I tried something new in the newsletter last month and asked if people would like me to make it a blog post so they can come join the fun, and a lot of people said they’d like that. But then I thought: what should we call it?
I finally settled on bonfire (with Marissa‘s help). It’s a time for us to kick back, tell tales, and share experiences in the warmth of a community of compassionate, creative folks. I hope you’ll grab a seat as I share what’s been going on for me in February, but before I start…
It’s Time For A Monthly Review
Take a few minutes to think about the following questions:
- What were the big accomplishments from last month, and what would you like to accomplish this month?
- What slipped last month that you’d like to either let go of or pick up this month?
- When’s the last time that you’ve truly rewarded yourself, and when’s the next time that you’re going to do it?
On (3), set a date. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth planning to do – especially if you don’t have a habit of doing it.
If you’d like some flexible support around your goals, you might want to check out the free planners.
The Really Big Thing for me this last month was the Lift Off Retreat with Pam. I’ll contain my excitement in this particular post because I’ll share a more in-depth recap, but here’s a brief rundown: Community + Creativity + Compassion + Commitments to Change the World = one kick-ass retreat. You missed out if you weren’t there.
I had high expectations for the event, but it exceeded those by a long shot. All modesty aside, I’ve done some pretty awesome things in my short thirty years on this planet, but it definitely sits up there in the Top 3. There will be another one in August – start saving and get in line.
I set a goal to guest post once per week in February, and wound up writing much more than that. Some are still pending, but, in case you missed them, here’s where you can find the published posts:
- The One Thing You Have To Know About Sales Pages
- Mid-Launch Lessons Learned: Q&A With Charlie Gilkey
- 8 Ways To Work Smarter and Be Happier
- 8 Reasons You’re Not Getting Many Comments
(In case you’re curious, I wasn’t trying to stick to 8 on those last two posts. Those were just what came to mind.)
I made a lot of new connections this month – I think a lot of it had to do with releasing the planners, but the guest posting has helped. It’s so cool to meet new people and share your gifts with them. If you’re new here, thanks for coming to join the party, and I look forward to sharing with and learning from you!
The blog didn’t grow as much in February as it did in January, but that’s okay. This community has always been about quality instead of quantity, and many, many quality connections blossomed in February. That’s a win, folks!
I know I say it all the time and I hope it doesn’t dilute it, but thank you for the support you’ve given me in and the blog. Success is a social phenomenon and I can’t do this alone. Thank you for helping me share my gifts with the world.
With every success, there are new challenges and lessons-learned. Most of these lessons are one’s I already learned at some point but needed life to reinforce the message. You’ll hear me say this every month precisely because I’ve learned that there are always holes for me to fall in.
In case you didn’t know or forgot, I seriously overcommitted in January and that was a long month of renegotiating commitments with my friends and partners. I thought I’d cleaned everything up, but the second- and third-order effects of deferring, delaying, and dropping stuff came up this month. It’s always those that you don’t see when you’re overwhelmed!
Lesson Learned: It’s better to under-commit up front and plan from there than to overcommit and deal with the second- and third-order effects of overcommitment.
I used to be much more effective at email management, but I lost some of my effective habits in February, or, to be more clear, as my online presence has grown, my ability to manage email correspondence diminished at about the same time as I’d been recovering from the overcommitment. As a result, I didn’t write as much as I’d like to and my writing wasn’t as good. Holistically, I managed to keep the ball rolling pretty well, but I’m definitely looking forward to writing more.
Lesson Learned: Email is a poor slave and a great master. Be careful how much of your primetime you give it – it has a cost.
What’s In The Oven For March
This is going to be a busy month for connecting and consuming, as I’m going to SxSW and Wealthy Thought Leader. We’ll also be putting our house on the market – we’re almost sure that we’re going to go the FSBO route. As a result, I’m not planning on creating a whole lot.
That said, Johnny and I will be tuning up the Jam Sessions this month so that it’s more clear what it’s all about. Here’s the short story: imagine Johnny and I talking about the ins and outs of starting your online business. Add in our friends like Naomi Dunford, Dave Navarro, Tim Brownson, and Elizabeth Potts Weinstein (and others who we’ve somehow swindled into talking to us in the future). The end result of all this is a fun, informative series of conversations that’ll help you get your business groove on.
Keep your eye out for a product that Jonathan Mead and I have been working on for the last couple of months. It’ll be focused on how to do more of the stuff that matters and less of the small stuff that you’d rather pass on.
And then there’s the book. Resistance and Creative Doubt tag-teamed and went guerrilla on me last month – see above – and won the month of February. It’s highly unlikely that it’ll get done this month, but letting you know what’s going on with it at least keeps me accountable. It also lets Resistance and Creative Doubt bask in glory, but that’s okay – the war is not won and I have not yet begun to fight.
Coaching Update: If you’ve been thinking about working with me and would like to do it during March, head on over to my coaching page and grab your sessions. I’ve got the capacity for two new clients who need regularly scheduled meetings and I tend to book up quickly after conferences. If you sit on the fence too long, you might be sitting there longer than you’d like.
Now It’s Your Turn!
That’s my time in front of the fire. Now it’s your turn!
What are you celebrating? What were your lessons learned? What Really Big Things are you working on? Come share with us so that we can learn and grow together. (No hard pitches, please.)
Just remember that you can change the world. I look forward to next month’s bonfire to see what all you’ve done!
Catherine Caine says
Last month was a bit fractured… I moved house and almost every bit of tech I own died.
In order to get back up to productive speed I offered free website Awesomeness Consulting to anyone who responded in the last week of February. I had 40 responders! I was blown away. I’ve already done a few sessions and I’m having a blast. (This morning I completely changed one person’s target audience, domain name and look.)
I’ve started a month of Website Heresy posts to stir up some controversy.
And I want to guest post more (I have a regular gig on Blog for Profit, but I want to expand! Expand!)
And I plan to finish a giveaway to encourage email subscriptions: it’ll be called the Awesome Website Checklist.
And I’m going to shoot a few videos.
Is that too much?
Thanks for commenting. I was starting to get scared I’d look like a big loser for starting a bonfire and dancing by myself.
I’m sorry that it was a rough month on the tech side. That sucks, yo!
I am happy to hear about your 40 responders and that you’re having a blast. Revel in it – there’s nothing quite like sharing your gift with the world.
Now, regarding it being too much: it probably is if you’re worried about it. Which of the four things you listed is negotiable, and if it’s negotiable, does it really deserve to be on the list?
Catherine Caine says
Well, the thing I’m thinking about pushing off the list (the videos)… I think that’s reluctance talking. Video is still a bit scary for me.
I shall make sure that no matter what gets rescheduled, pushed back, etc, it is NOT the videos. Ha ha! Take THAT, fear!
Mike Tiojanco says
I FINALLY got off my rear end and started blogging. I shockingly have 38 awesome subscribers after one month. I thought I’d still be writing pretty much just for my wife at this point!
It’s been a crazy month connecting with new people, trying to get into a routine with blogging, and thinking through what I want it to look like when my blog grows up.
This month I’m trying to get out there and do a little guest posting and finish up the “non-blog” parts of my blog: about page, work with me, etc.
Thanks for all the great content you put out there!
Thanks for sharing with us, Mike! I’m glad to hear that you got your blog up and going – isn’t it nice to be heard and read by folks?
If I may make a suggestion: start with your “About” page and get it done as soon as possible. I know it’s a bear, but it’ll help with the other parts, and it really does help new readers stick with your blog. Consider having a friend write yours if you’ll write theirs.
Check in with us next month – let’s see if you can get to 75 readers!
Mike Tiojanco says
Absolutely set to finish my About page this week! Will rock it.
Amy Posner says
I just got turned on to your blog yesterday – I like, I like — great stuff.
The bonfire idea works for me – I’ve got a firepit right outside my office window — perfect for family cookouts and the occasional burn and purge too.
Since we haven’t had a fire all winter, this is a great opportunity….Last month was great for me. One of the best in a long time. I started working with a business coach – for the first time in 20+ years in business. It’s been enormously helpful already. HUGE in fact.
I retooled my business and after a very difficult January where I was unable to launch, February was brilliant and things are coming together — better than I imagined they would.
This month I’m working on time management – and feeling really good about understanding and implementing some new concepts in my day.
So, I’ll throw my stick into the fire, thank you for what you’re doing and I’ll keep ya posted!
Thanks for sharing with us, Amy!
Some people doubt business coaches, but good ones can make a world of difference. I’m glad you found somebody that’s helping you – but I wanted to celebrate the fact that you took the first step.
I know this blog that helps with managing your time and creativity – you might want to check it out. ;p
I look forward to hearing from you next month!
walter daniels says
Some good content and better referrals. Good luck with the growing and harvesting of comments. 🙂
Amy H. says
Hey Charlie – congrats on Lift-Off!
And thanks — I probably wouldn’t have done the review if you didn’t post about it and email about it, and tweeted about it. It’s like fate was trying to tell me something by all communications means necessary. 😉
Forgive the wordiness in advance.
What were the big accomplishments from last month, and what would you like to accomplish this month?
I’m trying to look backward and I find that the past is slippery. What’s with that? At first, I was drawing a complete blank. I actually had to open my calendar to remind myself.
Let’s see – I started working with a VA for some marketing stuff. I researched advertising programs I could use. With my friend, I set up the tech stuff behind an online class we’re teaching. I found someone else to hire for handling support emails. I reached out to two people in Vienna I would like to meet; had brunch with one. I created, prepped and delivered a 40-minute talk and all-day workshop (the latter with my husband), in New Zealand. I designed a new visualization project for my last client and handled those client communications. I archived all the super old email in my inbox and got it down to the last 60 days, which I’m going to further process soon.
And I spent something like 81 hours on various planes.
I just had a panicky moment and clicked on the clock in my menu bar to be sure that this was all last month (e.g. February). For a moment I thought I should be writing about January.
Damn, I’ve got a weirdass sense of time.
What slipped last month that you’d like to either let go of or pick up this month?
I got distracted by Shiny New Thing (online course) and neglected to fulfill my promise about editing the audio materials for the teleconference I gave, on the same topic.
I didn’t get started on the last client project until the last minute.
I forgot to pay for a bunch of stuff from eBay in time — made worse by the traveling (NZ has terrible internet availability) — and so eBay canceled my account! That’s embarrassing and frustrating, but perhaps for the best, ha.
I haven’t handled paper mail for the last 3+ weeks and I’d like to remove that worry/guilt.
I didn’t finish preparing the 2008 taxes stuff — although I am waiting on materials from someone else, who I can’t speed up; I haven’t started 2009 yet, even though that mostly just involves talking to my bookkeeper.
I have 150 unanswered support emails for Freckle right now. D’oh.
I didn’t set up the stuff for the VA so she could get working on a reasonable schedule (doing it now though.)
When’s the last time that you’ve truly rewarded yourself, and when’s the next time that you’re going to do it?
After the conference, after the talk and the workshop — we headed down to the other island of NZ. Technically, to be punctual, I should have been working on those client designs and handling support emails. But Thomas & I both said “Screw it” and just spent 3 days on the beach. I only opened the laptop once, discovered the eBay fiasco, and decided that it was just ridiculous and I’d try to forget about it til I felt like doing something about it.
That was awesome, and I think it helped a lot. I never manage to take real vacations and I always forget how different it is from one fragmented by even little bits of work.
I was like your wordiness, Amy! Thank you for celebrating Lift Off with me.
The fact that you got anything done with 81 hours on a plane is remarkable. Of course, I know you got loads more done than this, but that’s because you’ve told me. I think it’s your sense of time coming up for you.
I’m also glad to see you getting your VA set up to help you with some of the stuff you’re falling down on. If I may make a suggestion, I’d work on the last three things exclusively for a few days so you can get the weight of it off of you.
And the major celebration here is you taking a vacation! If all you lost out on was Ebay, you’re doing just fine.
Thanks for coming to share with us!
Willie Hewes says
A bonfire! Awesome!
This month, I have mostly been eating… carrots, actually. Getting a bit tired of the root vegetables, but I guess that’s winter for you.
Accomplishments: my accomplishments are mostly partial. I did three of the four sets of illustrations I was hoping to finish. I got rid of about half of the clutter on my Must Go Now list. I made some money drawing pictures and selling comic books in Telford; that was good.
Slipping: Number 4 and the other half, see above. I also didn’t do my monthly financial round-up, for the… fourth month in a row (it’s not really monthly then, is it?). Spent way too much time in panic mode, either running around doing urgent stuff, or not doing the urgent stuff but sweating about not doing it. Room for improvement there.
You know, the question about rewarding yourself has really got me flummoxed. What do you mean, rewarded myself? For what? What does that look like? I… I will set up some spreadsheets on this… to work it out. And… and get back to you. Yeah.
Thanks Charlie! Hi Catherine! *waves*
Carrots? That one through me off, Willie.
Partial accomplishments count – you don’t have to finish something to celebrate the progress! Congratulations on the sales you made, too; that’s not at all partial.
Money reviews can be particularly hard, and I really see you on that one. I’ve always found that I feel better when I do them than when I don’t, as I tend to really worry about stuff until I know for certain what’s happening on the money front. Once I know, I can do something about it – and, a lot of times, I don’t have to do anything. I was just worrying.
If you don’t know what I mean by reward, it could mean one of two things: 1) you’re already doing some things that make you happy or 2) you haven’t done something like that in so long you just don’t know what they are anymore. I have a feeling it’s the latter. You don’t need a spreadsheet – just pay attention to that voice that smiles on the inside when you think about doing something.
Willie Hewes says
Sorry for throwing you, Charlie. I was trying to be funny but succeeded more in being confusing, it seems. I hope I’m not so far gone I need spreadsheets to work out how to enjoy myself.
It’s not that I never do anything just because I enjoy it, I do, I just don’t think of them as rewards. It’s more like, OK, I’m too tired to keep working now, but it’s too early to sleep, so I’ll play my game for a bit.
It seems I believe I don’t really do anything that’s worth rewarding. How interesting. Clearly, this belief is mistaken, and yet, there it is. I’ll have to look into this some more.
No worries about throwing me – that happens sometime.
Very revealing, indeed. Here’s what I’ve learned: if you’re doing fun thing solely because you can’t do other things, it’s less rewarding. It’s too easy to go through the motions while still think about what you should or could be doing.
And if you don’t think what you’re doing is worth rewarding, it can be hard to get fired up and think big about it.
Does this strike a chord?
Archan Mehta says
Thanks for the hard work. It shows.
Finally, I have managed to receive your newsletter. That’s good news for me. Wow!
I appreciate your sense of professionalism on both your blog and the newsletter.
Best wishes on selling that house and earning your PhD in philosophy (UNL).
And thanks for your suggestion: I have discovered Johnny Truant’s blog through a link you provided.
Your friend, Truant, has the wackiest sense of humor and he cracks me up, big time.
And I thought you were a good writer!
Man, you sure have competition out there.
Thanks for joining the bonfire, Archan! I appreciate the encouragment.
Johnny’s something else, and, luckily, I don’t consider him a competitor. I’m doing working my mojo on him so he can rock even more than he already does.
This is my first time commenting on your site so I don’t know if the bonfire is an invitation only type thing, but I’ll give it a try anyway. My goal for this month is to do less. That’s right. I have two blogs, one of which is on health care reform (www.healthstrong.org). Thinking that health care reform in its previous form was mostly a done deal, I hadn’t posted on that site in awhile. But then lo and behold, health care reform is back in the headlines. So I threw something together quickly and posted it…and guess what? I had nearly 50 hits to the site in one day. I have a tendency to put a lot of work into my posts and my goal is to back off from those a little; maybe have one or two posts per week that require that kind of work, but be ok with putting others together. Maybe sometimes some spontaneity has benefits to readers as well.
Thanks for this bonfire – it was fun to read others’ comments.
You’re absolutely welcome to join the bonfire, and I’m glad you did, Marly.
Doing less is really hard to do, actually. I get that.
Posting once or twice a week is a great strategy if you’re having trouble balancing consistency and quality. Even some more veteran bloggers like Chris Guillebeau post twice a week, so don’t feel like you’re being lazy. Write great posts consistently and things will work out. And, since you’ve got a bit of news them with healthcare reform, there’ll always be room for spontaneity.
Thanks for joining the bonfire – I hope you’ll show up next month, too!
Srinivas Rao says
I’ve been lingering in your blog in the background. I recently interviewed Johnny for BlogcastFM and that’s how I heard about you. I just did a post reviewing my 2010 goals on Monday of this week. Here’s a quick run down
1) Published 14 Guest posts
2) Made $1237.00 in Revenue from various sources(ads, consulting, building blogs)
3) Launched BlogcastFM
I’m working on identifying more passive income streams since the current ones are not passive. I’m also working on streamlining processes for my podcast because i’m wasting time on the editing. I”m also making an effort o get more connected on a personal level with readers and Twitter followers.
Well, last months achievement kinda ran over into this month – I made 5 suits for Paloma Faith & her band to wear on her tour. They were delivered today & I’ll be honest, I’m glad to see the back of them.
You see, I am terrible at being organised, and these suits unfortunately wouldn’t make themselves. I didn’t realise that unitl 4 days before they were due. I kept putting htme off & putting them off, until I got myself in a terrible state.
I wouldn’t change anything at all though. It has been a great lesson. I knoww aht to expect for the next big order, I know what my strengths are, and what I need to work on, so this month, I intent to work on organising myself. I only recently discovered your wonderful planners & have found it a great help to plan my days down to the last detail, that way I do get things done, and every time something is checked off my to do list, I feel a great sense of achievement, even if it is a minor thing like ‘write blog post’ 😉
As a starter business, I still have an awful lot to learn, and although the project turned into something of a nightmare with me & my partner both losing sleep, me having massive panic attacks and not eating, I have definately learned something from the experience, and it feels wonderful knowing that I have completed such a big project that the customer is happy with!
I have been spending so much time sewing for this project, that it has become a chore, so my next project is a treat for myself – I’m going to make myself a dress to wear for my birthday. Ok, so maybe that’s not like a treat for some people, but it is for me!!