Almosting It: Setting sail without a care? courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.This week, our regular guest columnist Terry Gallagher is taking the helm …

WE’VE BEEN TALKING about “almosting it,” meaning being satisfied with getting close enough, especially in New Year’s resolutions. If you’re just joining us: I explained the idea on Monday, then told a story about Little Walter and my harmonica, followed by learning to swim—and our American fascination with fly fishing. Almosting it is a very useful idea—but we all know there are a lot of situations where almosting it just won’t do.

For example, I’m trying to learn to sail, and I’ve learned how to do just about everything except actually sailing. I can tie all the knots and rig the sails. I’ve learned the names of the parts of the boat and most of the lingo. (“Falling off” doesn’t mean what it sounds like, by the way.) Out on the water, I can tack and come about. I’ve even learned how to right a capsized boat.

But there are two things I still can’t do. I am never sure how to get away from the dock safely, and I’m definitely useless at getting back to the dock. I end up becalmed about three boat lengths away, or I come in so fast that I risk damaging the boat and definitely scaring everybody.

Almosting it can be downright dangerous in many outdoor pursuits. Regular readers of recall that our founder, Dr. Wayne Baker, nearly wound up stranded with his entire family in a remote area of the Great Lakes. In sports like sailing, snowboarding, skiing and rock climbing, real catastrophe can happen to those who push beyond their skills.

And in our professional lives, as well, none of us are happy with work that’s just adequate.

So maybe that’s my resolution for the year—working on the areas where “almosting it” is not good enough.

How about you?

Many of our readers are just returning from “the holidays”—so tell us …

How are your New Year’s Resolutions working out?

Please, leave a Comment below.

Originally published at, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.

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