Summer 2021 Review: Looking Ahead to Fall


August 2021 is only 7 hours away from being in the books when I’m writing the first line of this post and I think a lot of you will be with me when I say: “How the hell did THAT happen so fast?”

Well regardless, here we are, with another month almost in the books and my hastily, over zealous blog post on this site that was started when a good chunk of summer was already gone spouting its big mouth to the world about my summer goals to get done before the time raced by.

If you didn’t read that, you can find my summer 2021 plans blog post there, but we’re about to go over all of them plus the inevitable ways things went off the rail…but also the unexpected projects that went well.

Because celebrating the victories does matter. Plus beyond the seasonal breakdown, I also get to look at this staring me at the face every day since early December of last year:

yearly goal letter
Look I get the birthday to birthday thing but if you’re a few weeks late then you re-adjust the date to be one year out from then.

So yeah, it makes sense that I have plenty of motivation to keep hammering things out by day, by week, or by season considering that the massive letter from my past self to my future-almost-current self is going to be opened soon and after I first wrote this – there were no copies. It was sealed, placed by my work space, and that’s it.

A constant reminder not to waste time.

A constant reminder of the hope, the feeling of shame if I’ve done nothing for a while, the understanding that just like that a year goes by – and a year without my dream life is one less year I’ll have to enjoy it when I achieve that…or the increasingly good years as I get closer and closer.

Speaking of not wanting to waste time, from the mail this week:

Shout out to The Daily Stoic – great videos on YouTube and love the Medallion which I’ve started carrying with me everywhere. You can find their store here (not an affiliate link).

So with another great reminder I can now carry with me, and with all that said, let’s get to the stated goals and how we’ve actually done.

Goals for This Site

Simple enough place, to start, right? In the middle of July I had five goals for the blog. At the end of the day I’m going to say I pulled off 4/5 although there’s still a bit of work to be done.

The original goals:

  • July post published
  • August post published
  • Skeleton design layout/planning
  • Flesh out 1-2 pages (not posts)
  • Pull over a post from an old website

This post counts as August, so you may ask: wait a minute, that’s not four strikethroughs. True, but I’ve done over half of both points remaining.

The layout and planning is done, but not completely implemented. The same with pages. In draft form there are two that are almost done, and after finding some time to add in the links and do one more go through it will be done. So if the day had a few more hours we’d be 5/5 on this one.

So call it 4/5 and feeling good about it.

Writing Goals (All Platforms)

There were multiple writing goals going across multiple platforms and I figured this might be the one that slips through the cracks, especially with my focus being much stronger on other areas. There were also multiple goals by section, which I’ll order based on importance.

Freelance Work

Freelance had three goals that are sort of intertwined in the same area which were more or less:

  • Do the freelance work given from high-paying clients
  • Advance blogging/niche sites
  • Look for part-time or full-time work
  • Break even and don’t worry about it beyond that (most important)

I do believe that’s a 4/4. Now I didn’t land the jobs that I applied for and/or were pitched at me, but I pursued them. That I can control. Showing up and interviewing well I can control. The rest I can’t. So this is still a perfect.

Premium Articles

I use this phrase as a catch-all for INA Marketplace, Constant-Content, on Medium.com. The goals were for 12 articles (6, 2, and 4 respectively) total in the 6 weeks from the original post. INA Marketplace and Constant-Content for setting up cash sales that pay well for time spent, and Medium.com to breaking into profitable writing on topics I enjoy, so these do matter to me.

So how’d I do? Well…

Yeah we went 0/6 on that one. I’d give an excuse, but it would be nothing but an excuse. This was the one I figured I was “just tossing on” and was probably one of the lesser important goals but it was important enough to list so getting blanked…ouch.

So I will need to do better.

Especially since I see the potential of Medium and they have changed their Terms for partnership, so I need to get up to 100 followers and a certain amount of regular traffic if I want to cash in on that potential. If you stumbled on me here and don’t mind giving the follow if you enjoyed it, hey, here’s the pitch 🙂 Shane’s Medium Articles

Blog Posts

Here’s the meat and potatoes of those mid-summer goals. So many sites getting built…and many of them starting to show some serious signs of life. These were also super-ambitious. Especially since I was an idiot and forget I was half way through summer when making blogging goals for an entire summer.

So the long, long list:

  • AHREFS keyword research
  • Question keyword research for all blogging projects (HALF-CREDIT)
  • 15 blog posts for Assorted Meeples
  • YouTube Channel outreach post (Counting as done b/c rearranged release time based on YT schedule)
  • Optimize all currently published posts (over 100)
  • Foundation & formatting issues for all niche sites (HALF-CREDIT)
  • Gather potential guest post opportunities for AM & Niche Sites
  • 5 blog posts for Niche Site #1 (1/5)
  • 4 blog posts for Niche Site #2 (HALF-CREDIT)
  • 3 blog posts for Niche Site #3 (1/3)
  • 3 blog posts for this website (Nope, fell short)
  • 2 blog posts for Niche Site #4
  • 5 blog posts for Niche Site #5 (new)
  • 1 blog post for Starter Niche Site #1
  • 1 blog post for Starter Niche Site #2
  • 1 blog post for Starter Niche Site #3

So why so many failures? Well the obvious: I just didn’t write that much in 6 weeks. In addition to that, I was badly sick for 10 days (possible C-word breakthrough, hard to say), I was overzealous in making goals, but most importantly, something interesting happened.

Why do you scattershot write?

  1. Because you don’t know what’s going to take off yet
  2. No one niche/topic fully captures your passion

Since that last post one site did, in fact, begin to really take off. Assorted Meeples saw a huge jump in growth, and that justification to spend more time writing about gaming got me fired up in a way no site had captured in me in 4-5 years.

Since the point of the earlier scattershot approach to me was to find a site that either took off or fired up my passion for blogging again, once that happened it made way more sense to dump my energy into turning Assorted Meeples into one of the best dnd blogs online, and basically put everything else on hold.

So that’s what I did.

Niche sites 1, 2, and 3 all have draft articles I could easily knock out in 2-3 hours – but that would take energy and attention away from my main writing focus right now. Even with that said, I might knock those out before going to bed at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. But this article gets done first, so those don’t count regardless of timeline 🙂

So a lot of failures and half-completes here, but I shattered that 15 article goal for Assorted Meeples. If you count the total number of articles I wrote there with the total number of articles that were my goal…I’m very close to nailing it.

Weight Loss & Health

Oof. Rough one. A lot from being sick, and man after three weeks down (two and change weak, still don’t feel right energy wise after 2 weeks of recovery).

To be blunt: I failed bad here. It’s a 1/7.

The appointment for eye glasses was made. Everything else has yet to be done.

This hasn’t been a disaster in that I haven’t gone on huge binges of junk food or packed on 15 pounds, but the consistency of walking and exercise and diet needs to come back up and I need to give myself a kick in the ass.

I did have a 20 mile 44,000 step day, so that was pretty amazing.

Money, Debt, & Investment Goals

This wasn’t a bad one for me. Wasn’t ideal or great, but there’s a lot here that is beyond my control, so you an only do what you can do. And sure enough the one goal made that I had the least control over was the one that I missed.

The goals in summary:

  • Maintain all bills without raiding credit/savings
  • Add to savings
  • Add to IRA weekly
  • Put unexpected income to cash on hand
  • More in active checking post bills sitting there

Well four out of five ain’t bad. And I’m very happy with my Roth IRA even before the dividends were reinvested from several stocks. A trickle of money into my savings funnels, some debt paid off, and a little extra cash for thrifting, flipping, and eBay selling.

It wasn’t anything special but it was enough to keep me afloat while I hammered out some serious online content which right now I’ll take in a heartbeat.

Skill Investments

Straight out said there’s not much here that’s going to move over the summer and probably even during the year. That held up as true so despite five things being listed, that came with no expected progress. I did put in a very small amount of time trying to upgrade up to some minimal amount of competence in video editing and my new hobby skill.

So we’ll just call this a Pass since I did slightly more than expected to slowly progress those areas, and no concrete goals were actually set out. Those will come out during Christmas.

Creative Writing

Yeah. I really regret falling behind here. Most of these where I missed, I’m okay with it. Not thrilled, not happy, but okay with it based on everything else. This is the exception.

Bombed this one, and not happy about it. But did get a few more ideas and some of the old brain cells shooting so that’s at least something.

Set out goals:

  • Outline City of Crypts
  • Outline Alvaria
  • 5 pages for Inked
  • 20 pages for City of Crypts
  • 20 pages for Alvaria
  • Brainstorming creative fiction ideas

Well on the plus side…I have my unedited list of creative writing goals to move to fall? This is the one that sucks/hurts the most – especially with how well I returned to creative writing habits back in

Habits

This has been a fight and a struggle. The good news is I haven’t just shuttled the desire to strongly reinforce habits and the good fight continues here. Several good habits I’ve been fighting to keep remain rock solid and others I want but have struggled with are actually coming in more consistently.

Unfortunately none of those were the ones that I listed – well one partially. There were five habits I wanted to keep hammering in over five weeks so how’d I do?

  • Reinforce habits in place
  • Figure out 3rd index card of work habit issues (productivity hack I use that’s been pretty successful)
  • AGG before eating
  • Subconscious Kaizen (HALF-CREDIT the more I think about this, the more I realize some good habits really are sneaking in every single time I stand up so screw it – let’s recognize the victories no matter how small)
  • Work towards making fiction daily as automatic

Miscellanea

This had all kinds of important odds and ends of things that needed to be done or that I really wanted done and actually I’m overall pretty happy with how this section cleared up. So let’s have a look at all those.

  • Logo, Favicon, & Design Change for Niche Site 1
  • Logo, Favicon, & Design Change for Niche Site 2
  • Logo, Favicon, & Design Change for Niche Site 3
  • Logo, Favicon, & Design Change for Niche Site 4
  • Big creative projects miscellaneous work to prep
  • Fill out DnD character sheets for AM articles (STARTED)
  • Unqualified Experts Season 2 Filming
  • Scripts for video game guide videos
  • Creating outreach guide AM
  • Create board game review template AM
  • Create video game review template AM
  • Fill out passport application
  • Brainstorm YT ideas, series, thoughts for AM in 2022

This was one of those I’d say where there was arguably “extra credit” such as an incredible series of illustrations for a great one-shot I planned and executed on Twitch for Assorted Meeples, illustrations for some niche sites, as well as all kinds of serious keyword research.

The keyword research also became another albatross as certain use of the tool and brainstorming exploded the topics to research…beyond what the tool had for just one month of credits. So here we are.

A lot of research, trained back up in some skills that could help me with a side hustle in the future so, that’s advancement that’s not on the list, but it was definitely relevant.

What’s My Overall Feelings?

All in all actually pretty good. Especially considering the weeks of illness that sort of cut the knees out from absolutely everything. I’m not super happy or ecstatic. The creative writing, the weight loss/health, the complete goose egg on the premium articles to be wrote – it’s hard to be thrilled with all of that. Especially since two out of three of those were two of the three most important groups of goals to me personally.

That being said, overall especially with everything going on, I’m good. Not completely satisfied, and fired up to do much better, but I’m good.

One major reason?

Previously writing 100 blog posts in a year was incredible. Especially the size I tend to hammer them out and with the quality I demand from myself. From December to July I’ve completed 134 full-sized blog posts, and 80+ short blog posts (500-600 words). And I’ve had a pretty good August writing for Assorted Meeples.

We made a YouTube Series during that time, still am down many lbs from last year, and did all that while recovering from dental reconstructive surgery, among other things.

It’s been an amazing year and not even at the 10 month mark.

So overall I’m focusing on the good, on how well things are set up for the next month, and we go from there!

So if I have to give it a number rating: 6.5 out of 10?

Looking Ahead to Autumn 2021

Well let’s start with the review of summer 2021.

Summer Goal Review Scorecard:

  • This Site 5/6
  • Freelance Writing Goals 4/4
  • Premium Writing Articles 0/6 (OUCH!!)
  • Blog Posts 7.5/16 (But hard to grade because the strategy changed mid-month)
  • Weight Loss/Health 1/7
  • Money, Debt, and Investment 4/5
  • Skills – Pass
  • Creative Writing 1/6
  • Habits 1.5/5
  • Miscellanea 8.5/13
  • Overall Mood – Good, but…..

That’s it for now. Getting the fall goals out will be in a few days as I always want to review where I’m at, what I’m paying attention to, and reloading for what’s next.

Part of the reason doing this seasonally matters is that things change. The goals for blogging are DEFINITELY not going to be scatter shot this time around. Not when Assorted Meeples is doing so well and has so much potential starting to show.

That means the other niche sites get a lot less love for now but then so be it.

And if having this much to work on was part of what kept me from the big goals of health, weight loss, creative writing, then maybe, just maybe, it’s time to reassess and refocus.

So deep thinking, looking at where I am and where I want to go, and in a few days I’ll put the autumn update here. Thanks for reading and I look forward to bringing you the next update of seasonal goals.

Shane Dayton

Writer, gamer, outdoor enthusiast, adventurer, and depression survivor tired of all the ugliness. Doing my best to live a life worth living, having fun, creating stories, and hopefully doing my part to leave the world a touch better than what I found it. Hope you enjoy the site and find something entertaining, helpful, or useful that's your kind of jam.

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