Why Objects in the Mirror Appear Closer Than They Are
What I learned about me from writing 1 article a week for 30 weeks: habits compound, ditch perfection, start it, choose people over money
A couple of weeks after my daughter was born, living in lockdown in one of the most impacted countries in the world (Belgium), while juggling with a full-time global marketing role, I discovered my passion for writing. Inspired by Seth Godin, I took a personal oath to start writing weekly a marketing blog, to project myself as a marketing author, and reach 10.000 distinct people in a single year. It’s now time to look back into the rear-view mirror and learn what I learned.
Facts first: 32 weeks later, I never missed a single week, I am closing in on 4.000 views, while my social posts get regularly thousands of views and dozens of engagements. Not bad. But what did I learn about myself during this process?
I am writing this article for me, it a public journal of the journey. If you find it inspiring, good. My intent isn’t to make you absorb the insights, but simply to get you to start writing … in case you aren’t doing that.
(1) Habits work for me
Everything that James Clear told me in his fantastic book “Atomic Habits” is true. I can only become a writer if my mindset is locked on becoming one. For the habit to work, my goal needs to be a moving stick, an aspiration that I can continuously and relentlessly work for.
The magic sauce of why habits work is the law compounding effects. I am allowing myself the freedom to call it a law because that’s what I feel it is. I do something every day, every week, every year, and benefits accumulate exponentially. I was not put back by the small numbers I saw in the beginning, I looked up to the exponential shape of the path: the path to my knowledge, my better writing skills, gaining an audience, and ultimately personal satisfaction.
(2) I don’t chase perfection
My favorite marketing slogan is “Just Do It”. That’s what I said to myself on that rainy day in April. I am not a great writer, yet. I don’t want to be a perfect writer, I want to be a marketing writer. I will learn along the way, I will trust compounding and I started shipping my work. I didn’t wait for the perfect idea, the perfect paragraph, or the perfect headline. I just wrote. Every week.
Looking back at my first articles, I sometimes think they suck for me. But guess what, my readers find themselves on different levels of appreciation for those ideas. They don’t see my progression, they just take what’s good from what I offered them today. I get lots of feedback for writing, I never got feedback that I became a better writer after publishing my 25th post.
(3) I can re-write my articles
As long as I don’t focus on the “news of the day”, the topics I explore in my blog are key themes I observe repeating on a regular basis. A great example of that is an article I wrote in May about my lack of trust in people surveys. This became highly relevant during the election month, and I actually received more views from my growing audience, after polishing the initial message a bit. I now understand the power of editing and the outcome is read-worthy here.
“Past behavior is a better predictor of future behavior in comparison with stated intent. To grow, understand people’s actions and behaviors, trust not what they claim in surveys” — Sorin
(4) I became more curious
Another big benefit of writing weekly, habitually, on a different generic topic is that fact I now cover a wider range of topics. And I became a more curious person in the process. I made an early list of topics, I started drafting articles, and I progress them every week one by one. How I select the article I want to progress to the finish point? I pick one that makes me curious to learn more that day. Like for example the week I wanted to know more about Live Streaming Shopping on Social media and I wrote this.
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
― Albert Einstein
(5) People > Money
I don’t expect to earn my salary on Medium. By far, the biggest benefit of writing 30 days about the topics I am curious about was the people I met, the connections I built, and the future projects we will collaborate on.
Some early wins that I attribute to my 30-week writing:
- My LinkedIn network grew in 7 months from 1200 to 2200 connections.
- During a single week in November, I spoke at 3 marketing conferences.
- I received thousands of media impressions after being featured in publications like The Drum, Digiday, and WARC.
And all this because I wrote 30 blog posts in 30 weeks. Like magic.
And one last thing I learned: to motivate myself best, I decided to not be so hard on myself. Stop comparing yourself with Seth Godin and James Altucher, compare yourself with you from six months ago. And don’t forget the writing in the rear-view mirror. Look at it. Look back. What you learned is now closer.