Try something new

A thirty day challenge:

The speaker of this talks about a period where he was feeling in a rut (I can relate) and this seemed like the perfect way to spice his life up. It's also a good way to add things to our lives as 30 days seems to be about the right amount of time to build a new habit (or subtract one for that matter). Two I liked that he mentioned are writing a novel in thirty days or riding to bike every day.  He shares three main benefits:

  • Life is more memorable. These challenges mark time very well.
  • Increased self-confidence. You begin to believe in your own abilities
  • More open to new experiences/challenges. 
It's a very short video (only three minutes), but it does offer a few insights. The first being that small changes can add up to big differences. While some habits can actually become permanent, very difficult ones tend to be simple tests of will. This might mean that smaller challenges might have a larger impact as they are much more likely to alter behavior for years instead of days. It's also a good way to convince myself to do something. I think I often feel the pressure to either give up things forever or not bother. This "test drive" tends to be much easier to accomplish. It reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend last week about fasting. He said he actually went 10 days without food and probably could have gone longer had he promised himself beforehand. HOWEVER had he promised to go much longer, he likely would not have been able to convince himself to start. Now he knows what he is capable of (and is much more likely to try shorter fasts in the future). 

Action Items
  • First Challenge: No sex for thirty days. This will start today and appropriately end on Valentines day. I guess this means more time for TED talks! 
  • Second Challenge: No alcohol for thirty days. I will start on Valentine's day and end, very appropriately on Saint Patrick's day.
  • I will share thoughts on this challenge as time passes. Right now, it seems like a very easy thing to promise, but I know that will change after a couple of weeks. It will be funny to watch myself squirm (and want to rationalize it away) as my own biology reminds me of the importance of this activity. 
  • Also think about what areas I would like to change/improve in the coming weeks. There is no reason I can't run concurrent challenges as the two I listed above will actually provide MORE time to do other things. 
Gratitude Log:
  • Free time at work (so I can do things like this). I was labeling this as boredom but since I have started using the time effectively, I am pretty happy I have it. 
  • A boss that won't let my flaws go unnoticed which has the effect of keeping me in the good graces of others. If I were given to my own devices I would probably come in quite late and not do nearly as much work, but her disapproving glances and watchful eye over my shoulder keep me in line. I need to recognize the benefits of this and thank her for it, rather than being resentful and feeling like I am being micro-managed.
  • Not having credit. I recently closed all of my cards to get better rates so I can pay off and eliminate all of the bills. This means I can't lean on them like I would have in the past when bills/expenses periodically exceed income. It has forced me to not run up unnecessary debt without making any significant changes to my lifestyle. It has shown me that I don't really need credit and I should not give myself access to it in the future as it tends to be an unnecessary crutch. It was also nice to have, for the first time in my life, the perspective of not being able to get whatever I wanted. I honestly can't recall a period of my life where money has limited my ability to buy what I want (within reason).