Resolution update: January 2019

Each month I review the progress of my yearly goals and report on that progress as a means of holding myself accountable.

Here are the results for January.

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PERSONAL HEALTH

1. Don’t die.

Completely alive. Unless, of course, this is all just a computer simulation, which is entirely possible. But if that’s the case, there’s nothing I can do about it.

2. Lose 20 pounds.

I have lost exactly zero pounds in January.

3. Eat at least three servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day, six days a week.

Done! It required a lot of bananas, grapes, and apples, but I did it!

Also, potatoes in any form are a vegetable.

4. Do at least 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 3 one-minute planks for five days a week.

Done.

5. Do burpees three days a week.

Done. I did 1-6 burpees per day, three days a week. I also hurt my thumbs in the process. They are really sore.

What the hell?

WRITING CAREER

6. . Complete my seventh novel before the end of 2019.

Wrapping up my middle grade novel this week and will dive into the next adult novel next month.

Kind of waiting for a go-ahead from my editor, too. This is the problem with being two books ahead. No one is in a rush for your 2022 novel.

7. Write/complete at least five new picture books, including one with a female, non-white protagonist. 

No progress.

8. Write a memoir.

I started writing. I wrote three pages and hated all three of them.

I’ve decided to start in a new place, which means I’m now starting over again.

9. Write a new screenplay.

No progress.

10. Write a musical.

No progress.

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

No progress.

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

No progress.

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

No progress. Also, I need three behaviors to attempt.

Thoughts?

14. Increase my storytelling newsletter subscriber base to 3,000.

249 new subscribers in January. Two more months with numbers like that and I’ll achieve my goal before spring.

If you’d like to sign up for my newsletter, you can do so here:

15. Write at least six letters to my father.

None written in January but I received one, which was very exciting.

16. Write 100 letters in 2019.

Two letters written in January. Off to a flying start.

17. Convert Greetings Little One into a book.

A couple of people are considering taking on this project on my behalf, so there is possible positive movement in this regard.

STORYTELLING

18. Produce a total of 10 Speak Up storytelling events.

No shows produced so far in 2019.

We launch our season at Infinity Hall in Hartford on Saturday, February 23. You should come!

19. Begin selling Speak Up swag at our events and/or online.

Revisions of the new logo continue. Once it is finalized, swag can be ordered.

20. Pitch myself to at least 5 upcoming TEDx events with the hopes of being accepted by one.

I’ve pitched myself to three TEDx conferences so far.

One has expressed interest. No word from the other two.

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

I attended two Moth events in January:

A StorySLAM and a GrandSLAM.

22. Win at least three Moth StorySLAMs.

I won a Moth StorySLAM in Boston in January.

One down. Two to go.

23. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

I finished in second place by a tenth of a point in a Moth GrandSLAM in January.

I’ll be competing in another GrandSLAM in March.

24. Produce at least 40 episodes of our new podcast Speak Up Storytelling. 

Four new shows released in January. We didn’t miss a week.

Listen to our latest here or wherever you get your podcasts.!

25. Perform stand up at least four times in 2019. 

I’ve hit a bit of a snag in terms of this goal. The open mic night where I’d been performing was shut down thanks to stupid people behaving in stupid ways. I have an opportunity to perform in a local comedy showcase, which I will do, but I’d also like an open mic where I can perform on a regular basis.

If you know of an open mic in the Hartford area, please let me know.

26. Develop and teach a Storytelling Master Class, in which participants have an opportunity to tell at least two stories over the course of the day  or tell a story and then retell it based on feedback.

Done! Scheduled for June 1. Enroll today!

27. Pitch at least three stories to This American Life.

No progress.

28. Pitch myself to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast at least three times.

I wrote to Marc early in January, asking for him to consider me as a guest.

No response yet.

NEW PROJECTS

29. Host a fundraiser for RIP Medical Debt, which would allow us to relieve the medical debt of struggling Americans for pennies on the dollar.

No progress.

30. Complete my Eagle Scout project.

No progress.

31. Print, hang, and/or display at least 25 prints, photos, or portraits in our home.

No progress.

32. Renovate our first floor bathroom.

Contractor has visited our home and advised us in terms of the work required. Elysha has tentatively chosen tile and sink. Work should commence soon.

I can’t wait.

33. Organize our second floor bathroom.

No progress.

MISCELLANEOUS

34. Cook at least 12 good meals (averaging one per month) in 2019.

I made breakfast for dinner for the family in January. Pancakes and bacon.

One down. Eleven to go.

35. Plan a reunion of the Heavy Metal Playhouse.

No progress.

36. Ride my bike with my kids at least 25 times in 2019.

Weather has made this impossible.

37. 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. 

Done! I did not comment on physical appearance with the exception of my wife and children in January.

Done with ease.

38. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2016.

I mailed a card to Elysha’s school, telling her how I much I love her.

One surprise complete.  

39. 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.

No progress.

40. Clean the basement. 

Incremental progress. Every week I throw away or organize a few items. It’s still going to require a full day at some point and perhaps a trip to the dump.

41. Set a new personal best in golf.

Weather has made this impossible.

42. Play poker at least six times in 2019.

No progress.

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

I spoke to my friend and we agreed to see each other much more often. He proposed an evening out in January, but I was unavailable. We both agreed to get together in February.

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

Done.

New Year’s Resolutions 2019

At the beginning of every year I establish a list of goals (or New Year's resolutions) for the coming calendar year. I post this list on my blog and social media as a means of holding myself accountable.

I recommend this to everyone. I've been engaged in this process since 2010, and I am convinced that I have been more productive and more successful as a result, even though my average goal completion rate stands at about 55%.

I've learned that setting exceptionally high goals and dispassionately accepting failure are critical to achievement.

An unexpected side benefit has been the occasional assistance of readers in completing some of my goals, through advice, recommendations, and sometimes even direct intervention.

People are kind, and I never turn down help.

Equally unexpected is the interest in these blog posts on my yearly goals and monthly updates. I often feel like updating my progress each month is the least interesting thing I write, but apparently there are readers out there who disagree. They are some of my most-read posts.

Below is my list of 44 goals for 2019. I always reserve the right to add a goal to the list through the month of January.

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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.
I tried to lose 20 points in 2017 but only lost 8. 
I tried to lose 20 pounds in 2018 but only lost 6.

Since my first weight goal back in 2010, I've lost a total of 66 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. Eat at least three servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day, six days a week.

Readers and friends proposed this goal to me last year more than any other. Though I increased my vegetable and fruit consumption considerably in 2018, there were many days when I did not eat three servings of fruits and vegetables.

I’m altering the goal this year to make it more achievable by allowing myself to fail once per week.  

4. Do at least 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 3 one-minute planks for five days a week.

I’ve accomplished this goal for six years in a row, but it’s not exactly automatic (because it’s still hard and oftentimes a pain in the ass), so it remains on the list.

5. Do burpees three days a week.

I need to do a new exercise and vary my routine a bit, and this is apparently a good one. I have no idea how many burpees I’ll be able to do, so I’m keeping this one ambiguous. I just plan on doing them three days a week. We’ll see where that takes me.

WRITING CAREER

6. . Complete my seventh novel before the end of 2019.

With novels #5 and #6 already done and slated to publish this year, it's time to complete the next one.

7. Write/complete at least five new picture books, including one with a female, non-white protagonist. 

I wrote three picture books in 2015.  
I wrote another three in 2016. 
I started but did not finish four picture books in 2017.
Those four books, plus two more, remained unfinished in 2018.

I haven't sold any of them. 

My goal for 2019 is to finish the year with five more completed picture books. This can include books that I began in 2017 but didn't finish and/or brand new ones.

At least one must feature a non-white, non-male protagonist. 

8. Write a memoir.

Rather than writing a proposal for a memoir, my agent and I decided in 2018 that it would best if I simply wrote the book, so that process has begun. I plan to complete the memoir by the end of 2019.

9. Write a new screenplay.

I failed to write a screenplay in 2016 and 2017 after writing my first in 2015. I started a new one in 2018 but it’s not close to completion. I intend to finish it in 2019.

10. Write a musical.

In 2012 composer and lyricist Andy Mayo 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. 

It’s very good.

For the last three years, we’ve written musicals for a local summer camp. One of those musicals was also produced by a children's theater company in 2016.

In 2018 I began writing our next show - our first adult musical since The Clowns. I plan on finishing it in 2019.

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

A completed goal from 2017 and 2018 that I will repeat in 2019.

In 2018, I published two pieces in Parents magazine, in additional to my quarterly column in Seasons magazine and my advice column in Slate magazine. Not bad, but I'd still like to get my first piece in The New York Times in 2019.

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.

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

A completed goal from 2017 and 2018 that I will repeat again this year.

None of the publishing outlets accepted my short stories (still waiting on three to respond), but I will try again in 2019.

13. 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.

In 2017, I wrote about prayer, cold showers, and talking to strangers.

In 2018, I wrote about following pop culture and saying grace before a meal.

I've actually adopted one of these behaviors (cold showers) and realized that I was already doing another (talking to strangers).

Though my opinion of most of these activities didn't change, it was a useful experiment each time, so I'll repeat this in 2019.

14. Increase my author newsletter subscriber base to 3,000.

Growth rates in my newsletter over the past three years have been:

2016: 29%
2017: 25%
2018: 68%

If I grow the list by another 25% in 2019. I will hit my goal of 3,000 subscribers. A very reasonable goal.

If you’d like to sign up for my newsletter, you can do so here:

15. Write at least six letters to my father.

A completed goal from 2017 and 2018 that I will repeat in 2019.

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.  

16. Write 100 letters in 2019.

I wrote 61 letters in 2018, failing to hit my goal of 100, but I’m setting 100 as the goal again. The plan is to write a letter (paper, envelope, and stamp) every three days or so, to students, colleagues, friends, family, and anyone else who is deserving of praise, gratitude, recognition, scathing retribution, or the like.

It's a way of making a day a little brighter for another person that appeals to me a lot. 

17. Convert Greetings Little One into a book.

A failed goal from 2017 and 2018.

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.  

STORYTELLING

18. Produce a total of 10 Speak Up storytelling events.

Since we launched Speak up back in 2013, we have produced more than 60 shows.

2013: 3
2014: 8
2015: 12
2016: 17
2017: 17
2018: 13

With Elysha returning to work, the push to produce shows has relaxed a bit, so 10 seems like a reasonable number for the year.

19. Begin selling Speak Up swag at our events and/or online.

Elysha and I are in the process of updating our Speak Up logo. Once finished, I plan on designing and selling Speak Up swag - tee shirts, hats, tote bags - at our storytelling events. Making a little money on the swag would be great, but the real goal is to simply allow our audience to express their support for us and the show on a more regular basis.

20. Pitch myself to at least 5 upcoming TEDx events with the hopes of being accepted by one.

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 recording is excellent. Huzzah! 

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

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'd like to repeat it again under optimal circumstances.  

I did a TED Talk in May of 2017 at the Pomfret School. Again, I had a handheld mic and no timer. Still, I thought it went well but could be better.  

I have several talk ideas that I’ll be pitching in 2019.

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

My Moth attendance over recent years have been:

2015: 27
2016: 26
2017: 20
2018: 15

As opportunities to speak and perform at other venues for a variety of organizations have increased, the time I’ve had to dedicate to Moth events has decreased, even though they remain my favorite shows in the world.

Give me a Moth StorySLAM any day.

Attending 15 Moth events in 2019 is a reasonable goal, I hope.

22. Win at least three Moth StorySLAMs.

Three wins feels ambitious for 2019 (especially after failing to win three in 2018), but since 2011, I've won 46% of the Moth StorySLAMs that I’ve competed in, and that percentage has remained fairly steady over the years.

If I compete in at least 10 StorySLAMs in 2019, I should be able to win at least three based upon previous percentages. This goal depends upon the decisions of others (which I try to avoid when setting goals), but competing in StorySLAMs just isn't enough to justify the goal.

I need to win.  

23. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

I won one GrandSLAM in 2014.
I won two GrandSLAMs in 2015.
I won one GrandSLAM in 2016.
I failed to win a GrandSLAM in 2017.   
I won two GrandSLAMs in 2018.

This goal also depends upon the decisions of others, but competing in a Moth GrandSLAM is a forgone conclusion (I’m competing in one this month) and just isn't enough to justify the goal. 

Once again, I need to win.

24. Produce at least 40 episodes of our new podcast Speak Up Storytelling. 

Elysha and I produced 30 episodes in 2018, beginning in May, and we hope to do even better in 2019, particularly as our audience grows.

25. Perform stand up at least four times in 2019. 

I performed stand up six times in 2018. I’d lie to get up at least four more times in 2019. 

26. Develop and teach a Storytelling Master Class, in which participants have an opportunity to tell at least two stories over the course of the day  or tell a story and then retell it based on feedback.

This is a request from several of my storytelling students. I’ve been hesitant to teach a class like this, simply because I’m not sure if they need me to tell their stories. My advanced storytelling workshops afford every person the opportunity to tell a story, but they also include instruction, modeling, lessons, and new content.

A workshop like the one proposed would have none of that. I would simply listen to and critique stories. And while I can almost always teach a concept or strategy to the whole group based upon a person’s story, I feel like storytellers can get these critiques and perhaps even lessons from each other without needing me.

But it’s been requested quite a few times, so I’ll give it a shot in 2019.

27. Pitch at least three stories to This American Life.

I had a story on This American Life in May of 2014. Since then, I’ve occasionally pitched stories to someone I know who works for the show. In 2019 I want to make a more concerted effort to pitch stories to this show that I adore.

28. Pitch myself to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast at least three times.

When I was listing possible publicity opportunities for Storyworthy with my publicist, Marc Maron’s WTF was top of the list. I’ve been listening since his first episode, and I would love to have a conversation with him. I’ve pitched myself to him before, and I’ll do it again, at least three times, in 2019.

NEW PROJECTS

29. Host a fundraiser for RIP Medical Debt, which would allow us to relieve the medical debt of struggling Americans for pennies on the dollar.

I was inspired by the New York Times story of Carolyn Kenyon and Judith Jones, both of Ithaca, NY, who raised $12,500 and sent it to the debt-forgiveness charity RIP Medical Debt, which then purchased a portfolio of $1.5 million of medical debts on their behalf. As a result, 1,284 New Yorkers were freed over their medical debt.

I love the idea of leveraging pennies on the dollar for an incredible cause, so I intend on doing the same in 2019. I’m not sure how I’ll raise the money yet, but I look forward to exploring options.

30. Complete my Eagle Scout project.

Back in 1988, I was 17 year-old Boy Scout preparing to complete my Eagle Scout service project so I could earn the rank that I had dreamed about for most of my childhood. In truth, I was qualified to earn my Eagle rank almost two years before, having earned the required merit badges and more, but my service project had been sitting on the back burner, waiting to be completed.

I needed a parent or two to light a fire under my butt and support me in this endeavor, but I wasn’t graced with that level of parental involvement at the time.

My plan was to plant trees in a cemetery in my hometown of Blackstone, MA. My troop had planted trees in that same cemetery about five year before, but those trees had died. I wanted to replace them and complete the work that we had originally promised.

Then, on December 23, 1988, I was in a car accident that nearly killed me. As a result of the accident, I was in a full-length leg cast for three months and required an enormous amount of healing and recovery. With just three months left until I turned 18 (the deadline to complete an Eagle service project), my parents requested an extension, and it was denied.

My childhood dream of becoming an Eagle Scout was over. It’s one of my life’s greatest regrets.

Maybe the greatest.

But I recently decided that it would be good to complete that Eagle Scout project even though it won’t come with my much desire Eagle Scout rank.

It feels right. Maybe I’ll feel a little better about the past.

I plan on doing this in 2019.

31. Print, hang, and/or display at least 25 prints, photos, or portraits in our home.

We have a pile of photos, prints, art, and creations of our children just waiting to be hung on our walls and displayed on our shelves. Part of our delay has been the plan to paint our walls, but waiting is dumb. By the end of the year, I intend on having at least 25 of these photos, prints, and art displayed in our home.

32. Renovate our first floor bathroom.

The floor in our first floor bathroom is falling apart. The walls are ugly, Elysha despises the sink. Renovation is required. It must happen soon.

33. Organize our second floor bathroom.

Our second floor bathroom, used primarily by our kids, is filled with bins of clothing, extra furniture, and more. I need to tackle it aggressively so it’s a well organized, tidy room for the kids. It’s hard to ask children to keep their room clean when they use a room every day that is cluttered.

MISCELLANEOUS

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

A failed goal from 2017 and 2018 that I will attempt in 2019. I told Elysha that I would make at least one meal a week now that she’s working again, so a dozen dinners shouldn’t be difficult.

35. Plan a 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. 

In 2017, I tried to plan a reunion but was unable to secure a venue.

In 2018, I didn’t even try to secure a venue.

I'd really like to make this happen in 2019. 

36. Ride my bike with my kids at least 25 times in 2019.

I haven't put my kids on their bikes often enough. Part of this has to do with Charlie's age, but after watching my brother get hit by a car while riding his bike as a kid (and being partially responsible for the accident), I've always been nervous about riding with other people. I don't worry about my own safety, but I worry constantly about the safety of others.

In 2018, I changed this by getting my kids on their bikes with me 27 times. They started to get very comfortable and excited about riding. I plan to repeat this in 2019.

37. 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. 

In 2016, I avoided all negative comments related to a person's physical appearance.

In 2017 I avoided all comments, both positive and negative, about the physical appearance of any person save my wife, children, and in-laws in an effort to reduce the focus on physical appearance in our culture overall. 

I achieved this goal, and by writing about it, I convinced at least eight other people to adopt the policy as well.

For this reason, I will repeat this goal in 2019, even though it's now simply become something I do.  

38. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2016.

A completed goal from 2017 and 2018 that I will repeat in 2019. 

39. 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, 2016, and 2017 and 2018 that I am continuing to pursue because these windows are making me crazy.    

40. Clean the basement. 

This was a completed goal from 2014 that needed to be repeated again in 2018 because it has filled up again. I did not finish the job last year, so it remains on the list for 2019.  

41. Set a new personal best in golf.

A failed goal from 2017 and 2018.

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 2019.

42. Play poker at least six times in 2019.

A completed goal in 2017 that I failed to complete in 2018.

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 very good poker player who stopped playing regularly in 2015 because of the time shifted to writing and storytelling.

I missed poker a great deal and brought it last year. Six games in 2019 is not an unreasonable goal even though I failed to achieve it in 2018.  

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

A completed goal in 2017 that I failed to repeat in 2018.

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 things each likes to do, and our families are demanding more of our time, but that's no excuse for not getting together more often.

Six days is more than reasonable.  

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

2019.jpg

Resolution update: 2018 in review

Every month, I report on the progress of my yearly goals in an attempt to hold myself accountable. Here are the results for December and for 2018 as a whole.

I'll be posting my goals for 2019 tomorrow.

In 2018, I completed 22 of 44 goals for a success rate of 50%. This is slightly below my eight year average of 55.6%.

My previous year success rates:

2010: 44%
2011: 62%
2012: 30%
2013: 60%
2014: 60%
2015: 59%
2016: 59%
2017: 71%

Despite only completing half of my goals, I had some areas of great success in 2018. I performed especially well in the areas of storytelling, completing 8 of 9 goals. 

While I'm pleased with the overall results, there were some missed opportunities. My biggest disappointments included my failure to lose 20 pounds, my failure to write three new picture books, and my failure to complete any of my larger writing projects.

Those were all very doable in 2018. 

There were also quite a few pathetic failures.

I failed to write a new screenplay. I failed to finalize any details for our Heavy Metal Playhouse reunion. I didn't cook a single meal for Elysha for the second straight year. I failed to play six games of poker. I failed to spend at least six days when my best friend of more than 30 years.

These were not difficult goals to achieve or at least get started.

2018 also provided to be an extraordinary year in many regards. I had several surprising accomplishments and firsts that did not make my initial list of resolutions but became important as the year progressed.

I posted that list separately.

Here are my specific successes and failures from 2018: 

PERSONAL HEALTH

1. Don’t die.

I’m healthy and well. Totally alive.

SUCCESS

2. Lose 20 pounds.

I gained another two pounds in December, finishing the year 8 pounds down and 12 pounds from the goal.

FAIL 

3. Eat at least three servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day. 

I had three servings of fruits and/or vegetables on 22 of 31 days in December. Although I increased my servings of fruits and vegetables significantly in 2018, I did not achieve 100% during even a single month of the year.

FAIL

4. Do at least 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 3 one-minute planks for five days a week.

SUCCESS

5. Identify a yoga routine that I can commit to practicing at least three days a week.

I spent a full week at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health this summer. I did not take a single yoga class. 

I also spent two full weekends at Kripalu in April and December. I did not take a single yoga class during either of those weekends.

FAIL

6. Stop using the snooze button.

Done and still highly recommended. Science is right. Snoozing is a terrible practice that you must end immediately. Get the hell out of bed once you are awake. You will feel a lot better.     

SUCCESS

WRITING CAREER

7. Complete my seventh novel before the end of 2018.

The first half of the novel is in the hands of my agent now. Hopefully she loves it and my publisher loves it and they pay me ONE BILLION DOLLRS for it.

But because I am awaiting word from my agent and publisher before pressing on, the book is not complete.

FAIL

8. Complete my second middle grade/YA novel.

I've begun revising my first middle grade novel, and it’s going to take some time. Things were slowed down significantly because my editor left the company and my new editor needed time to get up to speed. Finishing a second middle grade novel became impossible for me with the change of editors mid-year.

FAIL

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

I've begun work on a nonfiction picture book on a famous beaver drop in the 1950's.

I’ve also begun work on a picture book based upon a famous lullaby.

I’ve also begun work on a picture book about the gerund -ing.

I also had a consultation with a well established picture book writer to get tips for future books.

None of the books in progress are close to being finished.

FAIL

10. Write a proposal for a memoir.

My agent and I have decided upon the memoir, and the writing has begun. In lieu of a proposal, I’m just going to write the damn thing, which could take as much as a year.

FAIL

11. Write a new screenplay.

Writing has commenced but is not nearly complete.

FAIL

12. Write a musical.

Writing has commenced but is not close to being complete.

FAIL

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

One submission (and rejection) in December. Five submitted in all.

SUCCESS

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

No progress at all in 2018.

FAIL

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

Submissions sent to three publishing outlets in December.

SUCCESS

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

At the suggestion of a reader, I spent October dipping into pop culture by reading the front page of the TMZ website every morning in an attempt to understand the cravings for the Kardashians and reality television.

I wrote about my experience in December.

At the suggestion of a reader, I spent October saying grace before eating breakfast and lunch.

I will be writing about it soon.

Only two new behaviors were attempted in 2018, mostly because I could not find any new behaviors to try.

FAIL

17. Increase my author newsletter subscriber base to 2,000.

I added 266 subscribers in December and a total of 830 added in 2018.

My total number of subscribers is now 2,379.

If you'd like to subscribe to my newsletter and receive tips on writing and storytelling, as well as links to the occasional amusing Internet miscellany and more, please subscribe below.

SUCCESS

18. Write at least six letters to my father.

Three letters written in December for a total of six.

SUCCESS

19. Write 100 letters in 2018.

61 letters written in 2018. It’s not 100, but 61 is a big number when it comes to letters, and I enjoyed the hell out of this goal.

FAIL

20. Convert Greetings Little One into a book.

I’m still researching the companies that convert blogs to books. I have not found any that I like.

FAIL

21. Record one thing learned every week in 2018.

Done! My favorite from December:

From Tom Whitwell’s 52 Things I Learned in 2018:

Advertisers place a single brown pixel on a bright background in a mobile ad. It looks like dust, so users try to wipe it off. That registers as a click, and the user is taken to the homepage. [Lauren Johnson]

SUCCESS

STORYTELLING

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

13 shows produced in 2018.

SUCCESS 

23. Deliver a TEDx Talk.

I spoke at a TEDxNatick salon event in May. 

SUCCESS

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

I attended a Moth GrandSLAM in December, bringing the total number of Moth events to 15 in 2018. 

SUCCESS

25. Win at least three Moth StorySLAMs.

Two wins in 2018 out of six chances. My lowest win total since 2012. Also my lowest number of StorySLAMs attended since 2012.

FAIL

26. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

Done twice over! I won my fifth GrandSLAM in February and my sixth GrandSLAM in April.

I also placed third in both the September’s and December’s NYC GrandSLAMs at The Music Hall of Brooklyn.

SUCCESS

27. Produce at least 25 episodes of our new podcast Speak Up Storytelling. 

Done! Episodes #30 dropped this week and is now available wherever you get podcasts. Listen to a terrific story from storyteller Chuck Fedolfi. The reception to the podcast has been excellent, and our audience is growing fast. In fact, we more than quadrupled our audience between November and December and expanded our reach to 99 different countries!

Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and please leave us a rating on Apple Podcasts.

SUCCESS

28. Perform stand up at least four times in 2018. 

I performed stand up six times in 2018 so far, including my first paid gig.

SUCCESS

29. Pitch my solo show to at least one professional theater.

I pitched and performed my solo show at The Tank as part of the Speak Up, Rise Up Storytelling Festival in NYC.

SUCCESS

30. Pitch a new Moth Mainstage story to the artistic director of The Moth. 

I pitched my story on the last day of 2018.

SUCCESS

NEW PROJECTS

31. Write a syllabus for a college course on teaching. 

No progress.

FAIL

32. Cook at least 12 good meals (averaging one per month) in 2018.

No progress. 

FAIL

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

No progress. 

FAIL

MISCELLANEOUS

34. Pay allowance weekly.

Done! Kids are all paid up.

SUCCESS

35. Ride my bike with my kids at least 25 times in 2018.

Done! A total of 27 rides in 2018.

SUCCESS 

36. I will report on the content of speech during every locker room experience via social media in 2018. 

Done. I did not hear a single person in a single locker room make a single comment related to sexually assaulting women in 2018.

SUCCESS

37. I will not comment, positively or negatively, about physical appearance of any person save my wife and children (except in service of a story while appearance is relevant), in 2018 in an effort to reduce the focus on physical appearance in our culture overall. 

I commented on physical appearance beyond the stated parameters twice in 2018.

Close enough. I’m giving myself the win.

SUCCESS

38. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2018.

I surprised Elysha a total of nine times in 2018.

SUCCESS

39. 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.

I've received estimates for this project. That’s as far as I got.

FAIL

40. Clean the basement. 

More than halfway done this job, but I’m going to need to invest a solid chunk of time completing this project.

FAIL

41. Set a new personal best in golf.

Back in August, I played one round that was only four holes long due to green aeration. I had three pars and a bogie for a total of 14. Technically my best score ever, but perhaps it should not count.

FAIL

42. Play poker at least six times in 2018.

Five games in 2018.

FAIL

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

Four days spent with my best friend in 2018.

FAIL

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

Done.

SUCCESS

I engaged with celebrity culture for a month. Here is what I discovered.

One of my 2018 goals is this:

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

During the month of October, at the suggestion of a reader, I spent at least 15 minutes every morning reading the TMZ website in an attempt to immerse myself in the celebrity culture that I have always shunned and despised.

It did not take long for me to realize that it was going to be a long month.

My initial thought was that investing in celebrity culture might be similar to following the lives of athletes. I spend time almost every day reading about my favorite sports teams and their opponents, learning about who is hurt, what the coaches are thinking, and what the athletes had to say about their performance.

I thought this might be similar. If I’m invested in the lives of athletes who I have never met, I can probably become invested in the lives of celebrities who I’d never met, too.

Turns out I was wrong, for a few reasons:

First, I had no rooting interest in these celebrities. Was I supposed to be excited that a YouTube sensation was dating a super model? Was I expected to be interested in the feud between these two actresses? Should I care that a reality TV star is getting married to a punk rocker?

If so, I can’t imagine why.

I understand the insanity of rooting for a football team comprised of men who I don’t know and have never met. I understand how silly it is to cry while watching strangers win a championship. But I grew up watching the Patriots with my grandfather and the Celtics with my mother. I learned to love these teams because they represented the place where I lived and the people who I loved.

When it comes to sports, there is an emotional connection rooted in tradition, geography, and winner-take-all competition. I watch these men battle. I bear witness to their struggle. I can’t help but admire them. Love them.

In this way, sports, at least for me, are different.

I also love Bruce Springsteen, at least as much as any member of the Patriots, but I would never weep while watching Springsteen win a Grammy because Springsteen doesn’t represent me, and his struggle to win a Grammy did not happen so explicitly and directly before my eyes. His goal was not to defeat his fellow musicians in a battle for Grammy supremacy. He was not standing against an enemy combatant. He wasn’t engaged in a real-life version of Guitar Hero.

He just wants to make great music and sell lots of records and tickets.

I love these athletes because they represent me, and they constantly thank me for their support. I watch them toil through hardship in order to win. I cheer them on when I’m in the arena and the stadium, and sometimes that cheering actually impacts the results of the game.

The noise that we make can change the way the opponent plays. That is incredible.

These have earned my allegiance. My devotion. I feel like I’m a member of the team. In football, I’m referred to as the “twelfth man.” Eleven players on field plus me.

I have no allegiance to Justin Bieber. I never will.

Second, watching sports gives me the opportunity to watch excellence in action, similar to going to a museum to see great paintings or going to a concert to listen to a world-class performer.

I thought that following celebrity culture might offer a similar opportunity, but a website like TMZ and pop culture in general does not celebrate excellence. It does not highlight the beauty of Beyonce’s voice or the acting chops of some new teen heartthrob. It’s all about the drama. You need not be the best in your business to garner the most attention. You simply need to create the most fuss. Experience the most trouble. Create the biggest problems.

I found this exceptionally annoying. Pop culture reporting is drawn to the negative story. The breakup. The divorce. The fight. The spurned lover. It leans heavily to the negative and exploits human beings when they are at their most vulnerable.

I also can’t help but think that pop culture, at least as it’s represented on TMZ, is stupid. Mindless and uninspiring.

On the morning I write this, the headlines on TMZ are:

  • Safaree Asked Erica Mena's Mom and Son For Permission To Marry Her, Before Proposing

  • Forest Whitaker Files Docs For Divorce From Wife Keisha Nash Whitaker

  • 'Goodfellas' Actor Frank Adonis Dead at 83

  • DMX Getting Out of Prison in One Month, He's Got Family and Movie Offers on the Brain

  • Christie Brinkley and Sailor Brinkley Cook Looking Hot During Tropical Christmas Trip

  • CHRIS BROWN SPANKS MONKEY ALLEGATIONS... She's Not My Pet!

  • Chris Brown & Nia Guzman on Verge of Hammering Out New Child Support Deal

Dig a little deeper and there is a story about pay inequity between an actor and an actress, which is poorly written but interesting. Dig a little more and you’ll find a piece written by a retired NFL player about the nature of safety in football today. I’ve read articles like this before, but it’s at least an important and real issue.

But these are not the top stories, nor do they represent the typical pop culture story gaining the most traction today.

Dumb stories gain attention. Terrible behavior garners the headlines.

Lastly, I discovered that my knowledge of celebrity culture actually made their work slightly less appealing to me. I don’t want to know that the man singing the song I love is going through a custody battle. I don’t want know that the actor in the movie I’m watching has cheated on her husband with another actor. I never need to know who is pregnant and who has broken the law.

The last thing I want is the real life nonsense and drama to be filtering into my mind while enjoying the music, television, and film that these people create.

I has happy when the month was over and I could delete the TMZ website from the top bar of favorite websites (and my life). It was a fascinating journey into a world previously unexplored and also a terrifying realization that a significant portion of Americans care who Jennifer Aniston is dating or if Cardi B will take back Offset.

This is entertaining and important to people, and I’m not happy about it.

Screen Shot 2018-12-29 at 7.10.14 AM.png

Time to set some goals for 2019. And perhaps a goal or two for me, too.

As the New Year approaches, you will undoubted see and read many articles on why New Year’s resolutions never work and are best avoided.

It’s a trope that media outlets love to roll out at the end of December. 

It’s nonsense.

New Year’s resolutions (and goal setting in general) work for those who are actually motivated to achieve the desired results and work hard to meet their goals..

Since 2010, I have been posting my New Years resolutions on my blog and social media and charting my progress month by month. While my New Year’s resolution success rate over the past five years stands at just over 55 percent, my life has changed immensely thanks to my yearly goal setting and the pursuit of these goals.

Here are a few examples:

____________________________________

In 2010 I resolved to floss every day. I have not missed a day of flossing since. It’s simply become something I do.

Incidentally, if you would like to start flossing, I suggest that you place the floss in the shower. Doing this creates an incentive:

Who would pass up an extra 30 seconds in the shower in order to be productive and extend your life (people who floss live longer)?

I gave this advice at a book talk in California once (in response to a question about how routines make me more productive), and about six months later, a woman wrote to me to say that while she appreciated everything about my talk, the advice on flossing had changed her life. She’s flossed every day since my talk, and her gums have never been so healthy and pain free.

It’s not hard. You, too, can be a dental nerd like me.
____________________________________

I established the goal of losing 10 pounds in 2010, and I have since lost 55 pounds and entirely changed the way that I live.

  • I exercise five times a week.

  • I know the calorie count of almost every food item that I eat.

  • I’ve permanently reduced meal portions.

  • I look better, feel better, and have more energy than ever before.

I still have weight to lose, but that single goal in 2010 has changed the way I eat, exercise and live ever since, and it will likely provide me with a longer, healthier life.
____________________________________

In an effort to reduce my cholesterol, I resolved to eat three servings of oatmeal a week in 2011. Since then I continue to eat at least that much oatmeal each week as part of my work day lunch. It’s a perfect midday meal: Easy to make, filling, low in calories, and delicious.

Some of my colleagues think I’ve crazy for eating the same thing almost every day, but as a result, my cholesterol dropped 40 points and has remained within the guidelines that my doctor set for me, and while so many of my friends are on medication to control their cholesterol, I am not.

This year one of my colleagues joined me in eating oatmeal everyday, so if I’m crazy, I’m also contagious.
____________________________________

In 2011, after two years of saying that I would do it, I resolved to participate in a Moth event as a storyteller, either at a live show or on their radio broadcast. Since my performance in my first Moth StorySLAM in July of 2011, storytelling has become an enormous part of my life.

I’ve won 38 Moth StorySLAMs and 6 GrandSLAM championships. I’ve told stories on stages all over the world. In 2013, Elysha and I founded Speak Up, and since then, we have produced more than 60 shows and partnered with amazing organizations like Voices of Hope and Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Now I teach storytelling to almost anyone you could imagine: CEOs and artists. Priests, minsters, and rabbis. Entertainers and writers. Salespeople and teachers. Professors and attorneys and real estate agents. Superintendents and social media teams. I’ve taught I’ve taught storytelling to Mohawk Indians on a reservation in Canada and to 13 rabbis on a retreat in upstate New York.

My teaching of storytelling led to the writing of Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling.

That simple 2011 goal of telling one story at one Moth event has blossomed into one of the most important parts of my creative life.
____________________________________

In 2014, one of my goals was to “Find a way to keep Elysha home for one more year with the kids.”  Honestly, I didn’t know how we would ever be able to manage living on one income for another year after surviving on one income for almost five years. I didn’t think it possible. But as soon as I wrote the goal down, my mindset instantly shifted from “Can I make this happen?” to “How am I going to make happen?”

I went on to achieve that goal three more times until Elysha finally went back to work this year.

Writing down the goal  and acknowledging its importance made the decision automatic for me.

Figuring out the “How?” hasn’t always been easy, but the kids would never know it, and that’s what matters most.   

Don’t let anyone fool you. New Year’s resolutions (and goal setting in general) can change your life, for the upcoming year and sometimes forever, if you actually apply yourself and monitor your progress carefully.  

My advice:

  • Establish measurable goals that do not depend upon the actions or decisions of others for success. My goals are now to “Submit a book proposal” rather than “Publish a book.” Keep your goals within your control. I don’t always follow this rule (“Win three Moth StorySLAMs,” for example, relies on the opinions of judges), but I almost always do.

  • Create a specific plan for accomplishing each goal.

  • Check on progress regularly, and create a schedule for this.

  • Remind yourself repeatedly about what your life would look like if you achieved your goals. Envision this new life. See it in your mind’s eye as a reality.

  • Remind yourself that most people fail to accomplish their New Year’s resolutions, and that you are better than most people.

Two years ago, I came upon a piece in the Wall Street Journal on New Year’s resolutions that suggests that outsourcing your resolutions may improve your ability to achieve them.

Most of us could use help achieving our goals. Who better to tell us how to improve ourselves than someone who knows us well—perhaps better than we know ourselves—and even may be all too happy to offer up some tough love? And if we promise to check in regularly with this person to discuss our progress, we’ll probably do a much better job of keeping our resolutions.

“We all have blind spots, but the people we are intimate with can see through them,” says David Palmiter, a couples therapist and professor of psychology at Marywood University, in Scranton, Pa. A loved one can encourage us to meet our goals and hold us accountable when we slip, he says.

I had always asked a select group of friends to suggest goals for my upcoming year, but after reading this piece, I thought it might be a good idea to open up my goal selection process to anyone who might want to participate. I’ve been doing this for the past five years.

So if you’d like to suggest a goal for me in 2019, I would love to hear your ideas. Please note that this does not guarantee that I will adopt every suggested goal, but I will seriously consider all that are submitted.

Also note that all goals must be empirically measurable, so a goal like “Be less of a jerk-face” cannot be included in my list of resolutions (even if it’s a valid suggestion) because there is no way for me to determine if the goal was met.

But you’re welcome to tell me to stop being a jerk-face at any time if you’d like.

Not need to wait until the end of the year to make that request.

Submit your suggestions by commenting on this post or emailing me at matthewdicks@gmail.com.

Now go set a few goals for yourself in 2019. Maybe start with flossing. You can’t overstate the value of healthy gums.

Resolution update: November 2018

PERSONAL HEALTH

1. Don’t die.

My left ear has been filled with fluid since a plane flight two weeks ago. My doc says it should clear in another week of so, and it’s not life threatening.

2. Lose 20 pounds.

I gained another pound in November, so now I’m 10 pounds down and 10 pounds from the goal.  

3. Eat at least three servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day. 

I had three servings of fruits and/or vegetables on 20 of 30 days in November.

4. Do at least 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 3 one-minute planks for five days a week.

Done.  

5. Identify a yoga routine that I can commit to practicing at least three days a week.

I spent a full week at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. I did not take a single yoga class. Maybe I should’ve done yoga dancing with Jeni Bonaldo, but it looked too dumb to try.

I’ll spend another weekend at Kripalu in December. Maybe I’ll take a class in between my workshops?

6. Stop using the snooze button.

Done and still highly recommended. Science is right. Snoozing is a terrible practice that you must end immediately. Get the hell out of bed once you are awake. You will feel a lot better.     

WRITING CAREER

7. Complete my seventh novel before the end of 2018.

The first half (or two-thirds) of the novel is in the hands of my agent now. Hopefully she loves it and my publisher loves it and they pay me ONE BILLION DOLLRS for it.

8. Complete my second middle grade/YA novel.

I've begun revising my first middle grade novel, and it’s going to take some time. Things were slowed down significantly because my editor left the company and my new editor needed time to get up to speed. Finishing a second middle grade novel is looking highly unlikely this year because of these unforeseen delays.  

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

I've begun work on a nonfiction picture book on a famous beaver drop in the 1950's.

I’ve also begun work on a picture book based upon a famous lullaby.

I’ve also begun work on a picture book on the gerund -ing.

I also have plans to consult with a well established picture book writer next week (after cancelling twice).  

10. Write a proposal for a memoir.

My agent and I have decided upon the memoir, and the writing has begun. In lieu of a proposal, I’m just going to write the damn thing, which could take as much as a year.

11. Write a new screenplay.

Writing has commenced. Completion is possible.

12. Write a musical.

Writing has commenced. Completion by the end of 2018 is impossible.

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

One submission submitted (and rejected) in November. Four submitted so far.

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

No progress.

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

No progress.

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

I spent October dipping into pop culture by reading the front page of the TMZ website every morning in an attempt to understand the cravings for the Kardashians and reality television.

I will be writing about it soon.

I need a second behavior to begin ASAP. Any suggestions?

17. Increase my author newsletter subscriber base to 2,000.

Done!

I added 156 subscribers in November and a total of 564 added in 2018. My total number of subscribers is now 2,113.

If you'd like to subscribe to my newsletter and receive tips on writing and storytelling, as well as links to the occasional amusing Internet miscellany and more, please subscribe here:

18. Write at least six letters to my father.

No letters written in November. Three letters written thus far.

19. Write 100 letters in 2018.

Zero letters written and mailed in November. My total remains at 50 letters in 2018.

I need to get my ass in gear.

20. Convert Greetings Little One into a book.

I have begun researching the companies that convert blogs to books. I have not found any that I like.

Help?

21. Record one thing learned every week in 2018.

Done! My favorite from November:

In the early 20th century, goldfish (which were incredibly cheap) were treated like fresh cut flowers:

Beautiful things placed in bowls on tables and never fed.

When they died, they were simply discarded and replaced, just like flowers.

Terrible. Right?

STORYTELLING

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

Done!

One show produced in November at Space Ballroom in Hamden, CT.

Our total number of shows now stands at 12. One more to go. Tonight! 

23. Deliver a TEDx Talk.

Done! I spoke at a TEDxNatick salon event in May. 

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

Two Moth StorySLAMs in November bringing the total number of Moth events to 14 in 2018. 

25. Win at least three Moth StorySLAMs.

A second place finish in November leaves me with a total of two wins so far in 2018.

Running out of time… one or two more chances.

26. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

Done twice over! I won my fifth GrandSLAM in February and my sixth GrandSLAM in April.

I also placed third in September’s GrandSLAM at The Music Hall of Brooklyn, and I’ll be competing in one more NYC GrandSLAM in December.

27. Produce at least 25 episodes of our new podcast Speak Up Storytelling. 

Done! Episodes #26 dropped this week and is now available wherever you get podcasts. Listen to a terrific story from storyteller Linda Storms. The reception to the podcast has been excellent, and our audience is growing fast. In fact, we more than quintupled our audience in the last week and expanded our reach to 60 different countries!

Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and please leave us a rating on Apple Podcasts.

28. Perform stand up at least four times in 2018. 

Done!

I’ve performed stand up six times in 2018 so far, including my first paid gig.

29. Pitch my solo show to at least one professional theater.

Done! I’ve performed my solo show at The Tank as part of the Speak Up, Rise Up Storytelling Festival in NYC.

30. Pitch a new Moth Mainstage story to the artistic director of The Moth. 

I’ll pitch it this month.

NEW PROJECTS

31. Write a syllabus for a college course on teaching. 

No progress.

32. Cook at least 12 good meals (averaging one per month) in 2018.

No progress. 

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

No progress. 

MISCELLANEOUS

34. Pay allowance weekly.

Done! Kids are all paid up.

35. Ride my bike with my kids at least 25 times in 2018.

Done! Two more rides in November, bringing the total for the year to 27. Charlie loves riding his bike, and Clara is getting a lot more comfortable on her big girl bike. 

36. I will report on the content of speech during every locker room experience via social media in 2018. 

Done. I spent 23 days in a locker room in November, and I did not hear a single comment related to sexually assaulting women.  

37. I will not comment, positively or negatively, about physical appearance of any person save my wife and children (except in service of a story while appearance is relevant), in 2018 in an effort to reduce the focus on physical appearance in our culture overall. 

In November, I asked a parent about a clothing item worn by his daughter, partially out of curiosity (I wanted to know what it was) and partly out of jest. This was the second time that I commented on the physical appearance of another person.

38. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2018.

Done! I've surprised Elysha a total of nine times in 2018.

39. 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.

I've received some more reasonable estimates for this project. It might actually be doable. Especially if I had more money.

40. Clean the basement. 

More than halfway done this job, but I’m going to need to invest a solid chunk of time completing this project.

41. Set a new personal best in golf.

I played half a dozen rounds of golf in November, but I did not come close to my personal best. 

Back in August, I played one round that was only four holes long due to green aeration. I had three pars and a bogie for a total of 14. Technically my best score ever, but perhaps it should not count. 

42. Play poker at least six times in 2018.

Zero games played in November. Five in all so far.

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

No get-togethers in November. My number stands at four.

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

Done.

Resolution Update: October 2018

PERSONAL HEALTH

1. Don’t die.

Healthy as an ox.

2. Lose 20 pounds.

I lost 12 pounds at the peak of my illness, then gained back 6 pounds as I started to eat again. Then I gained another 6 pounds, so now I’m 11 pounds down and 9 pounds from the goal.  

3. Eat at least three servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day. 

I had three servings of fruits and/or vegetables on 18 of 31 days in October.

Not great. A week at camp with my students didn’t help.

4. Do at least 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 3 one-minute planks for five days a week.

Done.  

5. Identify a yoga routine that I can commit to practicing at least three days a week.

I spent a full week at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. I did not take a single yoga class. 

6. Stop using the snooze button.

Done and still highly recommended. Science is right. Snoozing is a terrible practice that you must end immediately. Get the hell out of bed once you are awake. You will feel a lot better.     

That said, the cats kept me in bed for an extra 15 minutes on at least three days in October. Not snoozing but fully awake and completely non-productive.

WRITING CAREER

7. Complete my seventh novel before the end of 2018.

Progress continues. Shipping off the first half to my agent this week, I hope. 

I said that last month, too.  

8. Complete my second middle grade/YA novel.

I've begun revising my first middle grade novel, and it’s going to take some time. Things were slowed down significantly because my editor left the company and my new editor needed time to get up to speed. Finishing a second middle grade novel is looking highly unlikely this year because of these unforeseen delays.  

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

I've begun work on a nonfiction picture book on a famous beaver drop in the 1950's.

I’ve also begun work on a picture book based upon a famous lullaby.

I also have plans to consult with a well established picture book writer this week.  

10. Write a proposal for a memoir.

My agent and I have decided upon the memoir, and the writing has begun. In lieu of a proposal, I’m just going to write the damn thing, which could take as much as a year.

11. Write a new screenplay.

Writing has commenced.

12. Write a musical.

Writing has commenced.  

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

Nothing submitted in October. Three submitted so far.

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

No progress.

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

No progress.

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

I spent October dipping into pop culture by reading the front page of the TMZ website every morning in an attempt to understand the cravings for the Kardashians and reality television.

I will be writing about it soon.

I need a second behavior to begin ASAP. Any suggestions?

17. Increase my author newsletter subscriber base to 2,000.

I added 30 subscribers added in October, and a total of 408 added in 2018. I'm just 43 away from my goal. If I manage to acquire one subscriber per day, I’ll hit my goal with ease.

If you'd like to subscribe to my newsletter and receive tips on writing and storytelling, as well as links to the occasional amusing Internet miscellany and more, please subscribe here:

18. Write at least six letters to my father.

No letters written in October. Three letters written thus far.

19. Write 100 letters in 2018.

Just two letters written and mailed in October, bringing my total to 50 in 2018.

I need to get my ass in gear.

20. Convert Greetings Little One into a book.

I have begun researching the companies that convert blogs to books. I have not found any that I like.

Help?

21. Record one thing learned every week in 2018.

Done! My favorite from October:

Mister Rogers always mentioned out loud that he was feeding his fish because a young blind viewer once asked him to do so. She wanted to know the fish were OK.

STORYTELLING

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

One show produced in October at Infinity Hall in Hartford.

Our total number of shows now stands at 11. 

23. Deliver a TEDx Talk.

Done! I spoke at a TEDxNatick salon event in May. 

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

Two Moth StorySLAMs in October, bringing the total number of Moth events to 12 in 2018. 

25. Win at least three Moth StorySLAMs.

Victory in October! From first position no less!

A total of two wins so far in 2018.

26. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

Done twice over! I won my fifth GrandSLAM in February and my sixth GrandSLAM in April.

I also placed third in September’s GrandSLAM at The Music Hall of Brooklyn.

27. Produce at least 25 episodes of our new podcast Speak Up Storytelling. 

Episodes #24 dropped this week and is now available wherever you get podcasts. Listen to a terrific story from storyteller Laura Terranova. The reception to the podcast has been excellent, and our audience is growing fast.

Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and please leave us a rating on Apple Podcasts.

28. Perform stand up at least four times in 2018. 

Done!

I’ve performed stand up six times in 2018 so far, including my first paid gig.

29. Pitch my solo show to at least one professional theater.

Done! I’ve performed my solo show at The Tank as part of the Speak Up, Rise Up Storytelling Festival in NYC.

30. Pitch a new Moth Mainstage story to the artistic director of The Moth. 

I’m deciding on a story to pitch.

NEW PROJECTS

31. Write a syllabus for a college course on teaching. 

No progress.

32. Cook at least 12 good meals (averaging one per month) in 2018.

No progress. 

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

No progress. 

MISCELLANEOUS

34. Pay allowance weekly.

Done! Kids are all paid up.

35. Ride my bike with my kids at least 25 times in 2018.

Done! Four rides in October, bringing the total for the year to 25. Charlie loves riding his bike, and Clara is getting a lot more comfortable on her big girl bike. 

36. I will report on the content of speech during every locker room experience via social media in 2018. 

Done. I spent 28 days in a locker room in October, and I did not hear a single comment related to sexually assaulting women.  

37. I will not comment, positively or negatively, about physical appearance of any person save my wife and children (except in service of a story while appearance is relevant), in 2018 in an effort to reduce the focus on physical appearance in our culture overall. 

Done. Easy as pie. Never a need to speak about a person’s physical appearance.

38. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2018.

Done! I've surprised Elysha a total of nine times in 2018.

39. 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.

I've received some more reasonable estimates for this project. It might actually be doable. Especially if I had more money.

40. Clean the basement. 

More than halfway done this job, but I’m going to need to invest a solid chunk of time completing this project.

41. Set a new personal best in golf.

I played half a dozen rounds of golf in October, but I did not come close to my personal best. 

Back in August, I played one round that was only four holes long due to green aeration. I had three pars and a bogie for a total of 14. Technically my best score ever, but perhaps it should not count. 

42. Play poker at least six times in 2018.

Three games of poker in October, all played after the kids went to bed at camp, bringing my total to five games this year.  

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

We worked a wedding in October, bringing my total to four. I also tried to arrange another get-together, but he was not able to do so.

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

Done.

Resolution update: September 2018

PERSONAL HEALTH

1. Don’t die.

I’ve had a cold that lasted the entire month of September (and I’m still a little sick), but it didn’t kill me.

2. Lose 20 pounds.

I lost 12 pounds at the peak of my illness, then gained back 6 pounds as I started to eat again. I'm now 17 pounds down and 3 pounds from the goal.  

This insidious virus was good for something.

3. Eat at least three servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day. 

I had three servings of fruits and/or vegetables on 14 of 30 days in September.

Worst month so far. Primarily because I wasn’t eating much at all.

4. Do at least 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 3 one-minute planks for five days a week.

Done. With this cold, it was not easy.  

5. Identify a yoga routine that I can commit to practicing at least three days a week.

I spent a full week at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. I did not take a single yoga class. 

6. Stop using the snooze button.

Done and still highly recommended. Science is right. Snoozing is a terrible practice that you must end immediately. Get the hell out of bed once you are awake. You will feel a lot better.     

WRITING CAREER

7. Complete my seventh novel before the end of 2018.

Progress continues. Shipping off the first half to my agent this week, I hope.   

8. Complete my second middle grade/YA novel.

I've begun revising my first middle grade novel, and it’s going to take some time. Things were slowed down significantly because my editor left the company and my new editor needed time to get up to speed. Finishing a second middle grade novel is looking highly unlikely this year because of these unforeseen delays.  

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

I've begun work on a nonfiction picture book on a famous beaver drop in the 1950's.

I also have plans to consult with a well established picture book writer this month.  

10. Write a proposal for a memoir.

My agent and I have decided upon the memoir, and progress has begun. 

11. Write a new screenplay.

Writing has commenced.

12. Write a musical.

Writing has commenced.  

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

Nothing submitted in September. Three submitted so far.

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

No progress.

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

No progress.

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

No progress. I'm still looking for possible behaviors to adopt. Suggestions welcomed.  

17. Increase my author newsletter subscriber base to 2,000.

I added 57 subscribers added in September, and a total of 378 added in 2018. I'm just 74 away from my goal. If I manage to acquire one subscriber per day, I’ll hit my goal with ease.

If you'd like to subscribe to my newsletter and receive tips on writing and storytelling, as well as links to the occasional amusing Internet miscellany and more, please subscribe here:

18. Write at least six letters to my father.

No letters written in September. Three letters written thus far.

19. Write 100 letters in 2018.

Just two letters written and mailed in September, bringing my total to 50 in 2018.

20. Convert Greetings Little One into a book.

I have begun researching the companies that convert blogs to books. I have not found any that I like.

21. Record one thing learned every week in 2018.

Done! My favorite from September, again from the Numlock Newsletter: 

Mosquitoes have been the bane of the human species for generations, but a controversial new gene edit could hypothetically wipe out an entire species if introduced. Essentially, female mosquitoes that have two copies of a specifically edited gene are infertile, while females with one copy can reproduce and males with any copy can reproduce. Tests were carried out on two groups of mosquitoes by mixing in genetically edited males to 12.5 percent of the total population. Soon enough — within 7 generations in one group and within 11 generations in the other — all the females were sterile, and thus the population collapsed. Further tests are being done, but the question is an interesting one: if we could eradicate mosquitoes, should we?

STORYTELLING

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

One show produced in September: Our first show, a standing-room-only affair, at Space Ballroom in Hamden, CT.  

Our total number of shows now stands at 10. 

space.jpg

23. Deliver a TEDx Talk.

Done! I spoke at a TEDxNatick salon event in May. 

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

Two Moth StorySLAMs and one Moth GrandSLAM in September, bringing the total number of Moth events to 10 in 2018. 

25. Win at least three Moth StorySLAMs.

Two second place finishes in September. One victory back in February. 

26. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

Done twice over! I won my fifth GrandSLAM in February and my sixth GrandSLAM in April.

I placed third in September’s GrandSLAM at The Music Hall of Brooklyn.

27. Produce at least 25 episodes of our new podcast Speak Up Storytelling. 

Episodes #19 dropped today and is now available wherever you get podcasts. Listen to a terrific story from storyteller Valerie Gordon. The reception to the podcast has been excellent, and our audience is growing fast.

Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and please leave us a rating on Apple Podcasts.

28. Perform stand up at least four times in 2018. 

Done!

I performed in three open-mic events while in Grand Rapids, Michigan, including one night when I was asked to perform a second set. This brings my total number of stand up performances in 2018 to six, including one paid gig.   

29. Pitch my solo show to at least one professional theater.

Done! I performed my solo show at The Tank as part of the Speak Up, Rise Up Storytelling Festival in NYC.

30. Pitch a new Moth Mainstage story to the artistic director of The Moth. 

No progress.

NEW PROJECTS

31. Write a syllabus for a college course on teaching. 

No progress.

32. Cook at least 12 good meals (averaging one per month) in 2018.

No progress. 

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

No progress. 

MISCELLANEOUS

34. Pay allowance weekly.

Done! Kids are all paid up.

35. Ride my bike with my kids at least 25 times in 2018.

Ten rides in September, bringing the total for the year to 21. Charlie loves riding his bike, and Clara is getting a lot more comfortable on her big girl bike. 

36. I will report on the content of speech during every locker room experience via social media in 2018. 

Done. I only spent 16 days in a locker room in September, and I did not hear a single comment related to sexually assaulting women.  

37. I will not comment, positively or negatively, about physical appearance of any person save my wife and children (except in service of a story while appearance is relevant), in 2018 in an effort to reduce the focus on physical appearance in our culture overall. 

I broke my rule and declared that Serena Williams is beautiful after a bunch of knuckle draggers said otherwise. Other than that intentional rule breaking moment, I did not speak of physical appearance with the exception of my wife and kids in September. 

This included saying nothing to a student who colored her hair a light shade of blue.

38. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2018.

Done! I've surprised Elysha a total of nine times in 2018.

39. 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.

I've received some more reasonable estimates for this project. It might actually be doable. Especially if I had more money.

40. Clean the basement. 

More than halfway done this job, but I’m going to need to invest a solid chunk of time completing this project.

41. Set a new personal best in golf.

I played many rounds of golf in September, but I did not come close to my personal best. 

Back in August, I played one round that was only four holes long due to aeration. I had three pars and a bogie for a total of 14. Technically my best score ever, but perhaps it should not count. 

42. Play poker at least six times in 2018.

No poker in September. Just two games all year. 

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

My total stands at three. No progress in September. 

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

Done.

Resolution update: August 2018

PERSONAL HEALTH

1. Don’t die.

Still alive and amazing.

2. Lose 20 pounds.

I gained a pound in August. I'm now 11 pounds down and 9 from the goal.  

3. Eat at least three servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day. 

I had three servings of fruits and/or vegetables on 20 of 31 days in August.

Worst month so far.

4. Do at least 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 3 one-minute planks for five days a week.

Done.  

5. Identify a yoga routine that I can commit to practicing at least three days a week.

I spent a full week at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. I did not take a single yoga class. 

6. Stop using the snooze button.

Done and still highly recommended. Science is right. Snoozing is a terrible practice that you must end immediately. Get the hell out of bed once you are awake. You will feel a lot better.     

WRITING CAREER

7. Complete my seventh novel before the end of 2018.

My agent and I have settled on the next novel. Progress continues.   

8. Complete my second middle grade/YA novel.

I've submitted my first middle grade novel to my editor. I have a phone call with her next week. I can't choose or start the next book until the first is complete. 

This one is looking very unlikely. 

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

I've begun work on a nonfiction picture book on a famous beaver drop in the 1950's. 

10. Write a proposal for a memoir.

My agent and I have decided upon the memoir, and progress has begun. 

11. Write a new screenplay.

Writing has commenced.

12. Write a musical.

Writing has commenced. 

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

Nothing submitted in July. Three submitted so far.

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

No progress.

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

No progress.

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

No progress. I'm still looking for possible behaviors to adopt. Suggestions welcomed.  

17. Increase my author newsletter subscriber base to 2,000.

I added 23 subscribers added in July, and a total of 321 added in 2018. I'm 131 away from my goal. 

If you'd like to subscribe to my newsletter and receive tips on writing and storytelling, as well as links to amusing Internet miscellany and more, please subscribe here:

18. Write at least six letters to my father.

No letters written in August. Three letters written thus far.

19. Write 100 letters in 2018.

Four letters written and mailed in August, bringing my total to 48 in 2018.

20. Convert Greetings Little One into a book.

No progress.  

21. Record one thing learned every week in 2018.

Done! My favorite from August, from the Numlock Newsletter: 

An analysis of the front pockets in 80 pairs of blue jeans found that the pockets in women’s jeans are 48 percent shorter and 6.5 percent narrower than men’s jeans pockets. The average women’s jean pocket is 5.6 inches deep and 6 inches across, which on a temperate day could conceivably hold a pen that has a little flexibility, while the average men’s jean pocket is 9.1 inches down and 6.4 inches wide, which is literally large enough to comfortably hold an iPad mini.

STORYTELLING

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

Three shows produced in August: a showcase at the CT Historical Society, a showcase at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, and a solo show (with a guest appearance by Jeni Bonaldo) at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. 

Our total number of shows stands at 9. 

23. Deliver a TEDx Talk.

Done! I spoke at a TEDxNatick salon event in May. 

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

Two Moth StorySLAMs in August, bringing the total to 7 in 2018. 

25. Win at least three Moth StorySLAMs.

A second and a third place finished in August. One victory back in February. 

storyslam.jpeg

26. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

Done twice over! I won my fifth GrandSLAM in February and my sixth GrandSLAM in April.

I'll be competing in another GrandSLAM in NYC in September. 

27. Produce at least 25 episodes of our new podcast Speak Up Storytelling. 

Episodes 1-15 are now now available wherever you get podcasts. The reception to the podcast has been excellent, and our audience is growing fast.

Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and please leave us a rating on Apple Podcasts.

C'mon, people.  

28. Perform stand up at least four times in 2018. 

Done!

I performed in three open-mic events while in Grand Rapids, Michigan, including one night when I was asked to perform a second set. This brings my total number of stand up performances in 2018 to 6, including one paid gig.   

29. Pitch my solo show to at least one professional theater.

Done! I performed my solo show at The Tank as part of the Speak Up, Rise Up Storytelling Festival in NYC.

30. Pitch a new Moth Mainstage story to the artistic director of The Moth. 

No progress.

NEW PROJECTS

31. Write a syllabus for a college course on teaching. 

No progress.

32. Cook at least 12 good meals (averaging one per month) in 2018.

No progress. 

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

No progress. 

MISCELLANEOUS

34. Pay allowance weekly.

Done! 

35. Ride my bike with my kids at least 25 times in 2018.

Only six more rides in August , bringing the total to 11. 

36. I will report on the content of speech during every locker room experience via social media in 2018. 

Done. I spent 22 days at two different gyms in August, plus a locker room at a golf course, and I did not hear a single comment related to sexually assaulting women.  

37. I will not comment, positively or negatively, about physical appearance of any person save my wife and children (except in service of a story while appearance is relevant), in 2018 in an effort to reduce the focus on physical appearance in our culture overall. 

I did not speak of physical appearance with the exception of my wife and kids in August. 

38. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2018.

Done! I've surprised Elysha a total of nine times in 2018.

39. 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.

I've received some more reasonable estimates for this project. It might actually be doable.

40. Clean the basement. 

More than halfway done this job.

41. Set a new personal best in golf.

I played many rounds of golf in August, and I came within 4 strokes of my personal best. 

I also played one round that was only four holes long due to aeration. I had three pars and a bogie for a total of 14. Technically my best score ever, but perhaps it should not count. 

42. Play poker at least six times in 2018.

No poker in August. Just two games all year. 

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

A spent an evening working as a DJ with Bengi in August, bringing my total to three. 

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

Done.

Resolution update: July 2018

PERSONAL HEALTH

1. Don’t die.

Still alive. Feel fantastic. 

2. Lose 20 pounds.

Stuck at 12 pounds lost. 

3. Eat at least three servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day. 

I had three servings of fruits and/or vegetables on 22 of 31 days in July. Worst month so far.

4. Do at least 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 3 one-minute planks for five days a week.

Done.  

5. Identify a yoga routine that I can commit to practicing at least three days a week.

No progress. In August, I will spend a full week at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. I'll be teaching storytelling, but I'll also have the opportunity to take some yoga classes and perhaps find a routine that fits my lifestyle and personal preference.  

6. Stop using the snooze button.

Done and still highly recommended. Science is right. Snoozing is a terrible practice that you must end immediately. Get the hell out of bed once you are awake. You will feel a lot better.     

WRITING CAREER

7. Complete my seventh novel before the end of 2018.

My agent and I have settled on the next novel. Progress has begun.  

8. Complete my second middle grade/YA novel.

I've submitted my first middle grade novel to my editor and am awaiting word in terms of required revision. I can't choose or start the next book until the first is complete. 

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

No progress

10. Write a proposal for a memoir.

My agent and I have decided upon the memoir, and progress has begun. First draft of the proposal has been sent to my agent for review.

11. Write a new screenplay.

Writing has commenced.

12. Write a musical.

Writing has commenced. 

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

Nothing submitted in July. Three submitted so far.

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

No progress.

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

No progress.

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

No progress. I'm still looking for possible behaviors to adopt. Suggestions welcomed.  

17. Increase my author newsletter subscriber base to 2,000.

I added 98 subscribers added in July, and a total of 298 added in 2018. I'm 153 away from my goal. 

If you'd like to subscribe to my newsletter and receive tips on writing and storytelling, as well as links to amusing Internet miscellany and more, please subscribe here:

18. Write at least six letters to my father.

One letter written in July. Three letters written thus far.

19. Write 100 letters in 2018.

12 letters written and mailed in July, bringing my total to 44 in 2018.

20. Convert Greetings Little One into a book.

No progress.  

21. Record one thing learned every week in 2018.

Done! My favorite from July:      

There are only four countries in the world which have bigger GDP’s than California, and Russia is not one of them. In fact, three US states have bigger GDP’s than Russia - California, Texas, and New York.

STORYTELLING

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

No shows produced in July. Our total number of shows stands at 6. 

23. Deliver a TEDx Talk.

Done! I spoke at a TEDxNatick salon event in May. 

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

Two Moth StorySLAMs in July, bringing the total to five in 2018. 

25. Win at least three Moth StorySLAMs.

Two second place finished in July. One victory back in February. 

storyslam.jpeg

26. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

Done twice over! I won my fifth GrandSLAM in February and my sixth GrandSLAM in April.

27. Produce at least 25 episodes of our new podcast Speak Up Storytelling. 

Episodes 1-11 are now now available wherever you get podcasts. The reception to the podcast has been excellent, and our audience is growing fast.

Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and please leave us a rating on Apple Podcasts.

C'mon, people.  

28. Perform stand up at least four times in 2018. 

Done! I performed in three open-mic events while in Grand Rapids, Michigan, including one night when I was asked to perform a second set. This brings my total number of stand up performances in 2018 to 5, including one paid gig.   

29. Pitch my one-person show to at least one professional theater.

Done! My one-person show has been pitched and been accepted by the Speak Up, Rise Up Storytelling Festival. I'll be performing on Tuesday, August 7 at 9:30pm on their Main Stage.

You should come!

30. Pitch a new Moth Mainstage story to the artistic director of The Moth. 

No progress.

NEW PROJECTS

31. Write a syllabus for a college course on teaching. 

No progress.

32. Cook at least 12 good meals (averaging one per month) in 2018.

No progress. 

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

No progress. 

MISCELLANEOUS

34. Pay allowance weekly.

Done! 

35. Ride my bike with my kids at least 25 times in 2018.

Only three more rides in July, bringing the total to five. 

36. I will report on the content of speech during every locker room experience via social media in 2018. 

Done. I spent 30 days at three different gyms (including three different locker rooms) in July, plus two locker rooms at golf courses, and I did not hear a single comment related to sexually assaulting women.  

37. I will not comment, positively or negatively, about physical appearance of any person save my wife and children (except in service of a story while appearance is relevant), in 2018 in an effort to reduce the focus on physical appearance in our culture overall. 

I did not speak of physical appearance with the exception of my wife and kids in July. 

38. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2018.

I surprised Elysha FOUR TIMES in July, bringing my total number of surprises to nine. 

  1. I stuck a Starbucks gift card to her steering wheel with a note written in marker on the actual card.
  2. I purchased a shirt that I knew she loved (she pointed it out at a farmer's market, so I hunted down the sell) and timed the purchase so it would arrive while I was in Michigan.
  3. I arrived home from Michigan a day early without tell her that I had finished my work ahead of schedule. After the plane landed, I found her in a restaurant with a friend and presented her with a gift from the trip and some flowers.  
  4. I took Elysha to In & Of Itself, an incredible magic show in New York City. She had no idea where she was going or what we were doing.

39. 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.

I've received some more reasonable estimates for this project. It might actually be doable.

40. Clean the basement. 

More than halfway done this job.

41. Set a new personal best in golf.

I played several rounds of golf in July, and I came within 3 strokes of my personal best. 

42. Play poker at least six times in 2018.

No poker in July. I cancelled another game due to lack of players. 

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

A spent an evening working as a DJ with Bengi in July, bringing my total to two. 

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

Done.

Resolution update: June 2018

We've reached the end of June. The halfway point of the year. In addition to updating the goals on a monthly basis, I'll be projecting the likelihood of my success for each of my goals. 

PERSONAL HEALTH

1. Don’t die.

Feel fantastic. The tube was removed from my ear in June, and I'm swimming, running, and golfing. I feel like I'm 24 years old. Truly. Staving off death with glee.

There is, however, a large hornet/wasp/bee nest in our front yard, and bees kill me dead. Exterminator has been summoned. 

PROJECTION: I expect to meet this goal with ease.  

2. Lose 20 pounds.

Two more pounds lost in June, bringing my total to 12.

PROJECTION: More than halfway to the goal with steady progress means this goal will likely to be met.   

3. Eat at least three servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day. 

I had three servings of fruits and/or vegetables on 26 of 30 days in June.

PROJECTION: I'm not sure if I'll ever achieve a month of 100% completion, but eating at least three fruits and/or vegetables a day for more than 90% of the days is a vast improvement on my previous lifestyle and probably a more realistic goal.  

4. Do at least 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 3 one-minute planks for five days a week.

Done.  

PROJECTION: Other than a two week layoff for a pulled chest muscle, this goal has been easily completed thus far. Completion is highly likely.  

5. Identify a yoga routine that I can commit to practicing at least three days a week.

No progress. In August, I will spend a full week at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. I'll be teaching storytelling, but I'll also have the opportunity to take some yoga classes and perhaps find a routine that fits my lifestyle and personal preference.  

PROJECTION: Still possible, but it depends upon finding a routine that appeals to me. 

6. Stop using the snooze button.

Done and still highly recommended. Science is right. Snoozing is a terrible practice that you must end immediately. Get the hell out of bed once you are awake. You will feel a lot better.    

PROJECTION: Easily achieved. 

WRITING CAREER

7. Complete my seventh novel before the end of 2018.

My agent and I have settled on the next novel. Progress has begun.

PROJECTION: The likelihood of completion is high.  

8. Complete my second middle grade/YA novel.

I've submitted my first middle grade novel to my editor and am awaiting word in terms of required revision. I can't choose or start the next book until the first is complete. 

PROJECTION: The delay from my editor in returning my manuscript is jeopardizing the completion of this goal in 2018. Likelihood of achieving this goal is in doubt. 

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

No progress.

PROJECTION: Likely. Even though I have yet to start, this goal is still very doable. Chances of success are high.  

10. Write a proposal for a memoir.

My agent and I have decided upon the memoir, and progress has begun. First draft of the proposal has been sent to my agent for review.

PROJECTION: Likelihood of completIon is high. 

11. Write a new screenplay.

No progress in June.

PROJECTION: Still possible, and I have many screenplay ideas, but other things may end up crowding this one out. Likelihood of success is doubtful. 

12. Write a musical.

Writing has commenced. 

PROJECTION: A very rough draft should be done by the end of the year. Completion is better than 50/50. 

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

Nothing submitted in June.

PROJECTION: I've submitted a total of three pieces so far. All have been rejected. Likelihood that this goal will be met is high. 

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

No progress.

PROJECTION: My agent doesn't love my ideas for his book, so although a proposal is very doable, the likelihood of it earning any money is low (in her expert opinion), so it may be one of the goals left by the wayside this year. Completion of this goal is in doubt.

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

No progress.

PROJECTION: Submitting stories is simple, and I have stories ready to go. The likelihood of completing this goal is high. 

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

No progress. I'm still looking for possible behaviors to adopt. Suggestions welcomed. 

PROJECTION: Provided that I can find three behaviors to adopt, this goal is very doable. After three years of completing this goal, I fear that I may have run out of behaviors that I oppose. 

17. Increase my author newsletter subscriber base to 2,000.

A whopping 89 subscribers added in June, and a total of 200 added in 2018. 

PROJECTION: A big month of June brought me to exactly half the number of subscribers needed to achieve the goal, so I am currently on pace to succeed. 

I'm also changing my approach to newsletters starting this month. Rather than sending a large monthly email, I'll be shifting to a much shorter weekly newsletter that offers advice on storytelling, writing, and the like. An expert in this field suggests that a large newsletter is often dismissed by readers, but a short, actionable newsletter will garner readers and offer content that more people want. 

I hope so!

If you'd like to subscribe to my newsletter and receive tips on writing and storytelling, as well as links to amusing Internet miscellany and more, please subscribe here:

18. Write at least six letters to my father.

No progress in June.

PROJECTION: Two letters written thus far. It's highly likely that I will achieve this goal, though if my father would actually reply to one of my letters and stop ignoring me, that would help my desire to write to him immensely. 

19. Write 100 letters in 2018.

Just one letter written and mailed in June.

PROJECTION: I've written 32 letters in total so far, which is off the pace for 100, but making up ground this summer should not be too hard. The goal is likely to be achieved.  

20. Convert Greetings Little One into a book.

No progress.  

PROJECTION: I need a reliable service or a dependable human being who is willing to do this work. Absent one of these two things, the goal will be missed again.  

21. Record one thing learned every week in 2018.

Done! My favorite from June:

The Spanish village of Castrillo de Murcia hosts a baby jumping festival every year in June. 

Insanity. 

During the festival, red and yellow-masked “devils” run through the streets hurling insults at villagers and whipping them with a horsetail attached to a stick. When drums announce the arrival of the black-clad atabalero, pious men who who have come to drive out evil, el salto del Colacho—the flight of the devil—begins.In a heart-stopping display, babies born during the previous year are laid on mattresses in the street while the costumed men leap over them.

baby jumping.jpg

PROJECTION: It's highly likely that I will achieve this goal.      

STORYTELLING

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

Two shows produced in June: A show at the Connecticut Historical Society and my book launch at Real Art Ways.

PROJECTION: Our total number of shows stands at 6. It looks like we will produce exactly a dozen this year, though we may have some new opportunities in the New Haven area that could push that total higher. 

23. Deliver a TEDx Talk.

Done! I spoke at a TEDxNatick salon event in May. I've also applied for two more TEDx conferences and await word. 

PROJECTION: Goal achieved. 

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

No Moth events in June. Only three so far in 2018. 

On the bright side, I've won all three. 

PROJECTION: Attending 12 Moth events in the second half of the year is doable but will be admittedly challenging given all the press for my new book. Outlook doubtful. 

25. Win at least three Moth StorySLAMs.

I won my 35th StorySLAM in NYC in February. I have not competed in a StorySLAM since.

PROJECTION: One down. Two to go. The chances of achieving this goal are still high. 

26. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

Done twice over! I won my fifth GrandSLAM in February and my sixth GrandSLAM in April.

PROJECTION: Goal achieved. 

27. Produce at least 25 episodes of our new podcast Speak Up Storytelling. 

Episodes #1-6 are now now available wherever you get podcasts, and episode #7 drops tomorrow. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and please leave us a rating on Apple Podcasts. C'mon, people.  

PROJECTION: If we don't skip more than five weeks for the rest of 2018, this goal will be achieved. Highly likely that we will succeed.

28. Perform stand up at least four times in 2018. 

No progress in June.

PROJECTION: I performed in at an open-mic night at a local comedy club and was also paid to headline a show in May (my first paid comedy gig!), bringing my total number of stand up performances in 2018 to three. Just one more to achieve the goal. It is very likely that I will achieve this goal.  

29. Pitch my one-person show to at least one professional theater.

Done! My one-person show has been pitched and been accepted by the Speak Up, Rise Up Storytelling Festival. I'll be performing on Tuesday, August 7 at 9:30pm on their Main Stage.

You should come!

PROJECTION: Highly likely that this goal will be achieved.

30. Pitch a new Moth Mainstage story to the artistic director of The Moth. 

No progress.

PROJECTION: Pitching a story simply requires the time to prepare a pitch. This is very doable and will likely be achieved. 

NEW PROJECTS

31. Write a syllabus for a college course on teaching. 

No progress.

PROJECTION: This is not a difficult task, so as long as I find the time, it's likely that this goal will be achieved. 

32. Cook at least 12 good meals (averaging one per month) in 2018.

No progress. 

PROJECTION: I've failed to achieve this goal for three straight years, and it's looking like a fourth failure is likely. 

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

No progress. 

PROJECTION: I've failed to achieve this goal for three straight years, but I'd really like to make this happen if at all possible. Outlook, however, is doubtful.

MISCELLANEOUS

34. Pay allowance weekly.

Done! 

PROJECTION: It's highly likely that I will complete this goal. 

35. Ride my bike with my kids at least 25 times in 2018.

We purchased a new bike for Clara, and this weekend, we picked it up and finally climbed aboard. One ride down, 24 to go.

PROJECTION: It shouldn't be hard to achieve this goal if my kids are willing. 

36. I will report on the content of speech during every locker room experience via social media in 2018. 

Done. I spent 27 days at a gym (including the locker room) in June, and I did not hear a single comment related to sexually assaulting women.  

PROJECTION: Easily achieved. 

37. I will not comment, positively or negatively, about physical appearance of any person save my wife and children (except in service of a story while appearance is relevant), in 2018 in an effort to reduce the focus on physical appearance in our culture overall. 

I did not speak of physical appearance with the exception of my wife and kids in June. 

PROJECTION: I slipped once this year, but it was in service of a story, which I have added as an exception to the rule. This goal will be easily achieved. 

38. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2018.

I surprised Elysha once in June. 

PROJECTION: Five down. One to go. It's highly likely that I will achieve this goal.

39. 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.

I've received some more reasonable estimates for this project. It might actually be doable.

PROJECTION: Despite the doable nature of this project, the likelihood of completion is doubtful. Uncertain if Elysha will have a job in September, I cannot spend money on discretionary projects until she is finally back to work.     

40. Clean the basement. 

I've reached the halfway point in cleaning. It's looking good. 

PROJECTION: A few more hours spent cleaning and it will be done. Likelihood of achievement is high. 

41. Set a new personal best in golf.

I played several rounds of golf in June. None of my rounds have come close to eclipsing my personal best, though changes in my swing and several sessions at the driving range are showing dramatic improvement. There is hope.

PROJECTION: Though hope is a wonderful thing, it is doubtful that I will eclipse my personal best this year. 

42. Play poker at least six times in 2018.

No poker in June. Still one down. Five to go. 

PROJECTION: This should not be so hard given that I love poker and I know a lot of guys who love poker. Achievement of this goal is likely. 

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

A spent an evening working as a DJ with Bengi in June, and we made tentative plans to spend more time together this summer in addition to our upcoming weddings.

PROJECTION: This goal is likely to be achieved. 

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

Done.

PROJECTION: Highly likely. 

Resolution update: May 2018

PERSONAL HEALTH

1. Don’t die.

Heart attack scare turned pulled chest muscle only proved (after many tests) that my heart is super healthy. And yesterday's cardiologist follow-up confirmed it. 

2. Lose 20 pounds.

Two more pounds lost in May, bringing my total to ten. Halfway to the goal.  

3. Eat at least three servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day. 

I had three servings of fruits and/or vegetables on 22 of 31 days in May. 

4. Do at least 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 3 one-minute planks for five days a week.

I missed two weeks of push ups after my heart attack scare turned out to be a pulled chest muscle.

5. Identify a yoga routine that I can commit to practicing at least three days a week.

No progress.

6. Stop using the snooze button.

Done and highly recommended. 

Science is right. Snoozing is a terrible practice that you must end immediately. Get the hell out of bed once you are awake. You will feel a lot better.    

WRITING CAREER

7. Complete my seventh novel before the end of 2018.

My agent and I have settled on the next novel. Progress has begun. 

8. Complete my second middle grade/YA novel.

I've submitted my first middle grade novel to my editor and am awaiting word. I can't choose or start the next book until the first is complete. 

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

No progress. 

10. Write a proposal for a memoir.

My agent and I have decided upon the memoir, and progress has begun. 

11. Write a new screenplay.

No progress.

12. Write a musical.

The musical originally planned for a summer camp is no longer needed.

I have an adult musical in mind that my writing partner has been asking me to write for a long, long time, so perhaps this is the time.

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

I've submitted one piece for consideration in May (a piece about Mother's Day) for a total of three so far. All have been rejected.

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

No progress, though Elysha has told me what this book should be. 

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

No progress.

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

No progress. I'm still looking for possible behaviors to adopt. Suggestions welcomed. 

17. Increase my author newsletter subscriber base to 2,000.

Just 11 subscribers added in May. A total of 111 added since January 1. At this pace, I will miss my goal of 2,000.  

If you'd like to subscribe to my newsletter and receive tips on writing and storytelling, as well as links to amusing Internet miscellany and more, please subscribe here:

18. Write at least six letters to my father.

One letter written in May, bringing my total to two. 

19. Write 100 letters in 2018.

Eight letters written and mailed in May. Thirty-one in total so far. 

20. Convert Greetings Little One into a book.

No progress.  

21. Record one thing learned every week in 2018.

Done! My favorite from May:

Lazzaro Spallanzani, a priest, physiologist and zoologist in late 18th century Italy conducted a series of careful and ingenious experiments on bats, first noting that blinded bats could fly and avoid obstacles just as well as seeing bats.

He built tiny goggles for the bats to wear in order to prove this.

He also shellacked bats to determine if their skin could somehow sense minute air currents that allowed them to see.

This is the same scientists who fashioned tiny pants for frogs to determine if the semen of male frogs had any role in the fertilization of eggs. 

Amazing.    

STORYTELLING

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

Two shows produced in May: Infinity Hall and Hacker Theater on the campus of Miss Porter's School. Our 2018 total stands at four. It looks like we will produce exactly a dozen this year. 

23. Deliver a TEDx Talk.

Done! I spoke at a TEDxNatick salon event in May.

I've applied for two more TEDx conferences and await word. 

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

No Moth events in May. Only three so far in 2018. 

On the bright side, I've won all three. Also, the summer beckons. It's much easier to make it to slams in the summer.  

25. Win at least three Moth StorySLAMs.

I won my 35th StorySLAM in NYC in February. I have not competed in a StorySLAM since.

One down. Two to go. 

storyslam.jpg

26. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

Done twice over! I won my fifth GrandSLAM in February and my sixth GrandSLAM in April.

27. Produce at least 25 episodes of our new podcast Speak Up Storytelling. 

Episode #1 and episode #2 are now available. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.  

If we don't skip more than five weeks for the rest of 2018, this goal will be achieved.

28. Perform stand up at least four times in 2018. 

I performed in at an open-mic night at a local comedy club and was also paid to headline a show in May (my first paid comedy gig!), bringing my total number of stand up performances in 2018 to three. 

29. Pitch my one-person show to at least one professional theater.

Done! My one-person show has been pitched and been accepted by the Speak Up, Rise Up Storytelling Festival. I'll be performing on Tuesday, August 7 at 9:30pm on their Main Stage.

You should come!

30. Pitch a new Moth Mainstage story to the artistic director of The Moth. 

No progress.

NEW PROJECTS

31. Write a syllabus for a college course on teaching. 

No progress, but I am frustrated, annoyed, and disappointed by developments with a local college in terms their curriculum for student teachers, so I'm doing a lot of thinking on this issue. 

32. Cook at least 12 good meals (averaging one per month) in 2018.

No progress. 

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

No progress. 

MISCELLANEOUS

34. Pay allowance weekly.

Done! 

35. Ride my bike with my kids at least 25 times in 2018.

No progress. But the weather is finally ripe for bike riding. I hope to get the bikes ready this weekend. 

36. I will report on the content of speech during every locker room experience via social media in 2018. 

Done. I spent 21 days at the gym (including the locker room) in May, and I did not hear a single comment related to sexually assaulting women.  

37. 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. 

It was pointed out to me that on Boy vs. Girl, the podcast I produce with Rachel Leventhal-Weiner, I told a story that included a description of the size of a man. His size, I felt, was relevant to the story (I was sitting beside him on an airplane), but it's true that I commented on his physical appearance. 

My first slip of 2018, though I clearly need to carve out a storytelling exception to my rule, since physical appearance is admittedly relevant to storytelling at times. When you're looking to create images in the mind of your listeners, physical description is sometimes required.  

38. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2018.

I surprised Elysha twice in May.

I gave her a Soda Stream for Mother's Day (continuing my string of kick-ass, almost-everyday-use gifts, including her ukulele, her Instant Pot, and her reportedly amazing hair dryer). 

I also surprised her with a refrigerator display on Charlie's last day of his fifth year of life.

Four down. Two to go.

39. 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.

I've received some more reasonable estimates for this project. It might actually be doable.     

40. Clean the basement. 

I threw a lot of stuff away in May in preparation for a full cleaning later this year. 

It's looking good. 

41. Set a new personal best in golf.

I played several rounds of golf in May, including in the rain on Sunday morning. 

None of my rounds have come close to eclipsing my personal best. 

42. Play poker at least six times in 2018.

I hosted a poker game in May which went until about 1:30 AM. It should count as two games. 

One down. Five to go. 

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

No progress, though we booked another wedding, bringing our total this year to three. 

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

Done.

Resolution update: April 2018

PERSONAL HEALTH

1. Don’t die.

Healthy as could be. 

2. Lose 20 pounds.

Two more pounds lost in April, bringing my total to eight. 

3. Eat at least three servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day. 

I had three servings of fruits and/or vegetables on 24 of 30 days in April. 

A lot of these servings were admittedly fruit, and specifically bananas, apples, and grapes. Still, a fruit is a fruit. 

4. Do at least 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 3 one-minute planks for five days a week.

Done.

5. Identify a yoga routine that I can commit to practicing at least three days a week.

No progress.

6. Stop using the snooze button.

Done and highly recommended. 
Science is right. Snoozing is a terrible practice that you must end immediately.   

WRITING CAREER

7. Complete my seventh novel before the end of 2018.

My agent and I have settled on the next novel. Progress has begun. 

8. Complete my second middle grade/YA novel.

I've submitted my first middle grade novel to my editor and am awaiting word. I can't choose or start the next book until the first is complete. 

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

No progress. 

10. Write a proposal for a memoir.

My agent and I have decided upon the memoir, and progress has begun. 

11. Write a new screenplay.

No progress.

12. Write a musical.

The musical originally planned for a summer camp is no longer needed. I have an adult musical in mind that my writing partner has been asking me to write for a long, long time, so perhaps this is the time.

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

I've submitted one piece for consideration in April, for a total of two. Both were rejected.

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

No progress, though Elysha has told me what this book should be. 

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

No progress.

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

No progress. I'm still looking for possible behaviors to adopt. Suggestions welcomed. 

17. Increase my author newsletter subscriber base to 2,000.

Twenty-one subscribers added in March. A total of 110 added since January 1. At this pace, I will come close to hitting my goal by December.  

If you'd like to subscribe to my newsletter and receive tips on writing and storytelling, as well as links to amusing Internet miscellany and more, please subscribe here:

18. Write at least six letters to my father.

One letter written in April, bringing my total to two. 

19. Write 100 letters in 2018.

Eight letters written and mailed in April. Twenty-three in total so far. 

20. Convert Greetings Little One into a book.

No progress.  

21. Record one thing learned every week in 2018.

Done! My favorite from April:

Rouketopolemos is the name of a local traditional event held annually at Easter in the town of Vrontados on the Greek island of Chios. As a variation of the Greek custom of throwing fireworks during the celebration of the service at midnight before Easter Sunday, two rival church congregations in the town perform a "rocket war" by firing tens of thousands of home-made rockets across town, with the objective of hitting the bell tower of the church of the other side. 

It's insane. 

STORYTELLING

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

No shows produced in April. Our 2018 total stands at two. 

23. Deliver a TEDx Talk.

Both of my TEDx Talks - at Wesleyan University and The Birch Wathen Lenox School in New York City - have been cancelled.

Annoying.

I've applied for two more TEDx conferences and await word. Suddenly this goal became a lot more challenging.    

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

I attended a Moth GrandSLAM in Boston in April, bringing my total Moth events in 2018 to three. I'll make up ground this summer.  

25. Win at least three Moth StorySLAMs.

I won my 35th StorySLAM in NYC in February. I have not competed in a StorySLAM since.
One down. Two to go. 

storyslam.jpg

26. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

Done twice over! I won my fifth GrandSLAM in February and my sixth GrandSLAM in April.

27. Produce at least 25 episodes of our new podcast Storyworthy. 

Logo created.
Format decided.
Music chosen.
Stories chosen. 
We are ready to record.

28. Perform stand up at least four times in 2018. 

I performed in at an open-mic night at a local comedy club in April, bringing my total stand up performances in 2018 to one. 

29. Pitch my one-person show to at least one professional theater.

No progress.  

30. Pitch a new Moth Mainstage story to the artistic director of The Moth. 

No progress.  

NEW PROJECTS

31. Write a syllabus for a college course on teaching. 

No progress, but I am frustrated, annoyed, and disappointed by developments with a local college in terms their curriculum for student teachers, so I'm doing a lot of thinking on this issue. 

32. Cook at least 12 good meals (averaging one per month) in 2018.

No progress. 

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

No progress. 

MISCELLANEOUS

34. Pay allowance weekly.

Done! 

35. Ride my bike with my kids at least 25 times in 2018.

No progress. But the weather is finally ripe for bike riding. 

36. I will report on the content of speech during every locker room experience via social media in 2018. 

Done. I spent 24 days at the gym (including the locker room) in April, and I did not hear a single comment related to sexually assaulting women.  

37. 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. 

Done. Also not hard. Once you stop commenting on physical appearance, you quickly realize how pervasive it is in our culture.

I've also noticed that when you stop commenting about physical appearance, you stop noticing it as much. While there are occasional comments that I think but don't say (a very large man on a very small motorcycle comes to mind), those moments are fewer and farther between.  

38. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2018.

I surprised Elysha once in April with a brand new blow dryer with some mystical qualities. She found it waiting for her on the bathroom sink when she awoke. 

Two down. Four to go. 

39. 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.

I've received some more reasonable estimates for this project. It might actually be doable.     

40. Clean the basement. 

I threw away another handful of items in April in preparation for a full cleaning later this year.

The actual cleaning might take less than an hour at this rate.  

41. Set a new personal best in golf.

I played several rounds of golf in April, including in the rain on Sunday morning. 

None of my rounds have come close to eclipsing my personal best. 

42. Play poker at least six times in 2018.

For the fourth time this year, a poker game was cancelled, this time in the home of a friend when he became ill. A May poker night is planned. 

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

No progress. I invited him to a Patriots-Green Bay football game in November, a Def Leppard-Journey concert in May, and standup in April. All declined.    

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

Done.

Resolution update: March 2018

PERSONAL HEALTH

1. Don’t die.

Not even a near-death experience in March, which for me is saying something. 

2. Lose 20 pounds.

Two more pounds lost in March, bringing my total fo six. 

3. Eat at least three servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day. 

I had three servings of fruits and/or vegetables on 22 of 31 days in March. I also ate cabbage for the first time since I was a child (still tastes terrible) and quinoa (not a fruit or vegetable in some people's mind, but anything growing out of the ground is an accomplishment for me and should be counted).    

4. Do at least 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 3 one-minute planks for five days a week.

Done. 

5. Identify a yoga routine that I can commit to practicing at least three days a week.

No progress.

6. Stop using the snooze button.

Done. And I must tell you, I feel so much better when I climb out of bed when that first alarm sounds or I simply wake up.

Science is right. Snoozing is a terrible practice that you must end immediately.   

WRITING CAREER

7. Complete my seventh novel before the end of 2018.

My agent and I have yet to settle on the next novel. The decision should be made soon. 

8. Complete my second middle grade/YA novel.

I've submitted my first middle grade novel to my editor and am awaiting word. I can't choose or start the next book until the first is complete. 

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

No progress. 

10. Write a proposal for a memoir.

My agent and I have yet to decide upon which memoir to write. That decision should be made shortly. 

11. Write a new screenplay.

No progress.

12. Write a musical.

Initial talks for the plot, characters, number of songs, and deadlines have begun.

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

I've submitted one piece for consideration so far. It was rejected.

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

No progress. 

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

No progress.

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

No progress. I'm still looking for possible behaviors to adopt. Suggestions welcomed. 

17. Increase my author newsletter subscriber base to 2,000.

Twenty-two subscribers added in March. A total of 89 added since January 1. At this pace, I will come close to hitting my goal by December.  

If you'd like to subscribe to my newsletter and receive tips on writing and storytelling, as well as links to amusing Internet miscellany and more, please subscribe here:

18. Write at least six letters to my father.

One letter written in March, bringing my total to one. 

19. Write 100 letters in 2018.

Three letters written and mailed in March. Fifteen in total so far. 

20. Convert Greetings Little One into a book.

No progress.  

21. Record one thing learned every week in 2018.

Done! My favorite from March:

In July 1973 John Paul Getty III, grandson of wealthy tycoon John Paul Getty, was kidnapped. The whole story is fascinating, but here is one of the most fascinating parts:

In November 1973, an envelope containing a lock of red hair, a human ear, and a note was delivered to a daily newspaper with a threat of further mutilation of Paul unless $3.2 million was paid. The letter read, "This is Paul's first ear. If within ten days the family still believes that this is a joke mounted by him, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits."

At this point, the reluctant tycoon Getty Sr. negotiated a deal to get his grandson back for about $2.9 million. Getty Sr. paid $2.2 million—the maximum amount that was tax deductible—and he loaned the remainder to his son, who was responsible for repaying the sum at 4% interest. 

STORYTELLING

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

We produced one show in March - a showcase featuring storytellers from Voices of Hope - bringing our 2018 total to two. 

23. Deliver a TEDx Talk.

Both of my TEDx Talks - at Wesleyan University and The Birch Wathen Lenox School in New York City - have been cancelled.

Annoying.

I've applied for two more TEDx conferences and await word. Suddenly this goal became a lot more challenging.    

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

I did not attend a Moth event in March. My work with other organizations in a storytelling capacity sucked away all my time. My total stands at two. 

25. Win at least three Moth StorySLAMs.

I won my 35th StorySLAM in NYC in February. One down. Two to go. 

storyslam.jpg

26. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

Done! I won my fifth GrandSLAM in Boston in February. I compete in another in April. 

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27. Produce at least 25 episodes of our new podcast Storyworthy. 

Logo created.
Format decided.
Music is being chosen now.
I have every intention of recording in April.

28. Perform stand up at least four times in 2018. 

No progress. I had to cancel my paid standup performance in March due to a snowstorm. That has been rescheduled to May, and I plan on doing an open-mic in April.

29. Pitch my one-person show to at least one professional theater.

No progress.  

30. Pitch a new Moth Mainstage story to the artistic director of The Moth. 

No progress.  

NEW PROJECTS

31. Write a syllabus for a college course on teaching. 

No progress, but I am frustrated, annoyed, and disappointed by developments with a local college in terms their curriculum for student teachers, so I'm doing a lot of thinking on this issue. 

32. Cook at least 12 good meals (averaging one per month) in 2018.

No progress. 

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

No progress. 

MISCELLANEOUS

34. Pay allowance weekly.

Done! 

35. Ride my bike with my kids at least 25 times in 2018.

No progress. 

36. I will report on the content of speech during every locker room experience via social media in 2018. 

Done. I spent 20 days at the gym (including the locker room) in March, and I did not hear a single comment related to sexually assaulting women.  

37. 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. 

Done. Once you stop commenting on physical appearance, you quickly realize how pervasive it is in our culture. I don't think it's a good thing at all.    

38. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2018.

One down. Five to go.

39. 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.

I've received some more reasonable estimates for this project. It might actually be doable.     

40. Clean the basement. 

I threw away another handful of items in March in preparation for a full cleaning later this year.  

41. Set a new personal best in golf.

I played my first round of golf yesterday morning. I scored bogies on the first two holes and played fairly well until the last two holes. No where close to a personal best.  

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42. Play poker at least six times in 2018.

I was forced to cancel my March game because a lack of players. An April game is scheduled.   

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

No progress.   

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

Done.

Resolution update: February 2018

PERSONAL HEALTH

1. Don’t die.

I had the flu in February, but I recovered in less than three days. Record time.  

2. Lose 20 pounds.

Still four pounds down. After a great start in January, no progress in February.

3. Eat at least three servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day. 

I had three servings of fruits and/or vegetables on 19 of 28 days in February.  

4. Do at least 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 3 one-minute planks for five days a week.

Done. 

5. Identify a yoga routine that I can commit to practicing at least three days a week.

No progress.

6. Stop using the snooze button.

Done. And I must tell you, I feel so much better when I climb out of bed when that first alarm sounds or I simply wake up.

Science is right. Snoozing is a terrible practice that you must end immediately.   

WRITING CAREER

7. Complete my seventh novel before the end of 2018.

I'm in the process of revising my next novel for the UK, so the launch of this novel has not yet commenced.

However, I sent a long document to my agent outlining all of my ideas. She and I will decide on the next book in the coming week.  

8. Complete my second middle grade/YA novel.

I'm in the process of revising my next novel for the UK, so the launch of this novel has not yet commenced.

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

No progress. 

10. Write a proposal for a memoir.

No progress. Once my revisions are complete, my agent and I will discuss which of these memoir ideas should be written first.

11. Write a new screenplay.

No progress.

12. Write a musical.

Initial talks for the plot, characters, number of songs, and deadlines have begun.

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

I submitted one piece to The New York Times for consideration. It was a piece of advice for millennial. They passed, so I revised and posted to my blog.

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

No progress. 

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

No progress.

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

No progress. I'm also looking for possible behaviors to adopt. Suggestions welcomed. 

17. Increase my author newsletter subscriber base to 2,000.

4 subscribers added in February. 67 overall. At this pace, I will hit the goal by December.  

18. Write at least six letters to my father.

None written in January.

19. Write 100 letters in 2018.

Twelve letters written and mailed in February. Recipients include students, my fellow performers in Kansas City, and letters of thanks to a local business, and a person at The Moth, and a friend.

20. Convert Greetings Little One into a book.

No progress.  

21. Record one thing learned every week in 2018.

Done! My favorite from February:

Robert Lincoln, first son of Abraham Lincoln, was coincidentally either present or nearby when three presidential assassinations occurred.

  • Lincoln was not present at his father's assassination. He was at the White House, and rushed to be with his parents.
  • At President James A. Garfield's invitation, Lincoln was at the Sixth Street Train Station in Washington, D.C., where the president was shot by Charles J. Guiteau on July 2, 1881, and was an eyewitness to the event. Lincoln was serving as Garfield's Secretary of War at the time.
  • At President William McKinley's invitation, Lincoln was at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, where the president was shot by Leon Czolgosz on September 6, 1901.

I learned this after reading a fascinating book about the assassination of James Garfield entitled Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President.

STORYTELLING

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

We've produced one show so far in 2018. 

23. Deliver a TED Talk.

I'll be delivering a TED Talk at both Wesleyan University and The Birch Wathen Lenox School in New York City in April. 

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

I attended two Moth events in February: a StorySLAM in Queens and a GrandSLAM in Boston.

25. Win at least three Moth StorySLAMs.

Success! I won my 35th StorySLAM last night in Queens. One down. Two to go. 

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26. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

Done! I won my fifth GrandSLAM in Boston in February. 

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27. Produce at least 25 episodes of our new podcast Storyworthy. 

Logo created. Format decided. Now we just need to record.

28. Perform stand up at least four times in 2018. 

No progress. I had to cancel my paid standup performance in February due to the flu. It is rescheduled for March. 

29. Pitch my one-person show to at least one professional theater.

No progress.  

30. Pitch a new Moth Mainstage story to the artistic director of The Moth. 

No progress.  

NEW PROJECTS

31. Write a syllabus for a college course on teaching. 

No progress, but I am frustrated, annoyed, and disappointed by developments with a local college in terms their curriculum for student teachers, so I'm doing a lot of thinking on this issue. 

32. Cook at least 12 good meals (averaging one per month) in 2018.

No progress. 

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

No progress. 

MISCELLANEOUS

34. Pay allowance weekly.

Done! I was one day late in February, but I was in Maine and unable to pay the kids until I returned.

35. Ride my bike with my kids at least 25 times in 2018.

No progress. 

36. I will report on the content of speech during every locker room experience via social media in 2018. 

Done. I spent 20 days at the gym (including the locker room) in February, and I did not hear a single comment related to sexually assaulting women.  

37. 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. 

Done. Once you stop commenting on physical appearance, you quickly realize how pervasive it is in our culture. I don't think it's a good thing at all.    

38. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2018.

I surprised Elysha once in February, though she anticipated the surprise (dinner and a movie) by attempting to plan for the same movie on the same night. She was more surprised that I was trying to surprise her, but it counts.  

One down. Five to go.

39. 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.

I've received some more reasonable estimates for this project. It might actually be doable.     

40. Clean the basement. 

I threw away a handful of items in February in preparation for a full cleaning later this year.  

41. Set a new personal best in golf.

No progress. 

42. Play poker at least six times in 2018.

I was forced to cancel my February game because a lack of players. A March game is scheduled. 

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

No progress.   

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

Done.

Resolution update: January 2018

Note: I've added a goal since posting my 2018 goals on January 1:

Pitch a new Moth Mainstage story to the artistic director of The Moth. 

I've had the honor of performing two stories on Moth's Mainstages over my career. I'd like to pitch another story to them in 2018.

PERSONAL HEALTH

1. Don’t die.

The AFC championship game got pretty intense, and a strange man in the stands at Gillette Stadium kept massaging my shoulders, but I survived, and happily, so did the Patriots . 

2. Lose 20 pounds.

Four pounds down. At this rate I'll be 48 pounds lighter by the end of the year and resemble something of a dish rag.

Fear not. I always start the year out strong. 

3. Eat at least three servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day. 

I had three servings of fruits and/or vegetables on 21 of 31 days in January.  

4. Do at least 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 3 one-minute planks for five days a week.

Done. 

5. Identify a yoga routine that I can commit to practicing at least three days a week.

No progress.

6. Stop using the snooze button.

Done. And I must tell you, I feel so much better when I climb out of bed when that first alarm sounds or I simply wake up. The allure of ten more minutes in bed is strong, but the refreshed feeling of rising immediately is better.  

WRITING CAREER

7. Complete my seventh novel before the end of 2018.

I'm in the process of proofreading my next book and revising my next novel for the US and my next novel for the UK, so the launch of this novel has not yet commenced. 

8. Complete my second middle grade/YA novel.

I'm in the process of proofreading my next book and revising my next novel for the US and my next novel for the UK, so the launch of this novel has not yet commenced. 

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

No progress. 

10. Write a proposal for a memoir.

No progress. Once proofreading and revisions are complete, my agent and I will discuss which of these memoir ideas should be written first.

11. Write a new screenplay.

No progress.

12. Write a musical.

Initial talks for the plot, characters, number of songs, and deadlines have begun.

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

No progress. 

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

No progress. 

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

No progress.

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

No progress. I'm also looking for possible behaviors to adopt. Suggestions welcomed. 

17. Increase my author newsletter subscriber base to 2,000.

63 subscribers added in January. I'm off to a roaring start. 

18. Write at least six letters to my father.

None written in January.

19. Write 100 letters in 2018.

No letters written in January. Finishing a book was a priority. 

20. Convert Greetings Little One into a book.

No progress.  

21. Record one thing learned every week in 2018.

Done! My favorite from January:

In 1950, the city of Guadalajara moved a telecommunications building 10 feet in order to widen a city street while employees of the telephone company continued working inside. Also inside the building were the wife and son of Jorge Mantute, the architect of the move. They were positioned in the building to demonstrate Mantute's faith in the safety of the telecommunication workers. 

Today a statue of Mantute stands in his honor. 

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STORYTELLING

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

We produced one show in January at Infinity Hall in Hartford. 

23. Deliver a TED Talk.

I will be delivering a TED Talk at Wesleyan University in April. 

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

I did not attend a Moth event in January. I was scheduled to attend two, but poor weather and an Elysha illness kept me home. 

25. Win at least three Moth StorySLAMs.

No progress. 

26. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

I am competing in a Moth GrandSLAM in February. 

27. Produce at least 25 episodes of our new podcast Storyworthy. 

No progress.

28. Perform stand up at least four times in 2018. 

No progress.

I am performing standup twice in February, including my first paid performance.

29. Pitch my one-person show to at least one professional theater.

No progress.  

30. Pitch a new Moth Mainstage story to the artistic director of The Moth. 

NEW PROJECTS

31. Write a syllabus for a college course on teaching. 

No progress. 

32. Cook at least 12 good meals (averaging one per month) in 2018.

No progress. 

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

No progress. 

MISCELLANEOUS

34. Pay allowance weekly.

Done!

35. Ride my bike with my kids at least 25 times in 2018.

No progress. 

36. I will report on the content of speech during every locker room experience via social media in 2018. 

Done. I spent 21 days at the gym (including the locker room) in January, and I did not hear a single comment related to sexually assaulting women.  

37. 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. 

Done. I've also encouraged my students to adopt the same policy, at least while in the classroom.

38. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2018.

No progress. 

39. 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.

I looked into the cost of this project. Yikes!    

40. Clean the basement. 

I threw away 11 items in January in preparation for a full cleaning later this year.  

41. Set a new personal best in golf.

No progress. 

42. Play poker at least six times in 2018.

I was forced to cancel a planned game in January because weather moved an event onto my poker night. I also planned on playing at a Patriots tailgate but ended up talking and eating for the entire time. 

I have a game scheduled for February.

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

No progress.   

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

Done.

New Years Resolutions 2018

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.
I tried to lose 20 points in 2017 but only lost 8. 

Since my first weight goal in 2010, I've lost a total of 62 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. Eat at least three servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day. 

Readers and friends proposed this goal to me more than any other. 

4. Do at least 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 3 one-minute planks for five days a week.

I’ve accomplished this goal for five years in a row, but it’s not exactly automatic, so it remains on the list. I've also added planks to the list. 

5. Identify a yoga routine that I can commit to practicing at least three days a week.

This is an adjustment on a failed goal from last year. Rather than committing to actually doing yoga all year long, my goal is to simply find a routine that works for me.

Small steps.  

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

6. Stop using the snooze button.

I may not sleep as many hours as most, but I am a huge supporter of productive, efficient, and effective sleep. To that end, I avoid many of the pitfalls of restful sleep. I don't watch television or read in bed. We use a white noise machine when we sleep. I go to bed and wake up on a fairly regular schedule.

I take sleep seriously.  

As a result, I am able to fall asleep about 30 seconds after my head hits the pillow, and I sleep throughout the night without waking. While I may sleep two or three fewer hours than most, I don't waste a second in bed. Every moment is spent sleeping.

I am also keenly aware that the snooze button is bad for you. There is a lot of science behind this fact. Despite this science, I have been known to snooze, but the time for the snooze button has come to an end. In 2018, I will stop using the snooze button altogether. When my alarm goes off (or I just naturally wake up, which often happens), I will immediately get out of bed and start my day. 

WRITING CAREER

7. . Complete my seventh novel before the end of 2017.

With novel #5 slated to publish in January of 2018 and novel #6 already complete, it's time to begin the next one. My goal is to complete the first draft by the end of the year.

8. Complete my second middle grade/YA novel.

With my first middle grade novel set to publish in late 2017/early 2018, it's time to begin my second one. My goal is to complete the first draft by the end of the year.

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

I wrote three picture books in 2015.  
I wrote another three in 2016. 
In 2017, I started but did not finish four picture books in 2017.

I haven't sold any of them. So far. 

My goal for 2018 is to finish the year with five more completed picture books. This can include books that I began in 2017 but didn't finish and/or brand new ones.

At least one must feature a non-white, non-male protagonist. 

10. Write a proposal for a memoir.

I have a completed memoir that could be used to achieve this goal. I also have two partially written memoirs that could also be used. My agent and I will decide upon the best manuscript, and then I will write a proposal. 

Hopefully we can find an editor or three that like it. 

11. Write a new screenplay.

I failed to write a screenplay in 2016 and 2017 after writing my first in 2015.

I intend to write at least one in 2018. This could include a television pilot, which I might be writing with a partner.

12. 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 for 2018, and I also wrote the first scene of a new adult musical. My goal is to write one musical, though I may write two. 

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

A completed goal from 2017 that I will repeat in 2018.

In 2017, I published three pieces in Parents magazine, in additional to my quarterly column in Seasons magazine. Not bad, but I'd still like to get my first piece in The New York Times in 2018.

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.

14. 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 2018 and hope that an editor likes my ideas. 

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

A completed goal from 2017 that I will repeat in 2018.

None of the publishing outlets accepted my short stories (still waiting on two to respond), but I will try again in 2018.

16. 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.

In 2017, I wrote about prayer, cold showers, and talking to strangers.

I've actually adopted one of these behaviors (cold showers) and realized that I was already doing another (talking to strangers).

Though my opinion of most of these activities didn't change, it was a useful experiment each time, so I'll repeat this in 2018.

17. Increase my author newsletter subscriber base to 2,000.

I grew my list by 29% in 2016 and 25% in 2017. If I grow the list by another 25% in 2018, I will hit my goal of 2,000 subscribers.

I may be unrealistic in this goal.  

18. Write at least six letters to my father.

A completed goal from 2017 that I will repeat in 2018.

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.  

19. Write 100 letters in 2018.

The plan is to write a letter (paper, envelope, and stamp) every three days or so, to students, colleagues, friends, family, and anyone else who is deserving of praise, gratitude, recognition, or the like. It's a way of making a day a little brighter for another person that appeals to me a lot. 

20. Convert Greetings Little One into a book.

A failed goal from 2017.

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.  

21. Record one thing learned every week in 2018.

This is an idea stolen from a blogger who has done this for the past two years. His lists are fascinating. I made the mistake in 2017 of setting the goal of one item learned each day, so this became more of a chore, and the list is not inspiring. 

By recording one item per week, I'm hoping to generate an equally fascinating list to share at the end of 2018. 

STORYTELLING

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

We produced 3 shows in 2013, 8 shows in 2014, 12 shows in 2015, 17 shows in 2016, and 17 shows in 2017.

An even dozen shows in 2018 is a reasonable goal. 

23. 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. Huzzah!

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'd like to repeat it again under optimal circumstances.  

I did a TED Talk in May of 2017 at the Pomfret School. Again, I had a handheld mic and no timer. Still, I thought it went well but could be better.  

It looks like I may be speaking at the upcoming TEDx conference at Wesleyan in 2018. Nothing is confirmed yet, and if it doesn't happen, then I'll have to begin pitching again to make this happen.

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

I attended 27 Moth events in 2015, 26 events in 2016, and 20 events in 2017, so this number is more than reasonable.

25. 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.
I won five slams in 2017.

Three wins feels ambitious for 2018, but since 2011, I've competed in 62 Moth StorySLAMs and won 30 (a 48% win rate). 

If I compete in at least 10 StorySLAMs in 2018, I should be able to win at least three based upon previous percentages. This goal depends upon the decisions of others, but competing in StorySLAMs just isn't enough to justify the goal. 

26. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

I won one GrandSLAM in 2014.
I won two GrandSLAMs in 2015.
I won one GrandSLAM in 2016.
I failed to win a GrandSLAM in 2017.   

I had four opportunities to compete in GrandSLAMs in 2017 but was unavailable each time. Hopefully the calendar will be kinder to me in 2018. 

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. 

27. Produce at least 25 episodes of our new podcast Storyworthy. 

Elysha and I are launching a new storytelling podcast in early 2018 to coincide with the launch of my book Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling (available now for preorder). 

I'm excited. Elysha is funny, insightful, and charming, and I'm just lucky to have her. Together we are going to listen to a story each week and then critique the story, highlighting things that the storyteller has done exceptionally well and areas of opportunity to improve the story. We'll also offer strategies and tips, share storyworthy moments from our lives, offer a peak into the storytelling world, answer listener questions, and banter. 

We plan to produce one episode per week, so the goal of 25 episodes leaves us a lot of room for error. 

28. Perform stand up at least four times in 2018. 

I performed stand up for the first time in 2017. It went much better than I expected. 

In 2018, I intend to perform at least four times. 

29. Pitch my one-person show to at least one professional theater.

I wrote my one-man show in 2017, and I performed a loose version of it twice in conjunction with my teaching of storytelling.

In 2018, I'd like to begin the process of performing my one-man show in its purest form in a professional theater. 

NEW PROJECTS

30. Write a syllabus for a college course on teaching. 

In 2017, I discussed the idea of a college course with several local professors, and all agreed that it would be a valuable addition to their program. I don't know if I'll find a university interested or the time to teach a class like this, but I want to be prepared if the opportunity arises. 

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

A failed goal from 2017 that I will attempt in 2018.

32. 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. 

In 2017, I tried to plan a reunion but was unable to secure a venue.

I'd like to make this happen in 2018. 

MISCELLANEOUS

33. Pay allowance weekly.

My kids receive a weekly allowance, but I am not consistent with the payment of their allowance. More often than not, I'm paying them every month or two, which defeats the purpose. This will require me to have cash available on Sunday nights, so I'll need to establish a routine to make this happen.

34. Ride my bike with my kids at least 25 times in 2018.

I haven't put my kids on their bikes often enough. Part of this has to do with Charlie's age, but after watching my brother get hit by a car while riding his bike as a kid (and being partially responsible for the accident), I've always been nervous about riding with other people. I don't worry about my own safety, but I worry constantly about the safety of others.

I'm going to change this in 2018.

35. I will report on the content of speech during every locker room experience via social media in 2018. 

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 2018 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.   

This was a goal accomplished in 2017, and I considered dropping it in 2018, but readers asked that I continue to do this, so I shall. 

36. 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. 

In 2016, I avoided all negative comments related to a person's physical appearance.

In 2017 I avoided all comments, positively or negatively, about the physical appearance of any person save my wife, children, and in laws in an effort to reduce the focus on physical appearance in our culture overall. 

I achieved this goal, and by writing about it, I convinced at least eight other people (just added one this month) to adopt the policy as well. For this reason, I will repeat this goal in 2018, even though it's now simply become something I do.  

37. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2016.

A completed goal from 2017 that I will repeat in 2018. 

38. 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, 2016, and 2017 that I am continuing to pursue because these windows are making me crazy.    

39. Clean the basement. 

This was a completed goal from 2014 that needs to be repeated because it has filled up again. 

40. Set a new personal best in golf.

A failed goal from 2017.

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 2018.

41. Play poker at least six times in 2016.

A completed goal in 2017 that I am repeating in 2018.

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 very good poker player who stopped playing regularly in 2015 because of the time shifted to writing and storytelling.

I missed poker a great deal and brought it last year. Six games in 2018 is not an unreasonable goal.  

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

A completed goal in 2017 that I will repeat in 2018.

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. Six days is more than reasonable.  

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

Resolution update: 2017 in review

In 2017, I completed 29 of 41 goals for a success rate of 71%. This is by far my most successful year since I started recording goals in 2010 and beats my previous five year average of 53% by quite a bit. 

My previous year success rates:

2010: 44%
2011: 62%
2012: 30%
2013: 60%
2014: 60%
2015: 59%
2016: 59%

I had some areas of great success in 2017. I performed especially well in the areas of writing (10 out of 14 goals completed) and storytelling (6 out of 8 completed). 

While I'm pleased with the overall results, there were some missed opportunities. My biggest disappointments were my failure to lose 20 pounds, my failure to write a new screenplay, and my failure to launch a new podcast.

Those were very doable in 2017. 

There were also a few pathetic failures.

I failed to write a new screenplay. I failed to finalize any details for our Heavy Metal Playhouse 25 year reunion. I didn't cook a single meal for Elysha. 

These were not difficult goals to achieve or at least get started.

I also accomplished half a dozen goals that did not make my initial list but became important as the year progressed.

  1. I was paid to perform at venues in Boston, Kansas City, New York, New Hampshire, Maine, and various points throughout Connecticut. 
  2. I expanded my roster of clients with whom I consult for on screenplays, pilot scripts, pubic speaking, and TED Talks. The roster now includes politicians, university professors, and several entities in the healthcare industry.  
  3. I taught storytelling and public speaking at Yale University, the University of Connecticut, the University of Hartford, Central CT State University, Northeastern University, Miss Porter's School, The Berkshire School, The Oxford School, and Farmington High School. I also booked three more workshops (including a weeklong workshop) at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and another week at Miss Porter's School. 
  4. I worked with union organizers in Kansas City to help low wage restaurant workers tell their stories and performed a benefit show for them. 
  5. I taught storytelling to priests, rabbis, ministers, and to the administrators of South Windsor Public Schools.  
  6. I booked weddings for 2018, extending my DJ career into its 22nd season.   

Here are my specific successes and failures from 2017: 

PERSONAL HEALTH

1. Don’t die.

I didn't die a single time this year. I can't actually say that for every year of my life.  

SUCCESS 

2. Lose 20 pounds.

Two more pounds gained in December, bringing total weight loss for the year to 8 pounds.

FAIL

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

SUCCESS

4. Practice yoga at least three days a week for at least 15 minutes each day.

I participated in a full week of yoga while teaching at Kripalu back in August. That was the extent of my yoga experience in 2017.

FAIL

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

SUCCESS

WRITING CAREER

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

SUCCESS    

7. Complete my first middle grade/YA novel.

SUCCESS   

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

I launched four picture book projects in 2017 but failed to bring any to completion. 

  • A non-fiction picture book about the great Idaho beaver airlift of 1948 (nearly complete). 
  • A series of picture books about real life, often forgotten heroes (pitch in progress)
  • A picture book about the primitive life before cellphones (early stages)
  • A children's book with a non-white male protagonist called Pink Stinks (early stages)

FAIL

9. Complete a book on storytelling.

It publishes on June 12, 2018. Huzzah! Preorder here. 

SUCCESS  

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10. Write a new screenplay.

No progress. Extenuating circumstances related to my former film agent admittedly played a role, but this was certainly doable.

FAIL

11. Write a musical.

"Back in the Day" written and produced in June 2017.

SUCCESS

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

I submitted four pieces to the New York Times Op-Ed page in December, bringing my total submissions to five. Sadly, nothing was accepted for publication. 

SUCCESS  

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

Note-taking completed. Sample chapters being written, but proposal is not complete.

FAIL

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

Three submitted in December. Awaiting word of possible publication. 

SUCCESS

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

I spent April praying to God at least once a day. Quite often three or more times per day. As you may know, I'm a reluctant atheist, so I hadn't prayed in a very long time. 

In October, I followed James Altucher's suggestion about turning the water ice cold for the last few seconds of your shower. It sounds crazy, but science suggests it really might make you more productive for the rest of the day. 

I spent the month of November speaking to one stranger per day. 

SUCCESS

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

I grew my list by 32 subscribers in December (and 328 overall this year). Total subscribers now stands at 1620.

SUCCESS

17. Write at least six letters to my father.

I sent my sixth letter to my father a week before Christmas. 

SUCCESS 

18. Convert Greetings Little One into a book.

No progress. I was unable to locate someone willing to do the work. I also didn't try hard enough.

FAIL

19. Record one thing learned every day in 2017.

Done! My favorite thing learned in December is this:

In Silicon Valley, startups that result in a successful exit have an average founding age of 47 years.

I also realized that the man who inspired me to engage in this activity records one thing learned each week as opposed to each day. His list, not surprising, is much more interesting than mine and probably less of a chore to complete. 

SUCCESS

STORYTELLING

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

We produced a show at the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford in December, bringing our total number of Speak Up events in 2017 to 17.

SUCCESS 

21. Deliver a TED Talk.

I spoke about the important things that teachers do at The Pomfret School in April. 

SUCCESS

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

I attended two Moth StorySLAMs in December at Housing Works in Manhattan and Oberon in Cambridge, bringing my yearly total of Moth events to 20. 

SUCCESS

23. Win at least three Moth StorySLAMs.

I won five StorySLAMs in 2017 (including winning one and tying for first in another in December). Three were won in New York and two were won in Boston.

My win total now stands at 34.

SUCCESS

24. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

I had three chances to compete in a Moth GrandSLAM in 2017 and was unavailable every time. As a result, I was unable to even try to achieve this goal. 

FAIL

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

I pulled down my first episode after receiving feedback from a friend who works in radio. That same friend has agreed to build me a template for the show. No progress yet.

FAIL

26. Perform stand up at least once in 2017. 

I performed a five-minute set at Sea Tea Comedy in downtown Hartford in November.

SUCCESS

27. Write a one-person show.

The "writing" for this show is complete. I performed the show at Kripalu, altered slightly so I could teach lessons between stories. 

SUCCESS  

NEW PROJECTS

28. Explore the option of teaching a college class.

I met with three professors at two local colleges  and described my proposed class. All approved of my idea, and two promised to pass the information onto their department heads.    

SUCCESS

29. Cook at least 12 good meals (averaging one per month) in 2017.

I cooked no meals in 2017.

FAIL

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

Serious attempts were made to secure a venue, but no luck.

FAIL 

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.

No opportunities in December.

SUCCESS 

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

Over the course of the month, I heard no man bragging about sexually assaulting women in any locker rooms (or anywhere else for that matter) and reported on this via social media. 

SUCCESS

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

Not as hard as I thought. I switched over to "parents" in January and haven't slipped yet.   

SUCCESS 

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. 

Easily accomplished. I've also learned that at least seven other people have adopted this policy, which thrills me. It should be everyone.    

SUCCESS

35. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2017.

I surprised Elysha with a membership to Winding Trails, a local recreation area that we have been waiting to join for over a year, bringing my total number of surprises to six.

SUCCESS

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.

Our windows were cleaned by professionals, but this does not count. 

FAIL

37. Optimize our television for a streaming service. 

Apple TV and Amazon Prime are alive and well in our home, thanks to Elysha.

SUCCESS 

38. Set a new personal best in golf.

I managed to tie my personal best early in the season. I never came close after that.

FAIL

39. Play poker at least six times in 2016.

A surge in poker in November and December brought my total games played to six.

SUCCESS 

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

Four days spent working as DJ's at weddings. 

One day spent watching a video of a trip to Florida circa 1993. 

One dinner together.

SUCCESS

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

SUCCESS

I talked to a stranger every day for a month. Here is what happened.

One of my yearly goals was to select three behaviors that I am opposed to and adopt them for one week, then write about my experiences.

Back in May, I prayed twice a day, every day, for a month, to see what might happen.

In October, I took a cold shower for a month. I'm still doing it today. 

In November,  on the advice of Jessica Stillman, I spoke to one stranger in a meaningful way every day for a month. Being married to a woman who speaks to random strangers (and befriends them constantly), I wondered what might happen if I did the same. 

meet-new-people.png

The results were shocking. 

It turns out that I speak to a stranger almost everyday already. 

I had no idea.  

Between teaching, performing, producing Speak Up shows, coaching storytellers, teaching workshops, working out at the gym, and moving through my regular life, I meet new people all the time. Constantly. 

And not just a simple hello. These are actual conversations. Names exchanged. Ideas shared. Connections made.  

In fact, there were only six days in November when I had to actively seek out a stranger, and in each case, it was not hard. Three times I approached a parent in my school who I did not know. I introduced myself and inquired about their children. 

I also spoke to a man in the waiting room of a doctor's office (we discovered that we had a friend in common), a man in line at a highway rest area, and a new employee at a McDonald's restaurant (where I know many of the employees already). 

I can't say that I'm anything like Elysha. She has, on more than one occasion, made a lifelong friend in line at a Starbucks, a doctor's office, or a waiting room. She meets a mother at the playground or an attendant in a parking garage, and next week they are eating dinner in our home. 

Last week, while purchasing our Christmas tree, I turned my back for a second to deal with the kids. In that time, Elysha had introduced herself to the salesperson, told him about my writing career, explained Speak Up, passed on a business card, and Lord knows what else. 

I talk to strangers.
Elysha befriends strangers.  

Still, it was a useful exercise. Before November, I had always viewed myself as entirely unlike my wife when it came to strangers. I thought I was an isolationist. Reticent. A loner. A guy who already had enough friends. 

Not even close. My life, it turns out, is filled with new and interesting people. I may not drag these strangers home with me like Elysha does, but it turns out that I am not the isolationist I thought myself to be. 

Setting goals for 2018

I've begun the process of choosing goals for 2018. It's a process that takes about a month because the decisions that I make now will in part shape the coming year for me. 

If you have any suggestions for goals that are worthy of pursuing, please feel free to let me know. Suggested goals have been a staple of my planning for years, and many have been adopted, so fire away!

And if you're looking to accomplish more in 2018, I encourage you to begin thinking about goals now, too. You don't need to post them on the Internet like I do, but setting and revisiting goals throughout the year has been an integral part of my life for a long time, and it's helped a great deal.

Oddly, my monthly updates are some of my most popular blog posts. For whatever reason, people enjoy reading about my success and failure.

Probably just my failure.

But start planning now. You shouldn't decide upon your goals or resolutions in a day or two. Put some thought into them. Make it a meaningful process. Try to set goals that you have some control over. 

For example, one of my goals for this year was to submit five pieces to the New York Times Op-Ed page. This is a better goal than, "Get published by the New York Times Op Ed page" because I have much more control over the former than the latter.

I admittedly don't do this with every goal. Sometimes I like to apply pressure to myself, particularly in areas of expertise. This year, for example, I set a goal of winning three Moth StorySLAMs. A better goal might have been to compete in X number of Moth StorySLAMs, but having won 32 of them, I didn't mind applying a little pressure to myself in this area.

Happily, I won four StorySLAMs in 2017, exceeding my goal. 

Also, don't be afraid of failure. In the past 6 years, my success rates have been:

2010: 44%
2011: 62%
2012: 30%
2013: 60%
2014: 60%
2015: 59%

Not stellar. A 52.5% average.  

But I'm comfortable with the failure because I know I am setting meaningful, challenging goals. I want to be pushing myself at all times. That would be impossible if the goals I set were easily attained. 

Make 2018 a year when you set goals that put you on the path of making your dreams come true.  

goals.jpeg