New Year's resolutions: 2016

As always, I reserve the right to alter the list for up to one week after posting. Suggestions are still welcome.

It's also important to note that some items, like meditating daily, flossing daily, exercising at least five days a week, trying new foods as they are presented to me, and others have dropped off the list as these behaviors have become habits. 


1. Don’t die.

Recommended by a friend years ago. Still valid today and deserving of the first spot on the list.

2. Lose 20 pounds.

Since my first weight goal in 2010, I have lost a total of 53 pounds. Another 20 is ambitious, but it would get me down to my high school weight, and I’m willing to try to make that happen.

3. Do at least 100 push-ups and 100 sit-ups five days a week.

I’ve accomplished this goal for three years in a row, but it’s not exactly automatic, so it remains on the list.

4. Practice yoga at least three days a week.

This is a modification of last year's five times a week goal. 


5. Complete my fifth novel before the end of February.

The due date is February 28, so I'd better have it finished by then!

6. Complete my sixth novel.

I have two novels that are more than halfway finished. One of these will likely become my sixth novel. I hope. 

7. Write a middle grade novel.

An editor who passed on my picture books believes that I have the sensibility and humor to write a middle grade novel. I'm going to give it a shot.

8. Write at least three new picture books. 

My first three picture books are finished and in the hands of my agent. I have ideas for many more and an excellent test audience of fifth graders. I plan to bring three of these ideas to fruition in 2016.

9. Complete a book proposal for a book on storytelling.

The book is outlined, and most of the proposal is written. I need to write two sample chapters to complete the proposal. 

10. Write a new screenplay

This is a failed goal from 2015 that I plan to complete this year. I have a film agent who believes in my ability to write movies and is willing to read my screenplays, so it's stupid not to be writing them. 

11. Write a musical for a summer camp

For the last two years, I have written musicals for a local summer camp with my composer and lyricist, Andy Mayo. One of those musicals is now being produced by a children's theater company and will go on tour in the spring. 

In 2016, I plan to write another musical for the camp. 

Andy wants us to write another adult musical as well. In 2012 we wrote and produced a rock opera called The Clowns at a local theater and have been trying to get it into festivals or other theaters ever since. I'm not ready to commit to that goal, though the story for that musical is firmly set in my mind. 

12. Publish at least one Op-Ed in The New York Times.

I published two pieces in the Hartford Courant in 2015. I'd like to get my first piece into The New York Times in 2016. This goal violates my policy of setting goals that do not depend on the preferences of other people, but simply writing a piece for the Times is not enough of an accomplishment in this case. I need to get a piece published. 

My real goal is to land another column in a magazine, newspaper, or online publication this year, but I’m keeping this goal more reasonable.

13. Publish an article in an educational journal.

My Superintendent and I plan to write a piece about educational leadership based on work that we have done. I intend on getting it published at a journal in 2015.

14. Submit one or more short stories to at least three publishing outlets.

A failed goal in 2015 that I am re-committing myself to again. 

15. Select three behaviors that I am opposed to and adopt them for one week, then write about my experiences on the blog.

A failed goal in 2015 that I am re-committing myself to again. 

16. Increase my author newsletter subscriber base to 1,000.

I just crossed over the 900 subscriber mark. Getting to 1,000 should not be difficult. The real goal is to begin to tailor my newsletter to reader preference so more people will want to read.


16. Produce a total of 12 Speak Up storytelling events.

We produced eight shows in 2014 and 12 shows in 2015, so 12 shows in 2016 is a more than reasonable goal.

17. Deliver a TED Talk.

I’ve had some bad luck in terms of TED Talks over the past three years.

I did a TED Talk at the AT&T Conference Center in 2013 that went extremely well, but technical difficulties made the audio on the recording almost indiscernible. I hope to reproduce the talk at another TED event someday. 

I did a TED Talk at Western Connecticut State University in 2013 that went flawlessly, but the college students who hosted the conference never posted the recording online.

I did a TED Talk in April of 2014 in Somerville, Massachusetts that also went well, but my 15 minute talk was accidentally put on a nine minute timer, which forced me to dump sections of my talk on the fly and speak faster than I would’ve liked. The talk was good, but it was not exactly what I had planned. There was room for improvement.

I did a TED Talk at Boston University in April of 2015. The recording started almost two minutes into my talk, and one of the cameras failed. The actual talk went well but the recording is useless. Again, I'd like to repeat this talk at some point for TED. 

I did a TED Talk in November of 2015 in the Berkshires that went very well. The recordings is excellent. Perhaps my luck is finally turning around.  

I hope to successfully pitch myself to at least one TED conference in 2016. 

18. Attend at least 15 Moth events with the intention of telling a story.

I attended 27 Moth events in 2015, so this number is more than reasonable.

19. Win at least three Moth StorySLAMs.

I won one slam in 2011.
I won two slams in 2012.
I won seven slams in 2013.
I won five slams in 2014. 
I won three slams in 2015.

Three may seem like an ambitious number for 2016, but since 2011, I've competed in 42 Moth StorySLAMs and won 20 (a 48% win rate). If I compete in at least 10 StorySLAMs in 2016, I should be able to win at least three. 

Right? (he said hopefully)

20. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

I won one GrandSLAM in 2014.
I won two GrandSLAMs in 2015. 

Winning one in 2016 is not an unreasonable goal.  

21. Launch at least one new podcast.

I have several podcast ideas, but the next one will be a podcast on writing and storytelling. Originally, the podcast was going to be called Author Outloud, but the name will likely change to something related to storytelling on the page and on the stage.

Elysha will be co-hosting this podcast.  


22. Host at least one Shakespeare Circle.

A failed goal in 2015 that I am re-committing myself to again. 

I intend on hosting an evening of Shakespeare. Friends will join us around the table to read a Shakespearean play aloud, with each person assuming a different role. I already have a group of people who have agreed to attend.

23. Learn to cook three good meals for my wife.

A failed goal from 2015. The only meal that I am capable of cooking for Elysha at this time is macaroni and cheese and hot dogs, which is amazing but not very impressive. I want to be able to cook three meals for her that she loves by the end of the year.

24. Plan a 25 year reunion of the Heavy Metal Playhouse.

My friend, Bengi, and I lived in a home that became known as the Heavy Metal Playhouse from 1989-1993. It was four of the best years of my life. Enormous parties, the closest of friendships, and the wildness of youth left an indelible mark on me. While I stay in touch with many of my friends from those days, I have not seen many of them in a long time. We have attempted to plan a reunion in the past without success. This year I would like to make this happen.


25. Replace the 12 ancient, energy-inefficient windows in our home with new windows that will keep the cold out and actually open in the warmer months.

A failed goal from 2012 that I am reviving because these windows are making me crazy.   

26. Optimize our television for a streaming service. 

After failing to replace our rear projection television for almost 14 years, we have fallen seriously behind in terms of streaming content services. Our goal is to optimize our television viewing in 2016 by cutting the cord and installing a system that subscribes to the streaming services that best fit our needs while maintaining the content that we already enjoy. 

In truth, we barely watch any television, so this shouldn't be hard.

27. Set a new personal best in golf.

My lowest score for nine holes is a 45, and my lowest score for 18 holes is 95. I’d like to improve on either score in 2015.

28. Play poker at least six times in 2016.

I love poker. I paid for our honeymoon with profits from poker. I made a mortgage payment in 2012 with poker profits. I am a good poker player who did not play at all in 2015 because of the time shifted to writing and storytelling. While I don't regret this shift, I miss poker a great deal and need to bring it back into my life. Six games is not an unreasonable goal.   

29. Post my progress in terms of these resolutions on this blog on the first day of every month.