Resolutions: Polly’s 20 for 2020

Resolutions: Polly’s 20 for 2020

20 for 2020

I used to err at having too many resolutions and not sticking with any of them. Then for a while, I picked a word which would be my theme for the year, and that worked okay in a low ebb way. Recently, I’ve picked a big goal and actually persevered on it and did it, so now I’m feeling more empowered about resolutions. I’ve heard about many people doing “20 for 2020,” and I thought I’d give it a go, now that I have a better success rate of showing up for myself.

You could make a whole list of things to do to make the world a better place, or to be a better humanitarian.  So by comparison, this list is very self focused, and I’m aware of that. These are very personal goals; I’m working on myself, and what I want to improve. I’ve already worked on having a “green” lifestyle, minimizing social media time, and having a gratitude practice, for example, so while those things are important they are already baseline over here, so not included. Furthermore, I tried to keep things completely within my own sphere of influence, requiring nothing of anyone else, so there are no goals that I need anyone else’s cooperation to achieve.

Some of these things are big and challenging, but most I already do, although in some cases not as completely consistently as I’d like. In many cases, I just want continued or further stability on what I’m already doing that is working.  I’m after no lapses with this, unless I am out of town– in some categories I’ll give myself grace for that. Last year I was “going and blowing” a lot; this year is mostly about hunkering down, getting some more routines solidly in place going forward. After in-depth consideration, here’s my list:

Polly’s 20 for 2020

1. Routinely expand my thought to include more good

This is about daily prayer for myself, others, and the world, both in my morning quiet time, and especially at every opportunity throughout my day. This is about always being at the ready to heal when a call comes, and not limiting good in any way.

2. Do the Christian Science Bible Lesson and read a periodical article everyday

This is already a regular part of my morning quiet time. I had a perfect, unbroken record going in 2019, my best string ever, but blew it sporadically this past couple weeks in the blur of the holiday. Can I really get this done everyday in 2020? I’ll try.

3. Do morning pages frequently

Morning pages are Julia Cameron’s (author of The Artist’s Way) version of journaling first thing in the morning before the day floods in, giving yourself and your thoughts time and attention to help steer your days and be more conscious of what you think and desire. I’ve done them in fits and starts over the last 30 years, and find it wonderful when I make the time. Recently, I’ve been fairly faithful about them, and wish for that to continue without lapsing again, as has seemed to happen in the past. I am not after perfection here, just continuance.

4. Write the first draft of a book

This sounds like a whopper, but is totally possible. There are at least four books I’ve been thinking of giving birth to. One is about the fusion of art and spirituality, another is a poetry collection, which is more about curation since so many of mine already exist, and thirdly, people keep asking me for a cookbook. The first two seem close to my sense of purpose, and are a priority for me. The cookbook feels logistically challenging without help, but if anyone knows a cookbook publisher that wants to take me on, let me know. I’ve known for decades that I need to write a memoir, but that is a much more daunting project, and is definitely not on the slate for this year.

5. Go to the gym at least 5 days a week

This one is definitely a stretch, no pun intended. Since I was gone so much last year, and then doubly busy once I got back, I cancelled my gym membership from last June through December. Other than hiking a lot on our trip, and out in the fall weather in October, I’ve pretty much been sitting, and don’t like the lethargic feeling of not moving.

Before, I was trying to get to gym classes, thinking that attendance would help give me accountability to show up– which it did a bit because I like the people there– but honestly, the classes are not offered when best for my schedule. So my plan is to go right after lunch on my own, working my way back from sluggishness to vibrancy independently.

Once I build a habit, I’m good. This habit is starting from scratch and it will take concerted effort to get it off the rumbles of inertia, which are used to sitting and contemplating all the time. I will be so very proud of myself if I actually do this all year. I really, really want that feeling.

6. Paint at least 5 days a week

Not like it is work, mind you, but like it is play. I have so many ideas to try out, many with intricate, multiple steps. I’m after frequency here, not duration or level of seriousness. I want to exercise my skills and try out concepts. I want to show up often for at least a step or two on a larger project, a simple doodle, a value sketch of an idea, or a tiny hour long plein air outside somewhere. No big deal, just on it regularly, moving it all onward.

7. Have a one woman art show with PowerPoint talk

This is already scheduled. The show opens January 19 in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and the PowerPoint talk is on the evening of February 18. (If you are in driving distance, put these dates on your calendar and please come; if not, pray for good weather!) This is the first huge thrust of my New Year, and it will be great to complete one of these 20 goals so early on.

8. Apply to artist-in-residencies and look into additional online venues to sell my art

I need to keep chasing the business side of art, looking for opportunities to grow my reach and sales.  I am not planning on pursuing excessive local group shows this year, and instead desire to find ways to take my art work bigger, broader, further. Let me know if you have any ideas concerning this. All help is appreciated.

9. Write two poems a month

I’m pretty much doing this already, but want to stay on it.

10. Go on an “artist’s date” every month

This is another Julia Cameron term, meaning: get out of your usual rut and feed your soul. I’m to get out in the world and do or see something inspiring at least monthly, engaging with uncommon good beyond my four walls, either by myself or with others. Special field trips, explorations, museum visits, rambles, discoveries. I usually only get in about four a year, so I’ll be consciously upping my game. Again, great ideas with small budgets welcome.

11. Read at least 52 books

I am basically doing this already with the Reading Challenge for 2020, but it is an important, time consuming, high goal that should be represented here as well.

12. A good new recipe every month

This means experimentation. It is easy for me to fall into making the tried and true. It may be more efficient in the short run, but is not more effective in the long run. I want to keep being creative using good food as a medium, and keep cooking colorful, nurturing, delicious meals. I want to consciously continue to make it enjoyable and fun, carefully not letting cooking become a chore, since I spend so much time doing it anyway.

13. Drink more than 8 cups of water a day

This seems so simple, but I try to do it, and fail epically so often that it is the one thing I allow others (like my husband and daughter) to obnoxiously bug and nag me about. This habit definitely does not exist yet, and my body craves to be as watered a garden as my soul is.

14. Eat extra vegetables

I’m pushing vegetables this year. Are they in my breakfast? Are they in every snack? Are they in that grilled cheese? Even a vegetarian needs more vegetables. We need to grow, buy, and consume copious amounts, in both variety and quantity. We can do this!

15. Get out in nature every week

This is crucial for my mental health. When it doesn’t happen, we all notice. Let’s spare ourselves that this year, and make sure I get what I need on less of a binge and bust approach.

16. Do at least one house project with my husband every month

The list of options for this is more than twelve months long, but we plan to start whittling away at it. Paint parts of the house, inside and out. Move our son’s stuff out of his room and deliver it to him. Clear off the center table in my office/studio. Create a better system for my scarves, that keeps them organized, accessible, and unwrinkled. Clean off the landing on the basement stairs, and also my office (attic) stairs (things seem to get log jammed going up or down). Get downspouts replaced and gutters fixed. Organize painting archives. Reorganize James’ recording studio now that he is in there so much doing his new podcast. Clean out top drawers in the dining room. Empty in-boxes. Yada yada. You get the idea.

17. Go on a vacation with James

Not a big trip like I did with our daughter last summer, but we will plan to get away together somewhere this year, probably mostly to visit friends. No solid plans yet, but we are batting around inexpensive ideas.

18. Do nothing for 15 minutes everyday

This is something I try to do, but ironically don’t often get to. Just to stop. Completely. And let a timer tell me when to get back to it. I think so much, it is surprising how good I am at literally not thinking at all. It feels good to just deeply rest when you are not sleeping. Reflecting, not doing. Listening , not initiating. Some people call this meditating, but prayer to me is meditating, and is very purposeful, so is different than this. This is about halting any achievement or agenda, and giving myself and everything else a unequivocal pass– taking a temporary, total break.

19. Utilize regularly my tracking systems

I have a habit tracking app on my phone, tracking pages in my bullet journal, and physical bean counters in jars in my kitchen. They all work so well when I work them. They are particularly great for nudging me to get my “dailies” in, and it is so satisfying checking off a box. Plus these systems are my accountability partners in making sure I follow through on these 20 goals this year.

 20. Put my shoes away everyday and laugh uproariously at least once a week

I listed the first 19 of these for myself. Then I asked my family what should be the 20th one, and this is what I got. I’m not so thrilled about the shoe suggestion, but I’m grudgingly going to try to do it; I love my husband and he seems to really want me to improve in this way, and yes, my bedroom admittedly would be better for it.  Such an exercise in selfless giving to others!

Then much discussion ensued about how often I need to be sure to laugh uproariously. I would have been happier with the shoe thing once a week and laughing ridiculously hard every day, but I guess I’ve gotta buck up. Order and joy, discipline and freedom, growth and release. If I haven’t had my hearty chortle yet in any given week, you may be getting a call to cajole me into it, but likely that won’t be necessary…


So there it is. I’m taking full responsibility. Doing all this will make 2020 an amazing year. May God help me, equip me, guide, guard, govern, and inspire me in every aspect, every day. May all of us individually working on being our best selves compound together to the world being a better place too.

What are your 20 for 2020? Bless you as well in all your efforts in this spankingly fresh New Year! Much love to you.

I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.


  1. Meg Hanson 4 years ago

    Hi Polly,

    Your new years resolutions are all very good but seem very ambitious. But I say go for it! I do not have any formal resolutions, but I did join the Y yesterday (to take advantage of a 15% off promotion if you joined by 12/31/19). I have never had any gym or Y membership in my whole life, so this is new for me. I have trying to be active in my own way with walking, bike riding, doing kettle bells on my own, doing free yoga sessions with work people, etc. My other big new thing for 2020 is I got my blog launched, mostly bumbling through figuring it out myself, but with some help from your very generous husband.
    Lastly, my mom was doing writing over the last 8 years or so of her life, including a memoir (there is info on my blog about that). She was part of a writer’s group which I am planning on joining to help improve my writing for my blog. But anyway, she wrote an essay about art and spirituality. Before her writing phase, she was a ceramic artist. I am trying to find a copy of that essay. If I can find it I will share it with you.
    Happy New Year.
    Meg Hanson

    • Author
      Polly Castor 4 years ago

      All sounds great. I’ll check out your blog, and would love that art and spirituality piece if you can find it. Xx

  2. Deborah 4 years ago

    Phew! Well done Polly, not only in making the list but in being aware of the need to do all of this. I used to belong to a book club and enjoyed reading the books, making notes in my reading journal, and visiting once a month with the people in it, but somehow I never read now. I have copious amounts of books that I have purchased or been given but somehow never get to read them. On the “sitting doing nothing for 15 minutes” task, I would like to follow Eckhart Tolle’s way which is to sit quiet and just be aware of what I am hearing….creaking of the houes, a distant bird, train, car, the wind etc., and what my eyes lite upon… the shadows on the next door siding, the way the curtains drape etc. I liked what I read in the Lesson….”absolute consecration of thought, energy and desire” and thought that for 2020 I would start working on each one of these.
    Much love

    • Author
      Polly Castor 4 years ago

      Sounds great!! Xx and I highly recommend actually getting on with some of that reading. It so enriches life!


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