Fall Pumpkins New York

You and me, we’re the magic of the internet.

Last week I sent out a survey to readers to get a better sense of this community that we’re growing here. We had nearly 200 responses to the survey, and the results are in — Here’s what we look like:

GENDER: Readers are about two thirds female and one-third male: (69% of responders marked female, 31% marked male).

AGE DISTRIBUTION: While I’ve experienced this informally through my interactions in emails and online, it was nice to see it mapped in distribution: we’re a mix of folks of all ages — from recent college grads to new parents, to second- and third-careerists, and many folks grayer and wiser than I am. Here’s the spread:

  • Under 21: 3%
  • Age 21-30: 36%
  • Age 31-40: 25%
  • Age 41-50: 18%
  • Age 51-60: 14%
  • Age 61-70: 5%
  • Over 70: 0%

Who you are and what you’re working on:

You’re working on: figuring out how to make a living doing something interesting (or rather, something that you actually like–because still so many people are living lives and working jobs that they are miserable in); how to contribute your talents to the world; discovering what those talents are; becoming a better writer or communicator; understanding self-publishing and what it means to talk online; and developing your own businesses or passion projects.

Many people are interested in learning how to live with less as well as how to focus, hone, and refine what it is they really want. You’re interested in knowing methods for de-cluttering; you aspire to simplicity in home and health, and happiness not through more stuff, but through something not yet identified.

For the post-graduates, you’re moving back home with the parents and navigating the new-job world; in the first five years or so, you’re learning, reading, and trying to figure out how to lay out plans to make the most of your 20’s and early 30’s in a combination of excitement and trepidation. Will you make the right decisions? (No, and yes!)

Nearly everyone is learning or doing something new, no matter what age. The common thread between young and old is the desire to pursue more challenging, interesting, and fulfilling (and ultimately, meaningful) projects, businesses, and lives. Whether it’s starting a new business, taking on new clients, starting a new job, or making a shift in your life: you’re talented creatives at the brink of a new endeavor, a place you find yourself in agains and again as you pick up more new projects.

The struggle with this, however, is that while you’re building something on the side, you also have the real challenge of time constraint and competing interests: you’re split between spending time on your current commitments (from your job(s), to your relationships, your debt, etc).

Burnout is a real issue, too (and one I’ll go into more on later this year and early next in some of my upcoming essays): most people are working really hard, and progress is slow at times. Balancing the need to make the change with making time for self-care is critical. How do you know when to work harder and press on (“Make it work!” says Tim Gunn)–and when to yield, slow, rest, and make space?

What’s holding you back:

What holds you back is complicated–for some it’s self-doubt, low self-esteem, stress, and anxiety. It’s the inside voice, the learned voice, or the narratives of our childhoods that we’ve carried into the present. These psychological hang-ups are real, because they are ours and wind their way through everything we do.

For others, it’s simply too many things: too many conflicting demands, too many projects, too much stuff (literally), and not enough time. For us, it’s about re-learning the power of no, setting boundaries, and clearing out clutter. It’s about making choices that enable freedom–not choices that continue to restrict us.

And for others, it’s the business challenges that are holding us back: we have great ideas, but the first iteration isn’t quite there yet. You can’t find the right clients. You’re not sure how to sell. A whole host of people talked about finding the right clients, connecting with the right people, knowing how to offer and price your services, and discovering how to market yourself and your abilities in the changing work and freelance landscape.

What you want more of (how I can be most helpful):

I’ll have to admit, I was having a bit of a day when I went to my google drive and opened up the survey responses (you know, one of those days when everything breaks, you spill tea across your lap, the recording fails). The fact that 200 people responded blew me away — heart flutters, seriously. I hope you know that YOU ARE WONDERFUL. The responses ranged from silly to tearful to just plain inspiring:

Beyond the threads above–the practical, the tactical, the psychological; people said time and time again that the philosophical undertones and the life lessons really caught their attention. Slow, considerate thoughtfulness and questions about meaning, value, and deeper purpose resonated with most of you across the internet and are a core shared interest in this community.

(And for the person who said I should be elected as a public representative so I can offer a platform of support and encouragement… I do like this idea. Perhaps we’ll build it! Together…)

Upcoming: micro-workshops for freedom, gratitude, and inspiration.

I’m working on a few micro-workshops (two weeks) coming up that will be shorter and more affordable starting later this year. Based both on the overwhelming feedback from the survey responses as well as my one-on-one interactions with folks from Pay What You Can Days and in the Writer’s Workshop, I’m designing a module that will be affordable, sweet, and a beautiful community kick-start into topical themes.

The micro-workshops will be specifically designed for folks who want to up the ante on positivity, encouragement, growth, getting started, and motivation; a digital treats of two weeks around specific topics. The first will be coming out in early December, and the next in January. Mark your calendars and get excited about joining us…

And the book winners!

And the book winners! I’m contacting you by email… because so many responses came in, I’m giving away FOUR copies of the books, not two. This time, folks are winning Money: A Love Story by Kate Northrup, and Die Empty, by Todd Henry.

And because it’s the season of pumpkins (my favorite–possibly because it’s the month of my birthday), followed by a season of gratitude and thanks (also my favorite! Okay fine, I just like holidays and celebrating!) I’ll have a few more books to giveaway in the near future, as well, including a copy of Scott Berkun’s latest book, The Year Without Pants, and Mike Rohde’s book, The Sketchnote Handbook.

And as for my book, by and large the responses leaned towards “Do Something” AND “Manipulate the Monkey Brain,” both tied for first. Apparently “getting started” was less liked. Thanks for the feedback.

Now, to get back to writing that book proposal…

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