Stuff gets real in 2016

Not that I haven’t been putting real effort into the work of the past 4 years, but I really believe that this will be the year where some things take off.

2015 in review

Last year saw great strides.  I added my first off-Fringe show, started the radio show, and started doing more targeted projects – from the Balloon Manor audio tour to working with a soup kitchen and a Girl Scout troop.  I built some new relationships and made progress on Noodle (my novel).

It was a rough year medically, so there were good days and bad.  Energy drains sometimes did a number on my focus.  That and the fact that I came seriously close to over-committing.  With a bunch of threads going, I need to keep on track, even when energy gets sapped.  There are things that can go more smoothly and be more productive.

2016 in focus

After thinking about last year and where I want to head, here are my focus words for the year.

  1. Balance – I want to do so much and help so many, but if I let it get out of control, no one will be happy.  I need to balance the amount and type of work that I’m doing.  I also need to make sure that I don’t neglect myself, my family, or my home in the process.  I need to find a workout that will stick, and that I can keep up, and also do more focused meditation, yoga, or something.  Balance will be key.
  2. Expertise – Develop it.  Share it.  Show it.  I know a lot about the power of story and how to use it in many situations.  I need to hone my expertise and be the expert that I am.  Look for that here on the blog, especially.
  3. Target – Focus on those who can benefit from my work.  SELL to them.  Set deadlines and goals and don’t lose sight of them.  Be intentional about networking, social, and do more targeted sharing of my work.

I’m excited about what’s already on tap in 2016:

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Looking ahead to 2015

There’s a lot of exciting things already started as the sun rises on 2015 – I’ll touch on them as we go.

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First, as I think of what 2015 will bring, I focus on my three words (a la Chris Brogan).  These really are my themes for the year.  This year, I have chosen:

  • Integrate – Storychick is about gathering and sharing stories, but I try to incorporate papercrafts also.  I love working with the paper and mixing and matching colors that have caught my eye to tell a story. Story Starters and Stages are designed to inspire storytelling.  This year, I plan to integrate craft more into the other story work that I do.  I want to make sure that the craft work is not neglected.
  • Produce – Not just production of content or making art, “produce” stands for  pulling together a variety of works.  Blogging consistently.  Keeping up on the newsletter.  Producing educational materials and programs.  Putting together more shows and opportunities to share out the stories that I gather.  Ramp up the pace of story gathering.  Gathering, creating, and shaping content for radio broadcasts.  Overall, create more wins for Storychick – more opportunities to grow and spread the message of story.
  • Publish – Blog posts.  Newsletters.  Articles in journals.  Content here on the blog.  Oh, perhaps move along on the course towards a book or two?  “Publish” lives in the realm of Seth Godin’s “launch”.  Get it out the door.  Into the world.  Where people can see and experience it.  Where it can convert people to the Storychick cause.  Publish also includes visibility related to the new non-profit projects with Loop Ministries and ROCspot.  Content needs to come out on schedule for these efforts.

Along with these 3 words, I have a few practices that I’d like to follow this year:

  • Writing – I’m starting with a commitment to 500 words a day for January.  This should get interesting, but I hope to achieve it or darn close.  I want to make writing a more regular practice so that the ideas in my head can be produced, can be published.
  • Workouts – I’ve been horrible lately.  I need to bring my body back from the 6 months in bed (and then make up for a few years of lethargy before that).  I need to make fitness a more regular practice in my life.

My goals for 2015 get into more details:

Goal – Increase the opportunities to share the stories I have gathered with the ROC community

Storychick will have a show on WAYO radio (broadcast 104.3FM and streaming online) in 2015!  This will be an awesome recurring opportunity to share ROC stories.  I’m quite excited by the opportunity!  I am also starting a partnership with Writers & Books to bring Rochester Stories to the stage more frequently than the once a year Fringe festival.  The first show there will be February 26.

Goal – Educate the community on the importance and role of story

Here’s a second chance to join Storychick in Story Collecting Basics at the Rochester Brainery in the Village Gate – January 12 at 7pm!  This class will cover what it takes to become a story gatherer and give you a chance to try it yourself!  I also will follow up on leads from the Maker Faire and Fringe Festival for youth programs in story gathering and story crafting.

Goal – Promote story in ROC

I plan to continue my efforts to make the public aware of the value of storytelling in strengthening a community.  I’ll share my TEDxRochester talk when it comes out and look for other opportunities to spread this message across media.  This includes hosting People’s State of the Union story circles for the US Department of Arts and Culture (NOT a federal institution, FYI) – more details on this soon.  This also includes infusing story in the marketing and messaging efforts for ROCspot and visibility efforts for Loop Ministries.

Goal – Plan out my book ideas

Work on the background in addition to spending time writing – the mechanics that need to be considered.  Create outlines.  Consider publication options.  Develop timelines and stick to them.

Goal – Invest time in strategy and training for myself

This is almost a practice, but I don’t want to make that too long a list.  Keep up on the blogs that are important to follow.  And the emails.  Read up on storytelling and just make sure to keep reading in general – I have a lot of “to reads” and all reading helps the brain and the story muscles.  Take advantage of webinars.  Explore other training opportunities.  Check out what the National Storytelling Network has to offer.

I’ll wrap some personal goals in, as well, to try to put some structure to what became chaos in 2014.

What do you think?  Sound like a fun year ahead?  I can’t wait!

2014 – the half-a -year

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on my year for 2014 – and that’s a good thing.  It’s been cleansing and I feel like I have a much clearer picture of what I need to do to make the pieces of the puzzle come together in 2015.

And yet, as I sit to write this, I flip from window to window, refreshing Twitter, Gmail, and Facebook to see what might be new.  I’m avoiding it and I’m not sure why.

For this year, I’m going to take a look at what went well and what did not go well.  To set the stage – my three focus words (thanks Chris Brogan) were: Growth, Packaging (as in putting a finished shine on what I produce, overall), and Visibility.

Overall, I think I did pretty well along those lines – especially considering the year was really half of what it could have been.

What went well
TEDxRochester 2014
Storychick was a lot of places in Rochester this fall:

  • TEDxRochester – Speaker #1 for the day and set the tone for everything to come!  I made a lot of great connections and showed that the little mouse did not fear a huge audience.  So excited to see where this leads.  Once I have the video, you’ll see it!  Plus, I did a ton of Superhero Backstories (one still pending) that nicely teased our speaker talks while letting them talk about their inspiration in their own voice.
  • Rochester Mini Maker Faire – A huge crowd came to see and experience all sorts of making at the Convention Center.  I exhibited my papercrafts and again made some great connections talking about bringing the concepts and stories to other audiences.
  • First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival 2014 – Another great show that got the audience excited and energized about stories in the ROC.  More connections made and such great post-show conversation, I wish I could have splintered into clones to talk more with everyone!

Storychick.wordpress.com redesigned – I put a lot of thought into how to bring the elements of my work more to the forefront on the site.  There are still a few tweaks that I want to make, but I love the way it came out – it looks a lot more professional and real than just a blog with too many categories.  I got a lot of great feedback on it, too.

ROC networking – I had some great advice from Rob Young on narrowing my focus for now to the ROC – until I get established.  This is sort of what I was doing already, because I’m here and it’s convenient and something I care about, but the new focus really kicked me into gear making the Rochester connections I need.  I put myself out there and met a lot of great new people.

New non-profit work – I started new relationships in two new volunteer spaces who needed what Storychick can offer.  Loop Ministries is a soup kitchen/ food pantry that wanted to gather and share the stories of those it serves – bringing light to the dark corners of need, showcasing the humanity of their participants, and celebrating the work being done.  ROCspot is leading a grassroots movement to bring manufacturing, jobs, education, power savings, and community spirit to ROC through the solar industry.  I’ll be telling the tale and leading the marketing and messaging efforts for the group.

Finally, I started writing – Page for page, I’d like to have done more, but I got started and that’s big.  I have several book ideas and shorter things rumbling in my head that I started bringing to life.  I also started capturing the moments of wonder that strike me – again – there should be more of these – that’s part of next year’s plan.

So, if all of that went well – what didn’t?
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Well, I called it half-a-year –  I had serious health problems that led to me spending most of the first half of this year in bed.  I couldn’t go.  I hurt and the only even minor relief was flat on my back.  All told, 6 months is not necessarily a long amount of time to deal with something before it goes away completely.  I am lucky there – I just wonder what else could have happened if I had been fixed all year.

Blogging frequency – I fell off.  After the site redesign, I moved the news that was what frequently made up my blog posts to the newsletter and struggled sometimes to find something to post.  And some obvious posts didn’t happen for the same reason I was avoiding this one.

“More of an art project” – I’m not making money at Storychick yet – I’ll be honest.  It’s evolving and growing.  Now I just have to master that business model.

New projects didn’t get attention – In the midst of everything else, I had to cancel a new class because I didn’t get the minimum number of registrants.  I’m not swayed and will be trying that again in January.

Personal stuff – In addition to health issues, there were some personal stresses and disappointments in 2014 that I won’t get into here.  I’m hoping the clearer mindset for 2015 helps with these, as well.  I will fight so that they don’t keep me from my work.

All in all, several great victories and some struggles I just need to get under control and beyond.  But a good year – one that did see Growth, Packaging, and Visibility.  I’m quite excited for 2015!  Watch for that post later this week.

Thanks also to Chris Guillebeau for the #AnnualReview framework.