On April 1st, this blog will be a year old. Yes, I chose that date on purpose.
So how do I feel I did? Okay, I guess.
That’s not a great answer. Unfortunately, this year that’s the best answer I have because I didn’t set clear goals when I started this blog. When I set clear goals for success, happiness is simple.
With clear, measurable goals, I get one of two results. Either I complete my goals and after having a success, I get a self-esteem boost which makes me happy. Or I don’t complete my goals and after having a failure event, I am unhappy. Those two states are productive states for me because I celebrate when I’m happy and I make new plans when I’m unhappy. I don’t mope when an action doesn’t get my desired results because I start thinking about all the possible new actions I should take next.
For this blog, I avoided measurable goals. I have a bad tendency not set goals when I’m in a low period because I don’t want to risk failing. It’s a vicious cycle. I start a new project to boost my self-esteem and to get myself out of my down cycle, but then I avoid setting goals. I feel great for a few weeks or months because the project is something new and exciting. However as my project continues, I feel less and less motivated because I haven’t set goals so I don’t know if I’m doing good or bad. Eventually, I’m just doing something new that’s become old and I forget why I bothered in the first place which puts me back in my down cycle.
Having no set goals means I can’t fail. Not failing is very comfortable place to exist. Not failing helps me avoid being unhappy. Unfortunately, being not unhappy is not the same thing as being happy. Not failing isn’t the same as having a success. Any measure of discomfort that I avoid from not failing is outweighed by the gradual loss of self-esteem by not succeeding over long periods of time.
Without clear goals and more importantly, written goals, I neither succeeded nor failed. With this blog, some things went better than I thought and others didn’t even come close. So what I’m left with is this in-between state where happiness is fuzzier. What I dislike about this in-between state is the time I waste trying to figure out how I feel about a project. I would feel stuck which would turn into procrastination. What I was really doing was attempting to make up my mind whether to quit or to continue.
Don’t worry, I’m not quitting this blog. If this would have been 10 years ago, you wouldn’t be seeing new posts for a month while I was making up my mind. Nowadays, it takes an hour. I do my Wrong-Right-Zero Base process.
Wrong: What did I do wrong with the blog?
Right: What did I do right with the blog?
Zero Base: Knowing what I know now, would I have started this blog in the first place last year?
What I did wrong
I started two blogs
I started INFP Blog and my personal blog around the same time I joined Twitter. I wanted to use Twitter to drive traffic to both, but I couldn’t do both effectively. I stopped writing on INFP Blog for 5 months because I was busy redesigning, networking and writing for my personal blog. I shouldn’t have done both.
I didn’t set up FeedBurner
I should have set up FeedBurner sooner. My blog is information. Having a news feed gives readers the option to subscribe to that information. Giving people more choices is never a bad thing. WordPress has it’s own news feed, but using FeedBurner lets me count my number of subscribers.
What I did right
Naming my blog “INFP Blog”
I considered a more artsy, esoteric name for my blog, but after 14 years in web development, I knew the name “INFP Blog” would be better for SEO (search engine optimization). I estimated that I’d get 20% of my traffic from Google. I was wrong. Google brings me 50-55% of my site traffic.
Social networking on the forums
Originally, I planned to drive traffic solely from Twitter. Then I remembered how much dialogue occurred on Tribe and MySpace INFP groups. Globalchatter, the biggest INFP forum at the time, had recently shut down. INFPs have always grouped online so I knew the Globalchatter community would move elsewhere. I tracked down the most active forums and started commenting. I get around 20% of my traffic from commenting on forums.
Waited on my site redesign
After redesigning my personal blog and getting zero traffic. I decided to focus on INFP Blog. Instead of spending a lot of initial time and effort on the design, I concentrated on writing and networking. I knew I didn’t have energy for both. Focusing on the networking and writing attracted readers and comments which motivated me to keep writing. Otherwise, I think I would have been burned out trying to redesign and build traffic.
Zero Based Thinking
Zero Based Thinking is letting go of all the time and energy I invested in any given endeavor and asking myself one simple question: if I knew then what I know now, would I have started this in the first place?
If the answer is no, I immediately try to end whatever I’m doing. If it’s a bad project I got suckered into because I was too nice, I’ll see if I can find someone else who’s more eager and I enlist the help of the person who suckered me into it in the first place. If it’s a person that’s bad for my life, I just stop calling them. If it’s a personal project, I’ll put it away and call it done.
Knowing what I know now, I definitely would have started writing INFP Blog.
Now comes the fun part, figuring out what’s next. That’s the next post.