Monday, January 3, 2011

(Possible) Resolutions For 2011

“Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution
long after the excitement of the moment has passed.”

In my younger years, I started off every New Year with a list of resolutions that I spent the next twelve months breaking. My intentions were good and my efforts at the start of every year were quite admirable. But as the year went by, I would slack off a little more each week until I could no longer be bothered. So I’m obviously not very good at that.

As the years progressed, I changed my style; instead of promising I would do something, I promised I would try to do something, thus began the possible resolutions. For example, one year instead of resolving I would exercise more, I promised myself that I would try to exercise more. So I didn’t necessarily promise to do it, only that I’d try. And if by trying it became a steady habit, all the better.

The funny thing is that this new way of making resolutions produced some wonderful results. Most of the things I promised I would try to do, I did – try to do them and actually do them. One major accomplishment was kicking a bad habit: I promised I’d try to quit smoking and I did – I tried to quit smoking and I did quit. Eventually. Maybe not that particular year, or the next year, but eventually. Trying to keep a resolution is undemanding and flexible. Not only do you lift the burden (and guilt) of breaking a promise since you’re not actually promising to do it, only that you’ll try, but you don’t even have to commit to a particular time frame. “I will try to quit smoking this year and if I don’t, I’ll try again next year” You can carry the (possible) resolution forward to another year and try again.

Cool, huh?

(Incidentally, on February 10 of this year it’ll be five years since I’ve quit smoking. Yay to that!)

Anyhow, today I’d like to share some of the things that I promise I will try to do in 2011, so I can be a better person, feel good about myself, yadda yadda yadda.

Here are some (possible) resolutions for 2011...

I resolve to try and...

...volunteer to help others.

It’s been about 18 months since we moved to this city, and from the beginning, I’ve been mentioning volunteering one morning a week to help others. Hopefully, I’ll do more than try to make this happen this year.

...learn to play the keyboard.

I’ve been trying to do this for the past four years, but can’t seem to get going. I’ve gone so far as buying a stand for our keyboard and setting it up in a small room that is used as a reading/sitting area. And, my husband bought me two books for Christmas – one is to teach me how to play, and the other is full of 80s songs that I can play on the keyboard after I’ve finished the first book and actually learned how. I’ve always wanted to learn to play a musical instrument; I hope 2011 is the year that I finally get to it.

...take a writing class.

I discovered a writing course offered online by our local community college that I am really, really eager to sign up for. It teaches you how to write articles for magazines, which is what I’m most interested in doing. I keep pushing this class to the side because of the added expense (it’s not a priority, after all), but sooner or later I’m going to have to commit myself to it, expense and all, or let go of the idea.

...slow down.

I like to be on the go all day. I don’t like to sit for long periods of time doing nothing. The busier my day is, the happier I am. So I’m constantly searching for things to do, working on something, keeping myself occupied. And it’s not really a bad thing since it makes the day pass quickly, but it can, at times, be physically exhausting, especially on those days that I start a project and don’t stop – not even to eat – until it’s completely finished. This is obviously a little obsessive, and I really should learn to slow down and leave jobs unfinished.

...get more sleep.

I don’t sleep enough. I average about 5 ½ - 6 hours a night, which I seem to do alright with for long periods of time. But it’s clearly not enough because I always wind up crashing at some point from exhaustion, and consequently end up spending a couple of days in a zombie-like state, totally uncommunicative. So I clearly need more sleep, which I’ll try to get more of this year, although I don’t really see this happening since I’ve been living this ‘desperately-need-more-sleep’ cycle since forever. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for someone like me (see resolution: slow down), so wasting whatever hours there are available to sleep isn’t very appealing. I don’t even know why I even bothered to put this down as a possible resolution. I’m clearly not even going to try with this one. more assertive.

For the most part, I’m a shy, courteous and passive individual. I don’t like to make waves unless I really have to. I don’t go out of my way to draw attention to myself. And I usually prefer to remain unnoticed, sitting quietly in the background. For the most part, this type of personality works well for me because I’m a very private individual that prefers life to be calm, uneventful and stress-free. But once in awhile, the overly-polite side of me goes a little too far, allowing individuals to overstep my boundaries. Not often, but from time to time. And it’s these moments that I get upset at myself for not being more assertive, pushing back hard if necessary, especially with individuals that are rude and aggressive. Well. There’s a new year coming up and I’ve vowed to change that. Hopefully, I will draw deep lines in the sand in 2011, speak up more often when I need to and push back harder when necessary. Don’t get me wrong; I can be assertive if pushed too far, but I need to do it more often.

...join, um, something.

This isn’t for lack of trying; I’ve actually made an effort – albeit small – to locate some organization, club or group in this city that I’d be interested in joining. My first attempt was when I attended a meeting with a local horticultural society to determine whether I wanted to join it. I didn’t. Not because there’s anything wrong with it, it’s actually a lovely group, but because the average age of the group is much higher than what I’d anticipated. I really didn’t fit in, and I wasn’t comfortable with that. I’ve also spent a considerable amount of time searching for a book club to join, but haven’t found one yet. Maybe there is a group around that simply can’t be located on google, and maybe it would be smarter to inquire at the local library, which is a hop, skip and jump away from my home. In any case, eventually I’ll find something to join that will help me feel more connected to my city.

Well, that’s about all I can think of at the moment. I’m sure there are other things I’d like to work on improving that just don’t come to mind right now, but let’s see how far I can get with this short list.

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?


  1. A very worthy list of resolutions, Martha. I think the writing class, in particular, is a good idea. You already have the skills (your posts on houseplants are so informative and engaging)---the class will help sharpen your skills and also give you ideas for marketing your articles. And I'll bet you're right about the library having a book club----most of ours do.

    I've had guests most of the holiday, so haven't had time to reflect on resolutions, but one of mine, for sure, will be to make myself write more and to be bolder in sending out my fiction, even if I get rejected over and over. That's really hard to do when you aren't real confident.

    Another resolution: to keep in better touch with my friends. :-)

  2. I think my husband and I are roughly 30-50 years younger than most members of the garden club. It's not ideal, but I don't think members around our age will join unless they see someone around their age in the club. I'm hopeful there will be more diversity in the ages. If not, I'll glean as much information as possible off the retirees before they die. The organic gardening club has a much younger crowd than the club I'm a member of, and each club seems to be a bit different. You can also look into starting an affiliated club in your town such as through Gardeners of America, The Garden Club of America, or the International Carnivorous Plant Society. There are loads of national and international gardening clubs/societies that offer affiliate opportunities and can help you get started.

    Most book clubs that I know of are very informal and unpublicized. A lot of times they're just started by individuals who want to be a part of a book club, so they start one themselves. I've also seen book clubs at local book stores and libraries.

    I suspect if you manage to start a club, you will be fulfilling two additional goals for the year. Starting a club requires volunteerism, and you have to be assertive because generally whoever starts the club is the club president for at least the first year.

    Best of luck!!

  3. I agree with the post above - killing several birds with one stone there! I like several of your resolutions, although I'm such a low energy individual my problem is wanting to do more things than I can actually handle in a day. I wish and wish I had more of a busy gene, but someone has to relax with a book :).

    I don't do resolutions as a rule because I like to leave life open so when something occurs to me I can just do it. I didn't plan to grow veggies, but it just seemed like a good idea one year, so there it was. I too have always wanted to learn a musical instrument but I don't think this year is it for me either. I love the idea of a book club though, perhaps you should start one for fast readers? Since many of them only read a book a month and we're such voracious readers.

  4. Thanks, Beth; I appreciate you saying such nice things about my writing. I do enjoy it, but I need to be a little more serious, and polish up my style. It’s something I’ve been trying to get into for ages. I did take creative writing in college, but that was a gazillion years ago. And I feel the same way about the rejection part. I’m not happy about that (I’m not confident about my writing) but it’s something you have to deal with if you want to have a chance at doing it professionally.


    NoSoAngryRedHead, I’ve actually had days when I think about going back. The age was not a good group but the reception was wonderful. The members of the local horticultural group were so amazingly receptive. Perhaps I gave up too quickly. I’ll have to give this more thought. And if I still decide I don’t want to go back, I’m going to think about your suggestion. Starting my own club would definitely take care of two resolutions, and it would be a lot of fun to become part of an interesting group. I’m also leaning toward forming a book club if I can’t locate one, although I will inquire at the library near my home and see if there’s anything around town. We’ll have to wait and see what’s in store for me in 2011. If anything, it’ll be interesting.


    Tatiana, it’s so funny that you would want a busier gene and I want to slow down. If we lived near one another we’d probably feed off each other’s energy and find that happy median. My husband has a much slower pace, so he sometimes motivates me to slow down and do nothing. And I sometimes help him to speed up. Together we move at a perfect pace; but when we’re on our own, he’s happily strolling along and I’m moving like Speedy Gonzales! It’s too funny.

    I’m going to give the book club some serious thought. I don’t know too many people personally that read the way I do, so it would be nice to find some ‘strangers’ around town to hook up with and share the voracious passion for reading. The Speedy Gonzales book club!