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2015: New and unfinished business?

Almost a year ago, when 2014 was still brand new, you probably had hopes, dreams, ambitions and a stack of projects you wanted to finish during the 12 months to come.

You even might have made a checklist, but perhaps life got in the way, and you still haven’t gotten to everything on that list.

Don’t give up. You can carry your unfinished items over into 2015, and add a fresh batch of New Year’s resolutions.

We asked readers to tell us about their goals, both old and new, for the coming year. Then we asked experts for tips on how to make those wishes come true.

Some readers reported they had modest goals, but very specific, practical ones.

“I had good intentions; 2014 was the year I was going to make my own kimchi - that delightful Korean dish of fermented vegetables in a variety of seasonings,” wrote Shirley Phillips, who describe herself as “60-ish,” of Santa Rosa.

“I read several books on the topic but never got around to actually making any kimchi,” she confessed. “So in 2015, kimchi here I come! For sure!”

There is nothing wrong with setting reasonable, modest goals for the new year, said clinical psychologist Jeannie LeMesurier of Santa Rosa. In fact, it can be the wisest way to go.

“It can be very tempting, when it’s time to set resolutions, to go ‘full out,’ and choose what I call a ‘goal-on-steriods,’” LeMesurier said. “We all want to prove to ourselves that ‘This time, I will really stick to my diet,’ or “Watch me, I’ll be at the gym every morning at 5 a.m. before I go to work.’”

That kind of overkill can destroy your momentum, the psychologist warned.

“Too many times, these lofty goals lead instead to failure and discouragement, and reinforce the perception that we can’t even count on ourselves,” LeMesurier said.

“When it’s resolution time, don’t practice at failing with unrealistic goals. Practice instead with manageable goals that will lead you to more satisfaction, pride and happiness,” she advised.

Bill Schalich, 54, and his wife, Cindy, 50, of Windsor have developed a simple system for making New Year’s resolutions that works for them.

“Every year in December, my husband and I sit down and create a list of goals for the coming year,” Cindy Schalich wrote. “The process of putting pen to paper, and writing it all down - so we can check it off - helps us to accomplish almost everything every year. We make sure the goals are attainable within one year, and post the list on the refrigerator in plain view, so there are no excuses.”

The couple has established a track record, Cindy Schalich said.

“In the past, goals have been things like: Grow a bodacious garden, host an art show at our house, sell our motor home, move our bodies more,” she wrote.

“For the new year, our list includes building a new barn, moving our daughter cross-country to grad school and building a bocce ball court. Here’s to 2015.”

While some resolutions involve financial planning, Pat Christensen, 62, of Santa Rosa made the point that making changes in your life doesn’t necessarily require monetary investment.

“I don’t have much money, but I can give my time and energy,” she wrote. “In 2015, I will do more random acts of kindness. I will go through my closet and pull out clothes to give to those in need. I will see if I can read stories to children at the library. I will give more volunteer hours.”

Sometimes, goals grow naturally out of a major life change.

“I just retired from Sonoma County Juvenile after 15 years,” wrote Juliet Green, 54, of Santa Rosa. “My goals for 2015 are to build my 17-year-old, part-time psychotherapy practice into a fun, full-time gig; to make some nice, long visits to beloved people and places, and to take a wine class at Santa Rosa Junior College Shone Farm.”

The key to making changes in life is taking positive steps forward, no matter how small they may seem, said Glenn Brassington, a Sonoma State University psychology professor.

“Think about what you can do today, even in the next hour,” Brassington advised. “Pull back and recall what has been successful for you in the past. Remember what did work, and build on that.”

You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at 521-5243 or dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com.

Dan Taylor

Arts & Entertainment, The Press Democrat

Do you take fun seriously? I know I do. Tell me what you want to know about arts and entertainment in the North Bay to make the best use of your leisure time and money. As a longtime local arts journalist, I have learned where to look and who to ask.

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