A Christmas Story played on cable TV nearly all Christmas Day. The scent of soul food filled my grandparents' house in Detroit, where I visited before returning to Chicago for New Years. While I was home with my family, much of the discussion turned to reflecting on 2016, the good, the bad and the politically horrific.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals for 2017. Professionally, I had a great year, so it’s going to be pretty hard to top it in 2017. In the process of figuring out what tasks I want to complete in 2017, I’ve had to be vulnerable with myself about how I define success. Part of the reason why I started this blog is to separate fact from fiction when it comes to freelance writing. Google “freelance writing” and you’ll find tons of articles about how to make six-figures while work in your pajamas. I won’t say that you can’t craft a financially successful writing career, but there’s a lot of work needed to get to that level, some of which must be done in actual non-leisure clothing.
It begs the question, does success always mean bringing in big money? I’ve loosely redefined it to mean exceeding one’s goals and expectations. Looking at 2016 from that perspective, I’ve definitely had a successful year. Toward the end of 2015, I decided to pitch stories to national publications, and soon I had my first New York Times byline. But I carried that goal into 2016, landing more bylines in The New York Times, Vice, High Times Magazine, Harvard University’s Nieman Reports and The Pacific Standard. Somewhere in between all of that I started this blog.
But as we head into 2017, economic uncertainty during the next presidency is something that’s been weighing on everyone’s minds. My financial goals include building up my emergency fund and starting a retirement savings account. Professionally, I want to deepen my local and national reporting with more long-form features. I’m also pitching to more magazines.
All in all, 2016 brought with it a lot of important investigative reporting from the tax haven reporting by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism and the AP’s flossing story to the Flint water crisis coverage and Mother Jones’ reporting on the private prisons. If there’s one thing we know for sure, the press continues to uncover the stories that matter even under strong economic pressures and growing anti-press sentiment.
As reporters, we’ve got a lot to do going into 2017. I’m ready for it.
What are your goals for 2017? Leave a comment or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.