It all started on Anzac Day when a story appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald entitled 30 Days to Change Your Life: http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/30-days-to-change-your-life-20130420-2i6gw.html
I was intrigued by the guy in the story, Matt Cutts. He’s a Google engineer in the US who set himself a series of 30 day challenges to shake himself out of a rut. Simple things like eating vegan food, doing something nice for his wife, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro (!)
Not that I was in a rut. I just love challenges, especially life-changing ones and I know about 30-day time-spans from my work as a mentor. I change lives for a living and I use 30 day time-spans to do it. The whole point is that it takes 30 days of repetitive practice for something to become automatic. 30 days is ideal: it’s short enough to commit to and not too long to seem off-putting.
Inspired, I decided to do a 30 day cycling challenge. I hadn't cycled in months. Too cold, (last winter), too windy (spring) too hot (summer), too busy, too tired, too dark (end of daylight saving) – sound familiar?
So I dusted off the bike that afternoon and set off. It was fun. Feeling rather pleased with myself as I cycled home, I had an idea. I could do several 30-day challenges at once. Cycling was so easy, I could take on a couple of others at the same time. I hit on the idea of writing a blog about my 30 day challenge that might get me into the lifelong habit of writing each day, something I'd always aspired to. But writing about cycling up the road and back for 30 days was pretty uninspiring, unless I fell off the bike and broke a leg. I needed to take on more challenges to make writing a blog worthwhile.
I considered giving up watching television for 30 days. I complain often about how much television we watch but I always have good excuses for not changing. Then I remembered the keyboard I bought last year and, after an initial flurry of activity, hadn't touched in weeks. So I set about cycling, playing keyboard and writing a blog every day for 30 days. I called my blog Write Play Ride. I didn't need readers, only a structure for getting into the habit of writing daily that would keep me accountable. No excuses for not writing, because it would show up on the date on my blog.
I’m proud to say I completed the 30 day challenge last week without missing a beat.
How did all this change my life? In very unexpected ways.
· I lost 6 centimeters from my waist and 4 kilos in weight. (I forgot to mention that I also gave up eating bread for the duration of the challenge.)
· I now see myself as someone who is up for challenges. That was not always the case in the past. Even though I say I love a challenge, it doesn’t always manifest in my willingness to try or commit to new things.
· The need for planning, preparation and setting priorities to fit everything into my days actually makes life work really well. Duh!
· I’m putting my own fitness and well-being where it rightfully deserves to be - front and centre in my life. Top priority.
· The combination of cycling, music and writing each day leaves me feeling well and healthy physically, emotionally and mentally. Even though life is busy, fitting it all in, it also feels well-balanced.
· Because being present (mindfulness) emerged as a theme that really enhanced my experience of all these activities, I’m being generally more mindful everywhere else in my life, too.
· Television viewing has diminished markedly. Committing to daily music practice and daily writing necessitates taking some evening time away from the TV. End result? I still watch the programs I enjoy AND I do other things.
Here’s what I’ve learned about myself:
· I can do anything I set my mind to
· I am physically strong, fit, slim and healthy and that feels great!
· I’ve let go of the old image of myself as someone who procrastinates and doesn’t finish things. Now I see myself as committed, productive and a ‘no excuses’ person
· the more I take on, the more I can take on – and do it all easily.
· playing music brings me pure joy, something I didn’t even know was missing from my life until I started practicing the keyboard every day.
· practice really does make, well, if not perfect, certainly automatic!
· I am still writing, playing and riding every day. Can’t imagine why I wouldn’t.