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challenge yourself

April 6, 2011

“In yesterday’s Monday Motivation I mentioned that I was starting The Challenge, which is basically a 10-step boot camp for making things happen. Things like this ordinarily thrill me because, let’s face it, I’m a productivity geek. But MAN ALIVE. The Challenge takes productivity to a whole new level. And with all of the stuff that has been taking up loads of real estate in my life lately, this was exactly what I needed. I did Step 1 last night and I’m working on Steps 2 and 3 today.”

You may remember the above quotation and other mentions of The Challenge from various posts last week. Because I did a quick 1 week version I feel like I still have A LOT to garner from each step in the series, especially in the way of soaking up the information and establishing long-term habits. But there were still plenty of valuable lessons to be learned the first time around! These were a few of my favorites:

  • If You Start Today, You Don’t Have to Finish Today. I’m not sure this was even a stated section of the series, but it’s a big part of what I derived from The Challenge overall. I’m so prone to being overwhelmed at the outset of a big idea. More often than not, the fear of the time/risks/unknown involved paralyzes my forward progress. I also feel a need to expedite all of the tasks on my to-do list, so if I put a big goal in front of myself I crack beneath the pressure of getting it done as soon as possible (why the rush? your guess is as good as mine!). But big goals take time and hard work and more time and more hard work. And then some! Most things worth achieving do not happen in the blink of an eye or without a substantial amount of time and effort. My problem has never been not wanting to work hard or put the time in; I think it’s the fear of “wasting” time on a long term goal that may or may not pan out in the end. One quote that kept resurfacing was “A year ago you will wish you had started today.” There’s so much truth in that. The things I feel I was created to pursue? They’re not whims. A year from now, I’ll still want to do them. A year from now, I’ll wish I had started a year ago.
  • Take Doable Action Steps.This means that “learn how to shoot well-exposed images in full manual mode” gets downsized into smaller steps: sign up for an account on Open Source Photo, ask for advice, get Understanding Exposure from the library, spend 30 minutes experimenting with exposure today, etc. The overwhelming goals that keep me immobile get transformed into manageable chunks. Essential.
  • Face Your Fears. As was to be expected due to my sordid history with 5’s, the 5th step was the most profound for me. I didn’t even think I had any fears in particular (other than the one about the blender) until I ventured into the exercise of the day, completing this sentence: “I’m afraid of (blank) because of (blank).” Um, hello eye opener. I’m afraid of 8,000 things. And why? See Star #1. It all goes back to the tidal wave named Overwhelmed. Like a life tsunami, I tell ya.
  • Don’t Cater to Distractions. Guilty as charged. It’s not out of control Adult Distraction Disorder, but it’s usually not productive either. When I can’t shift to a higher gear on a blog post/job search/project of any kind I automatically seek brain stimulating distractions. I’m really an equal opportunity employer: window glancing, Pinterest surfing, Twitter feed reading, magazine flipping…they all get equal billing. I installed the free edition of Rescue Time to keep tabs on precisely how much time I’m wasting. Turns out it’s not nearly as much as I thought, but what was really interesting was how many different websites I visit every day! One link leads to another which leads to another which leads to Distraction Central. Just knowing that Rescue Time is clocking all of my internet time keeps me accountable. Definitely a worthwhile resource.
  • Prepare for Success. I love this post. LOVE IT.

Really, I can’t say enough good things about The Challenge. I’ll be continuing with it for awhile – rereading the posts and implementing advice, resources, and action steps. As our friends the Robinsons say, I’m excited to Keep Moving Forward!

(And p.s. – a HUGE shout out/thank you to Lara Casey, creator of The Challenge. Thanks for such a great resource, Lara!)

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