All participants of the #atozchallenge have been asked to write a reflection on their experience. Here’s mine.
Top Ten Lessons from the A to Z Challenge
In many ways, taking part in the A to Z Challenge was like walking the Camino Trail. You leave the journey in touch with a different aspect of yourself that you had not recognized previously. Here are my truths about the Camino that are equally valid for this Blogging Challenge.
1. We can each achieve more than we believe we can. We simply need to start by putting one foot in front of the other (and one word down on our page).
2. Our journeys outweigh our destinations.
3. There is great inspiration in meeting new people who share your challenges and goals.
4. No two experiences of participants are the same.
5. During the journey, kindness is the rule, not the exception.
6. The daily routine helps to keep you in the moment.
7. Small changes can have significant impacts (e.g., fresh new socks, or changing the time that I published my posts).
8. Challenges can be a great teacher. They can help reveal your physical, mental and emotional capabilities, as well as your perseverance.
9. Self-discovery sneaks up on you. You suddenly realize a desire within yourself that you never knew, or acknowledged, previously. Based on this desire, you are able to make new decisions, comfortably and without struggle, that you may not have made before.
10. Friends, family, and community cheering you on at the Finish Line are worth more than words can say.
A to Z by the Numbers
I am not a big stats person (GoogleAnalyticWhat?). But Numbers do help to tell and confirm stories.
Posts Published: In April, I published 26 A-Z posts, 3 guest posts, plus one additional post. This means that I posted every day last month. The month before I published eight posts which is average for my site.
Page Views: 7.0K page views were received for the 30 posts published in April. In March, I received 3.3K page views, which is high-average for this site.
Comments: 1,300 comments and replies were made on my 26 Challenge Posts. This made an average of 50 comments/replies per post. 50 is roughly the same number of comments/replies per post that I received in March. With daily publications during the Challenge, I was grateful that comments did not go down due to reader burnout!
Did I Reach My Goals?
Short Answer: Yes…and No.
According to my original ‘A Post,’ My Goals were to:
1. Provide a month-long, daily sample of retirement.
2. Ensure that I continue to shake things up, have new experiences and not stick solely with what I already do and know.
3. Wrap up my Guest Post Series.
4. Test my endurance.
5. Be true to my word and continue to offer “New Chapters, New Discoveries, and New Adventures.”
6. Connect, and stay connected, with others.
Although not listed as my opening criteria, I repeatedly mentioned that I looked forward not to overthinking, overwriting or overediting.
Here’s My Self-Assessment for the Above
1. Success. Although no two retirement experiences are alike, I believe that this series has offered an authentic slice of my current life in retirement.
2. Yes, and No. The Challenge was definitely new to me. I embraced some significant Bucket-List experiences, like watching my son compete in the Boston Marathon! I recognize that my daily writing time replaced some other potential adventures that I may have taken otherwise. The later was a definite downside to attempting to live adventure to the fullest…and blog about it on the same day.
3. Success plus Mixed Emotion. The Challenge did help me wrap up my Guest Post Series. Because A – Z was so full-on, I didn’t have the energy to change my mind and accept new Guest Post offers. The mixed emotion part comes with how much I loved that series and working behind the scenes with such talented and generous bloggers. I want this blog to give a broad picture of life during retirement. Without the voices and experiences of others, I could never hope to achieve this. I am now scheduled to Guest Host on five different blogs from June to August. Stay tuned.
4. Success – 37 bloggers, who were also taking part in ‘A to Z,’ dropped by to visit my site during this Challenge (and I visited their sites). Many of these bloggers were new to me. Add to this, many others who dropped by and visited throughout the Challenge. I was extremely humbled by the support.
5. Success. Now that I’ve tested my blogging endurance, if I ever feel the need to measure it again, please pull me aside and ensure that I have thought my plan all the way through.
6. Red Flag. I’ve previously grappled with the question of what I would be doing if I was not blogging. Is blogging aiding new adventures in my retirement, or is it actually limiting them? With renewed clarity, I know that I must address this in a more sustainable manner.
My additional goal regarding not overthinking, overwriting or overediting was a big fail – especially in terms of the latter. Although my daily posts may not have been error free, I remained an over-editing fool. Richard wrote his post in one take, handed it to me and said “if you would like it edited, feel free’. He never looked at that post again to see if I did or did not edit. He frankly did not care. Why can’t I be like that??!!
What I Would Do Differently (and What I Would Do the Same) Next Time
1. I would write all of my posts in advance. (This is such a significant point, I should write it on a chalkboard 100 times!)
2. I would choose a theme that easily supports the above (e.g., Favourite places on Vancouver Island come to mind — Alert Bay, Blackfish Sound, Cobble Hill….Zeballos).
3. I would not take on such an enormous challenge and travel at the same time. Duh, what was I thinking?
4. I would have Richard Guest Host again. That was a blast!
5. I would continue to reply to all comments on my posts. This interactive dialogue and engagement is my absolute favourite thing about blogging. I loved the continued conversations.
6. I wish that I could add that I would approach blogging in a more relaxed manner. However, through this challenge, I rediscovered an essential self-truth. I don’t do passions in moderation. I’d love it if I could, but am unsure that I ever will.
Your Turn for Feedback
What did you like best about this series (apart from it being over, thus fewer notifications in your inbox or WordPress Reader)? Is there a post, anecdote or comment that resonated with you? Are you tempted to join ‘A to Z’ next year?
Finally, thank you for sticking with me through this challenge. Your support has been invaluable and a true honour.
Feature photo and images 2 -5 were made at www.canva.com.