Starting Small

I love reading blogs like Zen Habits and Becoming Minimalist. Leo and Joshua are two of my favorite people who I’ve never met and their blogs are an inspiration to me and have been an inspiration to smplife. My blog has gone through a lot of changes since I launched and re-launched a couple of times with edits, new designs and various setups. I have gone through a lot since I first had the idea to start this blog. I started working on my Bachelor’s degree; I got married; I earned my AS degree; I moved; my job title changed at work.

This last November I did a complete reboot of my blog because I didn’t like the direction it was headed. I took down all the posts, moved it to a new blogging platform, found a new design, edited the posts, added some things to the blog, set up a new mailing list and way to subscribe, put ads up (hopefully in the future when the blog pays for itself I’ll be able to take some down), optimized content, made it more secure and faster and many other things.

This all sounds like positive change (except maybe the ads). I hoped that this would kindle a new passion for blogging and writing and help me along the path to habit change and ultimately helping myself and helping others to change. The reality is that it didn’t. Looking back I realize that this was all a distraction from what was important. I wasn’t changing habits in my life, finding peace, happiness and fulfillment. I was overworked, distracted, frustrated, distressed, unhappy, unhealthy and I was procrastinating change. I still am as of this writing.

What Went Wrong?

Despite that negative outlook, I wanted to know: What went wrong? There were a few things that I have identified that went immediately wrong. There are probably thousands of tiny factors, but I have found that these were the big detractors from my happiness and success:

  1. I am trying to do too much all at once.
    I am a full-time student, working part-time, working very part-time at the school, writing for this blog, being a husband (dates with my wife, housework, cleaning, dinner, etc.), volunteering time for my church and juggling everything else I wanted and needed to do on top of all that (eating, sleeping, homework, hygiene, exercise, social media, etc.). I am overwhelmed and sinking into too many commitments.
  2. I went too fast and wanted instant success.
    This is mostly specific to my blog. I wanted the big success of other blogs that I read right now. I was trying to be patient in every other aspect of my life, but this slipped by without me realizing. I tried to set up *everything* to have a successful blog while ignoring the most important thing: good content. I also wanted to change my habits over night so I could write awesome posts. I set myself up for failure.
  3. I focused on the wrong things.
    I was focusing on things that were not important. I was trying to get the theme just right before writing posts. I wanted ads and links and professional mailing lists and nice-looking social media icons. I tweaked and re-tweaked the CSS and HTML to get it just right. I set up optimizations, installed plug-ins, read tutorials and so many other things to perfect my blog. I wasn’t changing my habits. I still sleep in, procrastinate, don’t exercise often, spend too much time online and more. To top it off, while I focused on the wrong things I also focused on the fact that I was *not* changing my life. This lead me deeper into unhappiness and frustration.

All of these things tie together and could be put under the heading: Too Much, Too Soon, Too Fast.

What Should I Do About It?

I am not perfect and it’s going to be a long hard road of change. Change is hard, but it’s worth it. Right now I am trying to simplify again and focus on the important things. Here are some strategies that I hope you can find helpful that I am trying to implement into my life:

  1. Stop doing too much.
    Too much is too much. Enough is enough. We hear these phrases often. To stop doing something that you like or that you’ve committed to can be hard. Sometimes you have to say no or stop doing something or even quit. Make a list, find the necessities and your passions and drop everything else. Don’t overburden yourself with the nonessential. I stopped doing some personal projects that I might pick up later and I quit my job at school. I also lightened my school load just a little bit (still full-time, but I went from 15 credit hours to 13). This coming year I am going to be cutting out some other nonessential things. Will you join me?
  2. Start slowly.
    Did you get a new job? Starting school? Just got married? Starting a blog or a new exercise routine? Start slowly. One step at a time is enough progress to keep moving forward. The important thing is not the speed at which you move, but the continuation of forward momentum. As long as you are improving and learning each day, you are doing great! Slow down and enjoy the journey. Don’t take on too much all at the same time.
  3. Find the right things and focus on them.
    There is no right or wrong thing for each person. You can’t read a book or blog and find the right habits or right job or right school for you. The right thing, ultimately, is what makes you happy and brings joy and fulfillment into your life. Follow your passions. When you find something that truly gets you out of bed in the morning then pursue it! Don’t wait around for someone to tell you what the right thing is. Go out and find it.

2 Comments

  • Tracy A says:

    Great motivational words! Thanks for “keeping it real”.

  • Aunt Shell says:

    Great reminder. I often find that when I’m not feeling happy is because I’m not doing what makes me happy. I’m doing what I think will make everyone else happy. You are such an inspiration! Thank you