Where I can find a lull in the preparations for Christmas, usually somewhere around the solstice, my thoughts turn to the ending of the year and I find myself reflecting on all that happened during this trip around the sun to bring me to where I am now. Whether you keep a journal or not this is a great time to do some reflective writing to consolidate where we are before we load ourselves up with resolutions, plans and intentions for the new year.
I wrote mine a couple of days ago and it felt like a strong way to end the year but I've also been thinking about the process of doing the review and wanted to share mine with you. It's pretty straight forward! Just take yourself off somewhere quiet with a notebook and pen for a couple of hours. This year I headed out into the Peak District with snacks, a flask of tea and an inspirational view but in previous years I've either gone to a coffee shop or sat at the kitchen table. Wherever is good as long as you're comfortable.
Wherever you are, just start writing! No-one but you is going to read it so write what you truly feel. If the blank page is staring back at you and you're not sure where to start then some of these might be good places to start.
When did we become to critical of failure? Why are we so quick to focus on blame rather than learning outcomes? Blame culture creates fragility, we can become so brittle and afraid to try in case we are criticised by others that we seek to protect ourselves by getting in there with the self criticism first.
Not so long ago we were more open to the idea failure being part of the path to success, familiar with the notion of the "eccentric Englishman" inventing things in his shed, playing down the risks to life and limb from the odd small explosion or out of control contraption!
Sir Joseph Swan didn't just wake up one day and make a lightbulb. He probably tried a range of different filaments and burned his fingers a couple of times before it worked. John Boyd Dunlop probably had a few slow punctures in inventing the pneumatic tyre and, closer to home, Yorkshireman Percy Shaw iterated his design for the Cats Eye several times before he perfected it.
Failure is essential to growth. We cannot succeed first time every time we try something new. Growth means working at the outer edges of our capabilities so by it's very nature growth is challenging. If we stay well within our comfort zones we never grow. As often quoted, an infant falls many times when learning to walk but keeps on giving it another go until off they toddle.
There is something to be said for failing fast but perhaps the phrase is just shorthand for 'make sure you step back and give it an objective look, pick out the lessons and learn them quickly'? Dogged pursuit of a an objective while refusing to learn clear lessons because it's not what you want to hear isn't going to lead to a good place.
Perhaps it's time to shift our mindset and culture away from the heavily filtered social media image we are so desperate to portray? Let's move towards expecting and encouraging failure as part of working towards something new. If you think it's time then here are not one but two challenges for you today;
As a new business owner there are a lot of things demanding your time and attention. You need to be an octopus living 48 hour days just to get half of it done. Getting a website is probably on that to-do list somewhere. You might start out in the initial stages finding customers through word of mouth but sooner or later you’re going to want to spread the word a bit wider about your products or services.
There are two main ways to get your business online, having a bespoke website built or using a drag and drop website builder. But which should you choose?
Benefits of using a drag and drop website builder
There are plenty of strong reasons to use a drag and drop website builder at when starting up your business;
When is it worth paying for a bespoke site?
Once your business is in full swing and you have everything up and running it is worth reviewing whether your site is delivering what you want from it. If you are looking to make changes you have a couple of options, work with someone on the content and marketing of your current site or start discussions with a web designer using your current site to demonstrate what you do and don’t want in a potential new site. By this stage you will have a good understanding of how websites work and a clear vision of your ideas to share with your designer.
Why I use Weebly
When I was setting up back in 2013 I came across Weebly. I thought I would give it a go before having a bespoke site built but found I liked it so much I stayed with it. In the past few years I've worked with clients using WordPress, Wix and Squarespace and use each of them regularly but have chosen to stay with Weebly for my own site for a few reasons.
WordPress requires regular updating of both the platform and plugins which many people simply do not remember to do and without which their sites are vulnerable to hackers. Buying and using third party WordPress templates for is pretty popular but the cost of these is often forgotten in comparing platform prices and templates can sometimes break or stop working with plugins when the platform is updated. Issues with WordPress sites can sometimes require hiring in a WordPress specialist to help you.
Wix, Weebly and Squarespace are pretty similar in terms of usability. Wix tends to be the most expensive of the three although the pricing structures are arranged in different ways so direct comparison is difficult and I have found at the moment that Squarespace doesn't provide quite as much flexibility in terms of features as the others.
Weebly has over 40 million users worldwide and has been running for 10 years so has a pretty solid reputation. It's kept up to date with regular new features and the telephone support has been excellent whenever I have needed it.
You can try Weebly out for free with no obligation for 14 days.
Have a go at building a test site and let us know how you get on over at the Digital Skills Club Facebook Group!
This morning three of my Facebook friends forwarded me the exact same message. I don't know whether they forwarded it to me for advice (though none of them followed it with a question) or they wanted to let me know so I could warn people. Each one of those friends did as the message instructed and forwarded it to all their friends
These days this type of message is a regular occurrence on Facebook Messenger. They are a modern form of chain letter invented by someone for the fun of seeing how far around the world it will get shared. The worrying thing is that it's an incredibly similar methodology to phishing messages or messages with dodgy links and malware in them. You could be falling for something worse than perpetuating a chain letter if you're not careful!
It's important for our own security that we question the validity of any information on the internet;
Fortunately there are some great sites like Snopes.com, ThatsNonsense.com and hoax-slayer.com where you can check these messages before you forward them.
If you check something and do find it looks like a real threat then don't message people individually. Instead post it on your Facebook timeline so everyone can see it, make that post public and include a link to the information you found when you checked. This allows your friends to share it to their friends and for discussion to stay centralised. If you send it through Messenger and your friends send it through Messenger then all the people you know in common are going to proliferate the same message from everyone in the group.
To dispel some of the myths in the message above;
1) As a rule of thumb don't accept friend requests from people you don't know (they are probably either looking for a bit of 'fun' or want to sell you something)
2) You cannot be "hacked" just by accepting a friend request
3) If you accepted a friend request from someone you don't know you can always unfriend or block them
Practice safe sending - check your facts first!
About the Author
Rachel Ferla is a Digital Skills and Productivity Coach with over 15 years experience as a project manager juggling multiple projects.