Most of the time I think I am one of the most fortunate and privileged persons on the planet because I get to write and do what I love all the time. I began writing seriously back in the mid-eighties then took up blogging seven years ago. Four years ago I created SMART Living 365 and every week since do my very best to share ideas about how each of us can live a happy, meaningful and rewarding life every day of the year. But although the mission of SMART Living usually keeps me focused on those things that inspire me and others, I do have my challenges. Ordinarily that has nothing to do with the writing, and everything to do with managing a website with limited technological understanding—like the last two weeks! Yet even then, the gift of blogging extends far beyond putting out an article on schedule and having everything go as planned. Ever wonder why a blogger, blogs? Maybe it’s because blogging offers life lessons available to us all.
Looking back over the last seven years of my blogging career, here are ten big life lessons I’ve learned.
#1 If you don’t love what you’re doing, pick something else. In many ways blogging may look and sound easy. After all, how hard can it be to post a quote, a cute photo of your kids, or a recipe like some bloggers do once or twice a week? And even if it is fun and easy for a while, the truth is that just like everything important in our lives, things get old and harder if you’re doing them for the wrong reasons. By the same token, if you do love what you do you’ll stick with it even when times get tough. Don’t compromise yourself or your time. Do what you love.
#2 You can’t please everyone so you’d better please yourself. As a recovering people-pleaser, I’ve discovered that it usually backfires miserably when you try to put the needs of other people before your own. Not only does it make you unhappy and unfulfilled, others can tell how inauthentic you are and will reject you anyway. Far better as a writer, a blogger and a person to be true to yourself and give up attempting to win approval from others.
#3 Don’t do it for the money! In some ways writing/blogging is similar to the real estate business because from the outside it looks like an easy way to make money. Ha! Fortunately years ago I learned I wasn’t really any good at selling real estate and left it to write. Instead I found that both of those careers, just like most others, take time, talent and perseverance if you want to succeed. While some avocations can be rewarding for the right people, they can also be painful (and completely ineffective) for the wrong people. (Reread #1 above!)
#4 Don’t expect others to support you, just be happy when anyone does. My mom and dad used to own a successful western store. When I asked my mom one of the lessons she learned she said, “Don’t expect your friends or relatives to support your business.” In other words, just like as a writer, I’ve learned that not everyone will appreciate my writing, my topics, my books or my blog. While I feel fortunate that some of my friends follow my writing and have cultivated a number of blogger friends, I do my best not to have any expectations. Ultimately, I write for myself, and those people who appreciate and welcome what I have to say. (Reread #2 above!)
#5 Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. I’ve written a whole blog post about this one and remind myself about it frequently. Stuff happens. Last week my website email and comments broke and I’m still struggling to get them fixed. Stuff happens. While we cannot control the Universe nor keep unpleasant things from happening, we do have complete control about how we will respond.
#6 Writing is a gift that can clarify thinking, awareness, emotions and priorities. Sure it is gratifying to be able to share empowering ideas with others, but more than anything, this is why I write.
#7 You probably know more than you think you know—and what you don’t know, you can learn. I think most of us give up too soon or discount our ability to learn and grow through any experience we face. Believing deep inside that the answer exists and that we can find it helps to empower all that we do. Keep learning—keep growing.
#8 Pay no attention to the critics. Ever heard of a “troll?” A troll is an online critic who can anonymously attack you and your writing for absolutely no reason at all. My first troll attack left me shocked and distressed until I realized that trolls are just testing you to see if they can rile you or whether you are vulnerable to their attacks. Even more than that, trolls tell you that many others are reading your work. In fact, if you don’t get attacked now and then, you’re not reaching that many people.
#9 It’s crazy and ineffective to compare yourself to others. Millions of blogs now exist on the internet and it’s fairly easy to look around and wish you could do better. But doesn’t that exist with everything in life? Comparison kills happiness because it tells us we aren’t good enough or don’t have enough. Far better instead to remember that right now, who we are and right where we are is everything we need to be happy.
#10 Find your purpose and stick with it. Why do you blog? Why do you do anything? Knowing the “why” behind our efforts is critical. As author and Nazi Death Camp survivor Viktor Frankl said, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.’” Everything we do, even those things we love most of the time will challenge us. To the extent we can stay focused on the why we do what we do, we will overcome momentary challenges and continue creating a work that is meaningful and hopefully helpful to others.
I’m sure I’ve learned more things about life in my seven years of blogging but these stood out today as something I need to remember. As always, it’s SMART to be aware and conscious about the choices we make on a regular basis. Only then can we say we live SMART 365.
Now your turn…regardless of whether you’re a blogger or not, what life lessons would you like to share with everyone?