I had no idea.
I had no idea when I started blogging that it would change the way I look at, well, everything.
I am a numbers gal. I like data and graphs, empirical evidence of cause and effect. But I’m also a relationship person. I like to build and nurture connections with people.
And blogging is interesting that way. The input in is words and the output is in relationships and data. And the data holds clues to building relationships.
Behind the scenes on any website, you get information about traffic and views. You can track visits over time and analyze the impact of certain posts or links. And for a numbers gal like me, that data is intoxicating. It’s like a full-time science experiment with little restraint, “Let’s see what happens if I try this.”
After a few months blogging, I noticed an interesting pattern. From day to day, week to week and month to month, all of my data takes a cyclical pattern, growing and shrinking in a predictable wave.
Simply the recognition of that pattern was comforting. In those early days, those troughs caused me to question, well, everything. It was easy to conclude that the downward slide would continue until my site was obsolete. Remember that I didn’t see myself as a writer. Just a math teacher who happened to have a story. But every time, with no clear reason, the pendulum would shift and the readers would come again. I learned to find comfort in the pattern, secure in the belief that the pattern would continue.
But that wasn’t enough. After all, a science experience where you simply observe is no fun at all. So I started to increase my efforts every time the numbers would fall. I would post more frequently, seek out new readers and new platforms and generally market like crazy. My goal was to raise the troughs to the level of the crests.
The interesting part? It didn’t work.
I mean, the numbers would increase again, but only in the same pattern as before. Yet I would be exhausted for the efforts. Perhaps because efforts during ebbs are often driven by fear and frustration. And they’re lousy drivers.
So I changed tactics. When the numbers indicated a trough, I stayed steady. But when a crest approached, I got busy. I realized it was easier to build at the top. I was excited and my energy was contagious. Leads seemed to come from everywhere and links would pour in. The good mojo would feed my creativity and the words would flow from my fingers.
And you know what?
The amplitude increased, each crest a little higher than the one before. And those dips? Well, they also stepped up and weren’t quite as dippy.
And I wasn’t exhausted after the cycle of increased effort. In fact, I felt energized.
When something is good, it is easy to make it better.
As a numbers gal, I see patterns everywhere. And, as I learned to recognize and work with this cyclical pattern in blogging, I began to see it in other areas of my life.
My students’ progress ebbs and flows throughout the year.
My fitness seems to build only to fall again due to injury or illness.
My writing inspiration comes in waves (usually with ill-timing!).
Money comes and goes.
Social events arrive in waves.
And, most interestingly, my relationships seem to be on a similar wavelength, with periods of greater intimacy and connection followed by times of more detachment.
And that was eye-opening.
As someone who has been betrayed and abandoned, it is all too easy to interpret that downward trend as an inevitable slide towards the death of a relationship.
When in reality, it’s just part of a normal pattern.
Periods of growth are often followed by periods of rest.
Just look around you.
After my experiments on the blog proved successful, I decided to try them on my marriage.
I put my efforts into making the good times even better. To build even greater intimacy and connection at those times when everything seemed to just flow. And when I feel more distance, I don’t without effort, but I also don’t expend extra. I just recognize it as a period of rest before the next wave.
And you know what?
The crests get higher, pulling the troughs up as well. Every effort is magnified. The good feelings are multiplied.
Just like the best way to build yourself up is to help build up those around you.
And the best part?
Energy spent making the good even better isn’t draining. It’s rewarding.
Look around your life.
Do you see cycles?
Periods of ebb and flow.
You can fight the ebb.
You can go with the flow.
Or you can can work to amplify each pinnacle, reaching new heights with every period of growth.
Making the good even better.
There’s no limit to what you can reach.