Thirty Days

I’ve long-struggled with a lack of discipline and willpower, so I’ve decided to hold myself accountable with a series of 30 day challenges. I picked 30 days because it’s used for a lot of other challenges I’ve seen online, and it seems like a nice period of time: it’s long enough to induce habituation, but not so long that it feels like a burden to accomplish. I’m currently doing 3 at a time (though I might raise that later, depending on the specifics of the challenges), and I’ve been doing this round for 10 days now, with only a couple of misses. The tasks for these 30 days:

1. Pray the rosary every morning

I typically pray much more than just the rosary in the morning, but I was inconsistent with it, and I noticed the lack of consistency was hindering my spiritual progress. So instead of doing a bunch of things inconsistently, I decided to pare it down and do 1 thing consistently. The first few days were tough, but afterwards I’ve settled into it, and I’m getting most of the spiritual benefit with much less time, in a way that I can do consistently every day.

2. Study Japanese 30 minutes every morning

My Japanese studies had stalled out from my inconsistent studying, so I decided to not only put in the time, but to focus it exclusively on textbook work, and not on kanji review, web apps, or any other tertiary concerns. Me, a textbook, and the audio recordings, every day, for 30 minutes. So far I’ve burned through the back half of Genki I, with only a few chapters to go.

3. Read for 30 minutes every morning

I love reading and I’m surrounded by books, but I would go days at a time without reading anything other than web pages and work documents. Why buy books that I’m not even going to read? It was crazy, and I could feel my soul urging me to read more, and to read better. Since then, I’ve finished a collection of poetry by T.S. Eliot (who I’m not going pretend I understand), 3 volumes of Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, and most of a project planning book by the CEO of Behance. I even took his suggestions and created my own pen-and-paper planning system for tasks that I’m now applying to everything in my backlog that have been scattered across multiple web apps. By the end of the 30 days I hope to have all of the Wolfe series finished, along with what I have remaining to read from an abridged version of Butler’s Lives of the Saints.

I’ve been very happy with the results so far, and I’ve already planned out the next few waves of tasks, which in the short term involve increasing my number of rosaries said throughout the day to 3 and increasing the time I spend on Japanese and reading to an hour. It’s nothing dramatic, but it’s consistent and is getting me real results in a short amount of time. I can’t believe how much time I’ve frittered away doing nothing at all. It’s a depressing feeling only tempered by the comfort that it’s now over.

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