Since February is the shortest month of the year, this month’s 10 challenges should have been easy. They have been not. Without further due, here is where I ended with them.
Write down one gratitude per day.
I didn’t do it every day. Sometimes I had to think back on the past 3-4 days, but overall this exercise has made me a lot more aware of the good things around me. I didn’t push myself to re-read the previous gratitudes to not repeat myself, and this made looking at the list even more interesting because turns out I was regularly grateful for:
- having a loving and beloved awesome husband and a great family;
- having opportunities in life and being financially stable;
- being healthy;
- being myself with all my strengths and occasional weaknesses;
- generally loving my job;
- not being an arsehole;
- not having arseholes in my life.
On some days, my list tells me, I was grateful for tulips being in season and….cats on Instagram.
But in all seriousness, this was such a good idea. My life is not perfect but I have a lot to be happy about. So I may not do this in written form or daily, but I will certainly be reminding myself to notice and appreciate the good things more often.
Eat fruits instead of deserts.
I didn’t really get to do this simply because I didn’t crave any sweet things most of the time. I know I did eat some chocolate, and there are still a couple of mangoes in the fridge. Probably, it was a wrong month for this challenge? I don’t know, but looks like I have a healthy relationship with sugar, so I’ll just keep it this way.
Find 15 professional people to follow.
Fail, I was too busy to do that. BUT! I LinkedIn’ed with 20+ of people from my company, including some very senior managers, so I’ll consider this challenge half complete. But I’ll definitely return to it later when the workload is easier.
Improve photography skills
This is a difficult one to judge. I’ve understood how aperture works and used this mode instead of automatic with more confidence and I’ve also used my camera more often, but I still struggle with nice composition and sharpness. Tell you what, I’ll still give myself some credit for trying and say that I’ve achieved my ambition to move from 2/10 to 3/10 – that means I still have a long way to go but at least I’m going. I’m also meeting a professional photographer in March to help me improve further, so well done me.
Stop reading comments in social media.
It was easy in the beginning, and then I found myself drifting to the old ways. Sometimes I was just bored and sometimes I was curious what people thought about a particular topic, but I’ve not been able to 100% stop myself from having an occasional look. Then again, I favour moderation over restrictions, so I am still happy with myself for reducing my stress levels by simply removing myself from the sources of stress that social media comments sections are. Good stuff.
Start listening to podcasts more regularly.
Turns out it’s not that easy to find great podcasts. For now, I’ve found only one where every episode is interesting and useful, and it is HBR Ideacast (by Harvard Business Reviews). I’ve tried others – Freedom Fast Lane, 5 Minute Marketing, The McKinsey Podcast, Ctrl Alt Delete Podcast – and they are hit and miss. But I’ll continue with this idea – podcasts are superb if you have a long commute and want to do something easy yet useful and productive.
Wear long unworn clothes.
This was interesting. Before I started on this challenge, I went through all my clothes and put aside all the items that I’ve not worn for a while- it was an important step to dig them from the depths of my wardrobe and put them where I could see and not ignore them.
28 days later it became clear why most of those items will be going to charity. Three reasons:
- I don’t like off-white clothes – I love my white clothes to be pure white, and anything darker than that, like ivory, makes me feel “meh”;
- I don’t wear high heeled boots – I have only two pairs, both hardly ever worn because in winter I want to get from A to B as quickly as I can, and heels are no good for that, so I always wear flat boots;
- I don’t enjoy wearing Cos clothes – this was a shocking revelation to me because I love Cos designs and quality and prices but I just don’t feel amazing when I wear their stuff. I love it on other people, but not myself – I feel alright but I want my clothes to make me feel awesome so…unfortunately, Cos no more.
Overall, this was a really useful thing to do. I’ll certainly repeat this later in the year with my summer wardrobe.
Do plank every day.
Oh dear, my stomach shudders at the memory of it. Ok, I didn’t do it every day but I did it most days. I lost track in the end, but I think it’s fair to say that I did planks on 18-20 days out of 28 which is not bad. The good news is that it does get better over time. I started to do planks back in December and I could barely last 30 seconds. These days, a minute is fine (I still swear in the last 10 seconds). The bad news is that it’s not a quick magic solution to get a flat stomach so I’ll need to continue.
Verdict: continue (sigh).
Scrub my feet at least twice a week.
I cheated a bit. At the beginning of February, I used one of those peeling masks – you put it on your feet for an hour, then two weeks later your feet get horrendous with dead skin falling off (you do NOT want anyone to see them) and then they get baby-soft and nice. But after that, I have been good and scrubbing my feet regularly to maintain the result. Nice!
Reconnect with some of my oldest friends
Even though I have with some, I should have pushed myself more into it. I can come up with many excuses why I haven’t but they won’t change a fact that I need to work a lot more on my friendships.
The summary of the month?
“Just do it”, like that Nike ad says.
Some of these changes have been tedious, and even if I knew their benefits I still had to tell my inner voice to shut up when it asked me if I really had to put myself in the plank position or why I can’t have a second chocolate bar. Because sometimes you just have to silence those conversations in your head and just do something for no other reason that- it’s for your own benefit.