29 December, 2016

Reevaluating My 2016 Blog Goals

Image source: Pixabay

Here we are at the end of another year. In honor of the approaching new year it's time to look back at the blogging goals I set for myself at the beginning of 2016.

Back in December of last year I published a post called Blog Goals for 2016 in which I set myself five goals for the year relating to my blog. When I wrote that post I had been inspired by other bloggers who were also writing similar posts, and I was riding a wave of elevated blogging enthusiasm. Fast forward 12 months and I'm once again riding a wave of enthusiasm, but between then and now I've been anything but motivated. As we are about to see, my extended lack of motivation throughout the year had a pretty negative impact on the fulfillment of my blogging goals.

Goal 1: Frequency

My first goal for 2016 was to post at least four times a month for a total of 48 blog posts over the course of the year. Anyone who has been keeping up with me this past year will know that I didn't come anywhere close to achieving this goal. In February and August I only posted twice, there were several months (June, July and October) where I only posted once, and in September and November I didn't post at all. While I exceeded my goal in January (five posts) and I'm on track to meet my goal this month, my total number of posts—27 including this one—falls far short of the 48 I was aiming for.

Goal 2: Comparison posts

My next goal was to write more "cultural comparison" posts (the type of posts that you will find under the "United States vs. Germany" tab at the top of the page). Since the only truly direct comparison post I wrote in 2016 was Dog Ownership in America vs. Germany, I don't think I can count this as accomplished. Compared with past years, 2016 actually saw way fewer cultural comparison posts than usual.

Goal 3: Social media

Third on the list was to get better at social media. While I had every intention of doing this at the beginning of the year, my relationship with social media deteriorated (even more than it already was) over the course of 2016, which resulted in me using it even less than I did last year. If I had foreseen that, I wouldn't have made this goal, because reducing an already negligible social media presence is pretty much the opposite of "getting better" at social media. As I wrote in a post a few weeks ago, however, I am much happier and feel like I waste less time when I don't use social media very much, so I'm actually counting this as an overall success because I reduced the amount of stress that I was feeling regarding social media and its role in promoting my blog.

Goal 4: Header

My fourth goal was to update my header image, which, unless I pull something off in the next few days, also didn't happen. I've made a few attempts to create something better, but I just don't have the necessary graphic design skills or interest in acquiring them to pull it off. Once I have a job and I'm earning money I may just pay someone to design me something, since I'm sure that leaving it to a professional will get me much better results than doing it myself.

Goal 5: Priorities

My fifth and final goal was to make my blog a priority again after a period in which I had left it on the back burner. Referring back to Goal 1 and my failure to produce the desired number of posts makes it pretty obvious that this was not always successful. I managed to keep it a priority at first, especially in January when I published a whopping five posts in a single month, but besides that my prioritization of my blog was wobbly at best.

From my perspective at the end of the year, all of this goes to show that making goals like this for my blog isn't helpful. I thought that making these goals, writing them down, and making them public would motivate me to achieve more over the course of the year, but other than the initial push of motivation at the beginning of the year, having these goals written down did next to nothing to encourage more blogging. At the end of the day, I will continue to be my usual stubborn self and do what I want and nothing more, regardless of the arbitrary goals I've set for myself.

Now, in addition to not having achieved these five goals, I also have to deal with the knowledge that I've failed, and, with this post, the public admittance of that failure. However, I don't think that not achieving these goals was really a failure and I don't feel bad about it, because it has shown me that this approach isn't effective. Rather than making my blog something that needs to be done, I should leave it as the fun hobby it started as, with no deadlines, no specific expectations, and as a space for me to write about what is interesting to me at any given time.

In 2017 my one goal for my blog is to not put pressure on myself to make it anything in particular. I will write what I want when I want, and if that means one post a month or seven then so be it. If that means I write all cultural comparison posts, that's great, but if I write none that's fine as well. I write because I enjoy it, and that should be the most important thing. So next year, I'm not making any promises, except that every time I write and publish something it will be because I wanted to and not to fulfill some arbitrary goal. I already have a bunch of ideas for new blog posts coming up, and I'm looking forward to writing them at my own pace.

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