State of the Blog – 7 month edition

I’ve been doing this blog for just over 7 months now, which is amazing to me. It definitely doesn’t feel like that long. The time has flown by!

Even though I’m mainly doing this for my own sanity, I wanted to do a little recap of how the site is doing. Obviously it’s encouraging when other people read your words and react positively (either by commenting, subscribing, or just coming back.)

Thanks to everyone who reads what I write or share. It means a lot to me!

RSS Subscribers

Peak: 63 (after I combined both my tumblelog feed with the .org feed) Current: 34

So thankful for this number. I’ve never had this kind of subscriber level with any other version of my blog.

Visits/Visitors

  • 517 unique visitors to the site since August
  • 1,044 total visits
  • 3,105 pageviews
  • Peak Day: February 6th, 2012 59 visits

Monthly Visits

  • August: 120
  • September: 108
  • October: 128
  • November: 57
  • December: 125
  • January: 157
  • February: 170
  • March: 181 (through today)

A very nice trend!

Most Popular Posts (by unique pageviews)

I am planning on doing something similar every few months to track my progress, as well as to give me an opportunity to thank everyone who visits, reads, and comments.

Thanks again everyone!

Expectations

When we are unsatisfied with how things are, including ourselves, we make changes, but then what? We are still unsatisfied, because the root cause of this problem isn’t the things around us (or how we look, etc.), but our expectations. We expect things to be different. — Leo Babauta – “being OK with things as they are”

Recently I came to the conclusion that most problems are a result of dealing with expectations. Problems and unhappiness tend to pop up as we try to live up to other’s expectations. As we try to live up to our own expectations. As we try to live up to society’s expectations.

Why does this happen? I can think of a few reasons:

  • The results of the change don’t meet your expectations. (“The grass is always greener on the other side.”)
  • The goal posts keep moving. (“Never good enough.”)
  • The expectations you are trying to live up to are imagined or superficial. (Media induced expectations are huge, especially for women.)

I’m sure there are more.

The more you can let go of expectations and focus on the present: appreciate who you are, the good in things and people (as they are), and what’s important to you, the happier you’ll be…

Leo (from the same post linked above) has a simple approach to tackle this:

Sit for a minute and look at the things around you. Are you happy with them, or would you like things to change?

[…]

Now, for each thing you think needs change, try sitting for a minute and see if you can simply accept each one, as they are right now. See if you can accept each person in your life for who they are, exactly as they are. See if you can accept your body for what it is, without the need for change. It takes practice, so if you aren’t good at it at first (and I’m still not a master at it myself), practice. It’s an enlightening process, to be sure.

Leo also addresses change:

This doesn’t mean we’ll never change anything. We can develop healthy habits and make our bodies healthier over time, but we can do that while also being happy with who we already are. Change is inevitable, but it doesn’t necessarily require that we not accept things as they are, that we not be happy with things as they already are.

I think it’s important to note that accepting doesn’t mean the same thing as settling1. The process of “accepting” and removing expectations involves a thorough look at the positive things2 you, your relationship, or job bring to the table. Focusing on these positives will help you put the negatives in perspective and then to decide whether or not you can accept them.

In general, we need to spend more time focusing on the positive, as our society (especially the media) tends to focus on two things:

  1. the Negative (failure, death, crime, etc.)
  1. “Perfection” (celebrities, wealth, beauty, etc.)

By focusing on these, the media helps to create the imagined, un-realistic, or superficial expectations many of us strive to achieve, rather than simply appreciating all the good things we have in our life.

In the end, I’d rather spend my time enjoying, appreciating, and building off what I do have, rather than wishing for different, striving for things that don’t create happiness, or feeling bad about what I do have in my life.

With that, I’ll leave you with Louis C.K.: “Everything is amazing and nobody is happy.”

  1. Even “settling” has negative connotations, despite the definition: “to make or become quiet, calm, or stable. To put in order; arrange in a desired state or condition. To be satisfied with. 
  1. I’d bet in most cases, there are positives you haven’t noticed before or at the very least haven’t thought about in a long time. 

No more yes

Those of you who often over-commit or feel too scattered may appreciate a new philosophy I’m trying:

If I’m not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, then say no.

Meaning: When deciding whether to commit to something, if I feel anything less than, “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!” – then my answer is no.

The Service Industry Generation

From GOOD Magazine:

Some depressing facts: Nearly half of people ages 16 to 29 do not have a job. A quarter of those who do work in hospitality — travel, leisure, and, of course, food service. A study of 4 million Facebook profiles found that, after the military, the top four employers listed by twentysomethings were Walmart, Starbucks, Target, and Best Buy. The restaurant industry in particular is booming; one in 10 employed Americans now work in food service — 9.6 million of us. Those numbers are growing each year. Even though more and more laid-off, middle-aged Americans are turning to restaurant jobs, as of 2010 about two-thirds of food service workers are still under age 35. And the industry’s workforce is more educated than it was just 10 years ago. In major U.S. cities, about 9 percent more food service workers have been to college.

I feel bad for recent college grads. Not only are they becoming the service industry generation, but they are dealing with very large college loans.

College tuition and fees have sextupled since 1985 and doubled since 2001. A faster rate than healthcare, gasoline, and consumer items.

Reasons

From Yahoo! News:

Women in Arizona trying to get reimbursed for birth control drugs through their employer-provided health plan could be required to prove that they are taking it for a medical reason such as acne, rather than to prevent pregnancy.

A bill nearing passage in the Republican-led Legislature allows all employers, not just religious institutions, to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage when doing so would violate their religious or moral beliefs. When a female worker uses birth control pills, which can be used to treat a number of medical conditions, the bill would allow an employer who opted out to require her to reveal what she was taking it for in order to get reimbursed.

OK, this bugs me. No one forces you to violate your moral or religious beliefs. And simply having options available to you certainly doesn’t.

And who wants their place of employment to dictate your beliefs?

How about this: if using birth control violates your religious or moral beliefs, just don’t use it.

And if your whole organization (religious or otherwise) has the same exact beliefs as you (highly doubtful), your employer-provided healthcare won’t be paying for contraceptive coverage.

Simple, right?

February Love List Update

February is in the books. Can’t believe it’s March already. I am so excited for Spring and warmer weather!

I just wanted to post a quick update on my Love List progress.

Things I’ve done well so far:

  • Kept on top of my priorities. (I’ve also not procrastinated on any important task in two months. I’ve been very productive at work and on most regular home tasks. And most importantly, I’ve kept the wife and kids as the top funded priority.)
  • Blog once per week. (Matched 8 posts from January.)
  • Re-connect with friends. (Spent a lot of time working on the new WNYBAC site with Chris during February. The new site just launched yesterday!)

Works in progress:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Spontaneus weekend trip. (We set one up, but kids got sick so we had to postpone. Not so spontaneous any longer, so will have to try again.)
  • Take more photos. (I’ve taken more, but not a significant number and mainly only the kids.)
  • Read one book per month. (Finished Steve Jobs. On to book #2, although I didn’t make much progress in February. Need to pick up the pace!)
  • Go camping. (Reservations made!)
  • Meditate every week. (Did much more in February, but not consistently.)
  • Create an iPhone app. (Made a little progress, but not substantial.)
  • Go bowling. (Nothing in February.)
  • See more movies. (Movies in the theater, I’ve seen recently: Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, twice, The Muppets, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Mission Impossible. Nothing in February. A few good movies are opening in March though!)
  • Purge stuff. (We unloaded like 15 bags of stuff to the Salvation Army in January. Nothing in February. More to come!)

FAIL or Starting Later

 

 

 

  • Exercise. (Almost every other day for most of January. Total fail in February.)
  • Go to more shows. (A few good shows are coming up in March!)
  • Move my career forward. (No progress yet.)
  • Blog design. (Re-launched blog on new engine in January. No progress in February. Design is next!)

Overall, February was a little disappointing. I moved a few things forward a lot, but most were in the “very small progress” category. I’m energized to start March, though, so I am expecting lots of good things this month.