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Uploaded:2019-01-01
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In which John outlines his strategies for making SMA goals and mispronounces the word twitter while sharing some ambitions for 2019.
The Anthropocene Reviewed: https://www.wnycstudios.org/shows/anthropocene-reviewed

Life's Library: http://www.lifeslibrarybookclub.com/

Happy New Year, nerdfighteria. Today is the 12th anniversary of the founding of this YouTube channel, and I am very grateful to all of you and to my brother for the conversation we've been able to have the last twelve years. Here's to the 13th....

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Listen to The Anthropocene Reviewed at http://www.theanthropocenereviewed.org
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Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday. Happy 2019! Did you know that a couple weeks ago the United States Congress passed a resolution reaffirming the strong commitment of the United States to the countries and territories of the Pacific Islands region? It did! I know congress often gets flack for its inability to, like, do stuff. To cite one particularly egregious example, much of the United States Federal Government is not currently functioning because Congress can't pass a bill to fund it. 

But Congress is actually pretty good at resolutions, at least ones that don't require you to do anything. 

Which is my issue with New Year's resolutions. They never last for me because they're more like dreams than goals, you know? Like for instance this year I would like to spend more time with my family, which is a nice resolution and seems doable, but the problem is that it will necessarily require me to do less of other things. And that will disappoint people who are involved in or benefit from those other things. And so I have to be ready to disappoint those people; I have to be ready to make a trade-off.

In my experience, life is a series of trade-offs and compromises, and if you don't make them consciously, you end up having to make them in a panic. Or else you deny that such compromises are necessary until your system, whether that be a human body or a federal government just kind of shuts down. 

So with all that in mind, I don't make New Year's resolutions, instead, every year, I write a letter to myself looking back at the year that was and ahead at the year to come and I write about the trade-offs I would like to make and the changes I'd like to make. In doing this, I try to make so called "S.M.A.R.T. Goals," which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, roll tide. Sorry no that's not it; that's the Alabama in me coming out. It's specific, measurable, attainable, Rob Thomas. No, whatever, I make SMA goals.

Like last year, for instance, I set myself a goal of making ten episodes of a new podcast called the Anthropocene Reviewed. Which I did! I actually made eleven and it has been great. It's been much more work than I imagined, as things tend to be, but also more fun and Nadim Silverman at WNYC made this amazing illustration for the new episode. And in general, it has been good to kind of, like, force my brain into quiet contemplation amid, like, the loudness everywhere. 

On the other hand, I also set myself goals I didn't achieve. Like, I wanted to make a cooking history video series with Sarah, and that did not happen because we didn't make time for it. 

This year is going to be a little bit different because most of my goals involve doing less. Like as I talked about in a previous video, I have a goal to post zero times to Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, and Facebook. That should be a pretty easy goal and yet I am very worried about my ability to actually do it. Also I want to travel for work less. I want to spend fewer than twenty nights away from my kids this year. That will also be tough because a lot is happening outside of Indianapolis this year, like the Looking for Alaska Hulu series will probably film this year as will a movie adaptation of Let it Snow, a book Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle, and I wrote. And there is the possibility of a Turtles All the Way Down movie and I want to be present for all of that stuff, but for me , I think parenthood is not just about quality time, it is also about quantity time and so I have to make trade-offs. 

There are some things I want to do more of. I want to read at least two books per month and be a productive member of the Life's Library book club community, which by the way is going great. If you are or want to be part of Life's Library, go to lifeslibrarybookclub.com it's so wonderful. And in addition to writing another eleven episodes of The Anthropocene Reviewed, I want to edit and host 46 episodes of a new Crash Course History series about Europe. But my biggest professional goal and the one I'm most hesitant to acknowledge publicly because I have a history of failing to meet my writing goals is that I'd like to write five thousand words a month of a new novel. I won't be finished by the end of the year, but I'll be started. 

So those are my SMA-ish goals for 2019. I wonder what your goals are for the new year. You don't have to share them here, of course, although you're welcome to, but I really do encourage you to write them down and keep track of them. I can't do much to prevent the government from shutting down, but I do want to do whatever I can to prevent myself from shutting down. Hank, I'll see you on Friday.