If I had to choose three words that captured the essence of my year, they would be ‘fearless self-discovery’. Blogging is a powerful tool for many reasons, yet the capacity it has to help you truly find yourself in the process is unimaginable.
Every day I chat to numerous bloggers about their achievements, their desires and their experiences and one theme constantly jumps out at me each and every time. Above all else, these people learn more about themselves and what makes them tick. It helps them get outside of their bubble and really look at themselves as unique individuals – something that’s difficult to achieve under normal circumstances.
Today I want to share with you why I believe blogging, journaling – whatever you wish to call it, has the ability to promote fearless self-discovery in all of us, regardless of our backgrounds.
1. Blogging Pushes You Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Do you remember the first time you tentatively hovered over the publish button? What was running through your mind at that moment? Personally, I was terrified that I would look like I didn’t know what I was talking about. That I’d appear a fraud to my peers and an amateur to people already ‘in the know’.
It’s hard to sit and pour your soul into something like this. You’re exposing a piece of your true self when you write and that’s always a vulnerable experience. No-one likes to feel vulnerable and it’s normal to want to protect the raw aspects of our personalities, yet on the flip side, it can be such a freeing experience.
Taking that small step outside of your comfort zone – hitting that publish button – is a huge achievement. It’s basically looking at yourself, noting your flaws and going along with it anyway. You’re mindful of the fear involved yet understand in your own way, that it probably won’t be as bad as you think.
2. Blogging Forces You To Take Criticism
A fear of criticism is another way many of us hold back from letting our personalities shine through our blogs. I’m one those people who takes criticism badly, not because I always think I’m right, but because it makes me feel I’m not good enough.
Blogging has taught me that criticism can be constructive, useful even when given and received in the right way. It can highlight areas you may have overlooked that need improving, can clarify a topic you didn’t explain very well and even build relationships with people who understand the process.
It doesn’t always mean you’re rubbish and not all negative advice is bad. You need to take the rough with the smooth and decide how you’re going to interpret that advice, to best help you and your blog.
This brings me on to my next point on how to provide feedback.
3. You Learn The Right Way To Give Advice
I’m currently working through The Creative Class by Paul Jarvis and one of the valuable lessons he teaches is how to give and receive feedback as a freelancer. While the lesson leans heavily on freelancing, the key message can relate to all things in life, particularly blogging.
There’s a Right Way and a Wrong Way to provide feedback, and it can save many a misunderstanding between you and your readers.
As your blog grows you’ll learn that the way you phrase something can change how a person understands it. You’ll pick up how your community of readers prefer to consume your content, how they talk and the way they communicate. Tailoring your writing style slightly to align with how they process information can really help you bridge any breakdowns.
I’m not suggesting you change your entire writing style – that’s unique to you. But paying attention to the way you say things and remaining mindful of your audience will save problems in the long-term.
4. Blogging Expands Your Catalogue of Skills
How much did you know about the world of blogging before you started? How much do you know now? I bet the difference between the answers to those two questions is huge.
No-one starts out as a blogging expert. Even the so-called ‘Pro Bloggers’ had to start out somewhere and therein lies the beauty of being a blogger. The learning curve is a natural process that expands over time. As you grow more confident in your blogging skin, so too does your ability to pick up new things.
You might not look at those things as skills but I can assure you that they are. For example, the other day I was working on a project for one of my clients which required the use of Infusionsoft. I’d never used the software before and so a long day was spent watching videos and playing about with settings. I’m pretty sure I’ve cracked it now and can confidently work with it on marketing campaigns, yet my former self would never have considered trying it.
That’s the power of blogging. Whatever form your new skills take, I can assure you that you’re learning and using them all the time.
5. Blogging Helps You Do What You Love
Back when I was in high-school I always wanted to branch out into creative design. Unfortunately, I never progressed into College or University and so didn’t have the opportunity to train in those areas.
Starting a blog, helping other bloggers and teaching myself the skills needed to change and design my own site, has led me to offer design services to you, my audience. In essence, the journey has taken me to the same end point professional training would have. I’m doing what I love and you can do that too!
It’s not easy and it takes a lot of work. Whether you work to monetize your blog and generate income to free up time for hobbies, or you use your blog to sell a service you offer doesn’t matter. What matters is that you start doing it now because life is way too short to waste on things that don’t get a fire burning in your belly. Work towards the things that make you passionate, enthusiastic and the quality you produce will be all the more awesome.
6. Blogging Teaches You Your Limits
In the same way, blogging can help you expand your horizons, it’s also got the uncanny knack of teaching you when enough is enough. We all have limits. Some of us can take a whole lot more than others but knowing when to stop is crucial to avoid feeling burnt out.
It’s all well and good to have boundless enthusiasm but keeping a cap on it and setting yourself limits, saves you losing the real reason that drove your initial foray into blogging. I can’t count the number of talented people I’ve met who had wonderful ideas and captivating blogs. Those same people burned through the energy they’d stockpiled and came out the other side with deleted blogs and time lost they’ll never get back.
I was one of those people. I still have periods where the urge to throw in the towel is stronger than the yearning to continue. I’m an impatient person and want to see results now so I can move on to the new idea I’ve just had. Waiting has never been an easy game for me to play and often leads to frustration and feelings of failure. So I pace myself. When everything is too much, I close my browser, step away from my laptop and immerse myself in my family.
Sometimes stepping away can be the best possible thing for both you and your blog. Fearless self-discovery can be a tiring process and you need time to digest all that you’ve learned along the way.
So take your time – blogging isn’t a race and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. It’s a continuing cycle of learning, intuition, gut instinct and raw emotion. Keep being yourself, keep writing what drives you, keep learning and you’ll get to where you want to be in your own good time.