New Year's Resolutions 2017

PERSONAL HEALTH

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.

I tried to lose 20 pounds in 2016 but only lost 8.

Since my first weight goal in 2010, I have lost a total of 58 pounds. Another 20 is ambitious, but it would get me down to my high school weight. 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 four 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 for at least 15 minutes each day.

This is a repeat of last year's failed goal.

It's important. Flexibility is important. It'll supposedly help my golf game and other stuff, too.

5. Take the stairs whenever I am ascending or descending five flights or less.

The exception to this rule will be when I am with my children. While I would like them to climb the stairs with me, this might be impossible depending on timing and willingness. 

WRITING CAREER

6. Complete my sixth novel before the end of 2017.

With novel #5 slated to publish in January of 2018, it's time to begin the next one. My goal is to complete the first draft by the end of the year.

7. Complete my first middle grade/YA novel.

The sale of my first middle grade/YA novel will likely take place soon (keep your fingers crossed!), and with that sale, the book will need to be completed. This must happen in 2017.

8. Write at least three new picture books, including one with a female, non-white protagonist. 

I wrote three picture books in 2015, and I wrote another three in 2016. No sales yet, but some require revision and still have a shot.

Frankly, most deserve to be published. I typically defer to experts when it comes to things like this, but being an elementary school teacher for almost 20 years and parent for nearly the same number of years, I know that most of these books would do well if published.  

My goal is to write at least three more in 2017, including one with another former student and one with a non-white, female protagonist. 

9. Complete a book on storytelling.

With luck, an editor will make an offer on this book soon (fingers crossed on your other hand, please). At that point, I will have to write it before the end of 2017. 

10. Write a new screenplay.

I failed to write a screenplay in 2016 after writing my first in 2015. I intend to write at least one in 2017. 

11. Write a musical.

For the last three years, I have written musicals for a local summer camp with my composer and lyricist, Andy Mayo. One of those musicals was produced by a children's theater company in 2016.

In 2012 Andy and I 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. 

Andy and I have committed ourselves to another musical for the local summer camp, and I wrote the first scene of a new adult musical. My goal is to write one musical though I may write two. 

12. Submit at least five Op-Ed pieces to The New York Times for consideration.

I published two pieces in the Hartford Courant and one piece in Parents magazine in 2016. Not bad, but I'd still like to get my first piece in The New York Times in 2017.

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

13. Write a proposal for a nonfiction book related to education.

I have several ideas for books on education that I would like to write. I'm actually in the process of writing one now. If my agent approves, I'll write a proposal in 2017 and hope that an editor likes my ideas. 

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

A completed goal in 2016. None of the publishing outlets accepted my short stories (still waiting on two to respond), but I will try again in 2017.

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

In 2016, I wrote about backing into parking spots, daily affirmations, and bottle flipping. Though my opinion of all three activities didn't change, it was a useful experiment each time, so I'll repeat this in 2017.

16. Increase my author newsletter subscriber base to 1,600.

I grew my list in 2016 from 912 to 1283, a growth of 29%. I'll have to almost double that growth in 2017 in order to reach this goal.

I may be unrealistic in this goal.  

17. Write at least six letters to my father.

My father and I have been writing sporadic letters to each other since 2013. Since we speak little, it's been a great way to get to know a man who disappeared from much of my life at the age of eight. I intend to write to him every other month with the hope that he will write to me on my off months.  

18. Convert Greetings Little One into a book.

I wrote a blog during the first eight years of my children's lives. I stopped writing in December of 2015. Though I've considered resuming the writing, I would like to have the content already created preserved in a physical form. There are services that can do this work, but I want it done well. Edited. Photos positioned appropriately on the page. Videos removed. I'm willing to hire someone to produce this or find another way to have it done well.  

19. Record one thing learned every day in 2017.

This is an idea stolen from a blogger who has done this for the past two years. His lists are fascinating, and I'm hoping to generate an equally fascinating list to share at the end of 2017. 

STORYTELLING

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

We produced eight shows in 2014, 12 shows in 2015, and 17 shows in 2016. An even dozen shows in 2017 is a reasonable goal. 

21. Deliver a TED Talk.

I’ve had some bad luck in terms of TED Talks.

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 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. Huzzah! 

I did a TED Talk in January of 2016 in Natick, MA, that also went very well. The recording is excellent. 

I did a TED Talk in April of 2016 at The Country School in Madison, CT, repeating that first TED Talk that didn't get recorded well in 2013. I had to hold a microphone, which complicated things a bit, and there was no timer, so I had to rush in fear of going long. I'm still not entirely satisfied with the talk. 

I've pitched talks to three TEDx organizers for 2017. I'll need to be accepted to one to achieve the goal, so completion of this goal depends upon the decision of others, which I try to avoid, but in this case, pitching to TEDx organizers isn't enough.

My goal is to deliver at least one talk in 2016, which once again is a goal that depends on the decisions of others, but pitching a TEDx organizer isn't enough. I need to take a stage to complete this goal.  

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

I attended 27 Moth events in 2015 and 26 events in 2016, so this number is more than reasonable.

23. 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 four slams in 2015.
I won five slams in 2016.

Three may seem like an ambitious number for 2017, but since 2011, I've competed in 51 Moth StorySLAMs and won 24 (a 47% win rate). 

If I compete in at least 10 StorySLAMs in 2016, I should be able to win at least three. This goal also depends upon the decisions of others, but competing in StorySLAMs just isn't enough to justify the goal. 

24. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

I won one GrandSLAM in 2014.
I won two GrandSLAMs in 2015.
I won one GrandSLAM in 2016.  

I have at least four GrandSLAM appearances ahead of me in 2017. Winning one is not an unreasonable goal (he said hopefully).  

This goal also depends upon the decisions of others, but competing in GrandSLAMs is a forgone conclusion and just isn't enough to justify the goal. 

25. Produce at least 50 episodes of my new podcast Live Better.

My first episode was sent to iTunes yesterday morning. I await its approval. My goal is to record and produce 1-2 episodes per week, making 50 a more than reasonable goal.

26. Perform stand up at least once in 2016. 

My friend challenged me to do 5-10 minutes of stand up at an open mic in New York. I agreed. Since then I have been collecting bits for the stage. I have at least five minutes and maybe more.

In 2017, I'll have to find the courage to take the stage with the expectation of making people laugh.

27. Write a one-person show.

Since 2015 I've been performing a one-person show consisting of a collection of slightly connected individual stories with commentary in between. It's a formula that works well. The stories present an effective arc of a portion of my life and are a blend of hilarious and heartbreaking tales, and the commentary provides context for the stories, some behind-the-scenes material, and lessons on storytelling that the audience can take home with them.

I'd like to write a more traditional one-person show, consisting of a longer, 45-90 minute performance on a single subject. I have the basis of the show set and have more than enough material, but it needs to be written, which means organized, outlined, and orally constructed, since I don't actually write down any of my stories.

My goal is to accomplish all of this in 2017. A performance of the show would be fantastic, but I'll hold back on making the goal slightly unrealistic.  

NEW PROJECTS

28. Explore the option of teaching a college class.

I have a college class in mind related to education that I would like to teach. It will center on issues that are not currently taught on most college campuses but are some of the most detrimental to new teachers and contribute enormously to teaching leaving the profession in the first five years.

I live near several college campuses with teacher training programs and have served as a guest lecturer regularly at some of these schools. I intend on identifying the gatekeepers to these institutions and finding a way inside if they'll let me.   

29. Cook at least 12 good meals (averaging one per month) in 2016.

In 2016, I learned to cook three good meals for my wife, but I cooked each meal only once. In 2017, I'd like to cook at least one meal per month for Elysha and the family.  

30. 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.

In 2016, I tried to plan a reunion but was unable to secure a venue. This year I would like to make this happen.

MISCELLANEOUS

31. I will stand in vocal opposition to every negative comment made about age disparities between male and female romantic couplings because I choose to respect a woman’s choices of romantic partner regardless of their age or the age of their partner.

Behind-the-back criticism about May-December romances sucks. It's unfairly judgmental and often reflects personal envy and a lack of confidence and belief in oneself. Love is love is love. Leave it the hell alone, at least when you're around me in 2017.   

32. I will report on the content of speech during every locker room experience via social media in 2017.   

Bragging about sexual assault or lying about sexually assaulting women in an effort to gain favor with other men is conversation that I have never heard in any of the many lockers rooms that I have occupied in my life. I've never actually heard any man brag about such things with the exception of Donald Trump. I will continue to listen closely in 2017 to determine if I am simply living a unicorn's life or if our President-elect's claim of "locker room talk" is also a lie.   

33. I will stop presenting the heteronormative mother-and-father paradigm as the default parental paradigm when speaking to my children and my students.

I have strived for this goal throughout my teaching career, but I know that I slip frequently. Establishing this as a formal goal may help my language and word choice become more consistent.   

34. I will not comment, positively or negatively, about physical appearance of any person save my wife and children, in 2017 in an effort to reduce the focus on physical appearance in our culture overall. 

I managed to avoid any negative comments related to physical appearance in 2016 (finding it much easier than I thought once committed to the goal), so this is an expansion of this goal to include all comments related to physical appearance with the exception of my immediate family. 

In 2017, I will seek to compliment people on things that truly matter - the things they say and do - and not on how their hair or shoes happen to look on a given day.

35. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2016.

It occurs to me that I put much greater effort into surprising Elysha in the earlier parts of our relationship. I intend to return to that level of creativity and effort in 2016.  

36. 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 and 2016 that I am reviving because these windows are making me crazy.   

37. 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 2017 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 still shouldn't be hard.

38. 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 2017.

39. 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.

I set this goal for 2016 and only managed to play twice.

I miss poker a great deal and need to bring it back into my life. Six games is not an unreasonable goal.  

40. Spend at least six days with my best friend of more than 25 years.

Bengi and I met in a Milford, MA McDonald's back in 1987, and we have been friends ever since. We once lived together (in the aforementioned Heavy Metal Playhouse) and started our DJ business together back in 1996. We have been through a great deal together, but in the last few years, we have seen less of each other even though we live 15 minutes apart. Our interests have shifted away from the thing each likes to do, but that's no excuse for not getting together more often. I've been taking him for granted, so that will end in 2017. 

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