One year ago today I started this blog.
Since then, I have written in it every day. Plus an extra post here and there, so I have almost 400 posts. And maybe 80 good ones! I’ve experimented with recurring monthly themes, different writing styles, and a variety of topics. I’ve shared stories from my childhood and stories from the day I wrote the post.
I did not have a goal in mind when I started this blog. I wasn’t trying to sell anything or build an audience or sway people’s opinions on a particular topic. I targeted no particular demographic and spent no money on advertising. Other than trying to make sure every post was valuable enough to read, I had no immediate agenda.
Why write at all, then? I wrote because of my belief that it’s always a good idea to be moving forward. To be developing a skill, preparing in some way even though you may not know what you’re preparing for. Because movement, any movement, is good.
Inaction is the source of most regret.
And in that year, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed putting an entry into this blog every day. It’s given me a place to be productive when I want to be, and it’s forced me to be productive when I didn’t. An early commitment to keeping a public blog (as opposed to privately journaling or something) and shipping something every day has challenged me in very healthy ways. I’ve learned tremendous lessons about what I’m capable of during different moods, while different things are happening in my life, and so on.
I maintained a few rules for myself when writing this blog, too. With only rare exception, I actually wrote the same day I posted – I didn’t create a backlog except in the case where I knew in advance I wouldn’t be able to access my computer for more than a full day (such as going on a backpacking trip where I wanted to unplug specifically, things like that). Otherwise, I made myself actually sit down and write every day. Another rule I made for myself was that this would be a place of positivity. I would dig down even on the darkest days and find something, anything, that was uplifting, thought-provoking, or represented learning.
Pessimism is not an input in the Opportunity Machine.
There have been many, many side benefits that have come unexpectedly as a result of me writing this blog. I’ve been able to use it as a teaching and coaching tool in my work. I’ve been able to showcase my other writing and create a portfolio of sorts. I’ve had people reach out to me privately and tell me that one particular post or another was tremendously influential. People I’ve never met.
That one was a wild experience. Imagine you’re just doing a thing for you, like gardening or something, and someone comes to you one day and tells you that looking at your flowers as they walked by one day made a dramatic, tangible impact on their life. It’s not what I set out to do. But if any random two words I put together can lessen someone’s pain, their anxiety – can provide even a moment of clarity or inspiration, then I’ll write forever.
I hope I do, in fact.
Thank you, dear friend, for coming along on this journey. Whatever small good it may have done for you, it has done a thousand times more good for me. It’s made me a better thinker, a clearer writer, a more focused person in general. It’s made me more deliberate. It’s given me something to hold onto when things weren’t great. It’s been the space I feel most at home, and it’s been an honor to welcome you into it, as often as you’d like to come.
What will I try to do in the coming year? Maybe I’ll make a newsletter. Maybe I’ll experiment with discussion forums. Maybe I’ll do some videos. Who knows? What matters is that once you have a sandbox, you can build whatever you want in it.
Here are my top 5 lessons from writing a daily blog for a year:
- Shipping something every day has tremendous value. It gives you more room to experiment, removes “perfection anxiety,” and creates momentum in your growth. Whatever you want to get better at, you have to do every day.
- You can’t objectively evaluate your own work as well as you think you can. Posts I thought were brilliant collected dust, and posts I thought were just okay got shared a bunch. Everyone is different, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different stuff.
- You can’t wear a mask 365 days a year. No matter what persona you want to display, if someone looks your way all year they’ll eventually spot the man behind the curtain. In other words, if you write every day, you’ll write authentically. You’ll be real.
- People actually do care. I massively struggled with the “who the heck would want to read anything I wrote” thing, and I got around it by saying I was only writing for myself. But people did care, they did read, they still do. Ideas build bridges, and people cross them.
- Positive action in one area begets more positive action elsewhere. I’ve done a lot for myself in this last year, and being able to write about it gave me extra motivation. Plus I’d been building the habits of daily action, which carry over elsewhere.
My favorite thing about April 14th, apart from it now being my blogiversary, is that it isn’t any sort of significant day for me otherwise. It wasn’t auspicious. I didn’t wait until the start of a year or even a month. I didn’t time it with any other event. It was just the day I decided “today I’m going to start a blog.” Now it gets to always be that day – and the day I stuck with it for (at least) a year.
What thing can be the thing you just decide to do today? What can April 14th, 2021 be the anniversary of for you?
Whatever it is, I’m with you. You can do it!