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Resolution Update: 2023 in review

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 33 of my 50 goals for a completion percentage of 66%.

This is higher than my 14-year average of 55.5% and my third-highest success rate ever.

Here are the previous year’s results.

2010: 44%
2011: 62%
2012: 30%
2013: 60%
2014: 60%
2015: 59%
2016: 59%
2017: 71%
2018: 50%
2019: 48%
2020: 54%
2021: 45%
2022: 69%
2023: 66%

Some of my goals were missed for understandable reasons.

Elysha and I failed to produce six Speak Up shows in 2023, but three were canceled because of problems with the venue that had nothing to do with us.

I failed to write to three colleges, explaining why they should hire me because I decided that I didn’t want to be hired by colleges. As much as I’d love to instruct new teachers, I think the bureaucracy would kill me.

I failed to re-record my Storyworthy for Business course after realizing it would be best if it were married to my upcoming book, which needed to be finalized first.

Others were very much my fault, and some were downright disappointing.

Failing to take a weekly photo of Elysha and myself, failing to play poker, and failing to complete my Eagle Scout project immediately come to mind.

Nevertheless, 2023 was an excellent year in terms of overall goal completion. Here are my results through the end of 2023.


1. Don’t die.

Done. I am still alive, which, for me, given my history, is saying something.

2. Lose 20 pounds.

Done. I lost a total of 34 pounds in 2023, nearly doubling my initial goal and requiring an entirely new wardrobe.

Remarkably, I changed almost nothing about my diet. Instead, I transitioned from a moderate daily exercise routine to an incredibly intense one, primarily on my outdoor and stationary bike.

Happily, I still eat my fair share of cheeseburgers and ice cream, and nearly every morning begins with an Egg McMuffin.

Even better, my blood pressure and cholesterol are outstanding.

Exercise is good.

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


4. Cycle for at least five days every week. 

Done. I finished the year with 522 rides on my outdoor and stationary bike, averaging 1.43 daily rides.

5. Improve my golfing handicap by two strokes. 

Done. My handicap at the start of the year was 17.6.

My handicap is now 14.8.


6. Complete my eighth novel.

Fail. Progress continues, but I did not complete the writing of this book in 2023.

7. Write my next Storyworthy book.

Done. The book will be published on June 11, 2024.

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

Done. Three books are complete.

“Operation Beaver Drop” is going out to publishers soon.

“Rock a Bye Baby” and “Duel in the Sky” will be sent to my agent shortly.

“Rock a Bye Baby” features a female, non-white protagonist.

9. Write a new solo show.

Done. “You’re a Monster, Matthew Dicks” was written in 2023.

10. Perform a new solo show.

Done. “You’re a Monster, Matthew Dicks was performed to sold-out audiences on July 30 and 31 and August 1.

11. Write a musical.


My friend Kaia and I are writing a musical that we will also perform, even though I cannot sing. She will write the music and lyrics. She and I will write the story. We brainstormed ideas in August and came up with some exciting stuff. A new concept and some ideas for songs.

I need to write some of the story for Kaia to begin writing music. I did not do any of that writing in 2023.

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

Fail. For the first time in five years, I failed to submit anything to the New York Times for consideration.

13. Write at least four letters to my father.

Done. I squeezed in three letters in the last two months of 2023.

14. Write 100 letters in 2023.


Another 16 letters were sent in December, bringing the total number to 224.

15. Convert 365 Days of Elysha into a book.

Done. I gave it to Elysha on Christmas Day. It turned out fantastic.

16. Read at least 12 books. 

Done. Three books were read in December.

“Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult” by Maria Bamford
”Everywhere an Oink Oink” by David Mamet
”Comedy Book” by Jesse David Fox

A total of 25 books in 2023. More than doubling my goal.

Books read in 2023:

  1. “Sapiens” by Yuval Harari
  2. “Life’s a Gamble” by Mike Sexton
  3. “The Sea We Swim In” by Frank Rose
  4. “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah
  5. “This Will All Be Over Soon” by Cecily Strong
  6. “Magic Words” by Jonah Berger
  7. “The Science of Storytelling” by William Storr
  8. “Slayers and Vampires” by Edward Gross and Mark Altman
  9. “Hooked: How to Produce Habit-Forming Products” by Nir Eyal
  10. “Tough Sh*t” by Kevin Smith
  11. “From Saturday Night to Sunday Night” by Dick Ebersol
  12. “The Ship Beneath the Ice” by Mensun Bound
  13. “Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t” by Steven Pressfield
  14. “The Wager” by David Grann
  15. “The Other Wes Moore” by Wes Moore
  16. “Million Dollar Maverick” by Alan Weiss
  17. “Going Infinite” by Michael Lewis
  18. “Enough” by Cassidy Hutchinson
  19. “Holly” by Stephen King
  20. “Happy-Go-Lucky” by David Sedaris
  21. “The Groucho Letters” by Groucho Marx
  22. “The Woman in Me” by Britney Spears
  23. “Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult” by Maria Bamford
  24. ”Everywhere an Oink Oink” by David Mamet
  25. ”Comedy Book” by Jesse David Fox

17. Read TIME’s 100 Best Children’s Books of All Time


A total of 21 books were read in 2023.

I’ve read many other books on the list in the past, but I am only counting those books I read in 2023 toward my goal.

18. Write to at least six authors about a book I love. 

Done. I wrote letters to Kate DiCamillo, Stephen King, John Green, Kevin Smith, David Sedaris, and Jessi Klein.

Kate DiCamillo wrote back!


19. Complete the re-recording of Storyworthy For Business. 

Fail. I am waiting for my next book to be finalized so I can use the book as the model for the redesigned course.

20. Record the next Storyworthy course.


Three brand-new courses have been added to the Storyworthy platform:

Finding Stories
Anatomy of a Story
Humor: Volume #1

I’m proud of all of them. You should check them out.

21. Produce a total of six Speak Up storytelling events in 2023

Fail. Though nine shows were scheduled in 2023, cancelations due to bureaucratic nonsense on the part of our partner venues prevented me from achieving this goal, resulting in a total of just five in 2023:

  1. April 22 at the Connecticut Historical Society
  2. May 4, in partnership with Voices of Hope
  3. July 29 at Hartford Flavor Company
  4. November 3 at the Playhouse on Park
  5. November 4 at Wolcott School

22. Pitch myself to at least three upcoming TEDx events, hoping to be accepted by one.


I spoke at a TEDx event at the University of Connecticut in January. Due to the delay in posting a talk from more than a year ago to the TEDx website, my University of Connecticut talk will not be loaded onto the TED platform for reasons I don’t quite understand.

I don’t really mind. The clicker for the slides was broken, advancing two slides at a time, making for a rather imperfect talk. I’ll repeat it again at some point in the future.

I also spoke at a TEDx event in Natick, MA, on April 13.

I also received word that I will be speaking at TEDxBU in April 2024.

I also pitched myself to TEDx events in Harlem and Roxbury and on the campuses of Yale University, Northeastern University, and Rhode Island School of Design.

Harlem, Yale, RISD, and Northeastern have declined. Roxbury was canceled.

23. Attend at least eight Moth events with the intention of telling a story.

Done. I attended one Moth event in December, bringing my total to 19 Moth shows attended in 2023, more than doubling my goal.

24. Win at least one Moth StorySLAM.

Done. I won the Moth StorySLAM in Boston on March 29.

25. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.


I competed in a Moth GrandSLAM in Boston in May and did not win. I also had to go first, which is not exactly fun or conducive to winning.

I competed in a Moth GrandSLAM in NYC in November and placed second.

I competed in a Moth GrandSLAM in Boston in December and placed second.

I was invited to compete in the Seattle GrandSLAM in March and again in October, but traveling cross country was impossible.

I was invited to compete in the Washington DC GrandSLAM in November, but my schedule did not allow me to attend.

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

Fail. No episodes were recorded in 2023.

27. Perform stand-up at least six times in 2023.

Fail. I performed stand-up a total of four times in 2023, including in the New York City Comedy Festival. I was also paid to perform, which is only the fourth time I have been paid to do comedy.

28. Pitch three stories to This American Life.

Done! I pitched three stories to This American Life in 2023.

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

Done. I pitched myself to Marc Maron three times in 2023.

30. Send a newsletter to readers at least 50 times. 

Done. Five newsletters were sent in December, for a total of 51 newsletters sent in 2023.


31. Clear the basement.

Done. Much organization is required, but the basement is cleared of unnecessary furniture and oversized items. We may be finishing the basement in 2024, which will require even more clearing.

32. Clean and clear the garage.

Fail. The garage is clean but still filled with large items needing removal.

33. Furnish and decorate the studio. 


34. Eliminate clothing that is not being worn and closet bins.



35. Text or call my brother or sister once per month. 


36. Take at least one photo of my children every day.


37. Take at least one photo with Elysha and me each week.

Fail. Elysha and I only accomplished this goal in three months in 2023—one of my more disappointing results.

38. Plan a reunion of the Heavy Metal Playhouse.


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


Easy-peasy and life-affirming. I can’t recommend it enough.

40. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2023.

Done. A total of 21 surprises so far in 2023, including:

  1. Half a dozen birthday cards, all handmade, scattered throughout her life on her birthday
  2. Tickets to the upcoming Lizzo concert
  3. A Pusheen Mystery Box
  4. Goodie bag of Trader Joe’s delights
  5. Coat from Canyon Ranch
  6. Visit from Kathy
  7. Surprise dessert delivered personally to her school
  8. Another surprise dessert delivered personally to her school
  9. Another Pusheen Mystery Box
  10. Tickets to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Tina Fey/Amy Poehler, and Jenny Lewis
  11. Flowers following Clara’s dance recital
  12. First-class tickets on the flight back from DC
  13. First-class tickets on the flight to Everett, WA
  14. Another Pusheen gift box
  15. Tickets to “Back to the Future” on Broadway
  16. Tickets to “Mrs. Doubtfire” at the Bushnell
  17. A collection of simple syrups from Whidbey Island
  18. Rhode Island and Boston weekends planned with friends for the fall
  19. Tickets to “The Nutcracker” for Elysha and Clara
  20. Flowers sent to Elysha’s workplace
  21. An anniversary card under Elysha’s pillow

41. Play poker at least six times in 2023.

Fail. No poker was played in 2023.

A ridiculous failure, given my love for the game.

42. Spend at least six days with my best friend of more than 30 years.

Done. Seven total visits in 2023. Not nearly enough, but it’s a good start.


43. Memorize the lyrics to at least five favorite songs. 

Done. At least six new songs memorized in 2023:

“You Need to Calm Down” by Taylor Swift
“Burning Love” by Elvis Presley
“Lay It On Me” by Vance Joy
“Come a Little Bit Closer” by Jay and the Americans.
“Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac
“Fairytale in New York” by The Pogues

44. Learn to play the piano by practicing at least three times a week. 

Done. I’m still not very good.


45. Learn the names of every employee who works at my school.

Fail. I learned many names in 2023 and even made a few new friends, but there remain people in my school whose names I do not know. Even worse, new colleagues seem to pop up every day, making the job even more challenging than I imagined.

46. Convert our wedding video to a transferable format.


47. Memorize five new poems.

Fail. I’m currently memorizing (and learning to sign) “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.

No other poems were memorized in 2023.

I really should’ve done better with this goal.

48. Write to at least three colleges about why they should hire me.

Fail. Honestly, I lost interest in this goal. I would love to instruct future teachers on the three essential elements of a successful teaching career (which are tragically not taught in colleges today), but the bureaucracy of a college system would likely kill me.

49. Complete my Eagle Scout project.

Fail. I attempted to connect with a cemetery to complete the project without success. Admittedly, I only tried twice.

50. Post my progress regarding these resolutions on this blog and social media on the first day of every month.