In Which I Break the Rules & Go Cold Turkey
Nobody likes being sick.
A few weeks ago, I faced a fourth case of shingles, my least-favorite and most-recurrent illness. And my body was in great shape compared with my thoughts.
You see, I was struggling with a scarcity mindset regarding our readership here. I’d become overly attached to the goal of reaching 1,000 subscribers, so much so that I couldn’t feel the tremendous abundance that is already here.
To be fair, this 1,000-subscriber fixation didn’t come out of nowhere. It was fueled by the advice of myriad big-time bloggers, many of whom actually say, You’re a blogging nobody until you get 1,000 subscribers. If your number is below 1,000, don’t mention it anywhere on your site – smaller numbers scare people off.
The implied rule is, “Tuck your tail and be ashamed of your blog until you get the shred of legitimacy afforded by the number 1,000.”
So … this is me breaking that rule.
My friends, I am sorry to say that I listened to that garbage. And I’m thankful that an old friend helped me realize how messed-up my thinking had become.
When I told her about my subscriber number issues, she said, “What you’re describing sounds similar to an eating disorder – the fixation on a certain number, such as a goal weight, and how it dictates your sense of personal worth.” (My friend is getting her doctorate in clinical psychology, and it shows.)
“Wow,” I said. She was right. I’ve dealt with disordered eating in the past, and I recognized the never-good-enough mentality.
(That said, it’s certainly possible to check your weight or your site statistics without being unhealthy about it. Problems only start when you use those numbers as a measure of self-worth.)
In a flash, I could see my younger self stepping onto the scale, mentally calibrating her self-respect for the day. And I could see my older self checking subscriber numbers in the same way. In both cases, the number was never good enough. I never measured up.
The perfectionist in me had a hard time accepting that 929 is a wonderful number, even if it’s not 1,000. I used to think that, if only 71 new readers would appear, then I could relax. It was the old arrival fallacy: if only I could be there instead of here, then surely I would be content.
Being sick with shingles gave me a new perspective. As my friend and mentor Glennon Melton of Momastery once wrote, “It’s funny, you want all of these things, and then you get sick and you realize that the only thing you really want is to be healthy.”
It’s true. Once I realized that I was sick with shingles (and subscriber greed), all I wanted was to be well. And in order to get well, I had to actually heed Glennon’s advice regarding blog growth.
Here it is, the big secret: “Don’t worry about marketing or gimmicks or self promotion, just write. Everyday, write. Show up for yourself. That’s where the magic is. Your people will find you.”
The first time I heard G say that, I thought: Um … I wish that were true, but I’m not that naive. I’ve had to push and strive and guest post constantly just to grow this blog by a few hundred subscribers. If you build it, they will come? I wish!
But after three and a half years of writing here, guess what conclusion I’ve come to? Glennon was right. It’s as true in blogging as it is in the rest of life: give freely, and life will find a way to give back to you.
Given that, I’ve wondered, Should I have done things differently from the start? Was I off-base to do guest posts and outreach?
But then I remember this: everyone’s path is different, and everyone’s divine assignment is unique. Perhaps Glennon’s assignment with Momastery was to resist the temptation to promote it. I’d imagine that wasn’t always easy for her not to use her enthusiasm and vivacity to get the word out.
And perhaps my (initial) assignment with A Wish Come Clear was to resist my temptation to hide it under a bushel. Maybe I had get out there and do 75+ guest posts — to give blog growth my best effort — before I could surrender.
But surrender I have. In the last few weeks, I’ve done what addicts must do to recover: I’ve gone cold turkey.
I’ve let go of my ambitions for this blog. I am no longer pushing myself to hit the 1,000 subscriber benchmark, or any other benchmark for that matter. I believe that it will happen eventually, but I’m not striving for it.
Instead, I’ve re-committed to showing up here and offering stories of substance, trusting that you’ll share them if they speak to you.
In short, I’m redirecting energy from competition into creation. I’ve been working with my favorite designer to finish a new, free offering for you. I’ve begun work on a new book, and I received an exciting acceptance letter too. (Stay tuned for the story!)
Most of all, I’m living in gratitude for the richness that is already here, for every single person who’s reading this today.
There have been some subtractions, too. For example, I’m letting go of The Listening Hour, the one-on-one coaching/consulting service I presented last month.
I appreciate you taking the time to read and share it, friends. But since I didn’t receive sign-ups, I know that it’s not what’s needed for our community right now.
I want to pause here and alert you to the miracle within this situation. See, the old me would have concluded: I blew it. Nobody signed up! It failed. I’m a failure. I’m going to curl up and stop offering things.
The miracle is this: I didn’t go there. This time, I thought: I tested the idea, and it didn’t take off. That stings a little – I mean, I re-wrote the copy three times and figured out how to do the HTML for a pretty button and everything! – but it’s OK. Wait … where’s the oppressive sense of self-condemnation? Wow, I don’t feel like a failure!
If your mind is anything like mine, you know that that represents real progress. When you have the courage to try, to fight for a dream, to think differently …
Now, that’s growth worth celebrating.