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29 posts categorized "New Year's Resolutions"

April 01, 2012

Resolution update: March 2012

A mixed bag this month. Outstanding progress on some fronts and pathetic results on others.

Not sure how to feel about it.

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1. Don’t die.

Unless I am currently starring in a sequel to The Sixth Sense, I am still holding strong.

2. Lose ten pounds.

I lost two-tenths of a pound in March. Not quite what I was hoping, but at least the needle is moving in the right direction.

3. Do at least 100 push-ups and 100 sit-ups five days a day.  Also complete at least two two-minute planks five days per week.

Done. I’ve started doubling up on my sets as well, doing one set in the morning and one set in the evening on occasion.

4. Practice the flute for at least an hour a week.

I did not play the flute in March, but that is because last month’s accidental  drop to the floor broke the damn thing, and now it must be repaired.

But at least I have an excuse this time for not playing all month.

5. Complete my fifth novel before the Ides of March the birth of my next child.

The deadline has officially been missed. I did, however, send a partial manuscript to my agent and await her response. I have reset the goal for completion to June 1, the date of my wife’s scheduled c-section.

6. Complete my sixth novel.

Though I am not currently working on my sixth novel yet, I have about 12,000 words already written.

7. Sell one children’s book to a publisher.

My writing group convinced me that my manuscript still needs work, and I grudgingly agreed. Work continues on three separate manuscripts. It’s like a race to see who gets finished first.  

8. Complete the book proposal for my non-fiction, photographic  collaborative project.

This project will be tackled during the summer.

9. Complete three chapters of my memoir.

This project continues to take a backseat until the novel is finished, but I have added a subtitle to the main title that I came up with last month. Also, I was asked by several people at my publisher (publicists, marketing folk, salespeople, etc.) if I have ever considered writing a memoir, so perhaps this idea isn’t as ludicrous an idea as I first thought. 

10. Complete at least twelve blog posts on my brother and sister blog.

My sister promised me posts on three separate occasions in March but did not follow through on any of them. I will continue to pester and plead. Last month I added guilt to my repertoire, and while it failed to achieve results, repeated use of it may prove effective. 

11. Become certified to teach high school English by completing two required classes.

Elysha continues to search for a college that is offering the two courses that I need to complete in order to become certified. I may be looking to complete these classes online. 

12. Publish at least one Op-Ed in a newspaper.

I have two pieces currently in the pipeline with hopes of both finding their way into print.

13. Attend at least five Moth events with the intention of telling a story.

On March 7th I attended my first StorySlam of 2012 in Brooklyn and was fortunate enough to win. Just having the chance to take the stage was extremely lucky considering there were 32 names in the hat and only 10 are drawn. Winning means I will have the chance to compete in the next GrandSlam championship, which will be held sometime this summer.

In two weeks, I will be attending another StorySlam in Manhattan with hopes of taking the stage and telling a story on the topic of ARMOR.

I’m excited about the story I have to tell. I wish my mother was still alive to hear it.

14. Complete the necessary revisions of our rock opera (The Clowns) so that it can be staged as a full production in the fall.

Great news! A local playhouse has committed to workshopping and producing The Clowns. I couldn’t be more thrilled.

The bad news, at least in terms of my goal, is that we will have to wait until the spring of 2013 for this to happen. Considering the amount of work that must be done on the script first, we are more than willing to wait. As a result, we will no longer be looking for a production date for the fall.

Goal completed? I’m not sure. Getting a playhouse to commit to a production is not an easy feat, but the production will not take place within my targeted time frame.

What do you think? 

15. Rid Elysha and myself of all education debt before the end of the year.

Incremental progress has been made on this front in March. 

16. Give yoga an honest try.

I have signed up for yoga classes being taught after school by a colleague who also happens to be a yoga instructor. I still await the first class. 

17. Meditate for at least five minutes every day.

I have mediated for five minutes a day for 25 of the 31 days of March. I have yet to be able to truly clear my mind, but I will continue to try. I understand that this is a learning process and will continue to make an honest and sincere attempt.

18. Agree to try at least one new dish per month, even if it contains ingredients that I wouldn’t normally consider palatable.

In March, I tried French onion soup for the first time and liked (not loved) it.

19. Conduct the ninth No-Longer-Annual A-Mattzing Race in 2012.

My failure to complete my manuscript by March 15 means that I will have to schedule the race for the fall. 

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

Done!

March 03, 2012

Resolution update: February 2012

In an effort to hold myself accountable to my yearly goals, I post the monthly progress made at the end of each month. 

Here are the results for February.  Still not impressive.

1. Don’t die.

Still good.

2. Lose ten pounds.

As of this morning, I am back to even after my January swoon. Ten pounds to go.

3. Do at least 100 push-ups and 100 sit-ups five days a day.  Also complete at least two two-minute planks five days per week.

Done. Actually skipped a couple of my days off by mistake.  

4. Practice the flute for at least an hour a week.

I picked up my flute once in the month of February but only because it was inadvertently knocked off the shelf. I never actually produced a flute-like sound. 

5. Complete my fifth novel before the Ides of March.

Progress continues, though the deadline is looking less certain.

6. Complete my sixth novel.

Though I am not currently working on my sixth novel, I have about 12,000 words already written.

7. Sell one children’s book to a publisher.

I meet with my writing group on Monday. Barring any major concerns on their part, I will be resubmitting the first of these children’s books to my agent. 

8. Complete the book proposal for my non-fiction, photographic  collaborative project.

This project will be tackled during the summer.

9. Complete three chapters of my memoir.

This project continues to take a backseat until the novel is finished, but I came up with a title that my wife likes a lot.

10. Complete at least twelve blog posts on my brother and sister blog.

Still no posts in February. I’m not entirely sure that my sister’s computer is fully functional (she has dodged my last two inquiries), but in all likelihood it is working fine now. My sister tends to write in spurts, so the goal of twelve posts is certainly doable, but a regular posting schedule is much better for any blog. I will continue to hassle her this month.

Our brother-sister blog actually led (at least in part) to my unexpected reunion with my previously presumed-dead brother, so writing it has contributed far more to my life than I ever expected.  

11. Become certified to teach high school English by completing two required classes.

Elysha continues to search for a college that is offering the two courses that I need to complete in order to become certified.

Just finding classes that meet the requirements has been a challenge. 

12. Publish at least one Op-Ed in a newspaper.

I submitted one piece to my editor in February and have a list of about a dozen other potential ideas that I will hope to write as part of the promotion for my new book.

13. Attend at least five Moth events with the intention of telling a story.

I will be attending my first Moth event next week in Brooklyn. The theme is Theft. Regrettably, I have many stories from which to choose.

14. Complete the necessary revisions of our rock opera (The Clowns) so that it can be staged as a full production in the fall.

My partner continues to work on securing a commitment from a local playhouse (he sent a terse text today, in fact), and once we have a deadline and my novel is complete, work on this project will re-commence. 

15. Rid Elysha and myself of all education debt before the end of the year.

Incremental progress has been made on this front in February. 

16. Give yoga an honest try.

I have signed up for yoga classes being taught after school by a colleague who also happens to be a yoga instructor. I await the first class.  

17. Meditate for at least five minutes every day.

I have mediated for five minutes a day for the last eight days, or more accurately, I have tried to meditate. I have yet to be able to truly clear my mind. I have mediated with and without the aid of music, and neither method has produced meaningful results. I have been told that this will take time. 

18. Agree to try at least one new dish per month, even if it contains ingredients that I wouldn’t normally consider palatable.

In February, I tried (and liked) rice with lentils.

19. Conduct the ninth No-Longer-Annual A-Mattzing Race in 2012.

No date for the next race has been set, but I would like to target early May if possible. If this is the case, I must set the date soon. 

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

I am two days late posting. I blame the launch of my new book in the UK and Australia. It has made for a very busy 48 hours.

February 04, 2012

Resolution update: January 2012

In an effort to hold myself accountable to my yearly goals, I post the monthly progress made at the end of each month.  

Here are the results for January.  They are not impressive. 

1. Don’t die.

So far, so good.

2. Lose ten pounds.

I’m off to a great start in 2012.  In the month of January, I managed to add three pounds.  Now I have to lose thirteen pounds. 

3. Do at least 100 push-ups and 100 sit-ups five days a day.  Also complete at least two two-minute planks five days per week.

Done. The decision to reduce this goal from seven days a week to five has made a big difference.  Those two rest days make the workout days much more palatable, and there is considerably less exercising taking place after midnight. 

4. Practice the flute for at least an hour a week.

I failed to accomplish this goal in 2011 and little has changed in 2012.

5. Complete my fifth novel before the Ides of March.

Progress continues. The deadline is still well within reach. 

6. Complete my sixth novel.

Though I am not currently working on my sixth novel, I have about 12,000 words written already during a period of uncertainty over the summer.  

So that’s a start.

7. Sell one children’s book to a publisher.

I have three children’s books in various stages of revision.  I met with my writing group last week and received some solid feedback.  My focus remains on my adult novel at the moment, however, so this goal will have to wait a bit.

8. Complete the book proposal for my non-fiction, photographic  collaborative project.

This project will be tackled during the summer. 

9. Complete three chapters of my memoir.

This project is taking a backseat to my novel. 

10. Complete at least twelve blog posts on my brother and sister blog.

Computer problems on my sister’s end prevented anything from being posted in January.  Hopefully these problems will be rectified in February. 

11. Become certified to teach high school English by completing two required classes.

Elysha is currently working on finding a college that is offering the two courses that I need to complete in order to become certified. 

Oddly enough, completion of the courses seems to be the least of my problems.  The challenge appears to be in finding a school where they are being offered at a time when I can attend.

This has been frustrating to say the least. 

12. Publish at least one Op-Ed in a newspaper.

Nothing done on this goal as of yet, but it is likely that I will be publishing pieces as part of the promotion for my new book.  I don’t expect the completion of this goal to be a problem. 

13. Attend at least five Moth events with the intention of telling a story.

I told a story earlier this week at a Story Collider event at the 92nd Street Y in Tribeca.  The Story Collider is a live story telling organization in New York City that focuses on stories with a connection to science.  Unlike The Moth, it is a non-competitive event, but Moth regulars have also told stories for The Story Collider, and Moth superstar Erin Barker is a Story Collider producer. 

I don’t think I will count this event toward my goal of five Moth events in 2012 unless I appear to be coming up short at the end of the year.

The next Moth StorySLAM that I plan to attend takes place on Monday, March 5th in Brooklyn.    

14. Complete the necessary revisions of our rock opera (The Clowns) so that it can be staged as a full production in the fall.

My partner continues to work on securing a commitment from a local playhouse, and once we have a deadline and my novel is complete, work on this progress will commence.  

15. Rid Elysha and myself of all education debt before the end of the year.

Incremental progress has been made on this front in January.  

16. Give yoga an honest try.

I have signed up for yoga classes being taught after school by a colleague who also happens to be a yoga instructor. I await the first class.   

17. Meditate for at least five minutes every day.

I have done a great deal of reading on this subject and feel like I probably know enough to at least begin the process.  I plan on starting my meditating on my birthday (February 15).

18. Agree to try at least one new dish per month, even if it contains ingredients that I wouldn’t normally consider palatable.

On New Year’s Even, I tasted and liked the cauliflower potatoes and butternut squash risotto served at our friend’s wedding.

I’m not sure if I ate these foods before or after midnight, but it counts for January. 

19. Conduct the ninth No-Longer-Annual A-Mattzing Race in 2012.

No date for the next race has been set, but I would like to target early May if possible/ 

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

I am four days late posting, but a series of events caused me to take a two day hiatus from my blog.  I will explain the reasons in a subsequent post, but suffice it to say the excuses are reasonable.

January 03, 2012

Resolutions that didn’t make the list in 2012

In deciding upon this year’s New Year’s resolution, several were discarded for a variety of reasons.  Among them were the following:

Lower my total cholesterol to under 200.

My current total cholesterol is 203, which is 3 points higher than the desirable level.  My LDL (the bad cholesterol) is 113, which places me in the “near ideal” range, and my HDL (the good cholesterol) is 73, which is outstanding.  Overall I lowered my total cholesterol by about 12 points in 2011 and would like to bring my total cholesterol and LDL levels into the ideal range in 2012.

I did not make this a New Year’s resolution, however, because I have no simple way to measure my progress.  I will have another physical with my doctor at the end of 2012, at which time my cholesterol will be measured again, but I will be flying blind during the twelve months between physicals, thus making it impossible to track my progress. 

I intend on lowering my cholesterol in 2012, but it did not qualify as a formal resolution.

Write and perform a 5-10 minute standup comedy set in 2012.

I would like to attempt standup comedy someday, but with the amount of writing already on the docket in 2012 (too much in my wife’s estimation, especially with the arrival of Baby #2 in June), in addition to the storytelling that I intend on doing via The Moth and other unexpected opportunities, I thought that this goal would only hinder me from completing others.

Perhaps 2013 will be the year of comedy.

Launch a proposed business venture with a close friend.

A friend and I have a possible business idea on the drawing board that we hope to launch in 2012, but there is great uncertainty in terms of the viability of the business, so it was not a resolution to which I was willing to formally commit in 2012.  I suspect that if the business proves to be viable, it will launch this year, but it’s equally likely that we will deem the opportunity not worth our effort and time. 

Read a specific number of books in 2012.

Several people suggested this resolution to me.  Two years ago I established the goal of reading a dozen books published within the calendar year (and achieved the goal fairly easily), but that goal was set in order to force me to read more current material.

My attitude towards overall reading has always remained the same:

Read as often as possible in 2012.  The number of books doesn’t matter if I am reading as much as I can.  Therefore no resolution is needed.

Spend X amount of time with Clara and Baby #2.

Several people suggested resolutions pertaining to time spent with Clara or equity of time and attention in terms of the coming baby.  My attitude towards my daughter (and my future child) is similar to my attitude in regards to reading:

Spend as much time as possible with my daughter, and starting in June, with both children. Setting a goal would imply that I am failing to spend enough quality time with Clara already, and this simply is not the case.

Therefore no resolution is required. 

In terms of resolutions from the previous year, the following were eliminated from the list in 2012:

Drink at least four glasses of water per day.

I accomplished this goal in 2011, and while I will likely continue to drink more water than in previous years as a result of this resolution, the medical benefits of drinking four (or in some cases, eight)  glasses of water were proven to be nonexistent.

Naturally, that research was not released until after I had begun filling up on water every day.    

Make one mortgage payment from poker profits.

With the amount of writing that I expect to do in 2012, combined with the arrival of Baby #2, I do not anticipate having the time required to attempt this resolution again.

One caveat:  Online gambling, including poker, was legalized in the United States at the end of 2011. If this opens the door to more legitimate online poker websites with cleaner, faster interfaces and more trustworthy business models, I may be able to take on this goal once again.  

Replace the twelve ancient windows on the first and second floor of the house with more energy efficient ones.

I failed to achieve this goal in 2011, and while I would still like to see this work done, Elysha and I may move in a year or two, making the investment significantly less important. 

Elysha will also be staying home from work for the majority of 2012, which will undoubtedly make money tight.  This is therefore no longer the priority that it once was.   

January 02, 2012

New Year’s Resolutions 2012

The following are my New Year’s resolutions for 2012.  I reserve the right, as always, to add or revise this list for one week following posting.

Suggestions are still welcome.   

1. Don’t die.

This was suggested to me by a reader, and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself. 

It’s my most important resolution. 

2. Lose ten pounds.

Losing ten pounds will bring me down to 170 pounds, which is well under my high school track and field weight. But my doctor informs me that my ideal weight is 170 pounds.

I think she’s crazy. 

Nevertheless, I agreed to set a goal of 175 pounds in 2012. 

3. Do at least 100 push-ups and 100 sit-ups five days a day.  Also complete at least two two-minute planks five days per week.

This goal is similar to one I successfully accomplished in 2011.  Instead of completing these exercises daily, I’ve built in two recovery days this year and added the plank, an exercise that I once did frequently when I worked with a trainer.   

4. Practice the flute for at least an hour a week.

This is a goal that I failed to complete in 2011. 

5. Complete my fifth novel before the Ides of March.

My fifth novel, THE PERFECT COMEBACK OF CAROLINE JACOBS, is almost half finished.  I’ve given myself 75 days to complete it. 

6. Complete my sixth novel. 

Relying heavily on my summer vacation, I intend on completing my sixth novel by the end of 2012. 

7. Sell one children’s book to a publisher. 

I have three children’s books in various stages of revision.  My goal is to sell at least one of them to a publisher in 2012.        

8. Complete the book proposal for my non-fiction, photographic  collaborative project.

Completion of this goal will require coordination between me and my partner, which did not happen in 2011. 

9. Complete three chapters of my memoir.

According to my outline, my memoir will likely be about twelve chapters long.  My goal is to complete one-fourth of the memoir in 2012.

10. Complete at least twelve blog posts on my brother and sister blog.

While prodding is still required, my sister has become fairly reliable in terms of writing for this blog.  One entry per month is a reasonable goal, though ideally I would to post more often than this.  

11. Become certified to teach high school English by completing two required classes. 

With the certification test passed, I need only to complete two classes in order to become certified to teach English in grades 6-12.  While I am not planning on moving away from the elementary classroom, I like to keep my options open.  I will begin my fourteenth year of teaching elementary school in 2012, and there may come a point when I desire a change.  I want to be prepared for that moment. 

12. Publish at least one Op-Ed in a newspaper.

My hope is that I will have more opportunities to accomplish this goal with the publication of my next novel in August or September of this year. 

13. Attend at least five Moth events with the intention of telling a story.

I would attend every Moth event if it wasn’t so difficult to drive into the city on a weeknight.  Five is a reasonable number, though there is no guarantee that I will be able to tell a story every time.  There are typically about fifteen names in the hat, and ten are randomly selected to tell a story.  But I will give myself at least five chances in 2012.  

14. Complete the necessary revisions of our rock opera (The Clowns) so that it can be staged as a full production in the fall.

Revisions are required in order to prepare the script for what we hope will be a full production in the fall. 

15. Rid Elysha and myself of all education debt before the end of the year.

In 2011, we eliminated more than half of our sizable education debt.  In 2012 I would like the remainder of that debt to be eliminated.   

16. Give yoga an honest try.

I have been critical for yoga for years but have never actually attempted yoga (a source of consternation for my yoga-loving friends).  I intend on correcting this in 2012 by participating in at least half a dozen yoga classes in order to gain a better understanding of it. 

17. Meditate for at least five minutes every day.

This goal was recommended by a handful of readers, so I thought that it was worth investing five minutes a day in order to see if meditation could make a difference in my life.  This will require learning how to meditate, so it may be a month or so before I actually begin meditating. 

18. Agree to try at least one new dish per month, even if it contains ingredients that I wouldn’t normally consider palatable.

My wife would like an opportunity to prepare foods for me, and vegetables in particular, in ways that I might find more palatable.  I agreed.

To start off the New Year right, I tasted and liked the cauliflower potatoes and butternut squash risotto that was served at our friend’s wedding on New Year’s Eve, even though I do not like cauliflower and squash in their unadulterated forms.

19. Conduct the ninth No-Longer-Annual A-Mattzing Race in 2012.

If you’re not sure what an A-Mattzing Race is (and are curious), I’ll write a blog post later this week that will describe the event.  I was surprised to discover that I have never written about them before on this blog.

More than three years have passed since the last A-Mattzing Race (the last race took place in September 2008), and while all good things must come to an end, I am not ready to allow this part of my life to come to a close yet.  

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

December 31, 2011

Resolution update: 2011 in review

The following is the December update and end-of-year review of my 2011 New Year’s resolutions. 

I am currently in the process of deciding upon my 2012 goals and will post them later in the day.

Of my twenty-one New Years resolutions established at the beginning of 2011, fifteen were successfully completed.  One was partially completed, and five were not.    

Of the goals achieved, I am most proud of my 23 pound weight loss (bringing my total weight loss to to 54 pounds over a period of two years), my storytelling success at The Moth, and the staged reading of my rock opera, The Clowns.  I thought that each of these goals would be especially difficult to accomplish in 2011, so their completion was very satisfying to me. 

Of the goals I failed to complete in 2011, the failure to complete my fifth novel looms large as I work hard to finish.  While there were mitigating factors that interfered with my ability to finish the book (detailed below), it should still be done by now.  I have too many other books that I am excited about writing to fail to complete a book in 2011.    

I also wish that I had done better with my goal of re-learning the flute.  With just an hour each week, I could have ended 2011 playing the flute again at a fairly proficient level.  This was a doable goal that I simply failed to take seriously.

The success or failure of each individual resolution is as follows: 

1.  Lose 23 pounds, bringing me down to my high school track and field weight.

Done.  My weight at my physical on Thursday was 184.2 pounds.  It took all year, but mission finally accomplished.  

2.  Do at least 50 100 200 push-ups and 50 100 sit-ups a day.

Done. I missed six days of exercise in December due to pneumonia, but other than days missed due to illness throughout the year, I was successful in achieving this goal in 2011.  In fact, I raised the initial goal of 50 push-ups and 50 sit-ups to 200 and 100 respectively.   

3.  Practice the flute for at least an hour a week.

Not completed.  I did not practice in December, and for the year, I practiced for a total of six hours. This goal was far from accomplished. 

4.  Find a wine that I can drink every night or so.

Done.  Chianti is now my wine of choice. 

5.  Complete my fifth novel.

Not completed.  This goal was not accomplished for several reasons. 

There have been a variety of unexpected demands placed upon me with the publishing of my next novel, and each of these required surprisingly large chunks of my time. 

I also switched novels midstream, eventually returning to the original concept after three months of indecision.  I wrote enough words in 2011 to constitute at least one novel, but unfortunately those words are spread between three incomplete manuscripts. 

6.  Complete and submit one children’s book to my agent.

Done. Revisions of both of my stories continue, and a new story is underway.  I hope to have at least one of these books accepted for publication in 2012, and I plan on attending a children’s literature and publishing conference next April. 

I’d like to take my career in children’s literature much more seriously in 2012.

7.  Complete the book proposal for the non-fiction collaborative project that I began last year.

Not completed.  My partner and I simply did not connect in 2011.  Meetings were scheduled, rescheduled and ultimately cancelled.  We are both extremely busy people who live in different states, but I am still disappointed that this project did not get off the ground in 2011.    

8.  Complete an outline for my memoir

Done. A more targeted approach to the writing of this memoir will begin in 2012.

9.  Convince my sister to write on http://107federalstreet.blogspot.comat least once a week and do the same myself.

Done. Posts continue to hit the blog on a fairly regular basis.    

10.  Drink at least four glasses of water every day.

Done.

11.  Complete at least one of the three classes required for me to teach English on the high school level.

Done.  As stated last month, I originally needed to complete three classes in order to receive my certification, but after jumping through some administrative hoops and providing the state with documentation, I only need to complete two classes now.  Therefore, resolution accomplished.

I also passed my English certification test with flying colors, scoring 191 out of a possible 200 points despite not studying for the test.

Several people told me that it was foolish to take this test without studying, making this one of my most satisfying achievements in 2011.

Spite makes everything better. 

I hope to be certified to teach high school English by the end of 2012. 

12.  Try liver.

Done. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either.

13.  Publish an Op-Ed in a national newspaper.

Done.  Unexpectedly.  In a manner of speaking)  In December, I wrote a blog post on suggested holiday gifts for teachers, and that post was picked up by a writer at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and quoted heavily in the paper and on their website, with links back to my post.

I wasn’t planned, but my words managed to find their way into a newspaper after all.  I also have a piece currently on submission to the Hartford Courant and await word on the possibility of its publication.   

14.  Participate in The Moth as a storyteller, at a live show or on their radio broadcast.

Done. In November, I told a story at my second StorySlam and my third Moth event of the year. I attended a fourth Moth StorySlam last week, but unfortunately my name was not drawn from the hat, so I was unable to tell my story.

Still, three opportunities to tell a story and one victory was an enormous accomplishment for me in 2011 and has led to unexpected opportunities in 2012.  The Moth has become an important part of my life, and I hope that it remains so for a long, long time.     

15. See our rock opera (The Clowns) performed on stage as a full production or in a dramatic reading format.

Done.  Since the reading in October, we have heard from two local theaters that may be interested in a full production of the show, and things look serious for a fall performance.

16.  Organize my basement.

Done.  Thanks to the breakdown of my car yesterday, I finished this job.  Items still need to be thrown away, but even the throw-away piles are organized now.    

17.  Land at least one paying client for my fledgling life coach or professional best man business.

Done.  Working with my client has been a thrill, and I have learned a great deal from the process as well.  Helping someone to achieve his goals demands a great deal of introspection, and this has been beneficial to me as well.

It also appears that I will be taking on my second paying client in 2012.

18. Rid Elysha and myself of all education debt before the end of the year.

Partially completed.  We eliminated well over half of our education debt in 2011.  While we failed to pay off all of our student loans, we made significant progress.

19. Replace the twelve ancient windows on the first and second floor of the house with more energy efficient ones.

Not completed.  The funding for this never became available. 

20. Make one mortgage payment from poker profits.

I end the year with 28% of a mortgage payment in earnings, a far cry from my goal.  A lack of time to play poker contributed heavily to this failure. 

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

Done.

December 28, 2011

Outsourcing my New Year’s resolutions: Would you like to play a role?

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably know that I take my goal setting and New Year’s resolutions very seriously.  At the end of every month I post the progress of each of my New Year’s resolutions, and I am tough on myself when I fail to achieve my goals. 

I’d begun the process of deciding upon my 2012 goals when I came upon a piece in the Wall Street Journal on New Year’s resolutions that suggests that outsourcing your resolutions may improve your ability to achieve them.

Most of us could use help achieving our goals. Who better to tell us how to improve ourselves than someone who knows us well—perhaps better than we know ourselves—and even may be all too happy to offer up some tough love? And if we promise to check in regularly with this person to discuss our progress, we'll probably do a much better job of keeping our resolutions.

"We all have blind spots, but the people we are intimate with can see through them," says David Palmiter, a couples therapist and professor of psychology at Marywood University, in Scranton, Pa. A loved one can encourage us to meet our goals and hold us accountable when we slip, he says.

I’ve always asked a select group of friends to suggest goals for my upcoming year, but after reading this piece, I thought it might be a good idea to open up my goal selection process to anyone who might want to participate. 

So if you’d like to suggest a goal for me in 2012, I would love to hear your ideas.  Please note that this does not guarantee that I will adopt every suggested goal, but I will seriously consider all that are submitted. 

Also note that all goals must be empirically measurable, so a goal like “Be less of a jerk-face” could not be included in my list of resolutions because there is no way for me to determine if the goal was met.

But you’re welcome to tell me to stop being a jerk-face at any time if you’d like.

Not need to wait until the end of the year to make that request.  

December 01, 2011

Resolution update: November 2011

With just one month left to complete my New Year’s resolutions, I have started crossing off those items that are complete.

The following is my progress through November.

1.  Lose 23 pounds, bringing me down to my high school track and field weight.

Eight-tenths of a pound away as of this morning. 

Stupid Thanksgiving.  And the day after Thanksgiving.  And the day after the day after Thanksgiving… 

2.  Do at least 50 100 200 push-ups and 50 100 sit-ups a day.

I did not miss a day in November.

3.  Practice the flute for at least an hour a week.

I practiced for a little more than an hour in November.  Again, a significant improvement over the previous nine months, but not even close to my goal.

4.  Find a wine that I can drink every night or so.

Success!  While I don’t adore it, I have found a wine that is moderately palatable.  Chianti is now my win of choice.  

5.  Complete my fifth novel.

Not looking good.  I have a feeling that I’ll be resetting this goal to somewhere around my birthday.

Even after writing four of them, books are hard.     

6.  Complete and submit one children’s book to my agent.

Still done. Revisions of both of my stories continue, and a new story is still underway.  I’m also participating in a children’s literature workshop in December and making plans to attend a children’s literature and publishing conference next April.  

By the end of the year, I should have three children’s books in various states of revision, with at least one back in the hands of an agent.        

7.  Complete the book proposal for the non-fiction collaborative project that I began last year.

Possible but unlikely.  This was a project that was supposed to be completed over the summer, but my partner and I failed to connect.  It will likely reappear on next year’s list of resolutions. 

8.  Complete an outline for my memoir

Done. The writing of the memoir continues. 

9.  Convince my sister to write on http://107federalstreet.blogspot.comat least once a week and do the same myself.

Still done!  Writing continues! 

10.  Drink at least four glasses of water every day.

Done.

11.  Complete at least one of the three classes required for me to teach English on the high school level.

As I stated last month, I originally needed to complete three classes in order to receive my certification, but after jumping through some administrative hoops and providing the state with some documentation, I only need two classes now.  Therefore, resolution accomplished.

I also await the results of my English certification test.  I think I probably passed despite not studying.  If not, I know the one area that I will need to review. 

12.  Try liver.

Done!  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. 

13.  Publish an Op-Ed in a national newspaper.

I have submitted a piece to the Hartford Courant and have another in the works.  With a month to go, this is looking unlikely unless I find the write editor. 

14.  Participate in The Moth as a storyteller, at a live show or on their radio broadcast.

On Monday, I told a story at my second StorySlam and my third Moth event of the year.  I plan on attending one more StorySlam on December 26.  With luck, my name will be drawn from the hat and I will have one more chance to perform in 2011.

15. See our rock opera (The Clowns) performed on stage as a full production or in a dramatic reading format.

Done!  Since the reading last month, we have heard from two local theaters that may be interested in a full production of the show. 

16.  Organize my basement.

Almost done.  I have confidence that work will be completed by the end of the year. 

17.  Land at least one paying client for my fledgling life coach or professional best man business.

Done!

18. Rid Elysha and myself of all education debt before the end of the year.

We have eliminated half of our education debt thus far.  While it is unlikely that all education debt will be eliminated by the end of the year, we have made significant progress in this area. 

19. Replace the twelve ancient windows on the first and second floor of the house with more energy efficient ones.

Still waiting on the funding.

20. Make one mortgage payment from poker profits.

I played quite a bit of poker in November but broke even for the month.  I remain stuck on a little less than 25% of a mortgage payment so far.

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

Done.

November 12, 2011

What do Hannibal Lecter and I have in common?

It looks like I may have found a wine that I like.

A little at least.

If so, it means another resolution is knocked off my list

It’s chianti. 

I’ve had two glasses so far. I liked the first and thought the second was palatable. 

I know nothing about chianti.  It is dry? Sweet? Cheap?

I don’t know.  

The only thing I know about chianti is that Hannibal Lecter likes to drink it with fava beans and census takers. 

Which is extra creepy considering the image my editor sent me this week:

001

November 01, 2011

Resolution update: October 2011

With just two more months to complete my New Year’s resolutions, I have started crossing off those items that are complete. 

The following is my progress through October. 

1.  Lose 23 pounds, bringing me down to my high school track and field weight.

I was two-tenths of a pound away from my goal as of this morning. 

If my gym hadn’t been closed for the last two days, I would’ve probably reached or beaten my goal already.

In an effort to avoid such problems in the future, I renewed my Bally’s membership this morning.  $64 for a year in order to have access to two different gyms within 10 minutes of my home.  This will be especially helpful in January and February when the gyms fill up with people who join for as month or two in hopes of fulfilling their own New Year’s resolutions before fading into the sunset by March. 

Bally’s is not the cleanest or most well equipped gym in the area, but it has a pool, and more importantly, it has power right now.  My gym could be without electricity for another week.   

For about $5 a month, how could I go wrong?

Stupid October snowstorm.   

2.  Do at least 50 100 200 push-ups and 50 100 sit-ups a day.

I did not miss a day in October.

3.  Practice the flute for at least an hour a week.

I practiced a total of an hour for the month of October, which is an enormous improvement over previous months but still not near my goal. 

4.  Find a wine that I can drink every night or so.

Did not drink any wine in October.   

5.  Complete my fifth novel.

I have returned to my half-finished novel after deciding (with the help of my agent) that my new idea was not working. 

It will eventually work, and I remain excited about it, but I was forcing things. The book hasn’t had the time to ferment in my mind. 

The good news is that I am suddenly much closer to finishing my fifth book.  Halfway there!  And my wife and agent like it a lot.  A positive sign.    

The bad news is that I lost a month trying out my new idea.

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), so perhaps like many hopeful novelists, I will complete my book before December.  

6.  Complete and submit one children’s book to my agent.

Still done. Revisions of both of my stories continue, and a new story underway, based upon a dream I had earlier in the month. 

By the end of the year, I should have three children’s books in various states of revision, with at least one back in the hands of an agent.         

7.  Complete the book proposal for the non-fiction collaborative project that I began last year.

My photography partner and I have ironed out our differences and are ready to move forward.  Unfortunately I am devoting most of my writing time to the new book.  But I still hope to have a proposal written before the end of the year.  Still possible but less likely.     

8.  Complete an outline for my memoir

Done. The writing of the memoir continues.  

9.  Convince my sister to write on http://107federalstreet.blogspot.comat least once a week and do the same myself.

Done!  My sister wrote four entries in the month of October and seems quite enthusiastic about the project.  In fact, she’s writing faster than I can respond. 

I couldn’t be more pleased.  

10.  Drink at least four glasses of water every day.

Done.

11.  Complete at least one of the three classes required for me to teach English on the high school level.

As I stated last month, I originally needed to complete three classes in order to receive my certification, but after jumping through some administrative hoops and providing the state with some documentation, I only need two classes now.  Therefore, resolution accomplished.

I also take my English certification test in two weeks.  I have opted not to study for this test, hoping that I remember enough from college to earn a passing grade. 

My friends think I’m crazy to attempt this difficult test without studying, but I took the LSAT a few years ago without any preparation and scored in the 89th percentile.

Maybe I’ll get lucky again.

12.  Try liver.

Nope.  But damn it, it will be done. 

13.  Publish an Op-Ed in a national newspaper.

I am submitting the piece that I have written for The Millions, an online magazine offering coverage on books, arts, and culture, this week. 

14.  Participate in The Moth as a storyteller, at a live show or on their radio broadcast.

Done.  I placed third in the Moth’s GrandSlam last month.  I also plan on participating in one or two more StorySLAMS before the end of the year. 

15. See our rock opera (The Clowns) performed on stage as a full production or in a dramatic reading format.

Our reading is scheduled for November 5 and 6.  You can read all about it and find out how to purchase tickets on the theater’s website by clicking here.

16.  Organize my basement.

Progress continues.  I am actually approaching the finish line.  I’ll likely be wrapping up work this week (we now have the week off due to massive power outages in the area) or during December break.

17.  Land at least one paying client for my fledgling life coach or professional best man business.

Done!

18. Rid Elysha and myself of all education debt before the end of the year.

We paid off one of our four student loans in October, and it looks as if we will have one or two more paid off before the end of the year. 

19. Replace the twelve ancient windows on the first and second floor of the house with more energy efficient ones.

Still waiting on the funding.

20. Make one mortgage payment from poker profits.

No poker in October (but a live game tonight!).  I remain stuck on a little less than 25% of a mortgage payment so far.

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

Done.