The January Monthly Review
In March, this blog will be three years old. Over the past three years, I’ve written whatever I want to write... whenever I want to write it.
And I’ve pretty much loved every minute of it.
Before launching Sarah Going, I had several other blogs that are no longer around (RIP, first blogs). From the beginning, I was doing what I was “supposed to do” with those blogs: they had well-defined topics and audiences, they were in relatively obscure niches (not in a space with hundreds of thousands of competing blogs, like travel or lifestyle), and they had an actual posting schedule that I tried to maintain.
Then something happened: I quit wanting to write them.
We could speculate about why those blogs failed, but my guess is a combination of the fact that their niches were too narrow (I simply ran out of things to write about) and the fact that those blogs were built on the wrong priorities (traffic... over my actual interest in writing them long term).
But they weren’t a total loss: I learned a lot of important lessons from those failed blogs that I still rely on today.
Arguably the most important of those lessons was that prioritizing what you think you are supposed to do over what you actually want to do is not sustainable long term. It may not cause any problems for the first week, month, or year. But if you are prioritizing a topic/niche because you think it can grow, when you don’t really love writing about it... you’ll eventually stop wanting to write.
Since I’ve done virtually whatever I want with this blog from day one, I’ve never wanted to quit writing it.
But there is a different set of side effects to my behavior with this blog (posting sporadically about an unpredictable variety of less than SEO optimized topics): I haven’t been able to build much of a consistent audience here.
(Shocking, I know.)
So I’m implementing some changes in 2019 with the hope of becoming a slightly more serious blogger... one of which is this monthly review. Because serious bloggers always have monthly reviews of some sort, right? Every month, I’ll write a post here about how my annual goals for the year are progressing... and I’ll probably also including some general life updates from the month. I’ll also be writing a post on the Going Places Media blog about my stats and traffic (which I’m pretty excited about since I’m a math nerd – check out that post when it is published tomorrow!)
Also, in case you were worried by this intro, don’t be: my unpredictable variety of less than SEO optimized posts isn’t going anywhere. I just want to bring that content to you a little bit less sporadically in 2019 (hopefully, you’ll be hearing from me here at least once a week).
My January Resolution Review
If you want to read back through my introduction of the 2019 resolutions and get more detail on WHY I chose each one, check out this post.
1) Build a Blog / Brand / Business
My top priority for 2019 is to get serious about building my blogs, brand and business. Unfortunately, this priority got a bit off track in January.
For what feels like MY ENTIRE LIFE (but is probably just these past few years), I’ve been testing different editorial calendar systems... and I’ve never found one that I love. When I was off work traveling and hanging out at my fifties fixer upper these past three months with all the time in the world, my editorial calendar for the blogs and social media feeds didn’t matter as much. But after getting over the initial shock of going back to work in January, I was reminded of how important a working list of what needs to be done is. When you only have an hour or two each weekday to accomplish everything you need to for your blogs, brand and business, you really can’t afford to waste any of that time trying to figure out what you should be working on. Stay tuned as I continue the quest for an organizational system next month... and refocus on this priority now that I’ve settled back into working full-time.
2) Save 50% of My Income
Since I went back to work in mid-January, I actually didn’t receive my first paycheck until the first of February... so we’ll have to wait until next month to see how I do on rebuilding my savings account balance after these past three months of shenanigans.
3) One new city, One new country
I have a few ideas for where I want to travel in 2019, but I’m Nashville-bound for a bit at this point with the new job... which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m using this time to rebuild my travel budget for 2019 so I’ll be ready for some trips later this year.
4) Read 52 Books
In January I finished four books, so I’m on track with this goal. (If you want to stay up to date on my reading challenge specifically, you can follow me on Goodreads.)
5) No TV Shows
Before going back to work in mid-January, when hitting the gym for one hour a day was about my only outside-the-house obligation, this particular goal was brutal. I was still watching quite a bit of TV (if you’ll recall from my post introducing this year’s resolutions, I’m allowing movies and documentaries), and I even decided to make an exception for docuseries last month. Those first two weeks back at work, I fell straight into my default (bad) habits: come home exhausted, head straight for the couch and turn on the TV.
But I’m happy to report that over this past week, things have (FINALLY) started to shift in the right direction. I haven't turned on my TV at all week this week, and I can still barely stick to my blog posting schedule... which is further evidence that this crazy goal is necessary if I want to devote enough time to my blog, brand and business to see the results I want to see this year.
My January General Review and Life Updates
As mentioned throughout this post, I guess my biggest life event last month was going back to work full-time in finance. When I first landed back in Nashville after my Six Week Sabbatical trip at the beginning of December, I honestly didn’t know where I would end up going back to work... but I knew I would be going back to work somewhere, since I’d been living off my savings since the end of October. I officially went back to wearing my business attire to the cubicle every day in mid-January.
And to be honest, I underestimated how long it would take to readjust to the nine to five.
After three months of sleeping and waking up according to my natural schedule without an alarm (I tend to be a serious night owl if left to my own devices), walking at least 20,000 steps a day, writing, reading, taking pictures and wearing leggings everywhere I went... it took a solid two weeks for me to start feeling human again after going back to sitting while working in spreadsheets all day. One thing that helped was that no matter how delirious I was by the end of the day, I kept up my schedule of kickboxing three nights a week after work. But even with the boxing, I didn’t feel motivation to do much for those first two weeks except lay around.
Time management has always been a huge problem for me, which is one of the reasons it is at the core of my goals for the year 2019. With the full-time job in play, it feels like I’ll never have enough time to accomplish all the things I want to each week on my blogs, brand and other projects. Even my trusty editorial calendar that I made in excel after I got sick of looking for a formal system said that this post you are reading right now should have been posted on Wednesday of this week.
But hey... we’re getting there. Maybe by the end of February I’ll be one day behind on my editorial calendar instead of two days behind. Moral of this story? Sometimes it’s ok to cut yourself a little slack when you are adjusting to huge changes in your life. Because a little extra rest can help you bounce back quicker.
And in my case, those two weeks in January where I laid on the couch, got extra sleep and didn’t create anything helped me get back to writing at (almost) full speed this week.
Happy Friday, and I hope you have a great, productive weekend.
How did you do on your goals in January? What topics would you like to see me write about around here in February? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!