2015 is almost over and today I want to share with you 11 of my favourite blog posts and articles from around the web this year.
A huge intention of mine this year was to be more intentional with what I consume, and that has meant cutting down a lot on how many blog posts, podcasts, articles, social media, and videos I consume on a weekly basis.
The best way I’ve been able to do this is by sticking to some core thought leaders and creatives who really inspire, motivate, and leave me full of deep thoughts and ideas after I’ve spent some time with the awesome content they’re sharing online. If you’ve worked through Be A Game Changer yet you’ll already know my thoughts on consuming ideas instead of advice, and the following posts and articles are the ones that have stayed with me long after clicking the X in my browser.
For me, the best kind of posts and articles give me the space to explore new ideas, expand on my own, find clarity and direction through their story, and sometimes they're the extra kick I need to know that I’m on the right track, that I’m not alone, and that it’s okay to play by your own rules and live a creative life on your own terms.
I hope these can do that for you too.
1. Want to be better at what you do? Try this…
by Sian Richardson
Sian put into words with this post something that had been on my mind for a while, but that I was afraid to give myself permission to do. So often it can feel like we’re creating in response to everything around us; like we have to fit into our industry, instead of just doing whatever the hell it is we feel inspired to do.
Immerse yourself in the art of surprising people
2. The way you make your money matters
by Shenee Howard
First up, Shenee’s content is some of my favourite on the internet and if you’ve not checked her work out already I definitely recommend that you do. I loved this post. It’s all about the importance of respecting the work we do and how we make an income online, and why doing work that may be profitable but doesn’t feel good isn’t sustainable in the long run and is just a recipe for disaster.
Here is the thing about making money. There are so many posts and ads about how to make money, but nobody tells you that the WAY you make your money is just as important as you just making it
3. Big things don’t happen in big ways
by Ash Ambirge
I love this post. Making things happen isn’t about big and life-changing moments; it’s about showing up every single day and moving forward, taking risks, and getting things done. Ash’s blog is my go-to when I need a bullshit-free creative pep talk, and this is one of my favourites.
In a world of people like you and me—people like writers and designers and creators and artists—we only get rewarded when we take risks. There are no automatic pay raises, no employee work manual, no standard anything. So if we’re going to do our job, and if we’re going to walk the edge our job requires, that means that, oftentimes, we’re doing it blind. And you know what? That’s okay. Because if I’ve discovered anything, it’s that success is less about doing it perfectly, and more about doing it, period.
4. The way forward is through the work
by Erica Midkiff
I remember reading this post during the summer when I was feeling a little overwhelmed, burnt out, and like I just wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to focus on in my business for the second half of the year. Erica’s post was just the reminder I needed back then that the only way through it was to let my work guide the way and figure it out as I go. Erica embraces the mess that finding our voice, creating content of meaning, and this journey of entrepreneurship brings and somehow makes it feel so much more doable - without glossing over how it really feels behind the scenes.
So the (hard) truth is that while initial clarity and a plan of action are crucial, you also need the kind of clarity that comes from putting your ideas out there and seeing how they do in the real world. You won’t grow—you won’t get to where you want to be—if you’re not putting something out there.
5. What it takes
by Jason Zook
I read this article during a time when I really was starting to feel the effects of a year where I gave everything in me to build my business and my brand. I was starting to wonder whether I was crazy to be working so hard, to be willingly making sacrifices along the way, and to prioritise grit and authenticity so much in my journey. Reading this helped to give me the kick and encouragement I needed to know that it was all definitely worth it and that I wasn’t alone in pursuing this kind of life.
It takes digging deep. It takes getting through rough patches. It takes hunkering down and not accepting things for the way they’ve always been. There will be pivotal moments. There will be times when you have extremely difficult decisions to make. Are you going to have what it takes to clench your fists and fight for what you believe in and want in life?
6. How I balance a career, marriage, and parenthood
by Jennifer Dziura
This is another post that helped me find clarity when I was starting to fear that I was crazy for working so hard to pursue the life that I really want to build. This post may not resonate with everyone, but if you worry about how to balance you career ambitions with the possibility of motherhood in the future this post is worth a read. Jennifer’s thoughts especially on work life balance, marrying a feminist, and extreme advance planning have stayed with me ever since reading this one.
I don’t think work-life balance applies to your launch phase of life (which is probably your twenties). If there’s going to be a phase of your life where you work little or not at all (because of a baby, for instance), there should probably be a phase of your life—when you’re young and full of energy—that you work sixty hours a week and get single-minded and cut out people dragging you down
7. It’s all a balancing act
by Paul Jarvis
Paul Jarvis’s Sunday Dispatches are probably one of my favourite emails to come into my inbox each week. This has been the year where I’ve seen how important increasing my own capacity for bravery is when it comes to living the kind of life and doing the kind of work I want to be doing. Paul sums it up perfectly in this post - that balancing act of being scared as hell and caring about how others see our work, and then not caring at all and 100% believing in what it is we want to share with the world - and was the reminder I needed that it’s a-okay to feel like I’m flitting between the two from time to time.
Persistency and bravery always trump following safe bets and proven methods. And bravery doesn’t have to look like free solo climbing mountain or standing on stage in front of 35,297 people. The bravest acts can be simply putting ourselves out there without knowing the outcome or reception or that 254 people are going to hate us for it.
8. What do you want to be doing all day?
by Braid Creative
When you’re self employed and you work from home as your boss, it’s easy to assume that everything will be awesome from that day forward. What I found in my own journey though is that sooner or later I found myself in a routine that didn’t feel dreamy and a lifestyle that wasn’t living up to the vision I had for my self employed life. I knew deep down I wasn’t making the most out of it, that I was wasting precious time away on tedious and insignificant tasks, and struggling to give myself permission to really build a lifestyle and routine that made me crazy excited to get out of bed every morning. This post by Braid Creative came at exactly the right time, even if just to force myself to answer the question - what do I want to be doing all day? For me it’s a mix of coaching, creating, and exploring, with the space to rest and recharge too.
We’ve all found ourselves at times feeling overwhelmed, scattered, and spread thin at what’s supposed to be the ever-fulfilling dream job we’ve created for ourselves. I think it’s because we don’t have a clear vision of what we want our life (or job) to actually look like. We’re overlooking the details for a lofty ideal that we can’t quite pinpoint.
9. The business of chronic pain
by Kate Byrne
This post is one I’m so, so, glad Kate shared. Sharing her journey and experience of living with chronic pain but still building a game changing business (while taking care of herself too) was exactly what I needed to read during a time when my confidence in business was struggling with the fact that I live with a mental illness that leaves me feeling so limited and less-than sometimes. After struggling with some physical health issues in the last part of this year too, I went back to this post and reminded myself of what Kate said and what I know and believe to be 100% true:
Because here’s the thing: everyone has something. And unless you really want them to, your limitations don’t have to define you. All innovation is the result of and spurred by a need to deal with problems. Some of the most liberating and powerful traits a business can have – creativity, problem-solving, agility, an entirely new perspective – are born from challenges. Can you only work on your business 4 hours a week? Great. Only got $1k to invest to get your empire started? Ok. Can only work lying down? Fucking fantastic.
The key to your dreams coming true is this: focus on what you can do and get on with that, everyday. I promise it’s a far better use of your time than obsessively reflecting on what you can’t, or, worse, what you used to be able to, do. That way is only pain.
If you’re struggling under the weight of your challenges today, my advice is to get fucking fired up about it. And then direct the energy you’ll create into action that serves your highest self. With heart and aligned action, almost anything is possible.
10. How I became my own boss by side hustling and doing what I love
by Violeta Nedkova
One of the main reasons I loved this post is that it was how I found out about Violeta, who is now one of my favourite people on the internet. She’s fearlessly herself, roots for the creative rebels, is vulnerable enough to just share who she is and where she’s at, and cheers other creatives on like no one else. In this article she shares how she became her own boss by side hustling and doing what she loves. Quitting your 9-5 and leaping straight into freelancing and entrepreneurship isn’t the path for everyone, and although I didn’t personally side hustle while building my business so many of my clients and my favourite human and better half Alex are doing exactly that and I root for side hustlers every single step of the way.
I became my own boss because I worked hard, saved my money, and just started something.
11. You are a grown up. Do what you want
by Alexandra Franzen
I could probably put every single article Alexandra Franzen has published this year in this list, but this has to be one of my favourites. Sometimes we just need a reminder that we’re a grown up, we only have to answer to ourselves, and it’s a-okay to do whatever the hell it is we want to - even if nobody around us understands or wants it too.
The next time I catch myself — or somebody else — painfully wrestling with a decision that really doesn’t need to be wrestled with, I will gently shake them out of their stupor and offer this reminder:
Hey. You there. Yeah, you.
You are allowed to eat kale for breakfast and peanut butter for dinner.
You are allowed to do yoga for eight hours a day if you want to.
You are allowed to do things that “most people” don’t do.
You are allowed to do whatever delights you.
You are allowed to reach for the stars.
You are allowed to sit this one out.
This is your life.
You want something?
Go get it.
Now over to you...
What blog posts and articles are you glad that you've read this year? What changed your life, opened up your mind, and stayed with you long after clicking the X button in your browser?
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