This is the 13th article I’ve written since setting a personal goal of publishing at least one article per week at the start of August this year.
It might seem like a small thing to some. It’s hardly an ambitious target and I am not a billionaire.
But to me, it means everything. The past three months has always been about proving to myself that I can do whatever I set my mind to. There’s this strong barrier I feel like I’ve slowly broken with each post I share with the world.
So here are the things I am extremely grateful for since starting on this journey.
1. Writing is in my blood
Each of my post has a minimum word count of 4,000 (except this one). Multiply that by 13 articles, I’ve literally written over 50,000 words within three months, not counting the ones I wrote outside my monthly theme category.
There was a time when I felt like I’ve lost the ability to write. I used to write on a daily basis when I was in high school but somehow when I started university, I felt like I didn’t have anything important to say. Every attempt at starting a blog and posting regularly would fizzle within weeks.
I realise now that it had nothing to do with my writing ability. What I lacked then was focus and purpose.
It’s a good feeling to know that I have over 50,000 words under my belt. Imagine what I can do in a year. Publishing a book doesn’t seem like such a far off idea now. Even if none of my current articles can be used as good material for a book, I know I can quickly come up with 50,000 more words on any subject I set my heart on.
2. I am actually familiar with Instagram now
Just a few months ago, Instagram was alien to me. I was more used to Facebook as I prefer postings with words. I was puzzled when my younger cousins told me that Facebook is actually considered a social platform for ‘older people’ (like me I suppose). A lot of their peers prefer Instagram because they love looking at beautiful pictures without the accompanying nonsense that comes with Facebook – nonsense being anything related to politics, religion and any form of drama where people start getting emotional and spewing bile at total strangers. It also means a huge proportion of potential audience is on Instagram, which means I have to be there.
At first I only had 20 or so followers (all of them friends). But the more often I posted pictures and employed the right hashtags, the more followers I would get. Some of them would actually check out my website and read what I write. Now my followers have gone up to 170 over the past three months, all organically grown.
It’s a modest number, I know, considering that most of my friends who don’t even make their profile public have about 2,000+ followers. The growth of my followers is also very small, but it’s nothing to scratch my head over – I don’t post regularly.
Next target? Get familiar with Twitter. And try to post more regularly on Instagram.
3. WordPress is no longer scary
The only reason I can self-host my website is because I have a computer genius brother and a bunch of computer geeks as friends.
Over time, as I learn to manage my own website, there are so many free sources of advice out there about how to manage spam, how to incorporate analytics and advertising into my website and how to increase engagement.
Soon, I will be familiar enough with the mechanisms behind running my own website that I can write about it to help other people.
4. I no longer waste time being afraid
It’s a real fear, not knowing what to do with my life outside the corporate world. I’m an overthinker and overthinkers usually drown in their own thoughts and fears.
It used to be that I would consider the opportunity cost of each and every action I take before taking them. If I spend three hours writing, I sacrifice reading, exercising, socialising, learning a new skill, etc – you get the picture. It used to paralyse me, thinking of all the things I couldn’t do by choosing to do one thing.
In the corporate world, things were different. Working is a must because if you don’t work, you will trouble a lot of other people. I don’t know if it’s the same for others, but I am so used to giving it my all when other people are involved. But when it comes to myself, I am not as efficient. It’s like I didn’t treat myself with the same respect I afford other people.
When I’m out here on my own, suddenly everything is flexible and the only person I’m accountable to is myself. It took time to develop the kind of self-respect needed to take my self-imposed goals seriously. Once I had that, I stopped being so wishy-washy about a lot of things and just got to work.
5. My Facebook page has over 2,000 followers
My Facebook page just hit that number a few days ago. It feels unreal because I hardly paid any attention to it . It just came as a lovely surprise.
I learned that Facebook is the perfect place to grow my audience which I can redirect to my website and other platforms like Instagram and YouTube. Had I persisted in only posting videos on YouTube to get the traffic (and hence income), no one would have seen it at all.
So from now on, every video I make will be posted directly on Facebook. Once I have enough videos with good content, people will naturally seek out my YouTube channel because honestly, Facebook really sucks at helping users find and share videos, especially if they’re not logged in on Facebook.
6. Reading books is actually part of my job now
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Woke up at 6.30am and couldn't go back to sleep. So now I'm in my favourite cafe finishing up a book. Say what you will about Islam, but when God told us to wake up before the crack of dawn to perform our morning prayers for which we have to splash our face three times with clean water as part of the ablution ritual, He probably had lazy bums like me who couldn't wake up without divine intervention in mind. And I have to say, this morning is going beautifully.
I don’t read as much as I’m supposed to, so this is the first thing I’m changing come November. Sometimes I get so caught up in staying on schedule and writing articles to publish that I forget to tend to my source of inspiration – knowledge.
I’ve always thought about how nice it would be if I could make money reading books.
Now I can actually make that dream a reality because I get to create my own job scope.
They say Warren Buffet reads at least 500 pages a day. One day I’ll get there.
7. Ideas come easily when I read books
My notebook is filled with ideas for posts. The only reason I haven’t published them is because I was trying hard to stick to the monthly theme I set myself.
Starting November, I will do away with monthly themes and just write whatever I think is useful for people. I am feeling optimistic about it and can’t wait to get started.
Reading books will no longer be a guilty pleasure. It will be a necessity.
8. I have renewed passion and interest for life
For a while there before quitting my job, life felt like an endless cycle of work and sleep. Vacation was mere escapism before being sucked back into a dreary office life.
I remember thinking at the time, dying people seemed to have it all figured out. They know what they want or don’t want to do. They don’t waste time anymore because their time is limited.
But then again, all our times are limited, it’s just that we have no clue when we are going to die. So we pretend that we still have all the time in the world to do things we don’t really want to do.
I questioned if there’s a way for me to also ‘figure it out’ without actually having the expiry date on my life revealed to me.
I’m glad I made the jump. Sometimes when I tell people what I do, they let out a snicker and say, “So? Are you making more money now?”
It used to affect me but now I feel rather sorry for them. I’m the first person to admit the importance of money. But at the same time, it’s rather sad that every decision always has to be compared to monetary gains.
Money can be earned, but your time, your youth and your energy will diminish with every passing day. Every time I consider the currently sad state of my income, I know it will improve and the best thing is it will be on my terms.
9. I have thicker skin
I’ve always had rather thick skin. I don’t shrink away from attention, even if said attention might be of the disapproving kind.
But sharing my thoughts, my videos and my pictures in public space had me developing a different level of skin thickness.
I found out that I have absolutely no time for self-consciousness and self-criticism because I’m too busy making content and most people don’t really care anyway.
And when I do get criticism, it will probably be directed at one thing out of a thousand other things I’m doing. When you do a lot of things, you’re bound to get a bunch of things wrong. And that’s okay. It’s normal.
10. I’m no longer afraid of making mistakes
I started this blog writing about travel. It started off quite lame. Then I switched to my monthly themes. I don’t like it much because it curtails my creativity. Next month I’m going to write about something else and make more videos.
Are they going to work? I have no clue.
But it’s fun trying.
11. I’m a step closer to my dreams
My goal is simple. I want job security. Since no one can give it to me, I will give it to myself.
I compare myself to people who are way more successful than I am right now, which I do because that’s how I learn to be better.
At the same time I compare where I am now to where I was three months ago, one year ago and two years ago.
I feel like I’ve run some sort of marathon. I’m just so grateful I got started and put a distance between then and now.
12. I understand the value of focusing on one thing at a time
I have so many things I want to do for the future. In fact, for each of the point I have in this post, I have a new target for myself.
Which is why I’m so glad I learned the value of doing one thing at a time. There’s no point in rushing and trying to get everything done at the same time. It’s better to do one thing properly and then moving on to the next item on the list.
13. I have a stronger conviction in myself
The best thing to happen to me. Standing opposed to a huge body of idea is not a fun place to be. But as long as I have my supportive group of people, I know I can stand stronger and be better. Whether people like to admit it or not, no man is an island and no one reaches success without help.
It’s been an eventful three months for me and I can’t be happier that October is drawing to a close because it means that I managed to hit my target of consistently publishing an article every week.
I’ve learned numerous valuable lessons along the way, some I didn’t include because the points will spill over to 50s or 60s.
Here’s to an exciting new chapter in life!