By Jeanne Marie Leach

 Concentrate on finding your goal, then concentrate on reaching it.

—Col. Michael Friedsman

 No, I didn’t misprint the title of this piece. Each January people talk about their new year’s resolution—that thing or list of things they want to do better in order to make the coming year not sound like it’s going to be the same old life. Some don’t allow themselves to get caught up in making these pledges, while others challenge themselves with verve.

“In 2012, I’m going to . . .”

It’s now July.

Few of us have actually made our goals, and fewer still reach it multiple years in a row. So why does this phenomenon get so much attention each year? Because as humans, we need a good challenge now and then. The thought of excelling in one new thing thrills us.

But what about the other parts of our lives? Do we stop growing and reaching and challenging ourselves in other areas simply because we made a new year’s resolution? Surprisingly, that’s often what we do.

Since it’s too late to make a New Year’s resolution, I’d like to challenge you to make a New Year’s evolution. Don’t accept the status quo in your life any longer. If you are a good writer, then take classes, read books, attend a conference—whatever it takes—in order for you to actually grow and evolve into a better writer.

If you are a devout Christian, then challenge yourself to reach for the next level. Practice your Christianity in ways you haven’t done before. You don’t need a checklist—just do it.

If you are a parent, then do what you know must be done to be better at parenting.

Take hold of every aspect of your life and strive to become better in all of them. Remember Ebenezer Scrooge. He didn’t make a resolution, but rather, he evolved into a better employer, friend, benefactor, and man. The story says he “became” as good a man as any.” He didn’t just appear better one day, but he strived to become better than he had been in the past.

For those of you who are Trekkies, you know that every time someone from the Enterprise was asked about what they did for money. The answer remained constant. They had no money. Men no longer strived for things, but rather, they endeavored to better themselves.

In this time of economic challenges, many of us must strive for money for just the basic living expenses. I’ve noticed myself doing this at the expense of all other striving. I stopped reading books about my craft. I stopped mentoring other writers. I stagnated in so many areas of my life because I needed to make money. But as I sit here writing a blog, I realize that need not be the case. I can sell things on eBay and still find time to study to make myself more knowledgeable about writing, or to delve deeper into my relationship with God.

Maintaining a single focus creates a stagnancy in our lives that is often difficult and often downright impossible from which to recover. It is with this in mind that I exhort you to go deeper with your writing. Try new things. Do the impossible. Challenge yourself to learn more. Give all areas of your life—spirit, mind, soul and flesh—your full attention and strive to evolve into the kind of person God wants you to be. God knows you aren’t going to be perfect in this life, but he encourages us to work toward it anyway.

So for the rest of this year, instead of trying to live up to a New Year’s resolution long forgotten, dare to reach beyond the commonplace. Have the courage to grow and evolve into a better writer, and a better you!