At the end of each month, and now at the end of the year, I report on the progress of my New Year’s resolutions (or lack thereof).
Overall, I completed 35 of my 51 goals for a completion percentage of 69%.
This is higher than my 13-year average of 54.7% and my second-highest success rate ever.
Some of my goals were missed for good reasons.
My writing a memoir was placed on the back burner when my agent told me that the memoir market is not exactly sizzling at the moment for non-celebrity types like me.
My screenplay is very much waiting for my writing partner to complete it, though I rightfully could’ve started writing another one.
Others were very much my fault, and some were downright disappointing.
Failing to take a weekly photo of Elysha and myself, failing to spend adequate time with my friend, Bengi, and failing to write to colleges (all for the second year in a row) immediately come to mind.
Elysha and I also failed to record a single episode of our Speak Up Storytelling podcast in 2022, which not only disappointed fans but certainly impacted sales for my new business.
I only played two games of poker in 2022. Granted, more than six games were scheduled but canceled when I failed to find enough players for each game, but I love poker. I need to find new blood if my friends are going to fail me routinely.
My failure to transfer our wedding video off an ancient computer and my failure to produce a hardcopy of “365 Days of Elysha,” both for the third year in a row, are deeply disappointing. I had 365 days to complete each task but failed miserably.
Nevertheless, 2022 was an excellent year in terms of overall goal completion. Here are my results through the end of 2022.
1. Don’t die.
Another year spent avoiding death. I began 2022 in isolation with COVID-19 and recovering from hernia surgery, but it was smooth sailing after I recovered.
2. Lose 20 pounds.
I lost eight pounds in December, entirely due to illness at the end of the year. I dropped all eight pounds in a week as a result of a complete loss of appetite and constant fever.
Thanks in part to a virus, I lost 12 pounds in 2022.
3. Do at least 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and three one-minute planks for five days a week.
4. Cycle for at least five days every week.
5. Establish my golfing handicap, then lower that handicap by at least 2.
My handicap established at the beginning of 2022 was a whopping 35.4.
My handicap at the end of 2022 is a lackluster but much improved 17.6.
6. Complete my seventh novel.
“Cardboard Knight” – my first middle-grade novel – is complete.
7. Prepare “Storyworthy 2” or update “Storyworthy” or both for a potential sale.
The follow-up to “Storyworthy” – “You Are Storyworthy” – won’t be my next nonfiction title, but it’s written. I’ll be writing a different storytelling book first for strategic reasons.
Still, the book is done and will eventually be published.
8. Write/complete at least three new picture books, including one with a female, non-white protagonist and one protagonist who is not neurotypical.
One picture book is completed and in the hands of my agent. We will be looking for a publisher shortly.
“Who Put the Baby in a Tree?” and a still-untitled picture book are also finished. I’ll need to revise both before sending them over to my agent, but solid first drafts are complete.
9. Complete a memoir.
I had two memoirs in progress in 2022:
One about the two-year period when I was arrested, jailed, and tried for a crime I did not commit, which also led to homelessness then a pantry off a kitchen that I shared with a goat. I was also the victim of a horrific robbery at that time that left me with a lifetime of PTSD, amongst other awfulness. Also participation in an underground arm wrestling and gambling ring.
The second is about the two-year period in which a lowly band of anonymous cowards attempted to destroy my teaching career.
My agent and I have decided to put these books on the back burner. Memoir is a tougher sell right now unless you’re a legitimate celebrity or the inventor of a bionic eye.
Both ideas will make excellent books, but neither was completed in 2022.
10. Write a new screenplay.
My plan in 2022 was to write a screenplay with a partner, but his schedule prevented that from happening. I could’ve written a screenplay on my own, of course (as I’ve done in the past), but I did not.
11. Write a solo show.
This goal took an interesting turn in 2022.
I started the year working on a solo show based on my arrest and trial for a crime I didn’t commit. Though I continue to work on that show, I’ve started working with a director on a new show, and we’ve made substantial progress.
I’ve already inquired about the availability of local theaters in early 2023 and received some possible interest.
I also had a new idea:
List all the things I’ve ever stolen on a chalkboard and then tell a story about each one. Cleverly construct a narrative that encompasses all the stories in a larger story of my life.
I’ve been structuring that idea, too.
Substantial progress was made in 2022 on several fronts, but none of these shows are complete.
12. Write a musical.
Writing commenced in 2022, but it’s still almost entirely in outline form, so a lot of work is still needed.
13. Submit at least five Op-Ed pieces to The New York Times for consideration.
Seven essays were submitted to the New York Times in 2022.
14. Write at least four letters to my father.
Two letters were sent in December to finish off the year. I wouldn’t have sent those letters had I not set this goal. Just another reason why goal setting is so damn important.
15. Write 100 letters in 2022.
A total of 17 letters were written in December, including letters to students, my own children, authors, Nancy Pelosi, and a handful of creative souls.
A total of 201 letters were written in 2022. By far the most letters I have ever written in a single year.
16. Convert 365 Days of Elysha into a book.
I’ve passed this project on to my production manager, but she’s busy with other things at the moment.
17. Read at least 12 books.
I read 27 books in 2022.
In December, I read “Foreverland” by Heather Havrilesky
I’m currently reading books:
“Fairy Tale” by Stephen King
“From Saturday Night to Sunday Night” by Dick Ebersol
“Wow. No Thank You” by Samantha Irby
“Think Like a Monk” by Jay Shetty
“The Groucho Letters”
My list of completed books now includes the following:
“We Don’t Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy”
“I’d Like to Play Alone, Please”
“Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence”
“The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs”
“The World’s Worst Assistant”
“Adventures in the Screen Trade”
“I’ll Show Myself Out”
“How to Tell a Story”
“The Lightning Thief”
“In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown”
“It’s So Easy”
“The Office BFFs”
“Making Numbers Count”
“The Passion Economy”
“Empire of Pain”
“The Anthropocene Reviewed”
18. Write to at least six authors about a book that I especially like.
Three letters were written and sent in December to Amy Edmondson, Chuck Klosterman, and Chip Heath.
Six letters were written in 2022.
19. Complete the recordings for my new business for at least two target consumers.
I completed the recordings for only one target customer (and I’m re-recording those videos).
20. Engage with LinkedIn at least once per week.
LinkedIn has become a place where I regularly post content and find new customers and business partners.
21. Produce a total of six Speak Up storytelling events.
Six shows were produced in 2022.
22. Pitch myself to at least three upcoming TEDx events with the hopes of being accepted by one.
I pitched to a total of five TEDx conferences in 2022.
Two have passed on my pitches. I await word on two others. TEDx UConn has accepted me for their conference in February 2023.
23. Attend at least six Moth events with the intention of telling a story.
Done. Two Moth events attended in December.
A total of 18 Moth events were attended in 2022.
24. Win at least one Moth StorySLAM.
I won a StorySLAM in New York in February.
I won a StorySLAM in Boston in June.
I won a Moth StorySLAM in Washington, DC in August.
I won a Moth StorySLAM in Boston in December.
25. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.x
I won Boston’s Moth GrandSLAM at The Wilbur on April 26.
I won New York City’s Moth GrandSLAM at The Music Hall of Williamsburg on May 16.
It was my eighth and ninth GrandSLAM championships.
26. Produce at least 12 episodes of our podcast Speak Up Storytelling.
We did not record a single episode in 2022.
27. Convert my YouTube channel into an actual channel.
My personal channel is re-designed and curated. My team has also launched a second YouTube channel for our new business.
28. Perform stand-up at least three times in 2022.
I did not return to the stand-up stage in 2022.
29. Pitch a story to This American Life.
I pitched one story to This American Life in April.
30. Pitch myself to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast at least three times.
Three pitches were made in 2022. No response.
31. Send a newsletter to readers at least 25 times (every other week).
Four newsletters were sent in December. A total of 33 newsletters were sent in 2022.
32. Clear the basement.
The basement was later upended when I had a studio built in a significant portion of the basement, so this goal will need to return to my 2023 list because work is once again required.
33. Organize the children’s books.
Books were removed from the kids’ bedrooms and divided into three bunches:
- Keep in rotation for kids/students (now been returned to shelves).
- Store for future grandchildren (now stored in the basement)
- Give away to those in need (now donated).
34. Text or call my brother or sister once per month.
35. Take at least one photo of my children every day.
36. Take at least one photo with Elysha and me each week.
I took photos of Elysha and me in less than half of the weeks in 2022.
37. Plan a reunion of the Heavy Metal Playhouse.
A date had been chosen for August, but because of vacations, I need to reschedule.
38. I will not comment, positively or negatively, about the physical appearance of any person save my wife and children, in 2022 in an effort to reduce the focus on physical appearance in our culture overall.
This has become nearly automatic for me.
39. Compliment one person every day on a topic unrelated to physical appearance.
Upon reflection, it turns out that I do this far more often than I realized. Between my students, my clients, and my wife and kids, it’s almost automatic.
40. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2022.
I surprised Elysha 23 times in 2022.
I surprised Elysha by dropping off her phone and a card at her school after she forgot the phone at home. Doesn’t sound like much, but after finding the phone on her desk, she texts:
“Honey, you’re the best and some kind of magician. I love you sooo much.”
So a legitimate surprise.
I also mailed a letter to every one of her students to open in class. I received a lovely collection of kindergarten responses.
The list of surprises in 2022 included:
- Tickets to “The Old Man in the Pool” with Mike Birbiglia
- A well-timed Starbucks caramel macchiato
- Pusheen Club box, filled with an assortment of movie-themed Pusheen gifts.
- A complete set of Smith College china
- A card on her dashboard following a less-than-ideal April vacation.
- A surprise visit to her classroom on an especially challenging day to bring her a cupcake.
- A card mailed to her school with thoughts of encouragement and love, written by “The Universe.”
- A planned weekend getaway (later this summer) for her and a friend to Water’s Edge, a resort and spa on the coast of Connecticut.
- Flowers on Mexican Mother’s Day
- Pusheen Club box, featuring garden-themed Pusheen gifts.
- A signed first edition of “From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” by E.L. Konigsburg
- Tickets to Hamilton on Broadway
- Pusheen Club box, featuring school-themed Pusheen gifts.
- A box of small gifts presented on the night before the first day of school
- Tickets to Beetlejuice on Broadway for November
- Tickets to the CT Forum to see Sonia Sotomayor in November
- Cupcakes for our Labor Day “end of summer” dinner
41. Play poker at least six times in 2022.
Just two games in total in 2022.
42. Spend at least six days with my best friend of more than 30 years.
Four days spent together in 2022.
43. Create an emergency preparedness kit for each car.
Done! Emergency preparedness kits were purchased. Several items were added to each.
44. Memorize the lyrics to at least five favorite songs.
Songs I’ve memorized this year include:
“Fat Bottomed Girls
“Come On Eileen”
“Mr. Blue Sky”
“Come Sail Away”
“Come a Little Closer”
“More Than a Feeling”
45. Learn to play the piano by practicing at least three times a week.
46. Convert our wedding video to a transferable format.
Another task passed off to my production manager. Apparently, this is trickier than previously expected. I need to find a professional to make this happen.
47. Memorize five new poems.
- “Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost
- “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
- “This Is Just to Say” by William Carlos William
- “I’m Nobody. Who Are You” by Emily Dickinson
- “Harlem” by Langston Hughes
48. Write to at least three colleges about why they should hire me.
49. Understand Instagram better.
Done! My social media team is now running parts of my Instagram, and I understand what they are doing, how they did it, and why they are doing it.
50. Complete my Eagle Scout project.
I’ve reached out to a local church and the town of Newington in an effort to move the project from Blackstone, MA to Newington, CT and perhaps involve Charlie’s Boy Scout troop. I have yet to connect with the person in charge because even small-town government moves slowly.
51. Post my progress in terms of these resolutions on this blog and social media on the first day of every month.