Exactly one year ago, on this very day, after receiving a pep-talk from a man I greatly admired, I submitted the bones of an article to Fast Company. To my surprise, a few weeks later, I was told that it made the cut and it ran the next day.
As someone who had never put too much stock into my writing abilities I was obviously over the moon. However, it was not until I began to receive messages from all over the world requesting advice, did I realise the true power of writing and I immediately decided that no matter what I had going on in my life, I would set aside an hour a day to get my thoughts and feelings down on paper.
Twelve months have passed, and to say that my life has changed for the better would be an understatement. Originally I thought that it would open doors to new work opportunities, and in a sense it has, but more importantly, it has improved my relationships, health and my overall quality of life.
1. WRITING EVERYDAY HAS TAUGHT ME TO LOVE WHAT I HAVE:
Prior to last year I had done alright for myself. I had a good career, I had seen a great deal of the world and I had an amazing wife and baby boy. On paper my life looked good and it was. However, it was not until I sat down to write about the experiences I have had, places I have seen and people I have met, did I truly realize how lucky I really have it.
2. WRITING EVERYDAY HOLDS ME ACCOUNTABLE:
I cannot write an article about not drinking in six years and turn around and grab a beer. I cannot gain weight because I have written about the importance of taking care of myself. Most importantly, I cannot be a bad husband and father because I have written out the details that make my wife smile and my son laugh. In short, writing holds me accountable to the person I am and the person I want to be.
3. WRITING EVERYDAY HAS SEVERLY REDUCED MY STRESS LEVELS:
If writing has taught me anything it is that not one problem looks bigger after sitting down and writing about it. From receiving bad news, to being belittled by someone in front of others (never say, “Let me speak slower to make sure you understand me”) or simply being pissed off about something or someone, taking an hour and “writing it out” has finally taught me the importance of thinking before acting.
4. WRITING EVERYDAY HAS HELPED ME TO VALUE RELATIONSHIPS FIRST:
As someone who had never had a consistent habit of writing, sitting down everyday at my computer was a challenge. However, the best decision I think I may have ever made, is as a default setting, I decided on the days where I was having a hard time thinking of something to write, I would simply write about what certain people in my life have taught me.
I started with my wife and son, and moved onto my parents, brothers and friends to strangers who’s work I admired from afar. This has not only helped me to better appreciate what they do and who they are, it also helped me to be proactive in letting them know what they mean to me.
5. WRITING EVERYDAY HAS GIVEN ME SO MUCH MORE CLARITY:
Not sure what type of work you want to pursue? Brainstorm possible ideas on paper. Not sure why you failed or blew an opportunity to impress someonewho had the possibility of changing your stars? Write down the mistakes you made along the way and work on getting them right the next time. Not sure why you and your partner are drifting apart? Write down how much they mean to you and make a list of all the little details that make him or her smile and do something about it. A problem written down is a problem half solved is a cliché for a reason, there is loads of truth to it.
6. WRITING HAS TAUGHT ME HOW TO BECOME MORE EMPATHETIC:
The next time you have an argument with someone, go home and sit in front of your computer and write out the argument, but from the perspective of the other person. This exercise has helped me to realize that most people do not wake up each morning and ask themselves how they can make Michael’s life more difficult. 9 times out of 10, unless they are a very close friend or family member, we really have no idea what is going on in their lives and this exercise of reversing roles has been a great reminder of that and also a great reminder of how wrong I can really be.
7. WRITING EVERYDAY HAS HELPED ME CONNECT MORE WITH MY SON:
Last year when putting my boy to bed, like a lot of parents, I would read him a few stories. However, over the last twelve months, when doing the same, I have been making up stories and more and more he is beginning to add in funny little details. Most of these stories are bad and some have been downright horrible. However, there have been a handful that he has absolutely loved and I have writing to thank for forcing me to grow my creative muscle each day and help my son and I create something that is for us and us alone.
8. WRITING EVERYDAY HAS HELPED ME IDENTIFY THE TYPE OF PERSON I WANT TO BECOME:
Recently I was asked about my thoughts in regards to if I think passion is something that we have or something we develop. After not being happy with how I articulated my thoughts, I spent the next hour writing it out and in the process uncovered many experiences I had forgotten about that have helped me to identify why I am the way I am and where I can improve. Prior to doing this I had never sat down and answered important questions like this before and now at least once a week I grab a question like, “Where do I see myself five years from now?” or “What do I want to be remembered for?” and the clarity this has provided has been amazing.
9. WRITING EVERYDAY HAS HELPED ME TO MEET INTERESTING PEOPLE:
Prior to having a handful of articles published, when I reached out to someone who I thought appeared interesting, more often than not my requestwas met with crickets. However, having a portfolio of work behind me has made it much easier for the person to get an idea of what interests I have and if our values align, more often than not we meet in person to get to know each other. Although I have not done this as much as I would like, over the last year I have built four new relationships that have drastically increased my happiness levels.
10. WRITING EVERYDAY HAS HELPED ME MOVE FROM REACTIVE TO PROACTIVE:
Prior to starting each day by writing, my life was very reactive (in a way I got a kick out of running around putting out fires as it made me feel efficient and in a sense important). But once my email stopped dinging and my phone stopped ringing I would feel kind of worthless and very alone. Like I said before, writing has given me clarity, and as a result I am finally able to better prioritise and make time for what I need to do, and more importantly, what I want to do.
11. WRITING EVERYDAY HAS HELPED ME TO STAY IN BETTER TOUCH WITH MY FRIENDS:
I am an American living in small town Catalunya, and although this was my choice, it does not mean I cannot miss my friends and family. Originally I set to write everyday to get more work as a coach, but it took only a handful of articles for me to discover the real reason. After each article was published some of my friends from home have begun to reach out to catch up which has made me a much more fulfilled person.
12. MOST IMPORTANTLY, WRITING HAS HELPED TO REALIZE WHAT IS TRULY IMPORTANT:
I learned pretty quickly that if I was going to build the muscle of writing everyday, I would have to read just as much. After knocking out at least a book a week over the last year some underlying themes have become apparent in regards to what leads to a successful life. For me personally, the most valuable lesson has been that I have not only identified, but begun to prioritize my “One True Thing.” My wife and son are the only thing that matters. If I am being a good husband and father the rest truly does take care of itself and taking the time to put my feelings down on paper have finally made this possible.
It has taken me 38 years for my work dots and family dots to connect and I have writing everyday to thank for that.
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