How to Follow a Blog

Disclaimer: if you are a proficient blogger or blog follower, this post will be of no use to you. For those of us still learning, I hope this helps with some outstanding questions.

As I’ve been learning about blogging and discussing this blog with friends, several questions have been raised as to how to follow a blog. Isn’t there a way to subscribe? How do I know when a new post is up? I saw it on Facebook today, but what if I miss it in my newsfeed next time? Etc.

Here are a few (hopefully simple) answers to some of the basic questions. You have options and can choose the access method that works best for you. For simplicity’s sake, I will describe each option related to Looking Well, but all the options apply to most blogs.

SubscribeSubscribe

If you would like to subscribe to the blog, you can enter your email address and receive an email letting you know new content is available. This allows you to read the posts on your own time and keep the emails until you know you have read the post.

The form to subscribe on Looking Well is on the righthand side of the blog page and looks like the image to the right of this paragraph.

RSS Feed

For those who prefer not to be on an email list or receive more emails than they already do, a feed reader (like Feedly) allows all updated content to be accessed in one place. Simply search for “http://www.lookingwell.info” and add the site to your reading list.

Facebook

Looking Well also has a Facebook page where all new blog posts (and occasional other content) are posted. You can Like or Follow the page (or both!). Following also gives you options for how you would like the posts in your newsfeed and whether you get notifications.

FB

Web Page Only

If you prefer to browse the web, or simply want to control your viewing opportunities, you can also simply drop by the site when you have a few minutes. The front page lists the 5 most recent posts, and the Archives are found on the right sidebar if you need to go farther back.

Continue reading “How to Follow a Blog”

Working the Plan

This is where the fun is! Putting together a reasonable plan and seeing the progress is motivating, as well as beneficial.

There are a few things to keep in mind, however:

  • You are in this for the long haul – a marathon, not a sprint. Steady progress is what we are looking to see. Delays are not the end; keep the end in mind and patiently wait until you can continue. One day doesn’t work? Start fresh again tomorrow and the next day.
  • Get input on the plan from the start and throughout. Spouses, of course, but also family members and friends whose opinions you respect. Children, if involved, have feedback that is important to consider. It’s never too late to adjust.
  • Plan to succeed. Set yourself up to do what you have determined is best. Put reminders in your path. Set alarms. Schedule time on a regular basis to accomplish the steps in your plan.
  • It’s fine to tweak. In fact, if you’re not omniscient and omnipotent, it’s pretty much required. If Plan A doesn’t work out as you thought, don’t give up. Plans B and C and D are just other creative ways to move forward.
  • Don’t do it on your own. Lean on God’s provision and rely on His strength and wisdom. Use the resources He has placed in your life to support you. Ask for encouragement and accountability from your spouse or close friends. Who knows if you may stir others up to good works along the way?
  • The plan is not the ultimate goal. Remember our big picture and purpose. No matter how beautiful and well-thought-out the plan, it is worthless if done without love for God and our neighbor.

FYI: Planning

Following is a collection of links that may be of interest to you related to our current topic. Note, listing does not imply endorsement. Please evaluate for your own situation.

Systems

File Crate System — a method to plan a year for your family

Personal Retreats — book and templates for personal retreats

Progress toward Goals

Starting Your Day with Purpose — living intentionally, one small step at a time

Setting SMART Goals — five filters for successful goals and how to achieve them; another description here

Kaizen — the large impact of small, continual change

Daily Goals and Wins — a daily exercise to maintain focus and document progress

Ideas for Goal Setting — how to achieve progress with small steps forward

Personal Development Plan — the importance of making a plan in advance

Benefits of goal-setting — motivation as you walk through your preferred method

Managing the Gap — Your goal vs. your present

Calendaring

Making Time — how our values impact our use of time

Effective Use of Your Calendar — what goes on the calendar and what goes on the to-do list?

Using a Daily Planner — from the bullet journaling angle

Busyness — how busy are you?

Making a Plan

So you are ready to evaluate your life and make some goals. You have a few hours completely uninterrupted (we can dream, right?) to pray and think. As you look through each segment of your life, you come up with a list that looks something like this:

  • Spiritual – Need to find concentrated prayer time rather than sporadic and occasional
  • Home – Find a better solution to housecleaning on something other than an emergency basis
  • Church – Exercise hospitality
  • Education – Take a class at the rec center to learn a new skill
  • Community – Volunteer to make a quarterly meal at the local Ronald McDonald House
  • Health – Walk 10,000 steps a day

As you review this list of steps forward in each arena, which are also potential short-term goals, you look at them in light of your current life. You know that school is starting and the oldest is starting with a travelling team for the fall, so extracurricular classes will probably not fit well with those schedule changes. It is a good goal to exercise the mind and to meet neighbors, but now is not the best time.

You also decide to hold off on the quarterly meal until you can find a friend to share the commitment with you, for the sake of your schedule and financial resources.

Looking at the remaining goals, you feel they are equally attainable, so now it is a matter of choosing which one you will do now. Sometimes two work together well, as a housecleaning plan and walking; both will increase your activity level on a consistent basis. Or prayer and hospitality can support each other as you are motivated to pray for those you welcome into your home.

Remember: Don’t worry about the goals you don’t choose. They put you ahead of schedule the next time you sit down to evaluate. Remember that one step forward is better than none. And I assure you, no one can do everything all at once. Steady, gradual improvement over time will add up.

So let’s say you choose prayer and hospitality as your immediate goals. Great! Now how will you go about reaching those goals? Brainstorm ideas that would support your success. These are steps forward from where you are to get you where you want to be.

Is getting up a bit earlier enough to create the time in your day for prayer? Would a prayer journal help keep you on task and visibly show daily time? Do you need to hire a sitter or teach young children quiet time? Write done your ideas and choose what will work best for you.

Decide how you would like to exercise hospitality. Sunday dinners with other church families? A neighborhood picnic in your back yard each month of the summer? Hosting a Bible study? Hosting an exchange student? Friday game nights with youth in your church or neighborhood or school? Once you have that settled, put together a list of invitees. You can use the church directory, your knowledge of your neighbors (or determine to introduce yourself to each one), etc. Then plan your schedule (subject to change, of course) and your menus.

Now you can work the plan you created! You have a goal and know the steps you need to take to reach it.

Plan to Succeed

You know what you want (usually), but do you know how to get it? A goal can look so attractive in the abstract, but without a path we often look and move on. Especially when goals seem ambitious or overwhelming.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Just like it is impossible to swallow an elephant whole, we can’t tackle everything we want to improve overnight.

Chapter 4 of Shopping for Time discusses the value of a regular personal retreat, including time to evaluate your priorities and come up with an action plan. Even if it is just a morning to yourself twice a year, you will benefit from the time looking back and then forward. Prayerfully consider each of the arenas we discussed last week. Then come up with just one step forward for each.

You will benefit the most if your steps are clear, measurable and attainable. If you don’t know exactly where you are going, you won’t arrive. If you can’t tell if you arrived, you won’t feel success. If it is impossible to achieve, you never will. Revise what you have until you know specifically what you want to accomplish and that you can expect to get there.

Once you have done that, look at the steps you assembled and pick one or two to implement in the next 6 months. Take into account your situation and what is involved and other responsibilities that factor in. But it is important to pick one. As the authors of Shopping for Time* said,

This is extremely important. If you target too many areas for growth, you may fail to make progress in any of them and end up more discouraged than when you began. However, if you develop a plan to change in one area, you will be surprised at the dramatic difference it will make…Remember this: even if you only change in one area, you will be doing more than if you hadn’t sat down to plan at all.

You did not waste time coming up with all your steps. You can go back to them for consideration the next time you evaluate. They also help you make the best choice each time you plan.

Next week we will look at an example for how this can work. Until then be thinking about your areas and when you can devote some time to goal-setting. The dividends are available to you, if you make the investment.

 

* Shopping for Time: How to Do It All and NOT Be Overwhelmed, by Carolyn Mahaney, Nicole Whitacre, Kristin Chesemore and Janelle Bradshaw, Crossway, 2007, page 61.