Brad wants to get in shape this year. Christa plans to "pile up the credits" at school. Shirley hopes to start a "serious" relationship. Duane's "focus is shifting" from finance to romance.
Here we are at the starting line of a new year--setting goals, making plans, hoping and dreaming.
What do local singles want to accomplish in '88?
A native of Orange County, Brad has set a typically Californian goal for himself this year: new muscles to go with his newly smoke-free lungs.
"I realized I'm at the age where if you don't start taking care of yourself, you're in big trouble," said the 25-year-old computer technician from Tustin.
Although he resolved to quit smoking last January, Brad puffed along until September, when he stubbed out his last cigarette and joined a health club.
"I usually think up a few resolutions at New Year's," he said, "but they're just things I have in mind, not really a plan, per se. I had a lot of incentives (to quit smoking) last year--my boss offered me a $50 raise if I'd stop. But I didn't do it right then. Other people don't really have that much influence on my decisions. I have to come to a decision for myself."
This month, Brad returns to college--paying his own way--to get his bachelor's degree. The dual demands of work and school will put a crimp on his social life.
"I can't see myself getting into a serious relationship or getting married this year," he said. "In the relationships I've had before, I don't think the female side was as flexible in the time area. It was more, 'I need you'--regardless of whatever I was doing. That's hard for me, because it forces me to make the decision: What's more important? My relationship? Work? School?
"It takes a lot of effort to nourish a relationship," Brad said. "Right now, the number one thing for me is to be able to control where I'm going in life."
For the past four years, Christa, 21, has managed to nourish a relationship, hold a part-time job and attend college. This month, she plans to quit her job ("my boss doesn't even know yet!") and turn her full-time attention to units, credits and grades.
"My boyfriend and I have kind of hung out on the college scene too long," said Christa, who lives with her parents in Huntington Beach. "A lot of our friends have graduated and moved on, which has made me put some pressure on myself to get through with school.
"I just want to get my degree behind me," she added with a sigh. "It's time to get that out of the way."
After she gets her degree, Christa looks forward to marriage, a job as an editor and a couple of kids in oh, maybe four or five years.
"I know what I want to accomplish each year, but I never write down my goals," she said. "That makes it more obvious when I fail them. I just can't bring myself to put something like 'New Year's Resolutions' down on paper. If I have a goal that's just in my head, and I don't (achieve) it, I can just pretend I never wanted it in the first place!"
Shirley not only writes down her goals each January, she clips the list to her appointment book, "so I have to look at it several times a day," she said.
The 47-year-old divorced saleswoman got a running start on her plans this year, thanks to a motivational speaker her employer hired last fall.
"He made us set sales goals for work," said Shirley, a south county resident, "and he also had us set personal goals. Not just, 'I want to make a lot of money,' but something specific. He asked us to bring in pictures of what we wanted, to make it real tangible."
While others collected photos of fancy cars and ocean-view homes, Shirley chose a modest target: She brought in a picture of Club Med.
"January 9," she said proudly, "I'm going."
Pleased to have worked hard and achieved one goal "before the year even started," Shirley knows the other items on her checklist may not be as easily attained.
"My main goal this year is to develop my social life more," she said. "I really feel that was lacking in my life last year, and it's what I want to emphasize in '88."
Shirley said she wants to organize regular Sunday dinners with her mother, now 84, and one of her three grown sons who lives in the area. She said she'd like more women friends.
And, perhaps most difficult of all, Shirley hopes "to find a man to have a serious relationship with. I've had one boyfriend for the last four years," she said, "but I could never live with him. He's much too fussy, too particular. Now I want something serious and lasting.
"I guess my plan, pretty much, is to just be more outgoing and to really work at this," she said. "If I meet a man I like, I will work at developing a relationship and not let little things get in the way.
"When you're independent and single like I am," Shirley said, "and you're used to living the way you want, you seek a perfect relationship. That's not reality. You have to compromise. Maybe 10 years ago, when I was in my 30s, I could get whatever I wanted. Now I have to be more realistic."
Like Shirley, Duane hopes to meet his one and only this year. And, like Shirley, he uses a motivational technique to help achieve goals--in his case, "verbalizing."
"But as far as planning, " he said, "I don't know. I don't think anyone can make a plan when it comes to relationships. I don't think anyone can say, 'This year, my New Year's resolution is to be married.' You can't plan to be in love."
The 28-year-old sales representative from Huntington Beach has made plenty of plans to advance his career. Ever since Hughes Aircraft recruited him in college, Duane said, he's made, "by anybody's standards, very large, significant steps in my career."
And those steps have led him to a new perspective coinciding with the new year.
"I realized at a very young age that I was a materialistic person, very career-oriented, with a large ego," he said. "My plan was always to get the career going and see what happened.
"Now I'm 28, I make very good money, I live in a nice place, I have a nice car," he said. "I've got all the stuff now, so that's not my focus anymore."
Allowing that he'd "love to be married, love to have a family," Duane said the best he can do right now is "maximize my options." So, last spring, he joined the county chapter of a national singles group for the young and the businesslike--something that still seems to surprise him.
"Somebody I work with suggested I join," he said. "My initial reaction was, 'I'm a nice-looking guy. I'm on the ball. I don't need something like this to meet girls.' After I thought about it, I realized this would narrow the focus and allow me to be more selective.
"I hope to marry someone as career-oriented as I am," Duane said, "rather than someone I will support. I look at marriage as a team effort, where I come home and say, 'This is what I did today.' And she says, 'This is what I did today.'
"I wash and she dries, or the other way around. I'm a child of the Eighties, what can I say?"
One Woman and a Baby
Attention all childless women heading for 40: Do you feel maternity calling? Have you considered going it alone--with a little help from a neighborhood sperm bank or an understanding friend? Are children on your wish list for the new year?
It's Their Party, Cry if You Want To
One day you've got a pack of single friends; next day they're all married. (OK, it doesn't happen in a day, but it seems like it, doesn't it?) How does it feel to watch your friends march down the aisle? Have you felt a twinge of jealousy? An angstrom of anger? Are married friends any different from single friends, anyway?
Yours--For Just $169,000!
That's the median price of a home in Orange County. As a single, how could you--or how did you--ever afford to buy your own home? Are you an apartment dweller by choice or necessity?