In recent posts I have extolled the value of using time wisely and have cited taking courses and learning new skills as a postworksavvy strategy. There are many ways to gain new skills. Here is my story about learning new skills to become a blogger.
During the last months at work I had a notion that writing a blog would be an interesting way to engage with others. I determined that I wanted to become a blogger. Setting up a CEO blog was an idea that I pursued before retirement but for various reasons it was not possible to execute a CEO blog because of organizational constraints.
Still captivated by the idea of blogging, I decided to set up a personal blog to write about the retirement ‘journey’. Retirement plans were a frequent topic of conversation among colleagues and friends. Discussions centred on plans for use of time and lifestyle once the demands of the career were over. The lightbulb in my head flashed — I could use my own experience on the retirement journey as material for the blog posts.
When I discussed the idea with co-workers and friends, a couple of enthusiastic supporters encouraged me while others expressed skepticism. My son was incredulous but agreed to help me.
I knew that writing was something that I enjoyed and also something that came easily for me. Years of writing professional reports and briefs had helped me to hone reasonable writing skills which would be maintained during retirement if I continued to write regularly. Most of all I had always attained satisfaction from writing. I also knew that retirement would provide many new experiences, feelings and challenges that could be topics for blogging.
From thought to reality
Setting up postworksavvy.com and writing posts regularly was a challenge. I had to learn facets of technology that were confusing and frustrating. I began with a one week online blogging course and lots of enthusiasm. By day two of the course I realized that this was more complicated than I had first anticipated. I persisted. Most of the material was too advanced for me but I worked through it to the best of my limited technical ability. By the end of the week, I had registered a domain name and had set up the basics. I had also written the first post but it was not yet ready for launching.
During the first 3 months of blogging, I was still in the workforce with rigorous professional commitments and I was in the process of retiring. I had very little time for learning a new skill nor for writing regular posts. Surprisingly I did not loose the passion nor the determination to continue with the blog. I also started to tell people about the blog as one of the strategies that I would use to occupy my time and to describe the retirement journey.
When I retired, I moved from working on a PC to a Mac and had to learn the basics of another operating system. Tasks that were previously automatic on my computer had to be re-learned. While this was a temporary setback, the zeal to continue with the blog was reinforced as I had the assistance of a lovely new MacBook Pro.
Writing regular posts takes discipline. Writing for a blog also requires a style that is more personal and conversational than the style used in business reports.
Developing subscribers and regular readers remains and on-going challenge. My hope is that interesting and useful material on the blog will bring continued growth of readers.
Progress continues — but slowly. There have been mistakes and there is much more to learn. With more time available, I have taken another online course and I have continued to seek other resources to keep learning. If anything, my interest is deepening and I am more passionate about the blog than when I began.
In thinking about the focus of the blog and in looking at other retirement blogs, I determined that another blog about financial considerations and income calculators would be redundant. As I listened to people who were already retired speak about their retirement experiences, it was apparent that the social and emotional aspects of retirement were too often ignored during retirement planning. Emotional and social well-being fit with the experience and wisdom that I had acquired during my professional career. These were areas of interest that would keep me engaged. These were also topics that others who were about to retire or who were already retired might want to delve into as readers.
Postworksavvy.com was launched on June 8 — the day of my retirement reception and one week before my official retirement date. As part of the speech I gave, I told people of my immediate plans and also told people that I would be writing about the retirement journey on a blog. I had business cards printed and handed these to over 200 people at the reception. At the time, the blog had a mere 6 posts — an inauspicious but brave beginning.
To my surprise, I got some immediate traffic and comments. This has tapered off but a good level of daily readership continues and some loyal followers have become subscribers. With regular posts, I am counting on the track record of useful, and relevant material to keep people reading, commenting and subscribing.
What have I learned?
- Act on good ideas — The idea of a blog kept nagging at me and rather than accept a ‘NO’ when it was deemed not feasible in the organization, I re-conceptualized the idea and started a personal blog. I decided that a horrible blog would be better than letting a good idea pass without taking action.
- Limited technical skills are needed — All of the basic information to get started is available online. Courses and online workbooks are helpful tools.
- People are generous and helpful — Asking for help was difficult as I did not want to show my ignorance. Whether offering encouragement, providing technical help or advice, it was amazing how many people were intrigued by my blogging adventure and helped me when I was stuck. Talking to others about the blog also helped me to persist.
- Keep learning — Although I am a ‘newbie’ when it comes to blogging, I am committed to strengthening my skills and continuing to improve the blog as I learn. I observe the tactics of successful bloggers and apply their techniques where possible.
- Persevere — When facing a technical problem or when words don’t come easily during the writing phase, it is tempting to give up. Perhaps this is the time to take a break or to ask for help rather than to let the dream die. New skills don’t come without some effort nor does success come with the first attempt.
- Keep taking actions toward the vision — Taking some small steps every day and every week will ensure that you keep learning and keep moving toward developing knowledge. For me, some regular, dedicated time in front of the screen has been part of establishing this blog. Using my own experience in the early phase of retirement has provided rich material for the posts.
Making mistakes, practising what others have taught, and challenging myself to develop new skills have proved exciting. Blogging is a regular activity on most days. It started with the germ of an idea that would not go away and has now become invigorating and consuming.
I hope this story of my blogging journey is helpful to you in understanding some aspects of developing new skills during retirement.
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