15 challenges to try this month
What should I do?
The Opus Calendar was designed with one simple goal in mind: To help those who seek positive change in their own lives. Many people already know what that change is. They want to watch less Netflix, run more miles, or be more helpful to their friends and family. That’s terrific. If that’s you, start today.
But many of us need an extra push. Many of us know we want to “clean stuff up” or “be better”. The first step to accomplishing these broad strokes is to do the opposite. Pick something and go for it. Once you knock that out, move onto the next. Act, Reflect, Repeat. Or pick a couple. The point is, to define it - in order to achieve it.
Here’s your push.
15 challenges to try this month
Meditation is a terrific way to do a couple of things: One, relax a little bit more. Getting started with meditation isn’t necessarily relaxing, (it’s often actually frustrating) but if you attempt it more than once, inevitably you will derive some relaxation from it. Two, if done consistently, meditation will enable you to “observe” your own thoughts, emotions and expectations much more acutely. You’ll be more in tune with yourself, and that alone is worth the pursuit. For a quick start, try an app like Headspace (now free!), Calm, or InsightTimer. For an even quicker start, put a timer on for ten minutes, close your eyes, and you’re meditating.
#2 Try a new diet
Probably the most popular “challenges” of any duration, trying a new diet is a great way to get straight to the good stuff. No matter what you attempt, some part of it will be a struggle. Whether that’s the groceries you buy, the guilty pleasures you quit, or the restaurants you now avoid, there will be adjustments to your lifestyle. That’s good. Some diets to try would be Keto (check out Perfect Keto products, The Keto Chef YouTube channel) Vegan (check out Joe Holder, Prep To Your Door) Carnivore, and Whole30. Honestly, any diet adjustment will suffice given today’s culture. Drink a green juice every morning. Quit sugar. Pick your poison (diet) and go.
#3 No social media
If you’re looking for the hardest one on this list, it’s probably this. Given our highly-stimulated, FOMO-fearing, quarantined brains, social media is more present in our lives than perhaps ever before. What better time to completely unplug and see what happens? Try deactivating your accounts for 30 days. For bonus points make sure they’re the ones you use the most (ahem, Instagram). For double bonus points have a friend change your passwords and not tell you what they are.
#4 No streaming
Netflix is reporting its highest DAU (Daily Active Users) numbers ever. Surprise surprise, 20% of the workforce in the U.S. is now working from home and many of us are quarantined for most of the day. With bars and restaurants mostly shut down, we’ve turned to the four horsemen of Internet Cable: Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube. Now’s the perfect time to take back those hours to see what else we can do with our time.
#5 Try a specific workout
With most gyms across the country inaccessible, many of us have completely reinvented our fitness regime during this time. Take the time to try something new or challenging. Biking, Boxing, Rowing, Running, Swimming and Yoga (tons of great instructors on YouTube, Instagram, or online) all quickly come to mind. Peloton bikes are flying off the shelf, and there are tons of great home gym equipment these days. The point is to find something that’s possible to do every day (or nearly every day as we all need rest) that will challenge you or change your perspective.
If you have an Opus Calendar, you will be “journaling” throughout this process with any challenge you choose. You will be reflecting on the day and figuring out how to get better. That said, however, the act of “journaling” is a pursuit onto itself. You can journal to empty your emotions and thoughts accumulated throughout the day, to log your ideas and curiosities, or to speak to yourself through pen and paper. Here's a great list of journaling ideas/methodologies.
#7 Write a letter to someone
In the time of social distancing, this one is particularly interesting. Similar to journaling, writing a letter to someone can be cathartic, exciting, and/or reflective. Write a letter, or an email, or a long text to someone new every day. Cast a wide net to really challenge yourself and see what things you need to say to people that you may have forgotten about or buried down deep. Or just see who you yearn to have a conversation with! For maximum results, come up with the list of people beforehand so you can be primed every day to use the exercise effectively. Remember, you don’t have to press send.
#8 Read a book
We all could use a little more reading and a little less reacting. While the Harry Truman quote that “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers” still rings true, it has a sort of urgency now. With the explosion of video streaming, the sophistication of video games and the noise of social media, we are pulled towards more “exciting” hobbies and activities every day. And while each one, when used correctly, has its own virtues, reading a book taps into another level entirely for us as humans. Try spending time every day with a couple of inspiring biographies, useful business books, or good old fashioned fiction to stir the heart.
#9 Play a musical instrument
If you already know one, great. Practice makes perfect. Go write that song finally. If you don’t know one, give yourself a real test drive with one by trying it for 30 days straight.
#10 Call someone
Similar to the letter one, but this time you have to dial. Cast a wide net here as well. But if you want to see a real difference, try calling the same people at the beginning of the 30 day period that you do at the end of the 30 days period. Observe how rich your conversation becomes. Or how much “lighter” you feel. Or both.
Writing takes hours and hours and hours to get good at. Even longer to become truly great. Take this opportunity to find your voice, tweak your skills, and ultimately get more writing done with less pain. Blog posts, tweets, or poems. Doesn’t matter. Write.
#12 Learn a skill
Online learning communities are having a field day in 2020. Take advantage of the hundreds of thousands of kindred spirits diving into a new language, a new hobby, or a new skill for their business or passion project. Personal favorites include Teachable, Skillshare and CXL.
#13 Don’t complain
While mantras on rubber wristbands have fallen out of vogue, their usefulness is easily accessible. Tim Ferriss popularized the use of a “No Complaining” wristband and the accompanying 21-day challenge in a blog post titled “Real Mind Control”. No kidding. The idea is that word choice determines thought choice. Good luck.
#14 Get rid of one thing
Champions of KonMari method know that everything you own should bring you joy. The first step in that journey is of course, getting rid of stuff. Give yourself some room to run by shedding one item a day. Could be a paperweight. Or a car.
#15 Start a business
On starting new ventures it is often said, "The best time was 6 months ago. The second best time is now." Take the next 30 days to build something - a freelance business, a handcrafted products business you can sell via Etsy, or whatever you dream up. This is how I created the Opus Calendar in the first place. Work on your idea every day for 30 days straight and your efforts will compound.
I hope these challenges serve you! If you pick one, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.