The new year is already ten days old, but I still wish people a Happy New Year when I encounter them. Starting the new year with positive wishes seems only right.

A new year means new beginnings and offers a chance for self-reflection. Some people make new year’s resolutions. I dropped resolutions long ago because they only added stress, especially if I could not follow through.

Now I try to set goals. My main goal in 2017 is to be more relaxed and not become stressed too easily—although I may be fighting my genetic makeup. I’ve decided to save the stress and its aftermath for important matters.

A second goal for 2017 is to finish writing What Took You So Long?, the story about finding my birth family more than twelve years ago. What began as a beautiful relationship has shifted course and left me wondering why it changed. I doubt I’ll ever know, but completing the book may enlighten me.

A third goal for 2017 is to ensure that The Spirit of Villarosa: A Father’s Extraordinary Adventures; A Son’s Challenge, a book I worked on with Marc Ashton and his father, the late Horace Dade Ashton, becomes widely read. This historical nonfiction book is also a biography and memoir that has won first place awards in all three categories. As a true-life adventure that keeps readers guessing until the very end, it entertains and informs while taking us back to a simpler time.

I’d also like my first memoir, What Lies Within, a coming-of-age tale of resilience, to reach a broader audience. It won first place awards in biography, memoir, and self-reliance, and I wrote it with the wish that my story might help others. Helping others has always been a central goal in my life, and that’s why I will share the story of my adoption and meeting my birth family with readers this year. Perhaps it will help other adoptees and birth families.

May you assess your goals for the coming year and decide what’s truly important, and may you lessen your stress and enjoy life more.