One long standing Canadian holiday tradition is watching the World Junior Hockey Tournament that starts on Boxing day. This is then followed by a couple of weeks of waking up at ungodly hours to watch games live from time zones across the world. But it’s just what we do. Hockey is our thang.
This year something other than the usual excitement struck me me while watching the pre-tournament coverage. The coach of the team, as always, gets bombarded with a million questions, the main reoccurring one being: how is he going to bring home the gold?
His answer was really profound which is unusual given all the silly sports metaphors that fly out of people’s mouths. (Ready to give it 110% guys?) He simply said, (and I’m hardcore paraphrasing here) “I’ve told the boys to do what they know and the results will take care of themselves.”
One of the great reoccurring themes of meditation and mindfulness is that when you put all your focus into your intention about an action and not the result, you can release yourself from needing (and tying your self-worth to) a certain outcome. Crazy, the coach is pretty zen!
What does all this have to do with blogging? So glad you asked!
The Numbers Trap
This time of year is all about the goals and seeing how last year went and all that jazz. So often, blogging goals get wrapped up in the metrics and stats that we simply cannot control.
We can’t control how many subscribers we’ll get this month or this year, yet so often that metric will hit the goal sheet as a measure of how “well” our blog did.
Ultimately, we can’t control how many pageviews we get because those are actions of others and I know I’m not running around the neighborhood, firing up other people’s computers and checking out my site, ain’t nobody got time for that.
When we focus on the things we can’t truly control it can create a lot of problems for us and our blogs.
1. You get stuck easier. Ever felt sorry for yourself because of your lot in life or some other external thing you can’t control? I know I have and the one thing that does is take away all the power you have to actually affect change in your life. It works the same for blogging. If you are creating and judging your success by uncontrollable events it leads to a sense of powerlessness and a lack of control. Not the best place to be working from.
2. You end up not actually doing the stuff that matters. Let’s take good old fashion pageviews for example. Say your goal is to have 200 pageviews a day by the end of February. That goal fits nicely into the I can’t-control-that-pile so instead of focusing on the actual tasks, action and things you need to do to create that result – you focus on the number (refreshing and refreshing) but wishing certainly doesn’t make it so.
3. It’s easier to compare yourself to others (and not feel like you measure up.) When we focus goals outward and on the uncontrollable metrics of our blog, it’s far easier to look outwardly for everything. Does this blogger have more subscribers? Wow, look how many comments so-and-so is getting. And the green eyed monster takes over, stealing your ability to highlight your unique gifts because you’re too worried about everyone else.
Flipping Goal Setting Upside Down
So what’s the answer? No goals? Just kind of float down the river of life?
Actually, I think that kind of is the answer.
What if instead of goal setting based on metrics (or pounds as is often the case this time of year too) we focus on doing the things that we can control, the things we know, and letting the outcome take care of itself.
Focusing on the habits, the actionable things, the day to day stuff that makes those bigger things happen, almost naturally.
What do you have control over? Where should you place your energy? What should you act on?
You can control what you produce and you can control how often you produce it. It’s really that simple. But in that simplicity is all the power.
You can produce blog content at intervals you determine and you are totally in charge of how much effort you put into making that content great.
You can contact other bloggers and try to get guest posting gigs. You can’t control if you’re accepted but you sure can control how often you put yourself out there.
You can control if you product anything for sale. If you have a goal of making money with your blog this year, you can’t control how much you make but if you’re not producing anything, chances are that number might just be zero.
Should We Just Ignore Stats?
So where do pageviews and stats come in? Do we just ignore the whole numbers side of things?
Nope, but they do need to stay in their place.
Those numbers are helpful to see if what you’re producing and putting out in the world is making the impact you desire. They help you evaluate, adjust and make course corrections on your blogging journey – they’re the feedback loop – not the ultimate goal.
As you’re creating and crafting your blogging goals this year, how can you approach your goals from a place of control? What do you want to create this year?
What can you deliver to your readers, either through regular blog posts, ebooks, challenges or other types of content that will serve your readers the best? Focus on that and the results will take care of itself.