Thinking big in 2015

Exactly one week ago the clock turned to 2015, and the vast amount of resolution messages and tweets came flooding in. We’ve all heard the “I will lose X pounds,” and “I will be nicer to people,” ones that are enough to give us a headache. New Year’s resolutions are usually as valid as promises from politicians. In fact, a Forbes study from a couple years ago found that the success rate for resolutions was eight percent.

And then I’ve also known people who say their resolution is to not have a resolution, which I think takes the cynicism a little too far. There is value in setting goals after all, it just seems somewhat artificial that everyone sets a goal at the same time simply because the calendar dictates it. You should set a goal because it’s something you truly want to achieve, not because everyone else is setting goals. Me? I have a few goals. Getting married, having a family, writing a book and traveling places I have been burning to see are definitely up there. But short term I usually live by the phrase “you only live once” or as I like to say, YOLO.

The great thing about YOLO is that it can be used as an expression in response to an idea, “Let’s go to Hawaii! YOLO.” It can be used as a hashtag, “Heading into this speech after two glasses of wine #YOLO.” Or even a verb as I sometimes use it, “Steven Tyler is always YOLOing with his vocal cords.” The spirit of YOLO basically involves living life to its fullest day to day. Everyone has their own version of what that means, but for me it is about being true to myself, doing what will make me happy and not worrying if something I say or do rubs some folks the wrong way.

I put dates on the calendar, but that’s about the greatest extent to which I think ahead more than a week in a given year. With that said, I can’t help but marvel at how much changed for me in 2014. I began the year in frigid temperatures, embarking on my final semester at UNC and covering the university’s athletic scandal for The Daily Tar Heel. May came and went, and suddenly I found myself to be an independent person living in an apartment in Greensboro, working at YES! Weekly. Along the way I said goodbye to several friends, said an unexpected goodbye to our family van of 10 years, got into the online social scene and learned the major players in the greater Winston-Salem community. I had no idea where I’d be six months down the road when the year began, but it all worked out.

One person who knew how to YOLO was ESPN anchor, UNC alum and former Winston-Salem resident Stuart Scott. Scott died from cancer last week after a seven-year battle. He attended Mount Tabor and Reynolds High, graduated from UNC in 1987, worked at a couple of local television stations and came to ESPN in 1993. Scott also hosted “Late Night with Roy,”—an annual event welcoming the beginning of UNC’s basketball season. I had the privilege of attending twice while I was there. As he announced each player’s name and fired up the crowd with his enthusiasm, Scott showed no signs of illness. At the ESPY awards last summer he was given the Jimmy V award and told the audience “When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.” The power of that line had flashes of Valvano’s speech from 21 years earlier. If that isn’t in the spirit of YOLO then I don’t know what is.

You don’t have to have a terminal illness to dream big, and you’re not prohibited from planning ahead either. For goodness sake, if you have a wedding this year you better be nailing down those details. We should all dream big in 2015 in our own way. If dreaming big means writing a resolution, great. But you don’t have to.

Decide what your version of YOLO is, and let the good times roll. !