I'm excited! I'm really, really, excited! I'm starting to piece together everything I've learned up to now about organization, routines, & productivity techniques; and in this moment I'm setting higher goals and expectations for myself.
The 30 day challenge is not a new idea, but the question we should all ask ourselves is "why bother?" There could be a number of reasons: self improvement, habit building, experimentation, but ultimately it should be fun. Oh, and I know this will sound redundant ... but it should be challenging. So I thought to myself, why not take advantage of the coming New Year and think of twelve 30 day challenges for each month (yes, every month is not 30 days ...).
I began brainstorming ideas, with the help of my girlfriend and several iterations I arrived at something that truly excites me.
January - Gratitude
The first challenge will be very simple and help begin to establish routine in my life (something I am quite bad at). I will begin by stating that I am not a religious or even spiritual person, and while it frustrates me to have to elaborate on this; I still desire to give back and contribute to humanity. I am inspired by people like Tony Robins who is feeding 100 million people this year! I am inspired by Bill Gates and Melinda Gates for their continuous effort to make this planet better! Because I do not have a foundation in particular religion I believe it's important for me instead to practice mindfulness. January will be step 1 in that direction. The idea for this was inspired by Tim Ferris, a personal hero of mine, in his recommendation of the fiveminutejournal. The five minute journal is a simple journal that is beautifully organized to answer a few simple questions every morning and at the end of each day. While this will begin as a 30 day challenge, I hope that I will continue writing in this journal for the duration of the year. For this reason I decided to make it my first challenge.
I also purchased a copy for my girlfriend who will hopefully join me on this experiment :)
February - Meditation
The object is once again mindfulness. This time, working through a series of guided meditation sessions by Tara Brach ranging from 20-30 minutes each day. I have attempted meditation in the past but have always failed to stick to it. While meditation has a lot of bad connotations associated with it, it's a fact that nine out of ten CEOs practice some form of meditation without fail.
March - The Cold Shower Experiment
My grandfather, bless his heart, is one of the healthiest man I know. He does not exercise regularly, he does not eat well, and he drinks more than he probably should. All that being said he has an impeccable immune system. For many years he would go outside in the nude (this was in Ukraine) and dump an ice cold bucket of water over his head every day regardless of the weather. He himself vouches for it's effectiveness in keeping him in good health. Since I live in the city and going outside naked will probably get me arrested I will instead attempt cold showers. There are many benefits to cold showers: save money, release of fatty acid will provide fuel for heat production thus burning more calories, increased lean muscle gain, and an effective treatment for depression. I will do my best to log this experiment and see how it effects my mood and energy levels as time goes on.
April - The Frugal Experiment
Although my girlfriend called this the apocalypse experiment and her title for it sounds way more awesome; after giving it some thought here are the conditions I ultimately settled on for this challenge. The goal is to avoid making any purchases for the duration of the month. Everything that I will need for the month of April must be ordered ahead of time. This includes food, I will make a separate blog post once I figure this out. Bills of course must be paid, and monthly services will be reviewed but mostly maintained. The goal isn't to spend little, but to not spend.
This will be the most difficult challenge up to this point but if everything works out I will be able to recover with the ability to manage my spending, have excess cash on hand, and effectively exercise willpower. I'll leave this as is for now ... let's just say I plan on ordering a lot of rice.
May - The Sameness Challenge aka Man of Steel Preparations
If you recall my New Year's resolutions I had a fairly concrete goals of lowering my body fat percentage. Bottom line is that I want abs; and frankly there has only been one thing stopping me from achieving this goal. My love for food, and my poor self control for portion sizes. In preparation for summer and as a final push (I have been continuously working towards this goal) I will plan to eat the exact same meal plan every day for 30 days. Of course this will be a balanced diet, but I will take into consideration what I learned from my frugal experiment earlier and apply it here while insuring I cut down to a killer physique. This is not a lifestyle change for me, but a lifetime goal. That being said, I have no intention on gaining the weight back and hope to achieve a healthy eating routine with the incorporation of cheat days.
June - 30 Days of Summer
It's summer now and I'm ready to enjoy it! This will be an experiment in life-logging. I may consider purchasing a GoPro if I have not up to this point and I plan to take one picture everyday for the next 30 days to what I hope to be an extremely memorable and stress free set of weeks.
I will also add a mini challenge of learning one new word every day for the duration of June. I have a stack of SAT words that I never got around to studying from high school. It's about time I put them to good use.
July - The Information Diet
Something that has been long overdo in my life and has been recommended since the four hour week was published. The goal of the information diet is to improve focus, and reduce time waste. This will be my opportunity to reread the four hour work week, consider a virtual assistant, a muse company, and extend on the practices of willpower & mindfulness from earlier.
The no list:
- No reddit
- No hacker news
- No gaming
- No random movies or tv shows (shoot when does game of thrones come out?)
- Obviously no reading the news or anything that is not relevant to immediate goals
Free time will be spent on mindful activities such as mediation / working out / relaxing to music / & spending time with others.
August - The Cleanliness Challenge
This month I will embrace everything I have learned in the Unstuff Your Life book by Andrew Mellen. The goals being to unclutter, everything has a home (organize placement), everything has it's own home (put everything back into it's home after use).
This challenge will help remove one of my less flattering habits of leaving things behind and cleaning in batches. This may seem efficient to me, but it causes unneeded subconscious tension and ultimately results in wasted money on cleaning crews.
September - The Vegetarian Experiment
Sure this challenge may sound familiar to some of the others but this time the goal is less fitness and an overall measure of mood and energy. What's it like to eat only vegetables for 30 days? For a carnivore like me, this is no easy feat. I will also use this opportunity to cook many amazing dishes from a book I recently purchased Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi.
October - The Build an App Challenge
I don't know what it's going to be yet, but I plan on building one complete mobile application from start to end in 30 days. Essentially an extended hackathon. Also satisfying another one of my New Year's Resolutions.
November - Write a Novel in 30 Days
I have always hoped to write a book, and getting started maybe one of the hardest parts. Just like this blog, you know in the back of your head that one day you might quit, one day you might fall short. Once again my girlfriend came through (I hate to keep saying gf, but I haven't asked if I can use her name in this blog so sorry for the repetition); she recommended I check out NanoWriMo. This is a 50,000 word novel that may result in something wonderfully bad; regardless I am excited at the thought of trying. Like Matt Cutts from the title TED talk; I too hope to soon call myself a November Novelist.
December - The Relaxation Challenge
I will wrap up these challenges by modifying evening rituals with a nightly read of poetry. I will read one poem every night for 30 days, a warm epson salts bath, and possibly a glass of wine.
Thank you Tim, and everyone who has inspired me to be a better me.