Not so new hobby
Hello my dear friends, welcome back to yet another episode of Morning Cup of Sunshine podcast. A very warm welcome to those who are listening to me for the first time. I noticed the surge in new listeners, especially my international listeners. Do you know Morning Cup of Sunshine has been listened to in more than 85 countries? I can not believe this. Never in my dreams have I ever thought that my small, hobby podcast will be listened to in so many different countries across the globe. I seriously have no words to thank you all for giving me the strength, motivation to keep on going. But was that easy? No, not at all. I know, there is no occasion right now to reflect on my journey. I already did an episode when I completed 50 episodes, then another when our Morning cup of Sunshine completed 1 year so doing an episode of my not so new hobby might seem random. But I got a wonderful question from one of my listeners. After listening to my episode about hobbies, Episode No 65, do you really need a hobby? She sent this question, “Even though my hobby brings me immense joy, pursuing it takes a lot of work, should I still put in work or just quit it?” Thank you so much Clara for a great question. After reading her question, I thought to myself, isn’t it true? I was rather in the exact same boat. Podcasting is a hobby for me. It takes a lot of effort. Sometimes, I am beyond exhausted to think about a new topic, jot down bullet points, and create a new episode, but I do it because once it is done and when I sit to record, it brings me immense joy. As Clara said, my hobby brings immense joy but it takes enormous planning and energy to create one episode. So, I thought, I should reflect on my journey and find out why I kept going even when quitting was an easy way out.
So, let me start from the very beginning. Why did I even start this podcast? Weren’t a full time job, two kids and a home to take care enough for me to fill my day? I have said this countless times, I had everything that anyone can ask for, but still something was missing and I found that missing piece in podcasting. In 2020, when everyone was stuck at home, with stress levels rocketed sky high I was no different. There was uncertainty, there was fear, there was anxiety. Podcasting, getting up early each day to write a new topic gave me peace of mind. I felt good when I started creating something. I fell in love with the process. Did I make any mistakes? Oh, plenty. If you go back to my very very first episode, Keep your inner child alive, you could sense how nervous I was in front of the microphone. I was worried if anyone would listen to me. I had no clue about promoting my podcast. I asked some of my close friends to listen to my episode and give me feedback. I was waiting eagerly for their feedback, I still remember I was wide awake the whole night, wondering about the future of this hobby. It did not feel to be a burden or a work at that point because I was too excited. I still remember, the first phone call I got was from my sister. She of course had good things to say about it. After that, there was no feedback till evening. I thought I was going to have only two listeners, my sister and my husband. But then by the time 6.00 in the evening rolled around, I started getting so many messages and so many phone calls that I was overwhelmed by the love and support. That episode had more than 500 downloads on day 1. It is till date one of my favorites and most popular episodes. But I still felt, these people are my friends, family. I had no idea if anyone apart from my friends and family were listening to my episodes. I felt anxious, I felt doubtful because again I was a complete newbie. But the numbers were telling a different story. I consistently started getting listeners from the countries, cities where I did not know anyone personally. My numbers were climbing up and I was too excited to quit or shall I say too excited to notice how much work I was putting in. I started experimenting. I created a bonus episode. I tried my hands on creating an episode which was extremely tough for me. It was about self love and I have struggled with it for the past many many years. I created not one but two episodes about this topic. Those episodes were so well received. I created an episode with my husband and that episode was the first episode I created in the interview format. I do not have two microphones or any kind of special arrangement for interview episodes. We did that episode with what we had at hand, but it was such a special memorable episode for me. I was so happy where my podcast was going. Then came an episode, how to start a new habit. I never thought that this episode would be such a huge hit. But the numbers for these episodes went through the roofs. Till date, I get emails, messages about this episode. I occasionally see this episode being shared across social media.
So, basically I was on cloud 9 and my new hobby was taking off absolutely great. Everybody said, it takes time to establish the podcast, having 20-30 downloads for a new podcast is good enough and here I was with huge numbers for my initial 15 episodes. I thought, I bit the bullet and I am unstoppable. But, oh boy I was wrong. Everything seemed great until it wasn’t. I still remember, I created an episode with all my heart and soul. It was and is still my most favorite episode, Episode 17 - Be real, be authentic, be you. It failed so badly. The day it was released it hardly had 200 downloads. I was crushed. To date, I don’t know what went wrong. This episode still gets some occasional downloads but it is far away from the numbers it deserves. One of my fellow podcaster friends gave me advice to revamp that episode and release it again. Let’s see if I get around doing that but to be honest I am not sure if I can take it if it again doesn't do well. That was the first time, podcasting felt like work because I was so involved in this episode. Even though I am using numbers to give you the reference, it was not just about numbers. For the first time, I started doubting myself if I am good enough to create consistent good episodes. If you have listened to any interviews of podcasters, they all will tell you that being consistent is the hardest thing to achieve when it comes to podcasting. Sticking to the schedule is the most difficult thing. But since I am really disciplined, I did not face that issue in the early days of podcasting but for me moving forward when faced with disappointment was very difficult. That was my first taste and of course not the last taste of disappointment. For the first time ever, creating the next episode felt like work. The way Clara said even though my hobby gave me joy, it felt like work. But what kept me going, was it easy? No, it was not easy, I dragged myself out of that self doubt. For the first time, I accepted an opportunity to go on a Facebook live for someone else’s show. I thought, if I can take on a new challenge and succeed at that, it will revive my confidence. Little did I know, the topic that I chose to talk about will become my signature topic for all upcoming podcast interviews. I did not know I was so passionate about talking about Work Life balance or in my words, work life harmony. This Facebook live changed the course of my podcast. I never thought I would talk on a topic spontaneously on Facebook live. It was completely new to me. I understood one thing from this new challenge, if you want to keep the spark in your hobby alive, you need to experiment. If you start doing the same old, routine things even while pursuing your hobby, it is bound to feel like work at some point. If you start thinking outside the box, you will find new ways to love your own hobby. I learnt a lot from this Facebook live but the most important takeaway from this Live was my renewed confidence and my brand new self assurance. It sealed my love for speaking and writing forever in my heart. That moment, I knew how much I enjoy this hobby and I realized it is here to stay no matter what numbers I see on my podcast. I have reached far low numbers for a few episodes. I exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds for some episodes. But to be honest, it does not matter to me anymore. I know how much joy it brings me. I know how much I will miss it if I stop doing it. But again it does not mean that thought doesn't come to my mind. It crosses my mind every now and then but not because of numbers but because it is too much work sometimes. Life happens, seasons change, kids get sick, office deadlines show up and it becomes difficult to find time to write, record, promote. I have been to that place many times but every time, I try to remember how much better it feels after I record, and how great it feels when I sit in my favorite nook and just keep on writing. For me, I have decided, if the week is crazy and it is hard for me to dedicate time to podcasting everyday, I let go of my social media posts and promotional content. I notice a dip in the numbers but I have come to terms with it because if I have to keep going I might need to sacrifice something. After all, it is my hobby and if I have to keep loving my hobby, keep coming back to it to refresh myself from work, it can not feel like work and prioritizing, letting go of some unnecessary burden is the way to go. This is the solution to keep going, keep loving, keep exploring your hobby without burdening yourself. Another lesson that I learned along the way was that something is better than nothing. If you are too busy and can not spare time to go to that dance class, maybe a 10 minute quick dance practice at home is a way to go for that day. That way you don’t miss out, you don’t feel guilty, you don’t burden yourself to go to dance class, no matter what. If I don’t have my outline ready or if I am not in a mood to talk about the prepared topic, I improvise. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Power of doing nothing is the perfect example of such an impromptu topic. It was so well received but I knew in my heart that it was not perfect because I did not prepare for that topic but it helped get the episode out for that week. So, don’t be afraid to change it out, after all it is your hobby and you are doing it for your own happiness. If something brings you joy, do more of that. I enjoyed my sole Facebook live so much that after 6 months of doing that live, I decided to host my own Facebook live, it was the vision board party. A lot of my friends and listeners joined that virtual vision board party and we created our vision boards. It was a totally new experience and I am craving to do more of those Live sessions. But you know, life happens. I have been planning on doing more live sessions for months, but I could not get around doing one. I was already busy with a job , podcast , kids and then amongst all this we bought a house. I was pretty sure that I was going to skip a few weeks during moving and setting home but the planner in me was not letting me do it. I still remember recording an episode about a life update in the closet full of boxes. It was so uncomfortable to sit in that closet and record but I was smiling ear to ear while recording that episode, of course because the joy of having our own home was fresh on my mind but I was so incredibly happy that I was able to put an episode out even amongst all that chaos. So, if you feel like it is going to be too much work, I would suggest pushing yourself a little bit. As I said, it may not be perfect but at least something is better than nothing. I have no words to tell you how much I learned from this podcasting journey. Countless books, journaling habits, meditation, finally being able to adapt to mindful living and many more, I really lost count of the amazing encounters I had because of podcasting. Happy Moment of the week was one of my favorite segments. It helped me look at the small things more mindfully. I started finding joy in the places which I would have easily ignored. I finally found my niche after one year. I realized how passionate I am about helping other women who are struggling to find their passion. I never thought I would be able to bring a change, even though in my small way, might not be dramatic but significant enough to bring a smile on someone’s face. You won’t believe it but every time I start doubting myself, I start questioning if I can keep on going. I get an email, phone call or message from someone assuring me how this podcast is changing their life, one day at a time. I just want to say one thing, it is very rare to find something that you absolutely love, it is hard to find a hobby that you are truly passionate about, and if you have found it, please keep on pursuing it, even though it feels like work somedays, even though you fail sometimes, even when you doubt yourself, just keep on going, it will present the opportunities to you that not only bring joy to you but also light the way for others. Trust yourself, my friend, having a passion and pursuing it is no easy feat. Follow your passion, it will lead you to your purpose.