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.