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At the end of each month, I report on the progress of my New Year’s resolutions (or lack thereof).

Now that I’ve reached the half-year point, I also do an assessment of the likelihood that I will complete the goal and any major adjustments that may be required.

Here are the result through the end of June.

PERSONAL FITNESS

1. Don’t die.

I took a serious digger in June after being thrown from my bike by an unseen branch. I tore open my knee, wrenched my shoulder, and hit my helmeted head off the pavement.

It was bad enough that a woman came running from her front yard, asking if she should call an ambulance.

“Only if it brings dignity,” I answered.

But I didn’t die.

Connecticut is also the most successful state in the country in terms of flattening the curve. COVID-19 cases are doubling every year. By contrast, states like Texas, Arizona, and Florida are doubling every two or three weeks.

So the coronavirus is still trying to kill me, but my fellow Nutmeggers and I are doing our part to stay safe:

We wear masks, social distance, and avoid large, indoor crowds because we believe in doctors and science and the absence of willful stupidity.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 99%

2. Lose 20 pounds.

Still done! I lost 20 pounds by the end of March, and I managed to maintain the weight loss through the month of June. I had hoped to drop additional pounds since March, but thus far I have only managed to maintain the weight loss.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 95%

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

Done! Crushing this. I’m eating more fruits and vegetables than ever before. I had grilled squash and zucchini in June and didn’t hate either one.

Pandemic silver lining.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 95%

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

Done. Much harder with my wounded knee. Any pressure on the knee hurts like hell.

Also, after learning about a 62 year-old man setting the new world record for a plank at more than 8 hours, I’ve begun extending my plank time. I did one 6-minute plank in February, and I’m doing 2-minute planks now regularly.

I had hoped to do a 10-minute plank by the end of March. Three months later and I’m still not even close. However, I purchased a device to turn planks into a game. This may help.

I’ve also been using this quote from the film The Edge as my personal mantra: “What one man has done another can do.”

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 95%

5. Set a new personal best in golf.

I played more than a dozen rounds of golf in June, including many rounds with Charlie, who has fallen in love with the game. I shot a 48 for nine holes, and I beat my friend, Jeff, in a round on Father’s Day, which is fairly unprecedented, but I have yet to set a personal best.

I’m striking the ball much better, hitting it a lot farther, and putting much better thanks to some coaching from my friend, Scott.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 50%

WRITING CAREER

6. Complete my seventh novel before the end of 2020.

I met with my new editor, Alice, in February to confirm that she doesn’t think the next idea for my new novel is stupid, and she doesn’t. She seems to like it quite a bit, so it’s full steam ahead.

My first middle grade novel was just sent to its third editor, too, so work should commence on that soon.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 75%

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

No progress.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 90%

8. Write a memoir.

Writing continues.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 33%

9. Write a new screenplay.

This goal has transitioned into a musical (sort of a screenplay) that I am now writing and will perform with my friend, Kaia, despite the fact that I cannot sing.

We have decided on a topic, theme, and overall plan. Forward momentum.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 33%

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

DONE!

A total of six submissions in 2020.

None were accepted, but one was later accepted by the Hartford Courant and ran in the Op-Ed section in March.

Another has been accepted by the Hartford Courant and will be running this month.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 100%

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

None submitted in 2020.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 50%

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

I’ve identified a behavior to try:

I’m going to read 50 Shades of Gray. I’ve always assumed that it’s a terrible book, but at a recent party, I listened to friends disparage this book (despite having never read it), which automatically made me want to defend the book based upon its commercial success and their hints of literary elitism.

I also have an oppositional disposition, so I almost instinctually take the opposing viewpoint in many situations. I’m a joy to be around

Another behavior I’m considering:

Engaging in the weirdness of ASMR, but it might just be too stupid to try.

If you have any suggestions, fire away.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 75%

13. Increase my newsletter subscriber base to 5,000.

I added 17 subscribers in June for a total of 4,267.

I really need to pick up the pace.

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

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 33%

14. Write at least six letters to my father.

Five letters written thus far in 2020.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 99%

15. Write 100 letters in 2020.

Just one letter written in June.

A total of 22 written so far in 2020.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 50%

16. Convert 365 Days of Elysha into a book.

No progress.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 75%

17. Complete and release my limited episode podcast on “Twenty-One Truths About Love.”

The podcast is nearly complete. Episodes with my editor, the cover designer, and more are ready to go. I need to record the first episode with Elysha and finish editing the last one and it will be ready to launch.

The plan is to wait until 2021 to launch the podcast in conjunction with the paperback release of my novel, making the completion of this goal impossible in 2020.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 0%

STORYTELLING/SPEAKING CAREER

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

This goal has become much more challenging to accomplish, but I haven’t given up.

Elysha and I produced a virtual solo show in June, bringing our total number of storytelling shows in 2020 to six.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 50%

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

DONE!

I pitched myself to five TEDx events in 2020 thus far:

TEDx Salem State University
TEDx Hartford
TEDx UConn
TEDx Wesleyan
TEDx Yale.

TEDx Hartford passed. I await word from the others.

I also helped two clients get accepted to speak in TEDx events in 2020 ands 2021.

I was supposed to be speaking at a TEDx event in the Berkshires in April, but that event has been rescheduled for later in the year.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 100%

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

I attended The Moth’s first virtual Mainstage performance in April, in addition to three Moth StorySLAMs earlier in the year.

Four events so far in 2020. The pandemic has made this a lot harder.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 50%

21. Win at least three Moth StorySLAMs.

I won a Moth StorySLAM in March at Oberon in Boston. It was my first win in 2020 and my 48th Moth StorySLAM victory in all.

The virtual StorySLAMs in June were cancelled in support of the Black Lives Matter and social justice movements.

I plan on competing again in July.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 25%

22. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

I completed in a Moth GrandSLAM in Boston in February and finished in second place.

The pandemic has made this a lot harder. It’s uncertain if The Moth will even be producing GrandSLAMs in 2020.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 5%

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

Elysha and I produced two more episodes in June. Another tough month with the end of the school year and distance learning.

A total of 18 new episodes in 2020. We’ll need to increase the pace to hit the goal.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 75%

24. Begin providing transcriptions of each episode of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast.

No progress.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 25%

25. Explore the monetization of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast.

DONE!

Our Patreon page is up and running, and so far 19 people have been kind enough to commit to a monthly contribution. In exchange for their commitment, they are receiving bonus content on the Patreon page, including interviews with storytellers, instruction material, and more.

If you’d like to become a patron and support the work we do at Speak Up, click here.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 100%

26. Perform stand up at least six times in 2020.

No performances in June and no performances in 2020.

Given the nature of the world, this goal is going to be much harder now, though I may start to look for online open mics. Or maybe doing my own virtual comedy performance?

That sounds terrifying, which is why it’s also appealing.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 10%

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

No stories pitched in June. No stories pitched in 2020.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 25%

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

No pitches sent in June. Two pitches sent so far in 2020.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 99%

29. Produce at least one new video for my YouTube channel each month.

I posted one new instructional video in June.

Thirteen new videos in total in 2020.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel here.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 75%

30. Find a means of producing my storytelling instruction for an online platform.

DONE! I taught an online storytelling workshop in April to about 70 people from 17 different states and 8 different countries in partnership with MOPCO Improv theater.

I just completed a six-week storytelling workshop to six storytellers in Seattle, Chicago, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Singapore, and I’ve launched two other six week workshops in the last two weeks.

Ultimately I want to develop asynchronous offerings using recorded instruction, but this is an excellent start.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 100%

HOME

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

Art has arrived. The devices needed for hanging the art has arrived. Elysha is beginning to work on framing.

Frankly, this is Elysha’s job now, but I’m confident that it will be done soon and well.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 75%

32. 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.

DONE! 14 windows replaced!

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 100%

33. Clear the basement.

I’ve been taking advantage of my town’s free bulk pickup each week. Progress is slow but steady.

Incrementalism, people. Some jobs are best done through consistency and vigilance.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 90%

34. Refinish the hardwood floors.

This might be a problem. Hardwood floors require at least a few days to be completed, and we have cats. The cats will absolutely not stay with anyone else while the floors are being done, so what the hell are we going to do?

Also, the coronavirus might make this impossible in 2020.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 5%

35. Purchase a new television.

Done! It’s large and beautiful and professionally mounted to the wall.

THANK GOODNESS we did this early in the year. Our new couch, chair, television, and streaming services have been invaluable during this period of social distancing.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 100%

FAMILY/FRIENDS

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

I missed zero days in June. I’ve missed 12 days in 2020. Social distancing makes this job much easier.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 95%

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

I missed two of the four weeks in June. I need to find a way to do better, because I want more photos of Elysha and myself.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 75%

38. Cook at least 12 good meals (averaging one per month) in 2020.

DONE! I stopped counting at 25 meals.

This pandemic has done wonders for cooking skills.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 100%

39. Ride my bike with my kids at least 25 times in 2020.

DONE!

More than a dozen rides with Charlie and Clara in June and well over 30 in all. I’ve stopped counting.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 100%

40. Plan a reunion of the Heavy Metal Playhouse.

No progress. This is probably impossible in 2020.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 5%

41. I will not comment, positively or negatively, about physical appearance of any person save my wife and children, in 2020 in an effort to reduce the focus on physical appearance in our culture overall.

Still done. I’m not seeing many people these days, so this has gotten even easier.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 99%

42. Surprise Elysha at least six times in 2020.

I did not surprise Elysha in June. At least as far as I can remember…

Surprises thus far:

  • I bought her a pin from the Smith College Botanical Garden
  • I bought her an adjustable standing/lap desk in April.
  • I bought tickets to Mike Birbiglia’s appearance in New Haven in May, hoping to surprise Elysha, but that surprise was postponed.
  • I also sent Elysha a bouquet of flowers to her workplace on her birthday in January.

Four surprises so far in 2020.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 99%

43. Play poker at least six times in 2020.

DONE!

My friends and I used a combination of a poker app, Zoom, Venmo, and Spotify to spend an evening playing poker one time in June.

Six games played so far in 2020.

I’ll certainly be playing more.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 100%

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

Bengi and I went on a long walk in June, which was one of my favorite moments in all of June.

Three long walks in all in 2020.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 90%

NEW PROJECTS

45. Understand Instagram better.

No progress, but this can’t be that hard. Right? It’s just a matter of either reading and/or speaking to someone who understands it better than me.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 99%

46. Listen to new music via the Billboard Hot 100 Spotify playlist at least four times per month.

Done! I’ve been listening to this playlist while riding my bike. I like some of the songs, but boy do I miss bands with guitars and basses and drums.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 99%

47. 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. Though I still find this issue incredibly important, it’s hard to ask people to donate to a cause like this when there are so many needs in this work right now and so many Americans without jobs. As a result, I’ve been hesitant to start this project.

Perhaps the second half of 2020 will look better, but given what I’ve seen thus far, that is unlikely.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 33%

48. Complete my Eagle Scout project.

No progress. Though I would love to complete this goal, it will require me to travel to Massachusetts and do work that probably doesn’t make a lot of sense in the midst of a pandemic, so chances of completing this goal are looking slim.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 5%

49. Scan and send photos of Laura to her daughters.

No progress, but this is a goal that can be completed in a day with some concerted effort.

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 99%

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

Done!

CHANCES OF COMPLETION BY THE END OF YEAR: 99%