Tag Archives: blogging

Step One: Begin Writing

The first step is always the hardest. This is true of many things including writing. There is also a saying that after 21 times repeating the same thing you can make it a habit of it.

Interestingly enough there is an article in the Huffington Post written by James Clear that challenges this notion. It turns out that the 21-day rule was actually just an observation made by a 1950s plastic surgeon named Maxwell Maltz. In Maltz’s book Psycho-Cybernetics, he says that “it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.” People all over the world jumped on to this notion and took it to mean that you can change any habit for a better one in just 21 days. Well, it turns out that is not necessarily the case.

Clear reports in this same article that a health psychology researcher at the University College of London named Phillippa Lally conducted a study to find out just how long it really took to change a habit. Lally research showed that it actually takes on average over 60 days for a new behavior to become a habit. That is significantly longer than the 21-day rule previously proclaimed. Lally also noted that for some people changing their habits could take up to eight months.

Now, as Clear points out, we should take this as a sign of hope and not despair. If you look at your own life how many habits did you attempt to change in a short amount of time? Wasn’t it frustrating when it didn’t work? Well, luckily for us it turns out that we are pretty normal. In fact, for many of us changing habits, or starting new productive habits, can take a lot longer than expected. This fact should allow us to drop our unrealistic expectations and settle into the process of change.  We should celebrate the small successes we make towards a larger goal. We should take the time needed to make a change that can produce a real difference in our life.  Whether it is eating better, or writing more, keep at the process.  One day you will be amazed at where you ended up.

Clear wraps up his article by saying:

At the end of the day, how long it takes to form a particular habit doesn’t really matter that much. Whether it takes 50 days or 500 days, you have to put in the work either way.

The only way to get to Day 500 is to start with Day 1. So forget about the number and focus on doing the work.

I guess every journey does begin with a single step.


Sounded like a good idea at the time

Sounded like a good idea, until it wasn’t.

This statement could describe my life.  I actually do a lot of things that seem like a good idea, until I realize that maybe it wasn’t the best decision.  I especially feel that way when I think about my writing goals and the theme for my blog.

When I first started blogging, back in 2011, it was in support of my dog toy business (Another idea that has come and gone).  I knew that a social media presence would help my business sales, so I started a dog blog.  I developed a posting calendar and joined some blog hops.  After about a year or so, traffic on my blog was decent and then the retail sales started to come in.  Great news, right?  Well maybe, but I still had two other jobs.  Once the dog toy sales started increasing, the time I needed to put in to keep up with the orders outweighed my interest in making dog toys.  After a couple months of way to much work and very little profit, I closed that that venture.

I didn’t want to give up on writing as a hobby, so I tried my hand at another blog.  This one was going to document my outdoor and fitness adventures.  Writing posts for that blog became a little bothersome and mechanical. I just couldn’t get my mind into it. I could only write so many posts about running in the dark or trail running with my dog.  I closed this blog quickly.  Sounded like a good idea at the time.

Then I had another blog idea that was linked to a resale business.  For this one I had a great idea to tell a little story about every item that I was trying to sell as a way to create a buzz about the stuff and increase sales.  Again, I thought this was a good idea, until it wasn’t.  After some initial sales, I lost interest and decided to close that venture.  Sometimes even the most interesting trinket doesn’t scream out a good story.

Now I wonder if you, the reader, are noticing a theme with my projects.  Maybe you are noticing that I give up on things.  Well that might be true.  I, however, might want to say my flighty-ness is possibly a result of adult ADHD.  Or maybe it is that I don’t spend enough time planning out these adventures.  Either way, I think my sporadic blogging is more an example of my varied interests and my continued desire in becoming a good writer.  Even if I am struggling to find a path.

Reflecting on this behavior makes me think about Malcolm Gladwell’s theory of the 10,000 hour rule to success.  In Gladwell’s book Outliers he talks about how successful people have this common trait of completing 10,000 hours of practice in order to become experts in their field.  Gladwell explains how the Beatles played as a house band for 8 hours a day in Hamburg, Germany before they were famous. This experience enabled the band to play together for long periods of time and forged them into a cohesive musical group.  Beatles biographer Philip Norman says of this time:

They were no good onstage when they went there and they were very good when they came back. . . . They learned not only stamina.  They had to learn an enormous amount of numbers—cover versions of everything you can think of, not just rock and roll, a bit of jazz too.  They weren’t disciplined onstage at all before that.  But when they came back they sounded like no one else.  It was the making of them. (Quoted in Gladwell p. 50).

Gladwell also talks about how Bill Gates had some exceptional opportunities as he was growing up that enabled him to get close to 10,000 hours practice with computer programming before he even got to college.

Gates started to learn about computer programming when he was in 7th grade, and from that time forward he spent most of his free time in a computer lab.  Gates, like the Beatles, also had some exceptional breaks during these early years that helped him hone his skills.  For example, a local computer company with ties to his school allowed Gates his friends to check code for them on the weekend in exchange for free computer time.  Later on in Gates’ high school career an organization called Information Sciences Inc. allowed Gates and his friends to work on a piece of software in exchange for more computer time. (Gladwell, p. 52).  All these opportunities added up to more than 10,000 hours of focused computer programming practice, which enabled Gates to become a programming expert by the time he reached Harvard.

So what does this have to do with my misadventures in blogging?  I think it highlights my challenge with focus and how it isn’t helping my blogging and/or writing goals.  In reading about what makes a successful blog, most advice articles would suggest that you have a theme, any sort of theme.  Blogs can be lifestyle blogs, fitness blogs, and specialty blogs, just about anything with some sort of binding theme.  Unfortunately, my scattered mind doesn’t lend itself to this type of process.  I do like to say that my diverse interests make me well rounded in other parts of my life.  I can fix a leaking pipe in my house, I can cook a three course vegan meal, I can write a grant to fund special projects at work.  But, unfortunately, I can’t focus my blog.  That is, unless, my blog can focuses on indecision.  I bet I have close to 10,000 hours devoted to that!

Hey, maybe I am on to something.  A blog about indecision!  That sounds like a good idea . .



Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers. New York. Back Bay Books.