Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013: What I Accomplished

For the last few years I've set goals for myself that I've published here on my blog. It's been a good way of tracking my own achievements and thinking about where I want to go in the coming year. This past year was no different. Last January I wrote out ten goals for 2013, and today I've evaluating my progress on those goals.

2013 has been a pretty amazing year. It was my first full year living in New York City, which has been fantastic. The year provided some great surprises and personal accomplishments that I didn't see coming last January.

Here's how I did on the ten goals I set one year ago: 

Goal 1: My first goal for 2013 was to read 50 books. I always challenge myself to read more, but I'd never set a number. I tracked my goal through Good Reads, and I'm proud to say I met and exceeded it. If I can get through the book I'm currently reading, I will have read 63 books in 2013. I'll be posting the complete list of books here on my blog on the last day of the year.

Goal 2: I wanted to write three non-fiction essays this year. I also met and exceeded this goal. I had my first creative non-fiction memoir piece published in The Rumpus in July. I also wrote a piece for a friend's blog on academic fashion, and I began writing pieces for a pop culture online magazine called Hidden Track. I've also been working on a few other memoir essays that will hopefully see the light of day in 2014.

Goal 3: Do more poetry readings. And I did. I've done more poetry readings in the last year than any other year of my life (and maybe all the years combined). Living in New York has provided a lot more opportunities to read and share my work. Being a finalist for the Thom Gunn Poetry Award and winning the Lambda Literary Award also helped. My proudest reading experience was getting to read in Bryant Park as part of their summer reading series.

Goal 4: For the last few years, I've made it a goal to be happier in my career and to find a job I truly enjoy. This has proven to be my biggest challenge in life and continues to be a struggle. I've spent the last year adjuncting for a career college. I actually really enjoy my job and where I teach, but I've also learned the struggles of adjuncting. The amount of time, education, and effort required to teach college should result in getting paid more than minimum wage (if that). I have no job security or paid time off or benefits. Anyone not paying attention to the adjunct situation that is taking over our higher education system needs to wake up. My job struggle continues into yet another year. I'm thankful for the job I have, but I need a bit more security and money.

Goal 5: My fifth goal was to explore New York as much as possible. I give myself a high grade on this one. Dustin and I are great at jumping into new places and doing things. New York is full of endless things to do, and we've done a lot of them. I've come to appreciate how many free events take place in New York (more than any place I've ever lived). I've loved every minute of our exploration from movies in the park to Shakespeare in the park to parades, festivals, and art events. It's been a great year of experiencing what this city has to offer.

Goal 6: Blog more. Okay, this didn't really happen (probably because of the other goals listed above and below).

Goal 7: I often post a money goal and this year was no different. I wanted to continue to work on paying off my debt, and as the year closes, Dustin and I have made some good money decisions to help make this possible.

Goal 8: Make new friends and keep in touch with old friends. The hardest part of moving to New York was leaving behind a great group of friends. I miss very little about Florida, but I do miss my friends. Thanks to Facebook, keeping in touch is easier. In September, Dustin and I got married and were absolutely thrilled to have four of our good friends from Florida fly up to New York for it. Distance makes friendships hard, but when you care about people, you can make it work.

As for new friends in New York, it's slowly happening. I'm not someone who becomes close friends with lots and lots of people. I know lots of people, but I'm a bit more guarded about who I make a lot of time for in my life. I'm also a good judge of character, so if I don't see us being really close, I don't make a huge effort (this is why people sometimes perceive me as rude). I feel more settled into New York now, and I look forward to bonding with more people in the coming year.

Goal 9: This goal was to work on my new poetry project. I started off the year doing a lot of research on a new project and doing some of the writing. I took a break from the project to finish my second book manuscript, which took more time than I thought. My second book, A History of the Unmarried, will be coming out in September of 2014. At the beginning of the year, I thought the book was close to finished, but it kept changing and growing. This did pull away from my newer project. In 2014, I hope to finish it up. It will probably turn into a chapbook length work.

Goal 10: Volunteer. To be honest, I forgot about this goal, so I didn't really do much volunteering this year, but it's something I'll keep in mind in the new year.

As you can see, most of these goals I met and some I went even further with. I'm proud of the year I had, and I'm truly excited to see what 2014 will bring. My thirties have been pretty great so far. I'll be posting my goals for the new year soon.

-Stephen (Accomplished) 

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