The Best Changes I Made in 2017

December 15, 2017 Blogger Events 32

Best Changes I Made in 2017


My family went through a lot of change this year and much of my mental space and emotional energy was focused on that. My other outlets had to slide in where they could, so I wasn’t focused on intentionally adding more change to the situation. But, more change did find me.

I’m going to focus on three major changes, all of which I didn’t really intend to make this year, but came about accidentally / out of necessity. One is blogging-related, one is reading-related, and one is neither, but all of them are long-term and on-going.

Linking up with A Month of Favorites hosted by Traveling with TEstella’s Revenge, and GirlXOXO.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).

Listened to Online Business-Related Podcasts

This year, I started listening to some online business-related podcasts (The Strategy Hour, Brilliant Business Mom, The Chopped Podcast, Simple Pin Podcast, and Online Marketing Made Easy) and they completely changed my thinking about this blog. For a long time, I’ve had vague ideas of shifting from blog to business, but I didn’t have a consistent business-focused mentality about it. These podcasts helped me shift my thinking from “hobby” to “business (even a small one).” 

There are certain things that many online businesses (including blogs) do as a matter of course, but that book bloggers don’t do for some reason. These podcasts have helped me see that I can and should do this stuff. I’ve already implemented a number of simple tips from these podcasts and have been plotting how to tackle some bigger ones.

I’ll be sharing more about what to expect from Sarah’s Book Shelves in 2018 in a later post, but a lot of it stems from pairing this with my next change…

Figured out How to Pick Better Books

Since starting this blog, I’ve chosen what books to read by combing publishers’ catalogs and various “Most Anticipated Books of X Season” lists, which give you the book’s premise, the publishers’ selling points, and author blurbs (those quotes from well known authors that are on the cover of new books…endorsements, if you will).

I finally realized this system has not been serving me well! The early information I was using to make decisions came from the very people who want to sell as many books as possible (i.e. publishers). So, of course they’re going to slap “THE thriller of 2017”-type labels on books that may or may not be very good. I don’t blame them (it’s their job to create hype), but I don’t have to listen to them.

So, I started thinking about a new system for picking books. Many of my favorite books of 2017 were recommended to me by trusted sources and weren’t on my radar during all that catalog combing. I realized the source of the recommendation is way more important than the book itself.

Over the last few months, I tracked all my recommendation sources and numerically figured out who gives me the best (and worst) ones. I’ll be using this system to pick books moving forward (and I hope you’ll join me!) and integrating this theme into everything I do on the blog next year, including…

  • My Most Anticipated Books of Winter 2018 list (coming on December 26) will mostly be books from trusted sources who, in as many cases as possible, have already read the book. For the first time ever, I did not look at a single publisher’s catalog to create this list.
  • A tool to help you figure out which Best Books of the Year lists are most compatible with your reading taste (coming on December 19).
  • I’m working on a Reading Tracker that will enable you to easily figure out who your go-to and no-go recommendation sources are throughout the year (plus, a bunch of other good stuff)…which will be available for sale in January.

Started Exercising for Longevity

This last change was forced upon me when I threw out my back in February, but I learned some valuable lessons that will serve me well over the long-term.

Up until Winter 2017, I ran a lot (including occasional races) and did Sprint Triathlons. Throwing out my back forced me to drastically cut back my exercising and I haven’t competed in a race since Thanksgiving 2016. The long recovery and endless hours of physical therapy since then have taught me how to exercise for longevity…and that longevity should be my goal now that I’m approaching 40.

What does this actually mean?

  • Don’t go all-out every workout. I should go hard about 2 days a week and convert some of my weekly workouts into recovery workouts at an easier pace.
  • Spend more time on recovery. For me, this includes foam rolling, recovery yoga (I love Jasyoga’s videos), sleep, and stretching.
  • Increase the strength training, cut back on the cardio (which is hard on my joints). I’m now strength training 4 days/week and doing cardio 2 days/week rather than the reverse. And, my strength work is heavily focused on glutes, hips, and core to protect my lower back.
  • Appreciate the ability to just go for a run…at whatever speed feels good to me that day.
  • Listen to my body. If something hurts, stop whatever I’m doing. If I’m really dragging, take some rest. My body is probably telling me something.

What were the best changes you made this year?

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The Best Changes I Made in 2017 came about accidentally / out of necessity, but all of them are long-term and on-going. #reading #book #bookish #bookworms #booklovers

32 Responses to “The Best Changes I Made in 2017”

  1. Susie | Novel Visits

    I just can’t get my act together for a month of faves this year. Ugh!

    I’m very curious to hear more about making your blog more of a business model. Obviously, I’ve seen that up close with my sister, but am really interested to hear how some of that can translate into a book blog. I also can’t wait to see your Winter Books list. I feel like you’ll have some hidden gems in there that I need to consider and request. The piece your doing on Best Books of the Year lists also sounds really interesting. Can’t wait!

  2. Naomi

    Sounds exciting, Sarah! I’m very interested now in seeing your Most Anticipated Books for Winter 2018!
    Good luck with everything. 🙂

  3. Aj @ Read All The Things!

    The business blog thing is interesting. I’ve never thought about my blog as a business, but I’m starting to get a lot of traffic, so I’ve been considering putting ads on my site. It might be worth it. I also tried to do better with exercise in 2017. I started running last year and managed to keep it up for all of 2017.

  4. Carrie Gillaspie

    I have also gotten more picky about the books I’m picking up. Now that I know what I like I’m not flying at every recommendation I hear. Some books I know just aren’t going to be for me, no matter how highly their recommended.

    looking forward to hearing about what’s in store for SBS for 2018! I’ve loved seeing your blog grow and mature! 🙂

  5. Tara

    YES!!!! I love everything about this post, Sarah! Of course, you know I’m rather partial to the part about exercising for longevity; this is something that I’ve been reflecting upon quite a bit lately, as well, and I have enjoyed cutting back on running and focusing on new/different challenges. I agree completely with the whole book recommendation thing; I think I’m going back to my old, pre-blogging model, which was more gut instinct than anything. We’ll see…

  6. renee

    This was a great post Sarah! I’m with you on having to change up exercise routines due to injuries this year and I’m learning to be more flexible and pick some easier workouts rather than consecutive hard ones. I can’t wait to hear your strategy for picking books in 2018. I tend to agree with Tara that I’m going to make a return back to my intuition and not be pulled into thinking I want to read the hyped books. Also, I’m avoiding books described as psychological thriller or psych suspense…unless wrote by Sharon Bolton or Dennis Lehane:) Looking forward to your upcoming winter reads list!

  7. Wendy

    I rely on you and a few other bloggers for book recommendations. I’m looking forward to your upcoming posts! No more bad books!

  8. Gabby

    For me, YOU are one of my trusted recommendation sources! We don’t always love/hate the exact same books, but our tastes are similar enough that you’re a trusted voice. And not relying on publisher hype is why I always have a hard time with “looking forward to” lists…I like to see a consensus develop before I decide what new books are likely going to be worth my time. But I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what you’re looking forward to that’s coming up!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Awh – thank you and I agree! And I love that you’ve gotten on board with Conroy! And I’m going to be looking for some consensus on a lot more books this year…or at least one trusted recommendation!

  9. Akilah

    This is great. I especially love the part about exercising for longevity (I started doing that a couple of years ago). I am also super looking forward to your book recommendation stuff.

  10. Catherine

    Go you, making book blogging a business! If anyone can do it, it’s you. Looking forward to seeing what you do.

    This question is the easiest one of the year: working out is the single best change I’ve made this year. My balance is similar to yours- focus on strength. The only thing that may change now is that swimming is out, which is very hard to grasp. I’m hoping to add consistent yoga in 2018. I start, I stop, I can’t seem to commit, but I’m so creaky I know it needs to happen.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Well, we’ll how things go! It might be the smallest business ever! But, I’m going to throw some darts and see where they land.

      And so proud of your working out change! Have you ever tried short yoga videos? I love those despite the fact that I doubt I’d ever go to a full yoga class.

  11. Pat @ PFN

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Sarah. I look forward to following your blog in 2018! Your post fits well into my current thinking as I am reflecting on last year and planning for next year. Happy New Year!

  12. Tanya Patrice

    Thanks for the podcast recommendations too – and so awesome you made changes that impacted you +vely in 2017. I think this topic is helping me to think of changes I’d like to make in 2018 too – so it’s a hard topic, but can also set us up for the future.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I agree – it is hard and people come down on various sides of the fence. Let me know if you ever want to chat offline as we’re both giving it a go!

  13. Stacy Millican

    What great changes you’ve made this year! I love how focused you are and so resourceful! Very much looking forward to seeing how you continue to grow and evolve!

  14. Michelle

    You have me intrigued about the ways to turn book blogs from hobby to business. Is there any one podcast series you would recommend that you found particularly enlightening?

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Yes! If you listen to just one, make it The Strategy Hour. Even episodes that I don’t think will pertain to me at all (like an interview with an entrepreneur who sells handmade kids hair bows online) teach me something. And, their overall mindset completely turned my perspective around.

      • Michelle

        Thanks! I don’t ever listen to podcasts, but I am curious about this idea of looking at my hobby in a different light. I will be giving Strategy Hour a try!

  15. Lorraine Burns

    I branched out this year and tried to read books that weren’t usually a pick for me. I have found that it’s made me better at picking good reads. Right now for instance I am reading Heath Daniels’ Day of Judgement. Not at all a book I would normally read, but it’s been really good. So things like this have been great changes for me!

  16. Katie @ Doing Dewey

    These all sound like great changes! I’ve started listening to podcasts when I exercise and I really admire the changes you’ve made with your blog, so I’ll definitely be checking out the podcasts you mentioned 🙂

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Yay! If you have to pick just one, I’d start with The Strategy Hour. Even the episodes that I don’t think pertain to me end up teaching me something…and their whole outlook has changed how I view my blog.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Yep. Me included up until this year! I was an athlete growing up and always had more of a “push through the pain” mentality…as I was expected to have then, but it’s been hard to grow out of that.

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