In the mountains of McCall, Idaho, I sit down on the hot seat to describe my personal and professional goals to the group. I share my goals to grow an audience, write books, and continue to do the important work necessary to help independent entrepreneurs succeed at Fizzle.
After a half hour spent diving deep on the current state of affairs, someone shares a piece of advice: “You should stop writing daily. It’s not helping you reach your goals,” he says.
He goes on, “Your role model and mentor is Seth Godin, and he recommends that everyone write daily. But when he started writing daily, the world was different. There was less competition in the blogging world. He also had a column at Fast Company, which helped him grow his audience. He wasn’t just writing daily.”
“You say you don’t have time to write both daily AND to write long-form pieces that can be used to attract an audience. Daily blogging is better for an existing audience because it doesn’t attract search results and isn’t great for syndication to places like Medium and LinkedIn. You’re not going to grow a big audience by writing daily.”
“Yeah, you should write daily, but publish weekly. In other words, write one long-form post every week, but do it serially, day by day,” someone else added.
I trust these people. They are some of my closest friends and they run businesses I admire. They give great advice.
So, on September 29th, 2015 I ended a 110-day streak of writing and publishing.
Ending my writing and publishing streak is the worst mistake I’ve made in the past year
Five months later, I can say it was a terrible mistake. Had I continued publishing every day, my streak would now be at 250 days.
So what went wrong?
How to willfully trick your friends into giving you permission to abandon your most important habits by withholding information
Here are some of the rhetorical arguments I planted in their heads from the beginning:
- I have been writing and publishing for more than 100 days straight
- My audience isn’t growing
- I want to write books when I grow up
- My long-form writing is more impactful than my daily writing
- I don’t have time to produce daily writing and long-form writing
Here are some of the things I didn’t share:
- Prior to publishing daily, I hadn’t published a piece of personal writing for more than six months
- I spend an ungodly amount of time browsing social media, fooling around in email, and reading random articles
- I feel most successful on the days I publish a piece of writing
- I have proven that I can consistently produce several thousands of writing per day when I am disciplined
- Publishing everyday is scary and hard and important to me
There is absolutely no reason why I can’t write and publish a short post everyday AND write long-form essays to be regularly published and syndicated. Saying that I could not do both was a way of hiding. It ensured that I would receive the advice I received. Any savvy business person would have made the same recommendation given the available information.
Your lizard brain will eat your values for lunch
To make consistently good decisions, we need a set of values by which we can live our lives. Otherwise, the problem at hand drives our decisions. In this case, the problem was twofold:
- Weekend publishing was putting unnecessary stress on my writing schedule
- My short-term commitments were such that I could not publish long-form pieces of content on a consistent basis
These problems don’t take into account my values, which include making an impact, having the courage to lead, expecting creative excellence, and building a body of work.
My daily writing reflects every single one of these values. Further, by making a small adjustment, I could have emphasized two of my other values – family first and serve God – by simply adjusting my publishing schedule to weekdays only.
It’s easy to confuse intuition with fear
It was easy to convince myself that it was the right thing to do to stop writing daily. When I consulted my “intuition” it screamed back: “It’s not working!!!” And I listened without questioning. But that wasn’t my intuition, that was my fear speaking. Fear is driven by selfishness and the desire for safety.
Once we internalize our values, they become tied to our intuition. Our values inform the sense of intuition that drives great decision making. We have an uncanny ability to know the right path forward based on something embedded deep inside of us.
In the case of daily publishing, my values tell me everything I need to know about the work at hand. The point of my daily writing is, and has always been:
- To make an impact by sharing my observations about the world with you.
- To have the courage to continue to publish because it’s how I learn, teach, and lead.
- To get better every day by striving for creative excellence in my writing.
- And to build a body of work over time by laying one brick at a time, day by day.
I have ideas to share. I have things to say to you. I want to make important change, even if only on a small scale. These themes at the core of my work: Courageous leadership; The power of relationships; Doing work that matters; Sustainable business practices.
And they’re the ones I’m excited to continue sharing with you every day.
There is a contribution that only you can make to the world
That contribution is too important to us to give up. It might come in the form of being an amazing husband. It might be in writing a novel. It might be in serving at your local soup kitchen every week.
Deep inside, you already know what it is. Now it’s your job to go find it.
What are your values? What is the work that matters that you’re ignoring right now? Have you manipulated information to convince others to give you an excuse to give up?
Perhaps most importantly, what are you going to do about it?