Building habits takes time: Challenger's Week Checkup

Of course, you already knew that building habits takes time. Merely suggesting a set of productive actions to make a positive change in your life isn’t going to magically result in your life becoming rainbows and sunshine. Because of this, it’s important for me to reinforce the actions I suggest on the blog and a good place to look back to is the “Challenger’s Week” post from a month ago. If you haven't read it, do check that one first over here before you read this one. So here we go again: time to check up on the challenges from a while back to see how you're doing!

  • The thought journal: if you've been writing in it, has it been working and/or helping you? Look back through your entries and see if you can find a general pattern in your thoughts: Positive? Negative? Dark? Anxious? Basically, dig into the method behind the madness of your thoughts.


  • Following a new blog: Does the 'energy' of the blog appeal to you? Have you signed up to its newsletter? If so, what is it about the new blog that makes you say "yes, this is really useful to me and helps me improve x." Granted, this means that you have to read a blog with a specific goal in mind; I'm interested in improving x or knowing more about y. If not, keep looking around until you find something that appeals to you. Here are a few suggestions if you need some help.


  • Podcasts: I think I've almost beat this one to death by now (as you can read here). Nevertheless, you've probably gone through at least 5 episodes or so of the specific podcast you subscribed to so now you should have a general feel of it. Do you like it? Does it hold your attention or do you find yourself drifting off halfway through? Are the topics engaging and does the host (or the hosts) deliver it in a powerful way? You can always try out another podcast if you don't like it (check out my recommendations here for ideas). Don't forget to leave a review on iTunes!


  • Your darn e-mail: This is an important one to check up on because it requires constant maintenance. If you've reached the wonderful Nirvana of inbox-zero, you should absolutely be proud of yourself. However, you have to remember to keep permanently blocking incoming spam and to consistently archive old mails that aren't relevant anymore. It's like cleaning your apartment: as admirable as it is to do it once, it's going to get dirty again if you don't maintain a good cleaning routine.


  • New day, new book: You better be reading that book you ordered! Hopefully it's not collecting dust in the corner of your room (or, if it's an e-book, collecting digital, ehm, dust. Pixels. Whatever).


  • Ted Talks: The point here is just to consciously cut the time you spend on social media every day. There's honestly no lack of Ted Talks to listen to; their archives are absolutely loaded with over 2400 talks!


  • Wasteful habits: Have you identified a wasteful habit that you could improve? Do you spend too much money on coffee every week, eat out too much when you should be cooking at home, or always buy 20 items at the grocery store when you really only want to buy 5 (#impulsebuying)? Identify why you think the habit is bad or wasteful and if/why it's important for you to change it. Really outline a plan for handling it instead of employing a scatter-gun approach to this. A fun podcast to help you rethink how to tackle wasteful habits is this one by Freakonomics. It's inspired by the field of behavioral economics, a branch of economics I'm absolutely fascinated and extremely excited by (so much so that I'll be writing about it soon).


  • Your to-do list: Is it actually helping you getting stuff done or do you need to tweak it a little? You can read my older post about productivity (here) for some inspiration/help. Like Shia LaBeouf would say: JUST DO IT!


  • Local charities or non-profits: Look I know you're busy and all, so if you can't fit weekly volunteering into your schedule, that's fine. Instead, I suggest donating a monthly amount to a local charity or food bank if you still want to contribute anyway. This way, you're still giving your support without dramatically reconstructing your schedule.


  • BONUS: Take some time off to ask yourself what the heck you want from your life: This one especially is an ongoing process. To that end, I refer to my previous post about passion to give you some extra ideas in this respect. Don't go this one alone though: talk to a close friend about this if you need some support.

See you, Space Cowboy.