This is the first post in a two part series. In the first post I am going to cover the benefits of blogging for the non-business blogger. Post number 2 will cover how I built my blog.
There has been a lot written about the benefits of blogging but most of this is coming from a business prospective. If you google “how to blog”, the gurus will tell you to select a niche, do some keyword research, then write a million articles on that topic. I can’t imagine anything more boring or tedious. Sure, blogs are great for marketing your business but through trial and error I have found what I think is a better process and purpose.
Background: Why I Built My Blog
I launched the blog in the summer of 2017. At that time I found myself super burned out from a job that I was transitioning out of and badly in need of energy for a new job that I was transitioning into. The new job was an opportunity to work in a start up with an amazing team, cutting edge technology, and big goals. To be successful, I really needed to get past the burnout and get centered again.
I was in a rough patch and it was clear to me that what I needed to do was take some action to build some balance in my life. At that time I was reading through two books that helped me work through the problem.
Friends and family who know me well and read this are going to probably stop here and call BS… My work life balance problems are by no means solved. I love what I do, tend to get obsessive and the struggle is real. That said, I’m making the case that blogging has helped me be a little better at balancing things….
Amazon Clickity Click Disclosure: Links to the books described below are amazon affiliate links. Gotta pay the blog server rent.
Upward Spiral – The Antidote to Burnout
The first book on the reading list that summer was The Upward Spiral. This is really a book about the neuroscience of depression, but I found the symptoms described in the book to be very similar to the extreme fatigue I was feeling at the time. Burnout isn’t discussed but I feel pretty strongly that the science and tactics described are the antidote. I’m no neuro-psychologist, but this really worked for me. I recommend it to anybody who is dealing with high stress, start-ups, leading complex projects, etc. over long periods of time.
Topics in Upward Spiral include goal setting, rest, creating positive habits, and the power of gratitude. Upward Spiral caused me to really consider my daily habits around work, rest, recreation, gratitude and journaling on a day to day basis.
Your First 90 Days – How To Make Plans and Transition into New Roles Successfully
The second book I was reading at the time was The First 90 Days. This is a book about how to come up to speed in a new job fast. It has some tactical steps that you can take to accelerate learning, set goals in 90 day chunks, make good plans and optimize work performance.
This book helped me transition into my new role. In addition to that, it actually got me thinking about why my outside of work projects and hobbies were getting minimal focus. I began to apply the goal setting concepts in this book to rest, hobbies, recreation, and time spent with family. Not the intent of the book, but extremely useful.
Putting it All Together
As I read through these books I started putting some of the ideas into practice in the form of journaling, daily gratitude, and goal setting around activities both inside and outside of work.
Through this process I found that just writing down my thoughts, things I wanted to do, and things that I was grateful for had a huge positive impact on my mental attitude and energy. It was also kicking my mind into learning mode on a wide variety of topics. At that time I was capturing notes in Kindle and Evernote a few times a week. Over time, that note taking process evolved into this blog.
The Process Evolved
When I shifted from Kindle and Evernote to WordPresss, a more formal process began to take shape. I was basically shifting between three different modes:
Mode #1: Goal Setting, Projects and Bucket Lists
The first step was to set up a to-do list. It covered a whole bunch of stuff ranging from things that I wanted to do, have, and be. I first heard about this approach from Tim Ferriss in the Four Hour Work Week (reference here on his blog).
He calls this dreamlining, and it’s an exercise in visioning and goal setting. I organized my list into the three topics (do, have, be), then began listing out subtopics and smaller actions underneath. You can see my bucket list here.
Mode #2: Working Through the List
The list gives me a whole ton of projects that I can go to at any time, and it helps me be purposeful with weekends, holidays and time off. Contents range from hiking and learning to sail to visiting breweries and restaurants.
Mode #3: Celebration, Completion, Gratitude
This is where the actual blog posting comes in. It’s fun to post text, photos, and video as you check off the goals that you set.
Checking items off of a list and being grateful for the opportunities and experiences with the people you love is really good for you. This was a key idea in Upward Spiral, and the author unpacks a summary of this concept in this article. I don’t think that the idea of reflecting on fun things to elevate your mood is really rocket science and most people know that R&R is the antidote to burnout. But that said, I would say that there’s a big difference in knowing it and practicing it. The blog helped me become a better practitioner.
Learning: One of The Biggest Benefits of Blogging
The output of this whole process is learning. A bunch of it. Through this blog experiment I have learned about how to:
- recognize my limits and push them without burning out
- accelerate projects
- set better goals and work toward them
- shift gears from working hard to playing hard – and then shift them back when it matters
- use habits of journaling and gratitude to organize and appreciate ideas
- be purposeful with weekends and recreational time.
So this is why I built the blog and what I have found to be the benefits of blogging. In the next post I’m going to write down how I built the blog by running an instance of WordPress on Cloudways. I’m always happy when people leave comments. Feel free to leave one below if you are using a blog for a similar purpose, read the books referenced here, or have a bucket list….. Would love to hear your ideas.