The short answer is I don’t know. I guess I will just call them goals. Before I lay them out in front of God and Everyone, however, let me wax inelegantly about some things.
It is hard to contemplate all that happened in the last year. It was certainly a year that had a large impact on me and my life. I guess all years do. But it just seems that this one had more than its fair share. This might be because, you know, it’s the most recent.
The last year has been one of some pretty serious transitions. I left grad school, assuming I would never finish and that I didn’t want to. I moved home to Florida from North Carolina and became a FL Real Estate Licensee. I lived on the water. I did some political and community organizing, my small part to ensure that the President was re-elected. By the day after the election, however, I realized that I was miserable in FL, for a whole host of reasons. So I decided to move to Virginia. Less than a month later I was here.
So this is where I find myself at “the turning of the years” (score one for a gratuitous Les Mis reference). In the midst of all this my “nephew” was born (a significant driver in selecting VA as my new home). So, all-in-all, a big year.
One might think that all this change was unsettling or disruptive. And maybe it was, but here is the thing: I can really claim that I am happier now than I have been in quite a while. For the first time in a very, very long time, I don’t know what the next step is, and I am totally ok with that! Well that isn’t totally true. I don’t know the details of what is next. I do, however, have a broad outline, which I will share later in this post.
One of the things that has happened this year (and that seemed insignificant at the time) is that I discovered John and Hank Green and their work centered on the Vlogbrothers Youtube channel. This channel, and the people and projects it connected me to, opened my eyes to the fact that there are many, many things that are possible beyond the most traveled, defined, well-beaten paths that society is so good at shoving us down. The internet and technology has truly opened up whole new avenues for creativity, collaboration, and productivity. One doesn’t need almost unlimited resources any more to create quality content. All one needs is drive, patience, and, most importantly, passion.
…nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’
At this point it is hard to over estimate how much that quote has been driving me in the last month or two. Because it is true. Because there are things that I love, that I get excited about, that I want to “jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-myself” over. Because this world, this universe, is just awesome. It is breathtaking. It is amazing in ways that we have yet to begin to fathom.
Over the last few years, what started out as a simple experiment in new forms of communication (Vlogbrothers) has grown into a huge ongoing series of collaborations including educational endeavors (SciShow and CrashCourse), a record company (DFTBA Records), a con (VidCon), a retelling of Pride and Prejudice using online video and social media (LizzieBennent Diaries) and ongoing philanthropic efforts that are simply, well, awesome (Project for Awesome, Foundation to Decrease World Suck, and efforts through Kiva). They are also responsible for what I consider the best new thing on the web, The Brain Scoop, a channel on YouTube dedicated to natural history and museum science.
All of these amazing things coming out of two brothers and a desire to make things that are good and that they are passionate about.
Don’t get me wrong, John and Hank Green are only part of this growing inspiration. Another is Craig Benzine, the bearded wonder behind WheezyWaiter. Or Toby Turner, who I happened to go to high school with. Also Felicia Day and all that she has been able to accomplish first with the Guild and now with Geek and Sundry. And Chris Hardwick and what he has done with Nerdist. And what Wil Wheaton has done to earn the second act of a career that he so justly deserves (if you don’t read Wil’s blog on the regular, maybe you should. In particular check out this recent post, a partial inspiration for this one.).
It’s not that I enjoy all of what these folks do (to be honest Toby can annoy me and I still don’t get why Nerdist puts up Kids in the Hall clips). But I respect it. I respect that all these people have taken things that they are super passionate about and made a career out of it. They have let that nerd “jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control” love of things drive them, and in turn are doing things they like with people they like and are enriching people’s lives. I can’t think of anything better than that.
So after almost a thousand words you may be asking yourself, “I thought that this was going to be about goals.” And it is. But it is about more than that. It is about why I am setting these goals. I wanted to let you see that I am setting these goals because I want to be creating things that I like with people that like and that will enrich other people’s lives. That I want to be able to look back, not just on this year, but on my life, and be content knowing that I did what I could to not only make the world suck less, but make it more awesome.
Over the next few days and weeks I will be breaking these goals down, sharing with you why I set them. Also, over the year ahead I will be keeping you updated on these goals, how I am doing with them, what I am doing to keep up with them. In turn, I hope that you will keep me accountable. Finally, some of these goals are a little amorphous right now. I know that may not be the best way to get things done, but the truth of the matter is with some of these things I am not sure what my goal should even be.
Like I said in the beginning: I don’t know the specifics of where I am heading, but I have the general outline. These goals are part of that outline. As the year progresses I hope to fill that outline in a little more. Onto the goals!
Carter’s 2013 Goals:
1) Read 52 books by the end of the year (for an ongoing count look to the right tool bar. I am using Goodreads to help me keep track)
2) Write at least 2000 words a day (This can be across platforms)
3) Participate in, and complete, at least one NaNoWriMo event in 2013
4) Publish to this blog at least three times a week (Preferably, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but possibly more often)
5) By December have at least one short story in the process of being published
6) By December have at least one non-fiction piece published (either online or off, but with a minimum readership to be determined later)
7) Create a video for WheezyWaiter’s origin project (Due by the end of February)
8) Begin to leverage the power of video sharing communities (like youtube) and other online tools to share my passion for history, philosophy, the humanities, and/or theology
9) Loose 40 pounds
10) By the end of the year, have a definite plan on how to finish my Masters.
These goals can be revised upwards (i.e. more blog posts, more words, more books) but not downwards. They also can be revised for clarity (i.e. if all my words are going towards one thing ) but not in a way that would lower the standard. If it looks like that I am going to fail, so be it. Failure, while not optimal, is better than cheating myself by making things too easy.
I’m not going to lie. This is a lot. And I recognize that there might be times that I fail and don’t get something done. But in order to succeed, I have to give myself permission to suck. Because I will never get to where I want to if I don’t take steps to get there (wow, that sounded really, really cheesy). Do you have any goals for 2013? If so, what are they? If you could do one thing you liked, what would it be? And why aren’t you doing it now?