I’ve had a big mind-shift in my blogging, since I started 10 years ago… and I barely noticed that it happened.
I’ve gone from being someone who completed things to becoming someone who never quite completes things…. but in a good way.
When I first started blogging I set myself very specific, actionable tasks. Things like:
- Each day I would try to complete a blog post.
- When I did a redesign of my blog, I would set the goal to complete that redesign.
- When I was asked to speak at an event, I would have the goal to complete the presentation.
I would complete the task I set myself… then move on to the next task.
It was very neat and I was able to measure my success on any given day by how many things I’d checked off my to-do list.
The problem was that I never really learned anything from what I did. I was always starting tasks from scratch rather than building upon what I’d already built.
Gradually – and it has taken 10 years – I’ve found myself seeing almost everything I do as part of a larger process of discovery, and refinement.
While I still set myself deadlines to implement things, each time I ‘complete’ a task and set it live I’ve started to ask myself a series of questions that include:
- What did I learn while doing it?
- What impact did it have? How did others react to it?
- What could I do differently next time?
- What sparks of opportunity came out of that activity that I could extend upon?
- What is the next step?
So now when I complete a blog post:
- I’m asking myself whether the topic could be explored further
- I’m watching to see whether someone asks a question that could provide a new adjoining topic to explore
- I’m watching to see what traffic levels, comments, sharing on social media is like to learn whether that style of post could work again
When we set the new design of Digital Photography School live:
- We immediately started watching how readers used different new features to see if they had traction
- We monitored stats to see what impact the design had on things like page views, comments, sharing
- We monitored feedback to see what impact it had upon readers usability but also how they ‘felt’ about the site
- We immediately began to evolve the design based upon what we saw
Now when I give a presentation:
- I actively seek feedback from organisers and audience members to learn how I could improve it next time
- I always go back through the tweet stream to see what things were quoted most (it’s always something I didn’t plan to say) to see what resonated and to watch where people reacted against what I said
- I always review a presentation to look for ways I could extend and refine it for future talks
Today, I still aim to complete things but on completion I find myself also looking at what I’ve done as the first step or a new beginning to build upon.