A year ago last Wednesday, I listened to a talk about the value of content marketing. I had always been skeptical about the amount of time it would take to publish a weekly newsletter and the return it would bring, but by the end of the talk, I figured I'd give it a shot. As I tend to do, I got pretty excited, went into the office and told the team we would be launching a newsletter the following Monday.
While I was still skeptical about the ROI, I embraced the newsletter as an experiment. I would try this on for a year and see how it turned out. At first, I wrote about branding projects, client interactions and maybe a few personal musings here and there. As time went on, my Monday mornings became my time to reflect on the past week and consider what lessons I could learn from my experiences. My Monday morning newsletter writing became a favorite activity and I would often surprise myself with my steadfastness in delivering content every single week.
As I look back upon the last year, a few things come to mind:
1. The ROI I had hoped for when launching the newsletter is entirely different than the actual value that was created.
The newsletter has prompted me to take the time to learn and grow from the experiences that could have been every-day-forgettable moments. With just a couple hours of reflection once a week, I have increased the richness of my life. I've met my fears, I've been vulnerable with you, and I've become more present to each moment's teachings. Have I gotten any business as a result of the newsletter? Maybe a little...but the value of that pales in comparison to the value of my personal development.
2. Life as an experiment is an easy way to live.
Sometimes I can overthink things and take too long to move into action-mode. With this project, I jumped right into action. I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but at least I was doing something instead of thinking about something! There was no white boarding, no editorial calendar, just experimentation. The best thing for me about this approach is that it is full of the freedom to fail. It has liberated me from the throngs of procrastination and helped me walk forward with my vulnerable self right into your inbox every week.
3. I found an increased my sense of self.
Unless you have taken on a creative endeavor, you may not know what it feels like to put yourself into something, share it with the world, and be overwhelmed with the sound of crickets. In that void of feedback, I would wonder, Did anyone read it? Do they think I'm nuts? At first, I would hold my breath after I pushed the "send" button. Often I would hear from one or more of you that what I said mattered. Over the past year, you've shared things you've done that were inspired by this newsletter. I'm so honored that some of you take action in your lives because of something you read here. Now when I get an "unsubscribe," a not-so-positive response, or no response at all, I still feel good that maybe next week someone will be moved to take a positive action as a result of what I share.
How Can You Incorporate These Practices?
Make time for reflection.
You don't have to step into a public reflection via blog. You can start simply by journaling. At the end of the day (or week), ask yourself what you learned. Jot down some notes and see how your thinking evolves. If you're not sure where to start, try our journaling prompt cards.
Give it a shot as an experiment.
The next time you make a change, think of it as an experiment. It makes the risk feel more palatable. If you missed my blog on this, you can read more about the approach here.
Put yourself out there.
We admire people who are truly themselves. It's a scary thing to voice your inner-most thoughts to a loved-one, let alone to strangers. But courageous authenticity (the courage to voice your opinions, be vulnerable, and say what needs to be said) is one of the most important qualities