Do Happy: Pursue Fewer Goals

This post is republished with permission. Find more of Lori Deschene’s writing at tinybuddha.com. Read the original post here.

Goals

“The sculptor produces the beautiful statue by chipping away such parts of the marble block as are not needed- it is a process of elimination.” ~Elbert Hubbard

A couple weeks back you probably wrote out a list of resolutions; that’s what people do when a new year approaches.  And that’s a wonderful idea.

According to research published in the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, people who explicitly set resolutions are 10 times more likely to reach their goals than people who don’t.

Perhaps your list addressed  multiple areas of your life–professional milestones you’d like to reach, objectives for your health and fitness, experiences you’d like to have.  If you’re a blogger, you may even have listed 50 things you’d like to achieve.  It’s a popular format in the world of online lists.

As impressive as all these plans look on a page–and as capable as you may be–you might find it difficult to follow through with all those good intentions.

As a culture, we tend to think more is better, but this mindset often sacrifices quality for quantity; never mind that it sets most of us up for failure.  When you overwhelm yourself with plans and information you’re likely to get overwhelmed and stop before you start.

Statistically, only 64 percent of people keep moving forward with their New Years resolutions into February; and only 46 keep going beyond the 6-month mark.  The rest slowly go back to what they’ve always done, perhaps recommitting when January comes again.

If you find yourself already losing steam or motivation–or if your past suggests you might do so eventually–now may be a great time to revamp that list you made.

Whittle it down to just a few key goals, making sure each of them is SMART (described in more detail here).  Break each one down into small steps, and spend a little time every day working toward each of them.

Staying focused and committed to a few objectives, and achieving your desired results will be far more fulfilling than making short strides multiple directions.

You may be surprised by how rich your life feels when you do less, but do it better.

Do happy. It’s something you’re due.


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Why Fewer Blog Comments Aren’t Bad (and How to Get What You Really Want)

Since it is Christmas I will be taking a break from blogging and have re-posted a blog by Lori Deschene with her kind permission.  I hope you enjoy it.

Why Fewer Blog Comments Aren’t Bad (and How to Get What You Really Want)

bloggingby Lori Deschene

Life online can feel a lot like high school. Lots of people want to be popular, with scores of followers on Twitter. We keep an eye on who gets the most attention when they talk by counting comments on their blog. And the cool kids eventually realize popularity isn’t always easy.

Take Leo of Zen Habits, for example. A month or two back all the comments on his popular blog Zen Habits disappeared. There was a note on the bottom of the page that read, “Comments are temporarily broken. Let me know what you think on Twitter.”

I wondered why he’d solicit feedback on a technical glitch. Then I made an assumption that may or may not have been accurate; but it made a lot of sense: it was just plain better to do away with comments.

Every post he published, without fail, received over 100 comments. Most of them read similarly–praise for Leo and agreement with his ideas. But a few were overly critical and even downright nasty, because there are always a few loners who want to pull the popular kid down a peg.

That requires a lot of time moderating, and even more time clarifying intentions to readers who are snarky for the sake of it.

Oh the irony, I thought. Lots of writers judge their blog’s impact based on the comments they receive. I know I’ve been guilty. I’ve asked people who commented on Twitter or Facebook to re-post their comment on the post itself; and I’ve watched my moderation panel like a pot that refuses to boil.

Then I realized something: pages of blog comments aren’t nearly as important as people think they are. Here’s why:

1. Conversation happens everywhere. Leo didn’t make a crazy request in asking his readers to comment on Twitter; they were already doing that anyway. People discuss blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon, or even on other people’s blogs if they repost your content. What matters is that your writing gets people talking–not that all the conversation is contained in one place.

2. Commenting isn’t always an accurate reflection of what people think. I’ve noticed a trend in one-line comments that include a link back to readers’ blogs. Sometimes they seem generic enough to have been posted anywhere. Don’t get me wrong; I respect self promotion. But I don’t think these comments reflect on your writing so much as your perceived reach.

3. Oceans of comments are often more about the author than the content. Lots of the big fish in the blogging world attract readers who seem more interested in their pseudo celebrity than the messages they convey. I’m sure it feels good to receive that type of praise; but it’s not a prerequisite to being an effective writer.

4. Moderation can be time-consuming. Everyone wants to feel like they are heard and making a difference. But wouldn’t you rather spend your time writing than moderating comments–many of which may be nasty because anonymity seems to invite at least a little hostility? I’m not saying don’t encourage commenting. Just to remember: the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

5. Comments and value aren’t always reciprocal. A few of my posts here have received 5 times as many comments as posts of mine on tinybuddha.com that received 5 times as many RTs. I think it’s because readers connect with me more personally here. But my words seem to have a greater impact over there, where it’s less about me and more about the ideas.

6. Fewer comments allow you to interact more easily. It’s just not realistic to respond to 100 people individually. If you get 10 comments, however, you can address everyone and create two-way conversations. Leo once wrote that he missed the days when he could engage his readers this way. I’m sure he enjoys the perks that have come with his newfound notoriety; but this serves as a reminder to enjoy the journey.

***

There are a lot of wonderful bloggers out there that inspire pages of comments on everything they write. I don’t discredit them or that attention one bit. I just think we all have to ask ourselves what is it we really want–to encourage conversation and make a difference, or to get lots of attention and praise.

Sometimes you can have both. But if you don’t have both, I recommend focusing on the former. You can accomplish that goal–regardless of the comments you receive–by doing the following:

on-computer1

1. Link your posts wherever you can, and engage wherever the conversation starts. I link my posts on Facebook and Twitter; and sometimes put them in my email signature for a length of 2 or 3 days.  What matters is that people read your writing. Make that your priority; then address people wherever they address your work: in @replies, Facebook comments, or emails.

2. Encourage re-posting. I’ve had posts of mine republished in other people’s blogs; in their email newsletters; and even in Facebook notes. That spreads the conversation out, but it also expands your reach. Take a lesson from Leo and “un-copyright” your work. You can even put a note at the bottom of your post that reads: “Feel free to republish on your site with attribution!”

3. Ask for RTs. Oftentimes when I link on Twitter I include parenthetically at the end Please RT if you enjoy! When someone does RT, ask them what they liked about the post. You know you impacted them; now start a conversation that will help you create more work people like.

4. Engage with other blogger’s content in meaningful ways–in your posts when possible. I rarely comment on other people’s blogs because I only comment when I have something to say. However, I occasionally do round-ups of the work I’ve admired, like in the post 70 Ideas to Enjoy Life More Today. In this way I’m showing readers the types of conversations I want to start: genuine, thoughtful, and relevant.

5. Take time in your writing. Know your point of view, and self-edit if necessary to present your thoughts well. People are more likely to have something to say if you have something to say; and they can easily understand it.

If you’re anything like me you love blogging, but you also want to know your time and effort make a difference in people’s lives.

It does–or it will. Just remember: you can’t always measure that difference in feedback; you can’t control where conversation about your work takes place; but you can do your best to create worthwhile content, and spread it creatively.

Lori Deschene lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can read more of her writing at tinybuddha.com and follow her on Twitter @lori_deschene.