About those 2022 writing goals…

I have three blogging goals for 2022:

1. To finish the year with 100 posts and 50 followers 

2. To write for at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week, and

3. To feel confident about the quality of my posts.

The first quarter of 2022 has passed, so it’s time to check in on my progress.

Goal 1

I am up to 65 posts which means I’ve shared 15 new ones. At this rate, I will exceed my goal of 100 posts. And now I have 30 followers, which means I’ve added 14. I will exceed my goal of 50 followers at this rate.

Goal 2

I have written for at least 30 minutes a day, but it has not been for the blog. When I created this goal, I didn’t consider how much I had to write for work, and most of what I write for work I wouldn’t share on the blog. I’ve also done a lot of writing to get clarity on other personal and professional goals. Still, I wouldn’t share all of that on the blog either. 

Sometimes setting a leading indicator for goals (e.g., number of calories eaten, number of visits to the farmers market) is better than lagging indicators (e.g., weight, waist size). I first learned about this distinction in “4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals”. I tried to apply that principle to blogging, but it didn’t work as I expected. I need a more concrete goal, which could be something like “post once a week.” Posting once a week would help me reach my goal of 100 posts this year.

Goal 3

This goal is both ambiguous and subjective. How do I determine my quality? I’m a pretty harsh critic, and I might never be as good as I want to be. In writing, quantity can help to improve quality, so posting more frequently can help. Maybe something more concrete would be to finish a writing course. There’s a LinkedIn Learning course I started but never finished, “Writing with Flair: How to Become an Exceptional Writer,” that I can commit to completing by the end of the year. What’s great about this course is that it also provides Professional Development Units (PDUs) to maintain my PMP certification.

2022 Goals – Revised

If I were to re-write the goals at this point, they’d look like this:

  1. To post at least once every seven days, ending the year with 100 posts.
  2. To gain roughly two followers each week, ending the year with 50 followers.
  3. To finish a course on writing.

Other Challenges

Another challenge is knowing what to write about. I have a lot of thoughts throughout the week, and perhaps I could try to find a thread between all of those thoughts and write about the connection. 

I also considered using a weekly blog post as a “sprint review.” In agile project management, the work for the project is divided into sprints, usually 2 – 3 weeks. You start a sprint with a planning meeting where you decide what you will design or produce. Then you end the sprint with a sprint review meeting where you share your progress and explain what worked and what didn’t. If I thought about it some, I could find a way to apply this concept to blogging. 

Yet, another option is to share what I’ve learned in the previous seven days. Initially, that feels a bit corny, but one of my weaknesses is that I don’t take time to celebrate small (or big) wins. Once I solve a problem, I’m on to the next thing. It puts me in a state of mild-to-moderate, continual dissatisfaction with my life. I never feel like I reach the top of the mountain; it’s a constant climb. I need more moments where I can stop and appreciate the view.

After more thought, setting one topic to stick to for the next 36 weeks feels restrictive. I want to have some flexibility. And if I don’t like the topic, I don’t want to have to stick with it for the rest of the year.

Another project management principle that’s applicable here is the idea of iterations. Rather than work towards one final goal, you break up the final goal into smaller goals that are immediately useful. For example, rather than design a fantastic app in nine months, create a basic app in one month and use the following eight months for improvements and enhancements. This way, you don’t have to wait until the nine months are up to take advantage of the app’s benefits.

Closing Thoughts

The most important thing is that I sit down to write, which still terrifies me sometimes. I am still afraid of being judged and critiqued, honestly. Sometimes that fear stops me from writing altogether. But today, I committed to writing, and I started writing without a clear idea of what would come out, and then all of this came out! If I wrote a little bit each day, the final blog post would be more manageable than trying to get it all out in one session (like I’m doing today).

It doesn’t feel honest to say that I’m writing for myself when I post it on a public blog. It also feels disingenuous to say that I don’t care about what other people make of my writing. I’m not writing wholly for myself or entirely for anyone else. My meta-goal is to do something and allow myself to be bad at it or not expect it to be perfect. That’s the goal that I need to keep top of mind whenever I sit down to write. The ultimate writing goal for 2022 is to allow myself to be bad at something. Any improvement gets me closer to adequate but still far from perfection. 

Failure is all about framing.

At the beginning of the year, I set a goal to write for 30 minutes, five times a week, and post 50 posts by the end of the year, averaging one post every 7-8 days. I started sharing my posts on LinkedIn, but I got nervous because people in my network would see my writing. It’s one thing to have a complete stranger on the internet read your work. But it’s something different entirely to have someone you know well review your work. It made me feel vulnerable, and I was afraid of judgment.

When I did my 30-day blogging challenge, I allowed myself to have average posts. The original intent was that quantity was more important than quality. The more posts I have, the more I practice, and the more I can improve. I’ve gotten away from that, and I’ve since been scared to post.

To correct course, I can give myself permission for this to be something I don’t have to excel at. Perhaps, my most considerable success in blogging is to allow myself to be a “failure.” It takes away a lot of the angst and helps me enjoy writing.

Meet My Alter Ego: Change Management Evangelist

When’s the last time you reflected on why you liked what you like?

I heard that you could increase your job satisfaction by finding a job that meets some deep, personal need. As I’ve described on the blog, I have an incessant need to solve problems. I tend to see things as puzzles, but I’ve often become frustrated that I couldn’t solve them.

Change management (CM) and project management (PM) have given me tools to improve my skills in this area, providing some order to this otherwise chaotic, hyperactive brain. This post will provide some background on how I came to appreciate CM/PM and what you can expect from my CM/PM-focused posts.

I spent some time thinking about how I became such an evangelist for change management, and I had to go back through my career. Corporate training was the first job I really liked, and I was good at it. I’d become successful by using my public speaking skills and intuition as a facilitator. But not having an organized, repeatable, and reliable approach to developing courses put me at a disadvantage.

One day, I learned about an instructional design framework called ADDIE (Naji, 2016)  – Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation – and it’s hard to describe how much this helped me as a trainer. ADDIE offered a systematic way to solve my training problems, and the best part was that I didn’t lose my creativity. In fact, it allowed my imagination to blossom even more. As a result, I became a much better trainer.

After I moved out of training & development and into organizational effectiveness, I again had the issue of not having proven approaches to make improvements. I could see where my team was and where I wanted it to go, but I didn’t have a good plan to get there. In fact, I didn’t even know what the plan was. I’d look at my inputs – me and all my skill sets, the team and their skillsets, the culture, our morale, what I was learning in school, what other managers were doing, etc. – but I couldn’t get to the other side of making meaningful results. I managed to get on well enough, but it was hard, and I felt like a fraud next to my colleagues.

So, imagine my excitement when I learned about organizational change management (OCM)!. There are dozens of frameworks that all consist of helping to change human behavior with the hope of moving as many people as possible from point A to point B. And after I learned about project management (PM) – the practical tools to move from point A to point B – I felt even more equipped. 

OCM helped me with the “what”; PM helped me with the “how.”  

I have not solved the world’s biggest problems with my instructional design, change management, or project management skills, but these concepts have given me the tools to approach life with greater confidence. I’ve applied these principles with great success, whether at work or at home. I’ve wanted to share what I’ve learned with the community out of gratitude. In addition, I wanted to share how one could integrate CM and PM into one strategy. I haven’t seen a lot of people tackle these issues together. Probably because it’s damn hard, though, not impossible.

That’s the primary reason I was excited about Beyond Performance 2.0 (Keller & Schaninger, 2019). The authors don’t use the terms the same way I do, but it’s the best and most recent work I’ve read that tries to integrate the concepts of “what” and “how.” I started reading the book some time ago – and with a lot of enthusiasm – but gradually, I took longer breaks in between sessions and ended up losing momentum and forgetting most of what I read. So, I plan to share the highlights of the text on this blog to rekindle the change management flame and crystallize my learnings from the book.   

The terms “change management” and “project management” can feel cold and dry. They can feel so corporate. That said, the guidance and tools they offer have contributed to significant positive changes for me, personally and professionally. My goal is to find a way to share CM/PM info that doesn’t put you (or me) to sleep, which helps me test my hypothesis. I believe that change/project management principles are practical at work and can also be applied to improve the quality of your life.

Citations

Naji, C. (2021, November 16). Addie Training Model: Steps, examples, and outdated myths. RSS. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://www.eduflow.com/blog/addie-training-model-steps-examples-and-outdated-myths 

Keller, S. & Schaninger, B. (2019) Beyond Performance 2.0: A Proven Approach to Leading Large-Scale Change. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Blogging Goals for 2022

I have three blogging goals for 2022:

  1. To finish the year with 100 posts and 50 followers (currently at 56 and 16)
  2. To write for at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week, and
  3. To feel confident about the quality of my posts.

I used a lot of mental horsepower to obsess over details like how long my posts should be and how frequently I should post. How do I make better titles? Better endings? Should I be more personal or keep it professional? And what will attract the most readers?

These, and others, were great questions – but none of them are essential when I think about the blog’s purpose. I remembered that I started the blog to help crystallize learnings and share insights from media – mostly print media – that I’ve consumed. This hobby allows me to be curious; therefore, the focus is on discovery, not predictability. Instead of focusing on engagement, I can find my writing voice.

To that end, these goals are broad enough for me to have room to explore but specific enough to help me improve my craft. My list of blogging prompts is virtually impossible to deplete. And my list of book chapters to review is even longer. So I’ll get a lot of practice and hopefully come out of 2022 a better writer than I started.

Fudge…it’s happening again

If I may quote myself from about a month ago…

“I did not want to start a blog and have random, unrelated posts. I certainly didn’t intend to talk about my feelings. I didn’t want a sappy, self-absorbed blog that flagrantly displayed my neurosis and emotional instability.”

(I’ll come back to this).

I wanted to mark my return to blogging by making one blog post a week. I would commit to one post a week but I had a desire to post twice or thrice weekly. I’ve been trying to develop a system that allows me to do this. I considered taking 1-2 days to write and one more day to post. But I haven’t been committed to taking the time during the week to write. My weekly deadline is Sunday evening, but last week I posted on Monday and this week I may not post this message until Thursday. I’m already slipping away from my goal and I JUST started blogging again. This makes me afraid I’m in danger of retreating back to not posting at all. 

I think part of the problem is that the Sunday deadline looms over my head. Throughout the week, I think about the topic I want to land on and I try to plan when I’ll have time to write. But as the week progresses and the content doesn’t materialize, I start to get worried that I won’t make the deadline. I have thoughts like:

  • I don’t have enough content for a blog post
  • I didn’t complete the research I needed for this post
  • I should post what I have on Twitter
  • I don’t have enough time to really do a good post

I start procrastinating and worrying and getting stressed out – which is not an ideal place for me to be if I need to write. 

In addition to the procrastination factor, I also struggle with settling on a topic. Some of the things I’d like to write about include:

  • An analysis of the 48 Laws of Power
  • Lessons from my sleep Master Class
  • Analysis of Harvard Business Review Articles
  • Usage of short stories to cover ideas and concepts I’m interested in 

My principal reason for starting a blog, and a podcast, and another blog, and another podcast, and now another blog, is so that I can share the lessons I learned with the world. Not because the lessons are profound, but because I need a place to document them and if I can help someone else in the process it’s a win-win. I want to write in a way that is compelling and that helps me connect with other human beings. But as much as I want to write about what happens during non-REM sleep, there are other, bigger issues that I struggle with everyday, right now. Things like: 

  • I have a problem with picking my skin – mostly my feet, but I pick my cuticles, too. It’s a self-soothing behavior that has gone wild. 
  • How to approach sexuality as an adult – I’m about 70% sure I’m not going to hell because I’m gay (took me a long time to get to 70%), but what does that actually mean for sex? Every type of sex I’ve had – straight premarital sex, gay sex, anonymous sex – or even sex I’ve wanted to have I feel like God or society tells me it’s wrong
  • Debt – I’ve had it for all of my adult life and I’m at a point now that I think I’ll die with it. I’ve accepted it because it doesn’t seem like I can do anything about it. And that seems depressing when I say it out loud. 
  • How to handle friendships that might not be healthy but that I’m afraid to let them go because I’m afraid I’ll be lonely and I won’t be able to find new friends. 

There’s an aspirational part of me that wants to share “smart” stuff but I feel like I need to write about the stuff that’s really bothering me. It’s definitely easier to connect when I’m being authentic. 

To facilitate this, I decided to explore the art of storytelling to better share my concepts with all of you. I think there’s a way to tie in concepts I’ve learned in a book to something I’m experiencing in my life. Instead of focusing on creating the perfect content that’s interesting, I want to tell my story. I want to find a way to integrate the content into a larger narrative about my life and how I manage it. I have to crawl before I can walk but I want to start practicing. 

I am disgusted by the thought of giving this up again. It’ll feel like I’m giving up on myself, and I don’t want to do that. It’s time to get back on the horse.