What is the What by When?


Jan and ElizabethLast year I asked my daughter for advice about make-up. She is a person who has consistently great taste and always looks terrific. So it seemed a smarter idea to ask her for advice than to sidle up to the overly made-up person at the department store cosmetics counter and sit on one of those stools while passers-by watched the impossibility of it all.

Clearly, something needed to be done with my face. I was washed out, feeling faded and nondescript.

She seemed a little exasperated, suggesting that I might think about asking for advice on matters having to do with business or blogging, gently reminding me that she is an expert in a lot more things than make-up. (She’s the communications and marketing director for one of the country’s largest chambers of commerce.) Exasperated or not, she quickly diagnosed my washed out problem, tried a new eye shadow and blush on me and then sent me a supply in the mail. See a problem, define a problem, solve a problem.

So lately I’ve been thinking about my blog.

I don’t think my blog is washed out, faded or nondescript. Although some readers might argue. I think I have a style and a niche. I get good feedback. I occasionally get republished. It’s all pretty satisfying in terms of my blog being something that I’m proud of. But I think it could be better, bigger, have more impact.

So I asked my daughter for advice. She asked me for my blog’s analytics which, thanks to WordPress, I had readily available. Followers, views, visitors. Days, times, months, years. All of it’s there. She looked at that and asked me about my goal. I thought about it for a while. Well, not really, typically I say the first thing I’m thinking and, in this case, it was this: I want to make a name for myself.

Instead of saying the daughterly thing, the comforting thing, the dismissive thing which would have been, oh mom, you already have made a name for yourself meaning, really, be happy with what you have because who would expect you to do very much more than have a nice blog with a lot of nice readers, she asked me this:

What is the what by when?

Tell me this, she said, and we’ll work backward from that. My first reaction was, wow, my daughter is treating this request from me as a legitimate thing, not a mom looking for reassurance thing but an actual project, a real challenge, a legitimate thing. This, of course, made me sit up a lot straighter than I had been just minutes before. Nuts. She’s actually taking me seriously! So what’s the answer? What is the what by when?

I don’t have an answer but I love the question. And I love her for asking it. It made me feel like a million bucks.


6 Comments on “What is the What by When?

  1. Pingback: Just because – redosue

  2. Thanks, Jan. So interesting to read about your conversations with your daughter about both make-up and professional issues. I could see myself asking my daughters about fashion and, say, nursing or art, in the same way. “What is the What by When?” Good question. A little confusing to me. I’m in the midst of preparing a sermon on Hope, and just thought there might be some examples based on potential answers to that question. I like your honesty about desiring recognition. And I always love how intriguing are your articles. Thank you!


  3. I love both your blog and the question. It’s an excellent question especially if you are marketing. . .something. What would that be? I can’t figure it out for me, and I know I don’t have a when beyond before I’m incapable or die. It will be instructive to see where you go.

    I think the best essays (and your blogs are essays in the best sense) are explorations leading you to discover what you actually see or think. They don’t have an intended point starting out. So then you are inviting people on the journey with you, but it just might be a journey whose endpoint isn’t known until you get there. How to make that fit with a marketing framework? I don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Almost 2,000 people are following your blog. You were recognized as a top blogger by Blogster (I think–may be wrong about the org.). Your pieces are always original, interesting and well-written. How much fame do you want, my dear? And, how are you doing after your surgery?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s a great question for many other areas of life besides blogging, although the “what” may be easier to identify than a realistic “when.” However, even if one turns out to be wrong about “when” by the appointed time, the question certainly gets us up and on our way in the right direction.


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