10 Week Challenge

For those of us who are unable to find some kind of hobby and stick to it, I offer a new way of going about things. Okay, maybe its not so new but here’s my take. Dedicate 10 weeks to something you’ve always wanted to get good at. Set a goal to master in that time and work a little at it every day. Then make progress checks every two weeks to stay on track. There is an amazing number of resources available through the internet. Thank your lucky stars you get to be reading this right now because the internet is a freaking miracle. But don’t forget this. It’s also your worst nightmare. If you’re anything like me, it’s pretty easy to lose most of your day surfing the web, watching videos, reading blogs (ahem), and generally wasting time. I’m going to say this now. All of this time wasting is killing me. Maybe I’m being a bit melodramatic but I do have a serious problem. There’s so many awesome things we can be doing with our spare time these days and yet a lot of us throw opportunities away. Blame it on the ADD. Blame it on fatigue. Whatever. Excuses won’t change anything.

My scatterbrained mind wont stick to something useful. It’s true I have a hard time finishing anything without a looming deadline or a clear requirement. It’s a struggle making good use of what I’ve got. This means there’s one thing left to try: organization. Let’s mix in a dose of public shame for good measure. The plan is simple enough. Pick a project, any project and go at it for 10 weeks. That’s only 2 and a half months, not even a full season. It’s a quarter at college (if you were one of the cool kids on the quarter system). It’s enough time to make some real changes and not too much to overwhelm, hopefully. This is a new venture and essentially a beta test for me so I’m going to stick with what I know my first time around. Fitness and health is my first target and I’m going to dedicate a small chunk of my free time to getting fit to the level I’ve always wanted but could never manage to achieve.

This is my first 10 week challenge: 100 burpees in 10 minutes

If you don’t know what burpees are, they’re a dynamic bodyweight exercise that will kick your ass. You’ve got Google. Look it up! I’m starting at my personal ground zero, of which I’ve just discovered is 76 burpees, and I’m working my way up to my goal throughout the next 10 weeks. Every 2 weeks, I’m going to make an update, touching on the steps I’m taking towards my goal and making a progress check (in this case, that means more burpees. Yay.) I need all the support I can get so if fitness and health interests you, feel free to cheer me on! Go one step further and try this challenge with me. Personal health should be everyone’s concern. Give this a go, modify it, whatever gets you moving. Here’s hoping I set a good example starting today.



10 excuses not to do something productive and why they’re full of s**t

I’ve dug deep inside my own unproductive and lazy mind in attempts to find the root of all my slothy problems. Maybe some of these excuses sound familiar?

1. Fatigue – Have enough energy to watch hours of youtube videos or television but not enough to do something of personal value? I call bullshit. Read a book or something but for God’s sake get away from the laptop. It’s what’s sucking energy away. And if you’re really that tired, then take a freaking nap or something. Don’t let it be your excuse to sit on the couch and stare at a screen for hours. There are better things to be done. (If you’re the writer type, as I am, then it might be time to nuke that google chrome and get working.)

2. $$$ – Lack of money will constantly remind me of what I cannot do. Welcome to life, my friends. So I don’t have the money to go to dance lessons, hire a personal trainer, buy Rosetta Stone, or take more college classes. This money excuse truly is a tricky bastard but it’s a deceiving one. Truth is, there are so many things that can be done without money. They just require self discipline. The internet is a wealth of information with a lot of free tips on learning many different things. Want to learn a new language? There are podcasts, youtube videos, TV shows, pen pal sites, Skype and so much more. You can learn a new language without ever setting foot in a classroom or in a different country. You just need to make yourself work. The best way to find that discipline is by setting goals, checkpoints and milestones to keep you on point.

3. Following the status quo – Everyone else sits on their ass watching TV so why shouldn’t I? This is something I ask myself all the time. It’s really what we do nowadays. The new generation is being raised to be consumers of media and products. Society gets it wrong constantly though. Conforming isn’t the right answer. Other people’s mistakes are not excuses to do the same. Quite the contrary, actually. Learn from their mistakes and do things differently.

4. Fear of failure – This one gets everyone at least once in their life. It can be very hard to pick up something new for fear of looking like a fool. I’m going to be captain obvious here and say everyone has to be a beginner at everything before they get anywhere with it. Suck it up and prepare to look like an imbecile. It’s okay, it’s all part of the learning process. I’m going to go one deeper here, though. There’s another part of this fear that’s darker and more dangerous. It’s when you reach the point where you think you can really make something out of what you’re doing but there’s a fear that it won’t be good enough for the status quo. Maybe my writing isn’t pretty. Maybe it doesn’t actually speak to people. Will it be worth pouring all that time into? Uhhhh… yes. Because I need to do this for me. It’s as simple as that. The first step is proving to yourself that you’re capable. The rest can follow.

5. Procrastination – “I’ll just watch one episode.” Go ahead and pick your poison: youtube, tumblr, twitter, facebook, netflix, hbo, etc. There are so many ways to waste time. And we’re not just talking 45 minutes or whatever length your show may be. Those places are like vortexes. Hell, with netflix now, the new episodes will just keep playing. You don’t even have to pick up the damned remote. It’s that easy to waste time. This is the best advice I can give. Don’t even start. Resist the urge. Save that “one episode” for after you’ve gotten shit done. What’s the point in waiting around? I promise that it will feel a lot better to do or make or create than it will to merely consume. That not enough for you? Stick to the google chrome browser and take off all the other ones. The “Stayfocusd” app will allow you to block any and all websites that suck up all your time. It’s cruel and wonderful and it works.

6. I deserve it – This one can be tricky. It’d be pretty tough to be at least semi productive all the time. This thing called burnout is no joke either. However, I have this tendency to over-reward myself sometimes. It goes something like, “Wow, wrote for 3 hours straight. My word count is looking pretty good. And look, took care of all those emails too. I totally deserve to watch movies for the rest of the day.” Yeah, something’s off there. I’m doing great, being productive and feeling good about life, then some little voice inside my brain says it’s time to power down for the day. And it’s only, like, mid afternoon! So maybe the writing inspiration isn’t there anymore or I can’t bring myself to finish those errands. Instead of turning on the TV or marathoning videos online, how about I try reading an interesting book or going on a jog or strumming the guitar for a bit instead. Make a (semi)useful hobby break time.

7. Procrastinating with chores – I don’t know about you, but my room is the cleanest when I have a deadline approaching. This isn’t entirely a bad thing. After all, I could use the help when it comes to cleanliness. The problem is that this can get out of hand. I may reach a point where I’m reorganizing my clothes in the closet based on color or fabric or dusting every single nook and cranny in the house even if it doesn’t need it. At the end of the day, chores become an excuse. There’s always something to be done and it’s a temporary fix. Please do get the vacuuming done but maybe not every day. 

8. It’s no fun – If there’s no fun involved with your past-times, you’re probably doing the wrong thing. There’s also the possibility that you haven’t given it enough time or variety. Then, of course, there’s those things that are never going to be very fun. There’s a reason they’re called work and at some point you’ll just have to make the best of it. If it’s working out, change up the regimen to keep things interesting. Try high intensity short workouts and longer endurance type training. There are so many ways to stay active. Then it may be possible to find something that’s actually pretty fun.

9. Immediate rewards trump long term rewards – This is the psychology behind laziness. It’s the reason people are fat. It’s the reason they party and drink. It’s the reason why people sit at home watching television rather than doing something productive. Long term rewards are difficult to see. That slice of cake in front of me though… oh damn it looks good. We’re a fast paced nation, more so now than ever before. We want to have everything instantly. Unfortunately, most things don’t work that way. When we don’t see results fast enough, we go for that cake instead. It’s easier to enjoy and it comes as instant gratification. If we had an instant gratification pill, we’d be popping that too. Oh wait, that may be Prozac. There’s a way to stay on track though. It’s cliché as hell but I’ll say it anyways: steppingstones. Set small goals along the way that show improvement. Let them remind you of what they’re leading to.

10. Not ready to take the next step – This is the endgame. The question of where to go next. You may have come pretty far but you’re not sure how to keep moving forward. I believe the marathoners call this “the wall.” There’s not much else to do but find a way to get through it. No matter what.