New Year, New Goals and Ways to Stay on Track

person at table writing a letter

If you’ve ever started the year with what feels like a thousand goals in mind, but then ended the year feeling like you’d accomplished none, you aren’t alone. This happens to just about everyone at some point in their lives, because the truth is, life is unpredictable and plans can change from one second to another. However, to accomplish what you set your mind to isn’t impossible. And when it comes down to the how? There are some simple methods that you can try to stay on track with your new year goals.

Here are some tried and true methods to help keep you on track:

Begin with Journaling

Journaling has many benefits. Amongst the best of them is that it can help reduce stress/ anxiety and improve mental health. Through journaling you can put all of your thoughts, feelings, and ideas into writing, which makes soul searching a little easier. Through journaling you can easily discover what’s making you happy and what is no longer serving you, making planning that much more simple and clear.

Set Measurable Goals

We encourage you to dream as big as you want, but in order to make these dreams come true, think about what the beginning steps are to accomplish these dreams. Start small to make sure you’re not overwhelmed from the beginning, this will make sticking with it easier.

When you’re thinking about what these first steps are, think about how you can measure progress, for example, if your goal is to run a marathon, your measurable goal can be to start running 2 times per week to build endurance. Thinking about trying to tackle the entire 26.2 miles will feel overwhelming but if you focus on building towards the race a few miles at a time, all of a sudden it doesn’t feel so impossible.

Organize Your Year into Segments

Whether all you have is one big goal or you have a bunch of smaller ones, the best approach is to not try to do it all at once. Instead try to divide your year into segments and divide the goals into each segment. If any goal is big enough that it’ll take the whole year or more than a year, divide it into the smaller steps you’ll take to accomplish it and assign them to different segments into the year. The year can easily be divided into trimesters and as mentioned before, keep writing everything down, so you can come back to it when needed.

Celebrate Every Single Accomplishment

Because you deserve it! Make sure to give yourself the deserved credit for every little step that you’ve accomplished, at the end of the day those accomplishments that seem small are what’s getting you closer to the finish line.

Have Fun with it and Don’t be too Hard on Yourself

Remember that what’s most important is how you’re feeling and if any goal becomes overwhelming, or changes into something you don’t want anymore, don’t be afraid to pause and come back to it later in life, or to just ditch it altogether. This doesn’t mean you’re a quitter, on the contrary, it shows you aren’t afraid to put yourself first.

As 2022 approaches, remember that you are capable of whatever you dream and so much more, never think that a goal is too big or impossible. We hope this year is filled with good news and crossed-off goals for you. The Luz family wishes you a happy and prosperous new year. What are your new year’s goals? Come chat with us on Twitter @luzcollective.

an image of a pile of books

This article is part of a series developed in partnership with Project Pulso.

Latino history is vital to the American narrative - there is no America without Latino contributions. Despite this, Latino storytelling and history are increasingly being sidelined in educational institutions. The issue deepens when we look at the emerging trend of book banning.

What is the Modern Book Ban?

Book banning is the act of removing books from reading lists, libraries, or bookstores based on content disagreements. Often done with the pretense of safeguarding children, the majority of these challenges come from parents and library patrons. However, elected officials, school boards, and even librarians can also be champions of imposed ignorance - after all, they know knowledge is power.

Recently, the ALA reported an "unprecedented volume" of book challenges. This is alarming for multiple reasons:

  • Censorship: Book banning is fundamentally a form of censorship. Although the First Amendment protects against government censorship, private individuals or organizations face limited restraint. This makes book banning a primary example of legal censorship in the U.S.
  • Democracy at Risk: At the core of democracy is the free exchange of ideas. By constraining this, we challenge the principles on which the U.S. was built. Censorship often paves the way to tyranny, allowing a small group to dominate the narrative.
  • Stagnation: Book bans impede societal progression by avoiding challenges to prevailing beliefs. To quote English writer George Orwell from his eerily prescient dystopian novel “1984”: “The best books are those that tell you what you know already.” Do we aspire to a society that shuns diverse thought? Book bans lead fully in that direction.
Marginalization: Such bans further alienate underrepresented communities. With Latinos already underrepresented in literature, these bans exacerbate the problem.

Latino Representation: The Understated Crisis

Despite making up a significant portion of the K-12 public school population, Latino students are presented with textbooks that overlook or barely touch upon key topics in Latino history. Out of the books published for young readers, only 5% concern or are authored by Latinos. This void extends beyond just fictional narratives.

Recent bans in states like Texas and Florida are erasing the already sparse representation Latinos have. Essential books reflecting Latino experiences, such as My Name is María Isabel, are disappearing from shelves. Project Pulso underlines this issue in their post:

Even beyond Latino literature, there's a broader attack against critical theory. This crusade aims to stifle discussions on racism, sexism, and systemic inequality. In a single year, 2,539 books faced bans, according to PEN America. A startling number of these pertained to LGBTQ themes, protagonists of color, race, and racism.

A Spotlight on Banned Latina Authors

Amidst the unsettling rise in book bans across the U.S., Latina authors have found themselves at the epicenter of this censorship storm. These authors not only highlight the complexities of Latino heritage but also bridge gaps in understanding, weaving tales that resonate across boundaries. Many invaluable works by Latina authors have been banned, including:

  • “The House of the Spirits” by Isabel Allende: Spanning generations, this saga chronicles the lives of the Trueba family in Chile, accentuating the mystical powers of its female characters. Challenges against it cite reasons like its "pornographic" nature and alleged attacks on Catholicism.
  • “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros: Through vignettes, this novel paints the life of Esperanza Cordero, a young Chicana in Chicago. Bans have been enforced based on claims that it instigates skepticism against "American values."
  • “Out of Darkness” by Ashley Hope Pérez: Set against the backdrop of 1930s Texas, this novel delves into the love between a Mexican American girl and a Black teen. Challenged for its graphic nature, it's deemed "sexually explicit" and has earned a place on the Top 10 Most Banned Books list.
  • “The Poet X” by Elizabeth Acevedo: The narrative revolves around 15-year-old Xiomara, who channels familial tension into her poetry. Accusations against it range from being "anti-Christian" to violating religious safeguards.
  • “How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents” by Julia Alvarez: This novel charts the journey of the Garcia sisters, uprooted from their Dominican heritage, as they grapple with a starkly contrasting life in New York, touching on themes of identity, family, and culture.
  • “Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel: This enchanting novel narrates the intriguing history of the De La Garza family in Mexico, where love, tradition, and magic blend seamlessly. It delves deep into themes of forbidden love, family obligations, and the transformative power of food.
  • “Bless Me, Ultima” by Rudolf Anaya: Set in New Mexico; this narrative introduces us to Antonio Marez and Ultima, a healer. As Antonio steps into manhood, Ultima becomes his guiding light, illuminating his path through childhood bigotry, familial crises, and the mysteries of spirituality.

The increasing trend of book banning, especially of Latino literature, is a pressing concern. Not only does it threaten our democratic principles and societal growth, but it also amplifies the marginalization of already underrepresented communities. Our society's richness lies in its diversity, and by stifling these voices, we risk losing an integral part of our narrative. It's time to reassess and recognize the value of all stories, regardless of their origin.