Thank you for taking the time to contribute to my recent reader survey. This is only the third time I have undertaken such an exercise in the five years the blog has been going. That is way too infrequently! I have found it a useful way to understand you, my readers. I think in the long run you will also benefit as it will help me improve my blog, writing and podcasts. I intend to repeat the survey more regularly so as to keep what I write about and present as relevant and helpful to you as possible.
In December 2017 we had 93 responses from the 483 email addresses in our database. Although these are relatively low numbers (19%) they do provide a baseline from which we can build on to develop an understanding of who is reading and how to improve content.
Summarising the results gives the following 'reader profile':
My average reader is:
- female (but this is marginal at 57%),
- aged above 45 (83%). There are a further 9% who are aged 35-44 so it does seem that I am particularly relating to those who are approaching middle age and above!
(For further reflections on getting older see Podcast #012 On Turning 50).
- in terms of marital status, 73% are married, 18% single, 7% divorced and 2% cohabiting
In terms of what you do, 23% work in Christian ministry or the charity sector, 20% in health, 16% are employed in a company, 14% are in business or managerial positions and 9% are retired.
Of those who responded 90% identified themselves as Christian, 5% atheist, 2.5% agnostic and 2.5% as Hindu. In addition 85% stated their faith was very important to them, 2.5% important, 5% mildly important and 7.5% not important. For me that seems to indicate I need to make more of a connection between my faith and the rest of life. As we grapple with living in an increasingly complex and challenging world it is important I articulate how faith in Christ can speak into our lives.
Where around the world are you?
I have statistics from my current number of 479 subscribers that shows 51% live in the UK, 21% in the US and 16% in India. The remaining 12% are from countries as diverse as and including (among many others) Germany to New Zealand and Brazil.
With regard to the subjects that interest you the most, across the five categories of the blog posts this was divided between mental health (64%), spirituality (62%), thinking (33%), leadership (20%) and cross-cultural issues (11%).
The blog posts initially started on the subject of depression and are an important area of interest to you. Closely related to that have been issues related to stress, burnout, growing in resilience and challenges at work.
In terms of content, many of you made comments about appreciating the variety of content and sharing my own life story highs and lows. Certainly by providing a variety of content and keeping it as personal as practically possible I am able to maintain a consistent output.
With regards to frequency of reading blog posts, I think aiming for a weekly post is just about manageable to ensure not overwhelming you with further emails as well as maintaining quality. It is what I can realistically keep up with and I hope provides a welcome thought provoking and inspiring interlude to the usual emails you receive without being another unnecessary addition to your in-box.
73% of you have recommended the posts to others. Thank you for that! That is the best way to get these resources to those who need them most.
In terms of the podcasts, 53% of you have been able to listen to them. Of those 78% listen directly from the associated blog post and 11% directly from iTunes. It has also been brought to my attention that many of you are not aware you can download the podcasts directly from iTunes or a podcast app by searching under the title 'Making Sense of Life'. There also seemed to be a consensus to keep the podcasts to a maximum of 30 -40 minutes, which I will endeavour to do.
71% stated they preferred the blog, 10% the podcast and 19% had no preference. It is my sense that those who listen to the podcast may well be a different audience to those who read the blog posts.
Direct quotes on some of the biggest challenges you are facing:
Maintaining hopeful realism at work, positive role model for colleagues and staff, supportive husband and father
Mental Health, Difficulties with people, how to improve in what I'm doing (skills)
Mental health / prioritising...being open with my son
Direction and living in the now as we make decisions that will change our lives radically
Fulfilling my Lords promise coaching people towards Him
Motivation in face of unnecessary suffering
Ageing and exclusion due to ageing.
Managing/stewardship of my time.
Time - lots of demands on me from different sources. Headspace - there's only so many mental demands I can handle at once.
As I get even older, I find small things a challenge in a way that I didn't say 15 yers ago. A major house move has been far more difficult than I had expected
Time. As a volunteer it can be hard to decide when to stop!
As I am getting older I find it a constant challenge to keep my brain and memory sharp. Again, an age related issue is time - while being retired you would think there would be more time, but in my case that is not true at all. I am working with a local author, and a local driving school that keep me very busy, and 9 years ago I finally began a "hobby" that instead became a passion and a lucrative job for me. I have learned to design and creative jewelry, and learning new skills all the time has helped keep me mental sharp and open to new ideas. Retirement for me has not been a slowing down time, but rather a "Let's jump in both feet and go fast!"
Trying to help relative with mental health issues (anxiety)
Acknowledgement and being valued at work
Matching my ideals with reality, esp. professionally.
Know how and time
Time. Having to trust God to sustain our family with uncertainty of job security in the imminent future.
the biggest challenge that i am facing now is to be consistent
Well being in a world of anxiety
Finding a partner
Risk of burnout.
What has God got for me to do when I retire from being a GP?
Time - which is reason why a blog to read is preferable to a podcast.
time and occasionally inspiration
Clarity in thinking best use of retirement years & relationship dynamics(family & otherwise)
Ability/necessity or not to keep up with advancing technology
Meaningful 'church' engagement -established church or other expression of Christian faith in community
being a grandparent to 7 gorgeous grandkids and seeking to be a godly, especially to my daughter's children as she doesn't like me to take them to church or talk about christian things with them.
periods of depression
clarity , knowhow
Form the above there appear to be consistent themes around time management, dealing with discouragement, mental health issues and finding clarity in life.
In terms of some of what you would like to achieve in the next one to five years, it is striking how many of you wrote in terms of combining your personal faith with the rest of your life:
Be salt and light to those around me.
Retire to other purposeful activity
Make disciples for the Lord Jesus Christ.
See his lambs grow into sheep.
See his children grow into adults.
See his people grow in Christlikeness (including me).
See the group grown in numbers through conversion, lead more efficiently to enable growth, and see a church planted
To have some friends grow deeper in their faith along with me!
Write my book and have it published
Supporting the above mentioned congregation in The Hague.
Helping people to find the love of Jesus.
Good energy levels, better sleep in winter. More wisdom
To help my church pastoral team develop better support for members suffering from stress and mental illness, and for my church, through what it teaches not to add to the pressures on its members.
To be debt free and to have a better rhythm in my life
Success in personal and professional life
To be more content
Self-employment, marriage, financial independence
Whatever the Lord has in store. I want to be useful in the kingdom of God.
Change in education system to believe in reality only.
I would love for my jewelry company to flourish and thrive. I would like my husband and I to take those bucket list trips before its too late, and I would the US to have a president that isn't interested in what the people can do for his inflated ego, but what he can do for all the people in every country - short of threatening war! I want aging to be a wonderful thing rather than a worrisome, medical issues thing.
Becoming a subject matter expert/leader
Leave a legacy
Personally, I look forward to my 1 year old starting nursery freeing up more time for me to do pastoral ministry.
I would like to be more consistent and at peace
Happier home life. Knowing children rooted in Jesus.
Be of more use to my (almost) grown up children
Grow deeper in my faith
Find a partner
Progress in my PhD
Knowing where God wants me to be.
Supporting my family.
Keep myself in the centre of God's will.
Coming to terms with life's journey, being at peace & contented that life is/was worth living & has purpose - hopefully a balance of being & doing to affirm this more positively for myself & others
be more like Jesus
not be critical of my husband in certain areas - to have a controlled tongue at all times including when tired, anxious or angry
Being clear about the lord's guidance for my career goals and priorities in life and positive steps I need to take to achieve them
Stronger faith/greater spiritual maturity
In terms of the biggest obstacles standing in your way it was striking how many talked about feeling limited by time. This is certainly a subject worth exploring further. I have made an initial start at it with the resources at Podcast #024: Making Sense of Time along with the post Where Do I Find The Time?
Thank you again for taking the time to respond to the survey. I really appreciate it. If you have any further comments or suggestions please feel free to contact me via the website.