Lawrence psychotherapist and personal coach Marybeth Bethel understands what taking risks can feel like.
It might be stepping into the gym alone for the first time in years, or preparing for a painting class when you feel especially "novice."
If you've signed up for a class, workshop or project in 2007, Bethel offers a better way to view it: You're taking an adventure.
"It's good to try new things - consider it having an adventure," she says. "You're putting yourself in an uncomfortable place. But you'll have good results and have confidence to try bigger challenges."
January's a good time for setting goals, but you already may have abandoned your list of resolutions. Bethel, who's been practicing in Lawrence for 17 years, advocates setting aside "resolution"-type thinking in favor of what most of her clients seek: They want to be happy.
And classes can serve more than one need: Exploring a new interest, volunteering to connect with the community, or taking courses that helps you make some new friends.
"If you have an interest in something, give it a try," Bethel says. "It's not going to kill you. It's not going to cost too much. And once you try something new, you'll be willing to try other things, too."
There are many opportunities this month to explore new activities and interests. Lawrence Parks and Recreation offers more than 450 programs to meet a broad range of interests and age levels.
"We have a lot of fitness classes starting up that are good in January when people are thinking about resolutions," says Roger Steinbrock, marketing supervisor for Parks and Recreation. "Jazz It Up is exercise with jazz ballet dance techniques, but there's no dance experience necessary. We're going to restart our kickboxing classes."
He says they'll continue to offer pilates, high-intensity, low-impact aerobics, and the bellydancing class.
Lawrence Parks and Rec will offer French for the first time, too, and different landscaping classes.
If having children in tow might prevent you from signing up for a course, there might be a class for the little ones, too.
For a broad range of fitness or outdoor options, check out the Parks and Rec Web site at www.lprd.org.
There also are opportunities to try a class before you register for an entire session. That's the case with the Yoga Center of Lawrence, which offers a free introductory session at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16 at the studio, 920 Mass.
"It's typical of the first class if you enrolled in the full session, and it provides the potential student an opportunity to try the class with no commitment," says studio co-owner Margaret Carr.
Her Iyengar-method courses are suited for all ages and abilities, she says.
"We have a few specialty classes, too, like prenatal and "Ageless" for those 50 years and older," Carr says.
Other good resources - for starters - are the Lawrence Arts Center, the Lawrence Senior Center, the Journal-World community calendar, which published Jan. 1, or the Community Mercantile, 901 Iowa. Bethel teaches classes there during the year about the same kind of goal-setting that helps you decide what new things you'd like to try.
On Jan. 18, she'll offer "Embracing Change." The course will offer strategies that will help students set aside feelings of weakness or fear and build courage to make life changes.
More information about registering is at the Merc's Web site, www.communitymercantile.com.
Information about Bethel's more intensive courses are available at www.becomemore.net.