Experiential Challenges

You may think of 30-day or 365-day challenges as requiring a lot of discipline, but I tend to think of them more often as experiential deep dives.

One of the main reasons I do them is for curiosity. Another reason is to add more richness to my life. And yet another motivating factor is to gain the memories of having done them.

This year’s challenge of daily blogging doesn’t require much discipline. And I didn’t really expect it to challenge me too much in this area. Writing is already a well-developed strength of mine, and with only 20 days left in the year, it’s a simple matter to finish it.

So if not for building more discipline or skill, why bother doing it?

I wanted to know what it would be like to publish something every day for a year. How does that impact my life and lifestyle? Do I like it? Would I ever be tempted to do it again? What might I learn about myself from this? How might it affect my connection with my readers?

Based on those intentions, I’d say this experiment succeeded. I did learn something useful from it. It’s good to know what this faster pace of writing and publishing feels like. It’s been interesting to explore this level of consistency.

I didn’t expect to go beyond one year with this approach, and that still rings true. It’s only for 2020 that I’m doing this. I won’t make this a long-term habit beyond a year. But I wanted to devote one year of my life to this experience. I’m glad that I’ll have the memory of doing this for a full year.

We can explore many modes of living that we don’t expect to continue beyond a certain point. These add richness, variety, and wisdom to our lives. You never really know what something will be like till you experience it. You’ll understand the possibility space around you so much better when you actively explore a lot more of it. A great way to explore is to define a fixed-length challenge with clear parameters and boundaries. Pick a new region of your possibility space, rent a virtual apartment there, and map it from the inside.

When I explore around the edges of my default lifestyle, I grow more certain and confident that I’m making good long-term decisions. Temporary explorations help me release otherwise distracting temptations. I often learn that my previous approach was better, and I feel less doubtful about it. It’s like visiting other cities and appreciating your hometown more.

Every year that I didn’t test daily blogging would be another year that I’d continue wondering about it. Now I’ll never have to wonder about it again. I know what it’s like from direct experience.

In 2021 I want to eat raw for the whole year. This isn’t a discipline challenge either. This is another experiential challenge. I want to know what it’s like to go for a full year with a raw diet and lifestyle. I’ve done six months before, so I know I can do a year. Mostly this is a gift I want to give myself. Eating raw shifts my life into a more spiritual, aligned, and synchronous direction… almost magical in a way. I’m really in the mood for that kind of year.

A nice way to think of 30-day (or longer) challenges is to see them as experiential gifts you give to yourself. How would you like to enrich your life? What experiences would you like to gain? What memories do you want to accumulate?

People who successfully complete these challenges rarely regret them. The gains in self-knowledge and wisdom almost always rise above the minor inconveniences and lifestyle adjustments.

What kinds of gifts will you value in the years ahead, even if they’re temporary experiences? What do you keep wondering about? Where do you keep asking, “What if?”