COLUMN: Simple goals for 2011

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A new year has arrived and while 2011 is just days old, many of us are already struggling with what resolutions are worth keeping and which ones aren’t perhaps your resolutions are holding firm or maybe they have fallen apart already. A couple of mine certainly have.

Here are a few goals I have for the new year. I certainly don’t hold them out as examples for everyone but, hey, if they offer a bit of inspiration, you’re welcome to them. Perhaps they will generate goals of your own.

Goal: Write one hand-written letter per week.

In today’s gadget-laden world, we don’t write as many letters as our parents and grandparents did. We call people with the cell phones just about all of us have, text one another for the silliest of reasons and e-mail each other near and far from computers.

But writing something substantive is something rare. I scribble grocery lists and perhaps a fast two-sentence note to a family member, but sitting down and writing a letter by hand is something that is becoming about as old-fashioned as using a quill pen or carrying a pocket watch.

I’m determined to take the time this year to send a personal letter each week to a loved one or friend. Sunday evenings will be my letter-writing time and I may even pen a note or two to people who have helped me, offered words of encouragement or just been simply friendly and helpful.

Forty-four cents is a small price to pay for lifting someone’s day and keeping my already poor handwriting skills from falling further into scribble.

Goal: Get involved in one new activity to help my community.

Just about all of us are busier than we want to be. Family responsibilities, school and church events and volunteer activities we already take part in keep us on the go. My goal is to find one new volunteer opportunity this year to get involved.

My commitment won’t be a huge amount of time; I simply don’t have it to give, but I can find a couple of hours on occasion to support a civic or fraternal group. Some months my efforts might simply be sending a little money to a group I know will invest it wisely.

Consider if you have a few hours of your time or a few dollars to devote to a good cause in 2011. We’ll all be the better for it. Make it your good cause for the year.

Goal: Plan one special meal a week.

Living alone makes it hard to sit down to eat and most weeks my kitchen range doesn’t see much action.

Unless I visit my parents or get invited to a friend’s home, I eat alone. That usually means fast food or a something out of box that gets placed in a microwave.

I’m trying to set a goal of one meal a week – the day of the week doesn’t matter – to share with family or friends. Some weeks I will try to have friends over.

Maybe a few others will read this and invite me to their house. I’ll accept.

The goal isn’t as much to eat more – I’ve already killed a resolution to eat less – but to spend more time with people I care about.

These are among my simple resolutions. I may not be successful every week, but even if I succeed only a third or half of the time over the coming 12 months, I’ll have made my life better. My hope is that I’ll occasionally have the same effect on others.