Sarah Title,

Most people enter a new year with the mindset that this year is their year. They will stick to their resolutions and will become better people. They will lose those extra inches off their waist and spend more time with family and schoolwork. They will not waste life’s precious moments and they will be fearless. Millions of people each new year believe these things will happen for them. Well, for the first month anyway.

While dreams of fitting into those jeans or getting that promotion may seem to fade or become less important over time, reflection is something that should remain prominent in our minds this year. As the clock struck midnight Jan. 1, we were not only leaving behind a year, but a decade; a decade of goals completed, personal changes, loved ones found and loved ones lost. With a decade of memories behind us, we have a wide-open range ahead of us to make new ones. According to a long-term study done at the University of Washington, only 40 percent of Americans achieve their new year’s resolutions the first time around. Why should we limit ourselves to achieving such hefty goals — such as happiness or love — in just one year when we know we have at least 10 more?

Ten years ago, I was in fourth grade learning about the capitals of the states and taking on the role of the grandmother in the Oregon Trail game. My classmates were my best friends and my mom knew everything there was to know about life. As I reflect on those carefree times as a 10-year-old, life seems to have flown by rapidly. Think of all you have done! You survived the tumultuous years of middle school, endured the stresses of the SAT and ACT, went to many a homecoming and prom and anxiously awaited the acceptance letter telling you that the college you wanted to attend is where you indeed belong. The rollercoaster of high school love and friendships and the endless fights with your parents about curfews and money are all things of the past. The year 2011 has nothing but open space for us to roam.

These next 10 years that lie ahead of us are to be used at our own discretion. These years can be used to achieve the goals we’ve been dreaming of since 4th grade. They can be used to fall in love and have a family. They can be used to travel and explore, to continue searching for what we want. While the previous 10 years seemed scripted and planned, these next 10 are for us and our imagination.

Before you set a time limit on a goal with so much depth, remember that you’ve got an entire decade ahead of you. Use these 10 years to create even bigger goals. Reflecting on how far you have come can help you discover how far you have to go.