Struggling to finish my list of 'nonresolutions'

21 for '21.

Gretchen Rubin's suggestion seemed pretty simple.

"If you don't want to make a New Year's resolution, consider writing your '21 for 2021' list," the author of "The Happiness Project" wrote Dec. 15 in her blog.

I liked the sound of it - a list of 21 concrete things to accomplish. (I also appreciated the photo of a typewriter that ran with the post!)

She listed really helpful suggestions, too, like using the number 21 within this list (read 21 books, visit 21 diners) and including "swap out one item on this list for something I'd rather do) as item No. 21.

And so I've been working on my list. I wish I would have discovered Rubin's recommendation in 2018, so I would have needed three fewer items. Coming up with 21 things you really want to commit to over a 12-month period is no easy task.

The first two came to me right away. I'd like to meet my birth mother and father this year - as would many adoptees who found their biological parents through genetic testing last year - and have plans to do so.

Some others were easy, too. Clean out the basement. After 11 years of saying we needed to do so, we've actually made progress on this one. We are setting aside one hour a weekend to try to dig our pool table out from under all the things we are storing on top of it.

Try one new recipe a week. This has been so much fun that last week I tried two - brothy Chinese noodles ("Eating Well" magazine) and chicken enchilada soup ( Both were delicious.

I've included some other things on my list that also should be easy to cross off, such as baking a pie from scratch (another fun one) and making an appointment for that overdue colonoscopy (less fun).

Others are more difficult and will require a greater time commitment.

No. 3: Have a meditation practice. No. 5: Be less serious. No. 16: Speak kindly to myself. Even No. 18 - play a game as a family every day in February - is going to be a challenge, seeing as we forgot to start this on Monday.

I still have mixed feelings about this little project. I like having a list that might prompt me to be "happier, healthier, more productive or more creative by the year's end," to use Rubin's words. And I am a huge fan of lists in general.

But I worry that my "21" will become an albatross. I'm not sure I can be as carefree as Rubin, who writes that it would be fun to cross every item off the list, but she's never been able to do.

Just this week I decided to take a look at her 20 for 2020 list, to see what kind of progress she made. She went to the Met every day (impressive), walked weekly with a friend and got a colonoscopy (Ha! I'm not the only one). All are marked with a celebratory "DONE" in all capital letters.

She did not have a scent party and a flavor party, start Pilates, wear make-up every day or make an effort to look more visibly happy to see people.

She makes no explanations, offers no apologies. She simply notes these with two small, lower-case letters - "no." As if it's no big deal.

Perhaps I've found No. 21 for my list. Relax.

- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean