future.

Most years, I write out my goals — financial, career and relationship-focused — and I put them in an envelope for safe-keeping.

The process of thinking about what your goals should be and writing them out on paper fosters clarity and resolve.

At the end of the year, I open the envelope, look at the goals I set, consider my failures and successes, and move on.

Like most North County residents, I’ve had to find creative ways to tighten my budget this year, and reevaluate how I spend money.

With my parents’ guidance and encouragement, I’ve been able to cut my budget down by hundreds of dollars.

When it comes to saving money, there are no sacred cows! Shopping at Smart & Final and Dollar Tree have made me think how much I’ve been overpaying for food and household goods at other places.

Luckily for me, I won’t have to drive from Carlsbad to Vista anymore to get to Smart & Final — a new store is opening up in Carlsbad Village early next year.

Career-wise, I always aim to develop new skills and add new areas of expertise each year.

As a public policy researcher, my job is mostly data analysis, and researching and writing about regional economic issues.

My job is unique in North County, but fundamentally we all have the same room for improvement in our careers. Seek opportunities for advancement and professional visibility.

Often we won’t be offered opportunities by someone — we have to create them and take them for ourselves. Be entrepreneurial and innovative in your workplace!

When it comes to the relationships we have with family and friends, I’ve found that there is no replacement for showing up.

Social media outlets like Facebook and Gmail Chat give us an opportunity to passively keep in touch, but not strengthen and deepen meaningful relationships.

Bridge the distances in your life, and take your time to get to know the people that are in your life.

Use vacation time to spend a whole day, or a weekend with people you know. Make new friends too. I’ve had success with MeetUp groups and gotten to know my neighbors better this year.

I’m eager to see what 2016 has in store for me. How about you? Think positive, and make this year better than the last. More importantly, live in the moment.

To quote one of my favorite TV characters, “Live now! Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.”

Vince Vasquez is a think tank analyst based in Torrey Pines. He is a  Carlsbad resident.


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