This morning I was thinking about my to-do list, and I was amazed at how many things are on it. Despite the fact that I don't have a standard 9 to 5, I'm on the move constantly. I've gotten into a cycle of producing work every day, and I'm still learning new skills so that I can grow my business. In August, I tried something I never thought I'd do: I put together an online course.
*This post includes referral links to my Skillshare class.
An unusual proposal
Readers and potential clients email me a lot these days. I can't always take every job that comes my way, but I love having the chance to connect. At the end of July, I received an email from someone at Skillshare, an online learning platform like Udemy. They work to connect freelancers and entrepreneurs with an audience interested in learning new skills. I'd heard of them in passing, but I hadn't checked them out.
The message asked if I'd be interested in teaching an online class for their August Teach Challenge. I chuckled to myself at first. I'm super awkward on camera, and I didn't know the first thing about shooting or editing video. I also wondered what I could possibly say that anyone would want to hear.
My brain was vomiting up negativity about my skills based on an optimistic email proposal that could help me grow. Youch! All I heard was static and impostor syndrome babble. When had not knowing how to do something ever stopped me before? Just to fly in the face of the self-inflicted mental beat-down, I gave the email a second read.
Practice in Public
I had just read a post by Jeff Goins on practicing in public. The premise is that you don't grow by hiding under a rock. The pressure of deadlines and performance, and the willingness to put oneself out there (even at the risk of enduring ridicule) is excellent training. You learn more by doing things than by theorizing about doing things.
I know this from writing fiction. I have scads of short stories that haven't seen the light of day because I'm too afraid to take them out. (In fairness, most of them are absolute s*** and shouldn't ever assault anyone's eye-holes, but I know there are some decent ones in the bunch.) Every once in a while, I get brave and enter a contest or submit to a publication. I receive many rejections, but sometimes I get helpful feedback that sparks growth. I'm still writing, and my writing is getting better. Every once in a while, someone throws me a bone.
I have to fund my expeditions to bizzaro world (aka fiction writing), and that requires a different set of skills. I learned how to blog and write online, two things that were foreign to me just a few years ago. Teaching online courses is another opportunity to continue to live a lifestyle that gives me a fighting chance at finishing my book. Knowing the value of getting into the ring, I decided to give this August Teach Challenge a try.
My class: Goal Setting for Small Businesses
Most of what I know about S.M.A.R.T. (Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Time-Bound) goals seems second-nature to me now, but a few years ago, I didn't know what a S.M.A.R.T. goal was. I knew how to dream, but I didn't know how to make things real. I've always understood that having an objective is important, but over the last two years, I've given researching and practicing goal-setting a prominent place in my life. Understanding how to turn dreams into actionable goals is a skill we could all stand to have in our back pockets. I had my topic.
Over the course of one month, I outlined and shot my first class. I learned some basic video-shooting and editing techniques, and I figured out how to screen-cast. No, my camera work isn't going to be featured in the final season of Game of Thrones, but it's a start. I know my videos aren't gorgeous works of cinema, but I'm proud of the content, and I'm happy with the look of my slides and workbook. People could learn something from it, and that's what I cared about most with this first class.
Let's talk about goals
At the end of teaching this goal-setting class, I decided I had to set some new goals for myself. My latest objective is to learn at least one new skill to improve my classes each time I publish to the Skillshare platform. I had fun producing the class, but I know it would be better if I could learn how to do things like add music to the intro and create a sweet title animation. I'm going to sit down this weekend and come up with a production schedule doesn't disrupt my work with clients. I'm going to practice what I preach.
Have you used goal-setting techniques to improve your life? Are you working toward something big right now? Tell me about it in the comments! I'd love to hear from you.
If you're curious about my class, give it a gander on the Skillshare platform. When you use my link, they offer a promotion. (I believe it's one month free or 3 months for $0.99. Considering how much talent is on there, it's a steal.) Let me know if you have feedback. I'm practicing in public, and I know I won't improve in a vacuum.