The 2019 Wrap-Up: Design of a Decade

“Reality tells you what you can’t do.”

— Rick Rubin on HBO’s The Shop: Uninterrupted, Season 2, Episode 4

It’s the end of a decade, and I can’t help but reflect on where I am now versus where I was back in December 2009.

The 2019 Wrap-Up — Design of a Decade — Looking Back

This entire decade, pretty much, has been the balancing act between the blog, the family, and the day-to-day work as a public servant for Ontario.

Back then, I’d just started my first job out of the Ontario Internship Program, putting my time and energy into that and the time I spent with Sarah. I didn’t even really use Facebook at the time, much less everything I’d get up to on Twitter just a year later—the world I spend all this time on now as a Canadian Dad was utterly inconceivable to me back then, because so much less was on the line. Nor was I married. Or had any kids. So many of the things that make me a better man and keep me coming back to do the best that I can for all that are things I wouldn’t appreciate until I had them.

But a decade later, my friend Ramy put it to me best—the more you do something, the more your capacity grows to take on even more, and that’s the mentality I’m keeping with me as I get ready for 2020. Work smarter. Plan better. Make better decisions. I’ve come this far this last decade while doing whatever I wanted and getting better at it along the way. But you eventually hit a point where that just doesn’t cut it anymore, and in 2020, I think I’ll finally learn what I’m made of.

LESSON ONE: Success is More Than Just a Number on a Screen

One thing I can tell you that separates the me today from the person I was a decade ago is that I think differently.

When I started this blogger journey, I treated success like it was a quantifiable measure. That I was the sum of the followers I had. Or that I should measure my happiness by the number of comments I got on my work. I would chase after engagement rates, post frequencies and Domain Authority scores, thinking that they were the keys to my success, but what I understand now is that they’re all just indicative of something much larger at play.

It goes back to what I’ve been saying all along—the medium doesn’t matter if you’ve got an amazing story to tell.

The 2019 Wrap-Up — Design of a Decade — Flying for My Hopes and Dreams

When I took a break from creating as intensely as I usually did in the last few months of the decade, it made me understand that it was what I probably should’ve been doing all along—taking the time to make my work great instead of just good. You get used to trying so hard to be first or trying to be on trend that you forget that great work usually doesn’t just pop out of thin air. If you don’t spend the time and nurture it, you’re only doing yourself a disservice.

What that sweat equity looks like for me is bleeding pens dry. Blazing through as many notebooks as I can. I’m trying to spin gold from a dining room table full of straw every night, and as much as it pains some right now to see me work as hard as I do, I keep doing it because I know there are higher heights I can reach if I try.

The 14th Annual CaribbeanTales International Film Festival — Our Films. Our Stories. Our Legends.

Okay—before we get into the 14th annual CaribbeanTales International Film Festival, I’d like to go on the record with this:

Rattlesnakes may quite possibly be the best movie you’ll watch in 2019. Hands down.

It’s the kind of movie one can’t quite do justice unless it’s seen—to talk about the synopsis alone it sounds good:

Robert McQueen has a wonderful family and he makes a decent living. However, underneath the perfect husband act, he lives a double life and often has affairs with other married women. When one of their husbands finds out his identity, Robert finds himself abducted and tortured for his adulterous affairs.

Source: https://caribbeantalesfestival.com/2018-opening-night-new-day/

But oh my goodness is that ever an oversimplification of what might be the wildest ride you can have in 85 minutes! If this makes it out to wider distribution, I can’t recommend this movie enough. But I’d never get to see it without the help of the CaribbeanTales International Film Festival.

The Life and Times of Casey Palmer—The State of the #BloggerLife, August 2019—Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts

“I’m not even trying to win—I just want to get by without struggling too much.”

— VV

As the great Marie Kondo put it, if something doesn’t bring you joy, then you shouldn’t keep it in your life… and I think that’s how I’m finally feeling about blogging.

The Life and Times of Casey Palmer—The State of the #BloggerLife, August 2019—Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts—Casey's Done Blogging

Now. I’m not quitting. I’m not announcing the death of the blog for the millionth time. But what I know is that I’m ready for something else, because Dad blogging just isn’t cutting it for me anymore.

Casey Palmer, Canadian Dadfluencer 2.0

If you told me about the wild roller coaster ride ahead back when I was tweeting about my lunch in ’08. There’s no way I ever could’ve seen it. The blog’s given me so much—it’s let me travel across the continent. Play with all sorts of toys. I’ve made countless friendships and opened my eyes to a bigger world than I’d ever imagined… but it’s time I start striving for whatever comes next.

The Life and Times of Casey Palmer—The State of the #BloggerLife, August 2019—Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts—Casey Peering Into the Future

The writing’s been on the wall since forever as the opportunities dried up and the world’s attention moved elsewhere.

It means that the average blogger can’t make money from their work as quickly as they did before. The world continually asks more from the content it consumes, and despite tens of thousands of years of history, the written word can’t keep up anymore.

But for me, that’s okay. I mean… I never really meant to become a blogger anyway.

Why Me Blog?

Back in the day, all I ever wanted to do was draw.

As a kid, I’d read Nintendo Power and sketch out the levels for video game sequels I dreamt up in my head. Year by year, I kept drawing up ideas, so much so that I believed it’s what I’d do for the rest of my life.

However, life had some very different ideas in store. Business school. Finding a career. A post about sandwiches that established me as a writer for several years to come.

But I never intended for writing to be the only thing.

THIRTY-SIX: Trying to Learn a New Bag of Tricks!

Today I’m thirty-six. I’m thirty-six, and I blog in a world that doesn’t read blogs anymore.

And who can blame it? The written word only does so well at telling a story, with podcasts, videos and photos doing a far better job of filling the details between the lines than we could’ve ever imagined. The world’s changed aplenty from what it was when I started this a decade ago, and the one thing it continually asks me to do is something I still struggle with no matter how many times I work to figure out my ideas—

It’s time to re-think how I deliver my content.

The Biggish Blogger Problem.

I had coffee with a good friend from TELUS the other day, and he gave me some proper perspective on the current lay of the land.

The blog is dead. It’s long past the point of accepting the fact—though long-form content still does remarkably well on Google, we should be rethinking the way that content works in 2019 instead of looking to game the system with the stuff we’ve already got.

We’re in an age where smart assistants are popping up in homes across the country, with preference given to short answers that get to the point rather than meander about like the thousand-word treatises we’ve grown so used to. Stellar video’s not limited to big studios; music’s made at kitchen tables. There’s so much content out there, and the bar’s so high that everyone’s looking for stuff that’ll blow their minds… and that’s what I need to work on next.

What Can I Do For YOU?

A few Sundays back, Simon Guillebaud visited our church preaching the message of “radical grace”. You can listen to his sermon if you want to know more, but it breaks down to this—just how far are you willing to go to do what Jesus asked us to do and share God’s love?

The truth is that too many grow comfortable in our lives and pat ourselves on the back for doing a great job. We may tithe our 10% to the church or serve on several committees to do our part, but those pale in comparison to the sacrifice that Jesus made to save us from our sins, putting his very life on the line so that we could be free.

In the stories Simon told of his time in Burundi, one that resonated with me was the story of a woman who didn’t have a penny to her name. However, she loved the Lord’s message so much that she sold herself into a lifetime of slavery with a nearby sharecropper so she’d have the means to help others. Simon presented several scenarios where people did very counter-cultural things because of the depth of their faith, and his sermon inspired me to try something different to see how I could do my part to help everyone else.

And it all starts with asking what I can do for them.

“What Can I Do For YOU?” — A First Step in Making the World a Little Easier to Live In.

What Can I Do For YOU? — Casey vs. The World