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: 


1. Don’t die.

I’m healthy and well. Totally alive.


2. Lose 20 pounds.

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


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


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.


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.     



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.


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.


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.


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 but is not nearly complete.


12. Write a musical.

Writing has commenced but is not close to being complete.


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.


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

No progress at all in 2018.


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

Submissions sent to three publishing outlets in December.


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.


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.


18. Write at least six letters to my father.

Three letters written in December for a total of six.


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.


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.


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]



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

13 shows produced in 2018.


23. Deliver a TEDx Talk.

I spoke at a TEDxNatick salon event in May. 


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

I pitched my story on the last day of 2018.



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. 



34. Pay allowance weekly.

Done! Kids are all paid up.


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

Done! A total of 27 rides in 2018.


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.


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.


38. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2018.

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


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.

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.

Five games in 2018.


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

Four days spent with my best friend in 2018.


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