I am not really one for New Year’s resolutions, but I think I am in the minority. Most people really like to assess and ponder at the change of the calendar year, and attempt to gather fresh strength to have a better year than all those that have come previously. Where resolutions usually go wrong is that people take on too much, or too little. If you are 40 pounds overweight and think Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are an acceptable form of breakfast protein, it might take you some time to realign things, and certainly more than the 6 week timetable you give yourself on January 1st. On the other hand, vowing just to buy bigger pants in 2010 is not really addressing the issue. You probably won’t be able to get off work to take that 3-month backpacking trip through Europe, but driving across town to a different Costco is not an “adventure vacation.” You won’t become fluent in Chinese this year, but you could learn how to pronounce “nuclear.” Everything is balance.

I think what is probably most common with Resolutionistas is some kind of free-floating anxiety that they should be doing more, that life should be better and bigger and happier than it is, but they aren’t sure what to do about it that seems reasonable and actually fun. People don’t really like to do things that aren’t fun, you know, or at least pleasantly satisfying. Sometimes the place to start is somewhere unexpected or small. Here are ten things you could do in 2010 to change your world a little bit: doable, and if applied consistently, may add up at 2011 to be much more than you would think.

1. Take one TV show off your regular line-up and replace it with a book. Doesn’t matter what the book is, whatever interests you, but go to your library or bookstore and get a stack ready to go. Spend that 30 minutes or hour reading.

2. Once a day, choose the stairs instead of the elevator/escalator. Park your car away from the closest entrance, whatever it is you can do to get a few more steps in. You will be irritated by this at first, but then, you won’t.

3. Get in the habit of taking a small camera with you. It can be a cell phone or regular camera. Now use this camera to take only one kind of photograph as you go about – just macro close-ups, just architecture, just flowers, just sunsets, birds, bugs, people’s butts, anything, but only one thing. At the end of the year, you will have a nice collection of themed images and you will have trained your eyes to see your world in a very different way.

4. Attend some kind of live performance once a month. The energy given out at a live concert or play – even if its just a bar band or a kids’ school play – is invigorating, and a nice change of pace from the brain-sucking passivity of TV, the ‘net, and your iPod.

5. Stop eating when you aren’t hungry. You aren’t as hungry as you think you are.

6. Get rid of your crap. You can’t take it with you, you know, and most of your shit is shit that you don’t really need and weighs you down. Decide what goes in the Dumpster or can be used by others with more need. Once a week, one hour, move stuff out.

7. Bake some delicious treat a few times a year and give it to someone else. You may lick the pan.

8. Dig into your State. America is an amazing country with fantastic variance and beauty and strangeness. People can live all their lives in one place and never really fully discover all the cool places to visit, restaurants to dine in, views to view, and people to meet. Venture out once a month to somewhere new, whether it’s a weekend at a remote lake, a Cuban diner in Shelbyville, or a museum that you keep saying, “oh, I really should go there sometime.”

9. Save every last bit of loose change you have in your purse or pockets in a jar for a year. Do not count it until New Year’s Eve, then donate it to a charity or buy yourself something you normally wouldn’t. Not crack, though.

10. Make something. It is fundamental to human nature to create things, did you know that? It is, but many people stop making things after childhood because they think they are not good at making things and they leave it to others. But that doesn’t change the need to build, design, shape, or grow. So, whether you think you can or should or it will be any damn good at all, at least once this year…

…grow an herb garden;
…write a haiku;
…scribble a portrait of someone at a park;
…make up a song and sing it to your cat;
…write down a funny, sad, or strange story of something that happened to you;
…bake an outrageously-elaborate cake;
…go to a local create-n-bake pottery place and make a bowl for your kitchen table;
…build something functional out of wood;
…organize your kid’s school art into a bound book;
…do your own landscaping;
…go through all your old makeup and make a self portrait on paper with it with your fingers before you toss it out;
…make your favorite meal from childhood from scratch and have a dinner party;
…sew or knit something someone will carry or wear;
…make yourself a tin foil hat and wear it to work one day.

In the spirit of Attempted Hope and Good Intentions and Thank God That Year Is Over, I hope you are able to make your world wider, brighter, more interesting, healthier, and definitely more fun. Go you!