Looking forward to all that 2018 holds

What are you looking forward to in 2018?

As the years come and go, it can be difficult to manage expectations. Sometimes we want something so badly that it can be hard to plan realistic ways to achieve that goal. Other times it can seem as if one year simply runs into another, with very little really changing.

As we leave 2017 behind and ring in 2018, though, I am looking forward to a number of things for this newspaper, for our community and for myself and my family at home. Here are some of the things that are on my mind as we prepare to ring in 2018:

n I look forward to PTT Global Chemical announcing a formal decision on whether it will build an ethane cracker plant in Belmont County at Dilles Bottom. Nearly all of our public officials say such a plant would bring numerous benefits to our region, including hundreds of jobs and additional related industries.

I don’t know all the ways that a new cracker plant might affect our area. Certainly, it seems that it would bring construction jobs at first, followed by the jobs required to run the plant itself. I don’t know how many of those jobs would actually be filled by local residents.

I also don’t know how such a plant or others that use the material it produces might impact air and water quality in our region. Some local folks are concerned about that, and it is definitely an issue that is worth exploring and addressing.

None of that really matters, however, until PTT makes a decision. So, I look forward to learning whether the cracker will become a reality so that Eastern Ohioans can begin to act accordingly.

n I also look forward to the Belmont County Spelling Bee, slated for Feb. 1 at Ohio University Eastern. The top two spellers from each school district in the county will come together to compete for the grand prize — an all-expenses -paid trip to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee on May 31 and June 1.

The county bee is a major undertaking for those of us at The Times Leader. We serve as a primary sponsor of the event and of the grand prize trip, along with crucial support from other sponsors such as Belmont Savings Bank, AAA St. Clairsville, Airport Limousine Plus, East Central Ohio Educational Service Center, and Goldberg, Persky and White Attorneys at Law.

We are happy to do it. The district bees leading up to the county event provide wonderful opportunities for boys and girls throughout our area to work hard studying and to see how their work pays off. For the ultimate county winner, the grand prize provides the trip of a lifetime for the student and some members of their family.

n Another issue that piques my curiosity as we enter 2018 is how medical marijuana will impact the Buckeye State and our local area. A few individuals have applied to manufacture or distribute the product in some of our local counties. Although those plans have not yet been approved by the state, some municipalities have taken steps to try and prevent people in the business from setting up shop in their communities.

Many people are convinced of the medical benefits of marijuana, and I hope that it does help local individuals who suffer from cancer or other conditions that cause chronic pain once it is legal to use the drug as prescribed by a doctor. I also hope that its presence will not aggravate the illegal drug problem that is already present throughout the Buckeye State.

n On a more personal level, I look forward to several home improvement projects, including a major kitchen renovation. Working together with my husband, Mike, we plan to gut our kitchen and make it completely new. We are still working with some area vendors to determine what cabinets, counters and fixtures we will install. We are also considering how much of the work we want to do ourselves, and how much of it we would prefer to pay a qualified professional to perform.

We know that it will be a huge undertaking. But we are excited, nonetheless, about the results it will yield. We believe that being able to properly organize our dishes, pots, pans and kitchen staples will go a long way toward making life in general more pleasant and convenient.

In addition, we plan to have drywall installed in a few spots, and I think there will be plenty of painting in our future. But we typically enjoy doing such work and feeling the sense of accomplishment that comes with completion of each step in the process.

You probably have noticed that I did not write about making any resolutions as we begin the new year. That is because resolutions do not seem to work for me.

Many people resolve to lose weight, exercise or develop better eating habits in the coming year. Others make resolutions about improving their finances, breaking a bad habit or doing more things they enjoy, such as reading or traveling more often.

Many psychologists and other experts say most people fail to keep their new year’s resolutions. This is partly because people make resolutions at the beginning of the year because it is tradition, not because they really want to change.

I recently read an article in which Yale psychology professor John Bargh told Business Insider that people should only resolve to try something if it’s really important to them — and if it’s something they’d want to change even when no one else is watching.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School echoed that point. They said lasting change is most likely when it’s “self-motivated and rooted in positive thinking.” They also recommend focusing on a specific goal, such as walking for 30 minutes three times a week, rather than on a general goal like “getting more exercise.”

Researchers also recommend replacing any bad habit you are trying to quit with a good one. For example, if you want to quit drinking or smoking, perhaps you should start chewing gum when the urge strikes.

While I don’t plan to make any resolutions of my own, I urge all of you to devote yourselves to any new year’s commitment that feels right for you. And whether you make any resolutions or not, I wish you all a safe, healthy and successful 2018!