Blogging everyday is not for most of us. Yet, a lot of us did just that this month with the A to Z Challenge. Daily blogging taught me a few important lessons that I’ve had reinforced, each time I’ve taken up a month-long challenge.
Before you get worried, this blog will continue to update weekly or fortnightly or when the mood strikes me, so you can heave a sigh of relief. But I’d like you to take a few minutes to read this post, even if you aren’t a blogger. Why? Because I had a revelation last night on how building a habit can come from the simplest and most unexpected places.
Now you may be wondering why I am writing this on a parenting blog, but there’s a very good reason for it. You see, as a mom who works from home, managing the cooking (which I don’t really enjoy), the cleaning (which I do enjoy), the handling of multiple assignments and being a parent, it’s worried me that I’m missing something in all of this. I have way too many bad habits that I need to change and blogging helps me understand how I can overcome these in baby steps.
Last year, I began reading Gretchen Rubin’s ‘The Happiness Project’. It’s a wonderful book on multiple levels. It teaches you to find happiness in the small things, give gratitude for the joys in life and perhaps, most importantly, teaches you how to make a habit of happiness.
I began reading the book, nodding along to every point she made and making these grand goals and resolutions:
I will de-clutter my home completely!
I shall lose weight in 3 months.
I shall finish my book in 6 months.
Suffice to say that I’d gotten the wrong idea from the get go! Everything just fizzled out within a week. But you know how it is, right? Sometimes, the timing has to be just perfect for things to fall into place. The book is brilliant, but my understanding of the principles fell flat because I’d over-reached.
So I sat down and wrote out 12 good habits that I need to build. Let’s list them here, shall we?
- Stop checking the phone first thing in the morning/ in bed.
- Exercising regularly
- Meditating for 15 minutes a day
- Reading 20 pages a day
- Dusting the home
- Going for a walk
- Eating healthy/Cutting out junk food
- Limit laptop use
- Work on patience levels/ Learn to respond, not react
- Work on my memoir
- De-clutter the house
- Being Zen
Last night, I read two posts on the art of building a habit. This one on how to be more productive by Lavanya Mohan and this one on how to achieve your goals and that’s when the light bulb went off. I’d been making two cardinal mistakes:
- I was aiming too high
- I was allowing distraction to overwhelm me
So, how is all of this connected to daily blogging?
Let me explain. Do you recall my yelling-less challenge? I started with a week of not yelling at my daughter, built it up to a month, slid back to square one, pushed myself again and finally am at a place where I can look at that ‘yell-free’ counter in my sidebar with some pride and joy.
Daily blogging taught me persistence
April 2017 saw me take up the A to Z Challenge for the third time. In 2014, I blogged about ‘Introspection in multiples of 11’ and in 2015 I wrote fiction on the theme of ‘Alternate angles’. This year, 2017, I wrote 100-word fiction pieces on the theme of oxymorons. This was also my fourth month-long blogging marathon.
Writing everyday, as opposed to scheduling posts the way I had in 2014 or 2015, was the key difference. And I loved it! Each night, I’d sit and draft the post in my head and within 20 minutes, the post was done and up on the blog.
Even if I was dog tired, I ensured that I made time to blog everyday.
That was the first way I built a habit: By doing it daily.
Small goals led to long-term results
The biggest reason most goals fail? We aim too high and we start with too many expectations. Breaking it down made it simpler for me. I always blog with a word counter for blogging marathons. There are a couple of reasons for this.
It allows me to blog faster and it leaves me more time to do other things such as blog hopping or enjoying life offline. Keeping the posts short helped me focus all my energies on completing the daily target. 100 words? Pshaw, that’s nothing! Easy-peasy, said my brain. That was it.
Remember the yelling-less goals? I started with a week. 7 days. That was it.
That was the second way I built a habit: By keeping my goals small.
Blogging everyday made me happy
The biggest factor that helped me stick with this routine is the personal satisfaction I got from writing daily. I was thoroughly enjoying the writing process and that was it. That drove me to keep writing. I was not worried about the number of readers, the number of comments, or the fact that the blogging visits dropped in the second half of the month.
Why? Because, by that time, I was just enjoying blogging completely! That was it. No strings attached.
That was the third way I built a habit: By finding joy in the process.
So, does this mean you should blog daily to build a good habit? Not necessarily. My biggest takeaway from daily blogging and the yelling-less challenge was this: It worked for me. It may not work for you, but find something that does!
Find something you enjoy doing and stick to it for 30 days. Then we can start working on things we don’t enjoy but need to change.
So, if I can make daily blogging work for me, surely I can reach every one of those 12 goals listed above, right? So, focusing on one goal for 30 days: THAT is the key! Do it so that it becomes part of your routine. That’s precisely what Gretchen Rubin advocates too.
So, who’s with me?