Today marks three full weeks of The ^Almost Daily Catalyst! Seth Godin has been encouraging me (and, you know, the other 4M people who follow him) for 2 years to blog every day, but it always felt like such a big ask.
I started as more of a blogger than a coach, then the coaching took off and the blogging dwindled to maaayyyybbeeee once a month. And yet, the call of regular writing was always running along in the background like an excitable little dog.
“Bark! Bark, bark!” he says! (That’s dog for “Hey! We could write a blog about that! And this! And that! We totally have enough to write every day! Let’s do it! It will be SO. FUN.”)
Unfortunately, those thoughts were being “managed” by these super “helpful” thoughts:
But, when life went on PAUSE for the coronavirus, I said to myself “Self, if ever there was a time to be as helpful as possible despite our penchant for being wrong, wasteful, and irrelevant, it’s now.”
“Ok, self,” I said. “Let’s do it.”
And I wrote that first blog. On a whim, I gave it a name that committed me blogging (almost!) every day, and here we are.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
1. First, let’s cover off on a few logistical challenges.
Giphy does not work in email. Here’s a fun picture that I found in my inbox on Wednesday morning. It hurts my eyes to look at it. SO SORRY about that.
While we are at it, sorry for the typos, the wrong “you’re,” my confusion over it’s and its, the missing spaces (I think my space bar is a little bit stuck), the run on sentences, missing or overused commas, and the repeated references to Trolleos (actually… sorry, not sorry. #POPROCKS).
Sometimes we think that when things are wrong it’s because the person doesn’t know or “just doesn’t care.” It’s neither. It’s just that imperfection is woven into the blueprint of my life.
It just IS.
For a while, I let the lack of perfection keep me contained and careful, but I’ve decided lately that’s kind of boring. The ^Almost Daily Catalyst is my training ground for imperfect action, typos and distorted gifs be damned… and it’s going OK. I find that as long as you are earnest in your desire to help, people are forgiving of your humanness.
2. Writing about the nature of life is vulnerable. Writing about it during a global crisis is downright daunting.
Almost every day there is something in my blog that I think people will “hate me for” (oh, how we inflate our importance).
Here’s an incomplete list of panicked thoughts that I’ve suppressed while hitting “schedule:”
The takeaway here is that anything worth doing is going to freak you out a little… but we gotta do it anyway. Every single day I write something makes me want to delete the post, and every single day I schedule it for 7ish the next day and get on with my life. This squeeze-my-eyes-shut-and-pretend-it-didn’t-happen strategy is my only successful one so far. I’ll let you know if I figure out some more advanced, mentally elevating strategy as we continue.
3. People will UN-SUB-SCRIBE… and that has to be OK
Every single email gets 2-7 unsubscribers. EVERY. SINGLE. EMAIL. I’ve had 52 unsubscribers in March alone! My list is not all that big so I felt those 52 goodbyes.
Now I did expect this, sort of. Historically, I get some unsubscribes from every single email I ever write- everyone does, actually. It’s called churn and it’s just one of those things you have to live with.
The “common wisdom” about unsubscribes is that they are actually a good thing. People who unsubscribe are simply realizing that they aren’t the right people for your message and therefore are doing the right thing by leaving. This keeps their inbox clean, your impact high, and your message on point. Win-win?
The truly wise on such matters say to make your message as clear and purse as possible so that people unsubscribe sooner rather than later… and in general, I agree… the more “me” I am, the higher the unsubscribe rate… and the higher the open and click rate, too.
But knowing and agreeing with that wisdom (and even sharing that wisdom with my clients when they start obsessing about “who unsubscribed”*) doesn’t mean that I’m not having FEELINGS about it! That’s the passion in passionate detachment.
The detachment in passionate detachment helps me to feel those feelings and then let them go. Just like the unsubscribers themselves.
“Bless you for stopping by,” I say, conciliatory Trolleo in hand, “and goodbye.”
(*DO NOT LOOK AT WHO UNSUBSCRIBED. It’s not worth the head space you will inevitably dedicate to figuring out why your Aunt Edith, and previous client, and good friend have unsubscribed from your list. I speak with experience here.)
4. It’s surprising, sometimes, what resonates.
I’m 15 emails into this (almost) daily ritual, but I’m 89 blogs in overall on this site (and there’s another 50 or so over on kingyogart, for those of you who have been around for awhile), so I felt like I knew what would resonate: I’m a point of view writer who joins everyday experiences with psychological insight to create insight…. right? But then the blog that I wrote with most abandon and the least filter and ZERO psychology (F*ck it!) got the biggest reaction! People emailed me to tell me it “made their day” (which made my day), my brother called me to laugh in person, and one of the people I admire the most- who I actively worried about offending- told me that she “Loved it.”
So that’s fun!
Also, you may remember that learning to make ‘pretty good’ images is a long-term goal of mine. The image that goes with F*CK IT is one of which I am most my proud.
Bright, balanced and incongruent- just like me!
5. I AM WORDY. I promised myself that I would make daily blogging “manageable” by making them “short.” I have not succeeded at that. My goal was to have at least some that are fewer than 500 words…. and one blog was 700 words… does that count? The rest of them are all more than 1000 words! Some of them threaten to surpass 1500 words (this “breezy, end of the week” one is 1477!). I have had some loving texts from friends statin: “I love your blog… but they’re kind of long.”
Like I said, imperfection really is just a part of the me-ness of me.
6. The Header Image Conundrum
You may have noticed that the header image for the emails keeps changing. I tried to design my own, but there was something not quite right about it.
I tried pink:
I tried blue:
I tried white:
This white one caused some (very) mild controversy on Facebook! Some people said it was “classy” and others said “there’s WAY too much going on there!”… but it won the support among these three options.
Finally, I went to the expert for some new ideas. The one at the top of this email was designed by my intrepid, long-term designer Heather Terwilliger (You need her in your life. Email email@example.com)
It’s not entirely finalized… and we are still considering something that has a beaker instead of a lightbulb to go with the idea of a “catalyst…” but it’s really growing on me.
I’m curious: what do you think? If (and only if!) you find it fun to think about designey things, feel free to hit reply and let me know!
In the meantime, have a GREAT weekend and I’ll be back to blogging again on Monday.
Amanda Crowell, PhD is a cognitive psychologist obsessed with how people make change. She is best known for translating cutting edge research into practical strategies that can be used right away.