1,000 Posts in 1,000 Days

I’ve been excited about sharing this post for a long time. I didn’t write it though, except for this little introduction. It’s a guest post from my friend Bradley Charbonneau, and it’s been a long time coming.

I woke up this morning and thought about how I could explain the way it feels to publish this… because, it’s a pretty big deal. It’s basically a superhero story. Basically.

I thought about just telling you the story, trying to sum up the way it started, with three guys talking in a cafe in downtown San Francisco back in November of 2012.

Bradley runs a web development company and is a sort of business partner to me, but I always knew he had a secret past life as a writer. Sometimes he would talk about his writing days, about magazine articles and publishing his first book a decade earlier, about that other book, the “real” one in the drawer that just needed to be dusted off. He always lit up when he talked about writing, about how he’d like to do it more, get back into it and be a writer again. Most people stop there. They reminisce, talk about what they’d “like” to do differently, but nothing really changes.

Sitting in that cafe, Bradley said something really important. “A writer is someone who writes.”

I was really excited about doing monthly experiments to create new habits, so, I challenged him to write every day for a month to see what happened. He said he’d do one better, he’d write AND publish something every day for a month. We left the cafe and he got to work.

“So here we go, it’s November 1, 2012. I’m hoping, I’m even smiling to myself (no, really) that I’ll look back on this day with pride and say that was the day that it all began. Whew, exhilarating.” – Bradley Charbonneau, the unstoppable writing machine.

I honestly don’t know how to describe what happened next because it’s hard for me to believe it, but it’s one of the best things I’ve ever had the privilege of watching. Bradley wrote and published something every day for a month. I saw him start to change right away. He was excited and energetic. He’d say things like, “I’m feeling like a writer again” and “writing is bringing me closer to my kids” and “I’m falling back in love with writing.” He didn’t stop when the month was over.

He kept going.

He wrote and published something every day for 100 days, then 200, then 300, then a year, then 500 days. He wrote and published a book with his kids on the 10-year anniversary of publishing his first book. Then he did it again a year later. He became unstoppable. Today is his 1,000th post in a row. I asked him to publish it here.

And so, here it is…


 

What began as a 30-day writing experiment has transformed into a 1,000-day, life-altering way of life.

1,000 posts ago, on November 1, 2012, I took up John Muldoon’s Write Every Day Challenge. The challenge was to write every day for 30 days. I decided to take it a step further and publish each post that I wrote. I hit 30 days and was thrilled! I did it! But it was so exciting and felt so good that I kept going … and going … and going. It wasn’t magical, 1,000 days didn’t happen in a day. Every hundred was a huge milestone: 100, 200, 500, 800 … It actually took all of those days: one day at a time.

I just had a look at that first post I wrote on that very first day and these are the first few lines:

I suffer from the typical writer’s block. I see a blank screen and want to run. I think of editing some old work and cringe. I’ve been wanting to write on a regular basis for, oh, a decade. Not ten days, not ten months, but ten years. When oh when will that day come where I learn to write on a regular basis?

Today, June 24, 2015, I look back and I wonder who that person was. I don’t even know that person anymore. I even feel sorry for that guy as he’d been suffering for so long. Wanting to do something, wanting to be someone that he hadn’t been. Today, I see a blank screen and there is no fear. If there is hesitation, it’s only about which direction to start. The blank page is my friend. In fact, we’ve become good friends.

I’m going to make a statement here that I classify as 100% Cheesy, straight out of the self-help books, heard in the hallways of overpriced and overhyped power weekend seminars, but I’m going to say it anyway:

John Muldoon’s Write Every Day Challenge changed my life.

Gag! Ugh! Barf! Blah!

I get it. Go ahead and heave your lunch. I’ll wait. But there’s no other way I can describe it that doesn’t lessen the impact. It has transformed who I am. It’s the perfect example of how small change, bite-size change, one-day-at-a-time change can lead to Big Change. It didn’t happen after one day, I don’t know if it happened after 30 days. I don’t know when it happened. But that’s both the easy part and the hard part: it just happens because it becomes a habit, it becomes what you do, who you are. You no longer think, “Oh, I should do that thing, I’m supposed to being doing that experiment I signed up for.” You just do it because it’s now not only a part of who you are, it is who you are. You don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow, just today.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. — Lao-tzu

I know, I know, I hear you, “Dude, just tell me that you made a million dollars and have movie deals lined up and how you did it so we can also do it.” I get it. Here you go. I’ll give you one word that I (re)found having now accomplished this marathon feat. It may be hard to grasp and not quite as tangible, but you’re going to have to believe me that this is better than a million dollars and a movie deal, it’s more powerful than a gazoollion Twitter followers and a hack-a-moollion Facebook likes. But here’s the catch: you won’t believe me if you don’t yet have it. If you do have it, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Here’s the more-than-million-dollar transformational word:

Confidence

You see, before November 1, 2012, I didn’t have much of that. Well, actually, I had plenty, but not in areas that I terribly cared about. Rereading those few opening sentences above makes me feel like I possibly didn’t have any. That’s not a fun place to be. In fact, it’s a scary, depressing and powerless place to be. It also just sucks.

One day at a time. Through sick days, bad WiFi, low batteries, a creative mind full of zero original ideas, I made it through. Kids who want to play basketball, clients who need PHP upgrades, wife who needs me to get out the door for dinner, my brain done for the day hours previous, even just minutes left before midnight. But I got it done. It just became what I got done on a daily basis. Brushing my teeth, writing my post. Simple.

Success?

As John has noted in many of his experiments, the original goal of the experiment might become less important as other elements come into play. Here are some “side effects” of my daily postings that I had not expected, not even dreamed of. But now that I understand how they came about, it makes my daily post all the easier.

Was it a success? That’s an easy one. My only goal was to get back into the writing habit. I can confidently say that I have that back. But the bonuses that came on top make even that lofty goal pale in comparison. Here are a few.

Cherries on Top

  • Improved relationship with my family: huh? Through telling stories of adventures with the kids, I learned more about them, about our relationship. I learned some things that weren’t working so well and it was easier to work on them.
  • Wrote two children’s books: related to the improved relationship with my family, my two young boys (9 and 11) wrote two books together (The Secret of Kite Hill and The Secret of Markree Castle). We’d talk about the story, put together a post, publish it, then read it aloud the next day and create the next chapters. They’re the creators and the stars. Book #3 is in the works.
  • Future books: in 1,000 posts, there are also several other books just waiting to be cobbled together: parenting, WordPress, raising bi-lingual kids, Home Exchange 101, etc. It’s just a matter of collecting and promoting. That’s going to be fun.
  • The only true accountability you need is yourself: you can take courses, follow gurus, and use the best tools and tricks. But there’s only one judge who really matters, only one you need to please.
  • Writing improves memory: it’s a bit of the chicken and the egg here, but do I remember more because I wrote it down or did I write it down because I remembered it more? In any case, there are details of moments that would long vanished from the quicksand of my memory had I not recorded them for eternity.

I could list more. In fact, lots more, and I will, but I’m going to dwell on it.

What’s next?

What I’m both surprised and not surprised about is what’s next. You might think, “Whew, after that, I bet you’re ready for a break!” or maybe, “Man, take it easy for a while!” But I have something of the opposite. Somehow, I feel like this was just the warmup, this was little 5k Fun Run before the marathon. But I’m in such good shape that it all sounds easy. Writing more? Putting together books? Easy. Here’s the thing: I’ve built a machine. I’m a human conveyor belt. If you want something done, just put it on the belt and it will get done. Daily. Without question, without delay. The best part? I like doing it. I can’t not do it. I don’t want to not do it.

For your fitness fanatics out there, it’s similar: you might not feel like working out, but you’ll do it because you know how much better you’ll feel once you get started. Then the big bonus is how much better you’ll feel after you’ve finished. Your only guilt is with yourself and you’d rather just do it than feel the guilt.

But my more rational or logical plan is really to get my writing “out there” more. Out of just my hands and into others. It’s an entirely different world and that’s exciting and daunting. But hey, remember that I can do anything? I have no fear and if I just treat it as experiment, then I can’t fail.

Today is the new beginning. If November 1, 2012 was the birth, this is my 21st birthday when I become an adult. Now the real fun begins. It won’t be easy (did I ever say it was easy?), but it’s what I want to do, what I was meant to do, it’s who I am. I’m ready.


 

People have asked me to list some favorites from the 1,000. Here’s a list in no particular order.

June 2015: Decluttering Experiment

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve actually posted here on the Monthly Experiments Project. I’ll write an update post (or ten) about the cool experiments I’ve been doing in that time (Neurofeedback, giving up alcohol, giving up sugar, starting a new business, and taking on a new fitness experiment) which I’m excited to tell you about a little later.

But today I want to introduce a brand new experiment that I’m starting this month, and you’re invited to join me.

I’m calling it the Decluttering Experiment. 

decluttering

The inspiration for this experiment came to me when I was traveling, and it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a few years. [Read more…]

A Wet Man Does Not Fear The Rain

This post is part of the No Excuses Challenge.

wet-man-does-not-fear

There’s a track near my house where I like to run. Especially on rainy days. It might sound strange, but I’ve always loved running in the rain. Ever since I was 10 years old.

When I used to run track, practice would be “rained out” but I’d do it anyway, usually all by myself. Same for soccer, except my whole team would practice or play in the rain.

I never understood why other sports didn’t carry on in the rain, but soccer players seemed to have discovered that they were, in fact, waterproof, and nothing bad would happen to them if they got wet.

Oh well. I loved it. And I still do. Even if it’s a hard rain or a cold rain, I’ll still go sometimes. The track is different in the rain.

When it’s sunny out, if there’s a puddle, I’ll probably run around it. Or jump over it. But when I’m already soaked, I splash right through it. 

[Read more…]

May 2014: Work on a Secret Project

Work On A Secret Project

Who wants to work on a secret project?

Hopefully, you do. Because that’s what this month’s experiment is all about!

I’m challenging myself (and you) to work on some kind of secret project this month.

The rules are pretty simple:

  1. Pick a secret project. (See some project ideas below.)
  2. Work on it throughout the month (I’m aiming for an hour a day.)
  3. At the end of the month, if you want to share your secret project with the world, I’ll host a big show-and-tell for anyone who participates in the experiment.

I think this is going to be a lot of fun.

Why should you work on a secret project?

Apart from the fact that secret projects are fun, there are some really good reasons to work on something without telling anyone about it.

Derek Sivers gave a famous TED Talk about Why You Should Keep Your Goals To Yourself.

There is compelling research dating back to the 1920s that suggests you’re more likely to reach your goals if you don’t tell people about them first.

If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, now is the time to start. And “later” is the time to talk about it.

What should you do for your secret project?

It doesn’t really matter what you do for your secret project, but rule number one is that you don’t talk about fight club your secret project until the end of the month.

Here are some secret project ideas to get you started:

  • You could start a secret blog, or write a book, or build an online course and then launch it at the end of the month.
  • You could make a piece of art.
  • You could build a treehouse or a birdhouse or a bookshelf or something cool for your home. That’s right, I just told you to build a treehouse.
  • You could make a surprise present for someone you care about.
  • You could learn how to play a musical instrument, and then surprise your friends with a song.
  • You could teach yourself how to cook a really great recipe and then make a surprise dinner for your family (Boyfriends & husbands, take note). I suggest a recipe from Thug Kitchen.
  • You could start a new fitness program and not tell anyone about it (wait until your friends and family notice on their own).
  • You could use Duolingo or Fluent In Three Months to start learning a new language.
  • You could make a Shishi-odoshi fountain. (Bonus points for this one, because they’re super cool. – Tutorial here.)
  • You could even start a blog about Pictures of Hipsters Taking Pictures of Food.  (That’s a thing, apparently.)
  • You could think of something way better than these ideas. :)

You get the idea. This can be serious, or just for fun. There are no rules other than you have to spend time working on something, and you have to keep it a secret for now.

I’ve already decided what my secret project is going to be, and I’ll be revealing it at the end of the month.

I can tell you that I’m going to be making something, and also practicing a skill I want to get better at.

I’m also going to be spending at least an hour per day on my secret project. I have no idea what will happen, but I’m excited to find out.

I Hope You Will Join Me

If you want to participate, all you have to do is start planning and working on your secret project.

If you want to be eligible for the show-and-tell at the end of the month, leave a comment below and say that you’re in. You can join at any time during the month.

It’s ok to share this experiment with your friends and invite them to do their own secret project too.

You can also click here to tweet that you’re in. (I appreciate it!)

I can’t wait to show you what I’m working on…

Who’s with me?

The Ultimate Cure for Fear & Procrastination: Jump Without Looking

Cure Anxiety

Last month, I held a No Excuses Challenge here on the blog. It ended up being one of the toughest and most rewarding experiments I’ve ever done.

At the beginning of the year, I was floundering a bit. I wasn’t really making great progress toward my goals. I was making excuses instead. So, for two months, I gave up making excuses. I kept an Excuses Journal and every time I felt like making an excuse, I wrote it down. Then I ignored my excuse and took action instead.

A lot of my excuses fell into three main categories:

  1. I don’t feel like doing this now.
  2. I don’t know exactly how to do this.
  3. I’ll wait until later because ________ (insert lame excuse).

You know what those excuses have in common? They all contain a hidden lie.

Excuses are just little lies we tell ourselves. Here are the lies behind my excuses:

  1. You only have to do things you feel like doing in life. (False.)
  2. You have to figure out how to do something before you start. (False.)
  3. If you just put it off, you’ll feel like doing that thing you don’t really enjoy. (Ha! Nope.)
  4. Waiting is the answer. (Sometimes true, but usually false.)

Of course, it’s normal to have thoughts and feelings like that, even if they’re not true.

The truth is that we avoid what makes us uncomfortable. That’s how anxiety and procrastination work. We anticipate that something will be unpleasant, so we put it off and make excuses. Of course, waiting doesn’t make the fear go away. Over time, the fear grows, and your problems get bigger and harder to fix.

You can never solve a problem by ignoring it!

How To Cure Anxiety & Procrastination

The two best cures for fear and anxiety are:

  1. Making decisions. 
  2. Taking action.

Make decisions. Even if they’re wrong decisions. You can usually make a new decision later.

Take some kind of action. Even if it doesn’t go perfectly at first. You can always course-correct once your in motion.

When you’re paralyzed by fear. The cure isn’t to tackle the fear. It’s to tackle the paralysis. (click to tweet that)

The cure for inaction, is action. Just start moving.

How to Make Fear Irrelevant

I used to have a lot of anxiety. 10 years ago, I was afraid of all kinds of things, and my fears were holding me back from doing what I wanted to do.

So, I started to study how fear worked. I started to intentionally put myself in situations I was afraid of. I eventually figured out something really important that changed my life, and maybe it will help you too:

Your fears exist in the future. You can’t be afraid of the past.

Therefore, the key to conquering your fears is to take them out of the future, and put them in the past as quickly as possible. That’s why I asked you to list your fears. I’ll give you an example to make my point.

Every single mountain I’ve ever climbed has scared me.

Before a climb, I look up at the route. I read about the accidents that have happened to other people. I study the objective dangers, the avalanche risk, the rockfall risk, the weather report, the ice conditions, the route itself. How hard is it? What’s the crux like? Can we protect against a fall? How loose is the rock? Are there snakes? And on and on.

All these things are scary if you think about them in advance. There’s a very real sense of fear at the bottom of a mountain.

But once you actually start climbing, the fear starts to change. It changes because those scary questions start to have answers. What is the avalanche risk? It’s low today. How solid is the rock? It’s, um, rock solid. And it’s too cold for snakes.

When you actually start climbing, you don’t have time to be afraid. You’re too busy climbing. The fear just fades away.

Getting closer to the things that scare you will make them a lot less scary. That’s why I say the definition of courage is the simple act of going toward your challenges.

It takes about two minutes of climbing to erase 90% of your fears. The other 10% is the healthy fear that stays with you to protect you from making stupid mistakes.

Then, when you finish your climb and you’re back down on level ground, there’s nothing left to fear.

The mountain isn’t scary anymore, because you’ve already climbed it.

Why Excuses Are So Dangerous

When you make excuses in your life, it’s usually a form of procrastination. You’ll “get to it later” or you “have to wait until blah blah blah.”

You already know excuses are bad because they keep you from getting things done, but that’s not the most dangerous thing about making excuses.

The most dangerous thing about excuses is that they prolong your fear.

The longer you stand at the bottom of the mountains of your life, looking up at them, the longer you’re going to live in fear.

The way to keep your fear under control is to stay in motion. Keep making decisions. Keep taking action.

And if you’ve been making excuses for too long and your fear feels too big to act upon… there’s an answer for that too.

Jump Without Looking

I remember the first time I jumped off the high dive as a little kid. I climbed up the ladder and walked slowly to the edge of the board and looked down. Big mistake! It looked so high. I froze up and felt like I couldn’t jump.

Eventually I walked back to the other end of the board and closed my eyes. I knew the fear was irrational. I knew if I jumped I would be fine.

So, before I could think any more about it, I turned and ran and jumped off the end of the board without looking.

I’ll never forget the feeling when I swam back up to the surface. I LOVED the high dive! Even though, just 20 seconds before, I was terrified of it. Now it was my favorite thing.

Sometimes it helps to jump without looking. It’s like a shortcut to taking action. You skip the anticipation and anxiety and get straight into whatever scares you. You don’t give yourself a chance to hesitate or make excuses or chicken out. Of course, taking action cures your fear.

It might sound silly, but I use this technique all the time.

When I write an email I’m a bit nervous about, I don’t edit it, even when I know it sounds silly or a little bit crazy, I just close my eyes and click SEND as fast as possible. My goal isn’t to avoid sounding silly, it’s to set something in motion instead of flinching and hesitating. No one cares if I sound silly anyway. Everyone I know is used to it by now. :)

I do this when I don’t really feel like doing my daily workout. I don’t wait to feel ready anymore. I just put on my workout clothes and start my timer, knowing that in 10 seconds, I’m going to be doing pushups no matter what.

When I don’t feel like going for a run because it’s cold and rainy, I don’t give myself a chance to think about it. I just put on my shoes and and step outside. My goal isn’t even to go for a run, it’s to put my shoes on and walk out into the rain. The run happens on its own.

I try to say the things I’m afraid to say before I have a chance to talk myself out of them. I put on the shoes and walk outside. I pick up the phone and dial it before I know what I want to say.

I do this, not because I’m fearless, but because I really don’t like feeling afraid. So, I try to be afraid for as short a time as possible by cutting down the anticipation time.

When you jump without looking, you don’t have time to be afraid.

What Are You Afraid Of?

I once asked you to list your fears. I told you it would change your life in two minutes; and that’s true.

Today, I invite you to look at your own life again. What are you hesitating on? What mountain are you afraid to climb? Where are you holding back?

What fear can you take out of the future and put in the past, where it belongs?

There’s something in everyone’s life. Some area where you’re making excuses and holding back. I’m not judging, because I’m the exact same way.

But we have to agree upon the truth, that most of our obstacles exist in our mind. And the only way past them, is through them.

So, pick one scary thing, and do it today. Before you have a chance to think.

No excuses!

Oh, and if you like this post, please share it.

April 2014: Write Every Day – Round 2

These experiments are like little sparks.

Sometimes they grow into a roaring fire.

Write Every Day

I’m writing this with a giant smile on my face, and it’s all because of a little book I’m reading.

One of my friends wrote it with his kids; and if that wasn’t adorable enough, it’s a really entertaining story full of fun twists and turns. It’s called “Li & Lu and the Secret of Kite Hill.”

But it isn’t just the story that put a smile on my face, it’s something bigger than that. You see, my friend Bradley was once a professional writer. Ten years ago, he was living his dream of being a writer and he published a book.

But then something happened. Bradley decided to do the “practical” thing and start a web design business instead. His business has been a success, and he’s built a great life for his family. But it was clear that his old dream of being a writer was still gnawing at him.

Back in November 2012, Bradley and I were talking at a cafe in San Francisco. We were talking about what it meant to be a writer, and he said something really fantastic.

He said, “a writer is someone who writes.”

So, I decided to host a monthly experiment of writing every day. A lot of you joined me and wrote every day that November. Bradley joined me too. I think we even shook on it, like we were making some kind of promise to follow through.

About a week into the experiment, I talked to Bradley and could immediately tell that something was different. He was almost giddy. He had so much energy. Ok, maybe he’s usually like that, but I could tell he was turning back into a writer. He said he felt like “a writing machine” … he was unstoppable. Literally.

My challenge to myself was to write for an hour a day for one month. It was fantastic. I felt like I became a better writer, more confident, and even a better thinker. But Bradley took it to another level. He published something every day for the whole month. Then he kept going, publishing something new for 100 days in a row. Then 200 and 300 and 400 and 500 days in a row. He’s got a list of all the things he’s published since he started his amazing streak, and it’s currently at 551 days in a row!

I think it’s fair to say that Bradley is a writer again. Even if it’s not his main business, he’s still living his dream. It’s a part of who he is.

Back in February, he decided to focus his writing habit toward writing a new book with his two sons acting as co-authors an illustrators…  

As of today, it’s only three chapters, but the boys are actually helping me write it and give me ideas for what might happen next. Two boys, their father, and their dog are just walking home from school when their ball rolls into a cave in a public park. We’ll see what happens.

But the absolute lightning bolt of joy came when my 7-year old, after I read chapter three aloud to them (as well as my visiting family) said, “Keep going. I want to know what happens next!”

And they did keep going. The book came out yesterday, 10 years to the day after his first book.

Sometimes people ask me why I do the Monthly Experiments Project. Stories like this are the answer!

Bradley went from wishing he was a writer to being one. He created an unstoppable habit and published a lot of great things and worked on a really fun creative project with his kids.

It all started with one month, and I’m doing it again this month, and you’re invited to join me.

Join The Challenge: Write Every Day

If you want to create a writing habit, you should join me in this challenge.

You can structure your own experiment however you want. 

You can write for a certain period of time per day, like an hour. Or aim for a certain number of words, or you can be like Bradley and actually publish something new every day. It doesn’t matter what goal you set for yourself. In fact, it’s better to start with an easy goal than a hard one.

You could write in a private journal if you want to, or work on a book, or a blog. It’s up to you.

My goal is to write for at least one hour per day. I don’t have to publish what I write. It doesn’t matter how many words it is, or what it’s about.

My goal is simply to strengthen my writing muscles and create a consistent habit.

This experiment is really about discipline, creativity, fear and courage, setting goals, and improving your habits. For me, this is about being a better version of myself. It might sound strange, but writing can do that if you let it.

This is about making sparks for 31 days, to see what catches fire.

I hope you decide to join me! Click here to tweet if you do.

Fear & Hope. Failure & Success.

The Most Amazing Boxer Ever

I met an amateur boxer at a party a few years ago. He seemed like a nice guy, quiet, maybe even a little shy. We were making small talk, and I started asking him about boxing.

“So… how many fights have you been in?”

“86”

“Wow, that seems like a lot! What’s your win-loss record?”

“Believe it or not, my record is 0 and 86.”

“Oh… you mean, you’re undefeated?”

“No. Just the opposite. I have 0 wins, and 86 losses.[Read more…]

A No Excuses Experiment Update. Plus, 3 Lessons Learned from my Excuses Journal

You might remember that I started a No Excuses experiment back in February. Well, it’s time for an update. Actually, it’s past time, but more on that in a minute.

Overall, the No Excuses experiment has been a success. I’ve definitely learned a lot about myself, and also gotten a lot done in the last month.

I want to share some of the lessons I learned, and also some of my most common excuses.

Part of the experiment involved keeping an “Excuses Journal.”

The Excuses Journal idea was pretty simple. Anytime I caught myself making an excuse (even if I just thought about making an excuse), I wrote it down, and wrote down what I was doing (or avoiding) at the time.

This was extremely helpful and eye-opening, and I wanted to share a bit about what I learned from my Excuses Journal.

At the beginning of the month, I had impulses to make a lot of excuses. As you’ll see, I didn’t let these excuses stop me from doing what I needed to do, but it was really interesting.

I’m going to share the first three days of my Excuses Journal, and some lessons learned. Forgive the harsh language (I swear a lot in my own head, and I’m still learning how to be nice to myself). :) [Read more…]

The Odds Don’t Matter. The Score Does.

Even before the 1920 Olympic Games began, everyone knew that France was going to win the gold medal in rugby. They were the European champions and heavy favorites. Most other countries didn’t even bother sending a team, because it seemed pointless.

The United States scraped together a team and sent them anyway. The American team wasn’t made up of professional athletes though. They were amateurs, but they were strong, tough and athletic guys.

The French press called them “streetfighters and saloon brawlers.”

One of them was named John Muldoon, my great-grandfather. [Read more…]

February 2014: No Excuses!

Hey Monthly Experimenters!

Today is February 1st, and I’m really excited to announce a brand new experiment we’re going to be doing this month. I think it’s going to be one of our best experiments ever, and I hope you decide to join me. More on that in a minute.

You may have noticed that it’s been a while since I’ve written about my monthly experiments here. In fact, it’s been way too long! Since I last posted here, I have actually done a few experiments that I haven’t written about yet, and I’ll share them in the coming months. I’ve also been working on a few exciting side projects that I’ll share at some point.

In any case, not sharing my experiments here these last few months has made me feel lame. The truth is that I had to shift my priorities and take care of some things that were more important than this project. You could say that I had good reasons to spend my energy elsewhere, but I still don’t feel good about not following through on all the things I wanted to do.

It’s embarrassing to admit, but I had made a lot of plans and promises over the last few months that I simply didn’t live up to. For the first time in my life, I actually got into a habit of not following through on things. Instead, I let excuses and fear get in the way of doing the things I wanted to do. Pro-tip: don’t do that.

Of course, when you make excuses, you don’t get things done. It feels terrible to let yourself down, and to disappoint others. Excuses just hold you back. Honestly, I think that’s the worst habit I’ve ever gotten into.

So this month’s experiment is about changing that habit for good.

Our goal is to replace the habit of making excuses with the habit of taking action and following through. That’s a habit that leads to success and is essential in reaching your goals.

For a whole month, I’m not going to allow myself to make an excuse about anything at all.

No Excuses

My real goal for this experiment goes beyond doing something for just one month. I’m actually hoping to create a habit that will last long after the experiment is over. Whenever you want to change a habit, it helps to keep things as simple as possible.

So, here are the rules for this month’s experiment:

1. No excuses.

This rule is pretty simple. You’re not allowed to make excuses for a whole month. That means, if you plan to do something, you just do it. No matter what.

  • You’re not allowed to cancel lunch with a friend just because it’s raining.
  • You’re not allowed to skip your workout just because you’re tired.
  • You’re not allowed to cheat on your diet just because you’re really craving fast food.
  • You’re not allowed to miss a deadline because you get sick. (Unless it’s ebola or something.)
  • You’re not allowed to be “too busy” for the things you want to do.

You get the idea. It’s not a new concept. You’re already used to not making excuses about a lot of things in your life. You wouldn’t make excuses about driving drunk or punching old ladies or not paying your taxes. You just do what you’re supposed to do. This experiment is about expanding that habit to everything in your life and accelerating toward your goals.

2. Keep an “excuses journal.”

Living with no excuses for a month might sound like a great idea, but I also suspect it will be a tough challenge. We probably all make little excuses as we go about our days, and we might not even notice it.

One thing that is really helpful when changing your habits is to focus on increasing your awareness. If we start to notice our excuses more, we should be able to avoid giving in to them. So, I’m going to be keeping an informal “excuses journal” this month.

Anytime I catch myself making an excuse (even if I just think of making an excuse), I’m going to write it down, and write down what I was doing (or avoiding) at the time.

As an example, let’s say I plan to get some exercise on a given day, but 9pm rolls around and I still haven’t done my exercise. Maybe I’m feeling tired and I say to myself, “Ugh. I’m too tired to work out today. I’ll just do it tomorrow.” First, I’ll write that excuse down in my journal, AND then I’ll do my workout anyway.

The goal behind the journal is to increase your awareness, and start to recognize your habits and patterns so you can learn to avoid problems before they come up. I have no idea if the journal will help, but it seems like a cool idea, so I’m just going to roll with it. I’ll probably share some of my excuses and journal entries as the month goes on.

That’s it. Just two rules. No excuses for one month.

Want to join me?

What do you think about this experiment? Does it sound like something you’d benefit from?

Is there something in your life that you’ve been putting off or making excuses about? Some goal or task you want to accomplish that you could be making more progress on?

Whenever you give up your crutches, you get stronger. Anytime you cut something from your life (whether it’s sugar or coffee, negativity or excuses), you realize how big a role those thing play. At first, quitting something like this is jarring and uncomfortable. But if you push through that difficult phase, you can change your habits and “cure” yourself of those addictions. That makes you stronger and more independent.

I’m really excited to see what happens. I have a feeling it’s going to be one of the best experiments I’ve done for this project, right up with my Stop Working Late experiment that helped me stop being a workaholic.

If giving up ALL your excuses sounds too tough, you can always start by focusing on one area of your life at first. Maybe you want to stop making excuses about your work or your fitness or your relationships. It’s up to you. But I promise, if you join me and stick with it for a month, something good will happen.

I’ve got some posts and stories coming soon that I’m pretty excited about. So, stay tuned for that.

For now, if you want to join me, leave a comment below and let me know, or click here to tweet your commitment!

Let’s do this!