Make Jarkko Helenius Great Again Challenge

I shot a video for this post in Kuala Lumpur, however I failed with the framing of the video so I will not put it up. Long story short, all I talk in the video is the fact that the following three month stretch will most likely be my last in Bangkok, hence I had been reflecting back on my three year stay in Bangkok with a tinge of disappointment. There were reasons I wanted to move to a big city in the first place and I feel like I have not completed those. However I have still three months, so I will try to make the best of it to at least cut my losses.

While the whole point of the challenge is to make sure I give it my all in my remaining months in Bangkok, it also should not be so hard that I just set myself up for failure. So I need to keep this relatively simple yet broad enough to cover the things I need to complete.

The main goal for the year, Muay Thai training, needs to be on the foreground. I need to soak up everything I can cause the opportunity to get this kind of training simply does not exist wherever I go.

Another special circumstance that does not exist outside of Bangkok is the opportunities for going out. Obviously I can still have a social life in other places and it is not like I have the inclination nor the situation to immerse myself into the nightlife, but I definitely should enjoy the situation to the max while it still lasts and work on my social anxiety.

So those two should be the basic pillars that this challenge is built around and every point of the challenge should contribute to either one of those. Here is what I came up with:

  • Go out every day for at least 2 hours (something else aside just hitting the gym)
  • Hit Muay Thai gym minimum of 3 times a week and have at least 6 intense training sessions per week.
  • All exercise should be done hooked up to the heart rate monitor and posted to the social media (for accountability).
  • 2 exercise sessions per day (as I have been doing so far)
  • Heavy meals only for breakfast and after workouts, aside that only salad + some protein or a smoothie
  • Only 3 cheat meals total allowed for the duration of the challenge
  • Morning routine: Get up at 7.30, check Heart Rate Variability, brush teeth and write my daily words (staying up after that optional)
  • Rack up 50 points total per day in the Universal Awesomeness Score.

I might tweak the challenge a  little in the the coming weeks, but that is the gist of it. If I successfully do that for the next three months, I definitely will not feel like I left a lot of potential unfulfilled at least when it comes to this last stretch – as for rest of the three years, you cant change the past so no use dwelling on it.

Challenge start date 30th January – end date April 22nd

Drop a comment if you had any thoughts from this.

 

Goals for 2018

Sorry for the background noise in the video, this is why I generally don’t do it on the balcony. Also can tell from my manners and expressions it has been a while since I last made videos consistently.

As I say in the above intro, I wanted to take a full week to really figure the really important facets of my life, the ones that count most and that I value the highest. That was what I have been doing all week and as a result I am finally writing down the goals now at the end of the first week of the year.

As I stated in the video, I decided to divide the goals to one goal that takes precedence over others as well as secondary goals that serve the over-arching purpose. What is that purpose? There is no need for me to get into detail here, but obviously to put it simply that is just to BECOME AWESOME as you would expect.

Primary goal: Have a Muay Thai fight

The more carefully you define your goal as measurable, the better the goal is. However this one does not really need much of an explanation. A fight is any sanctioned fight. I am not expecting with barely over a year of mostly self-training with occasional gym visit that I would be ready for a pro-fight, but I am sure there is appropriate level of competition I can partake.

Just sparring in the gym does not count, though obviously in preparation I will be doing that as well.

People have been wondering what drives me to do it, but actually martial arts has been something that has been something of a hidden interest since young age. Moving to Thailand and starting to watch UFC for last couple of years have acted as final catalysts and since I am hitting 30 soon, it is really the last call to make something happen.

Also there is the want to experience the primal thrill of the hand-to-hand combat with another man. I don’t know if I will enjoy it all, maybe I will get knocked the fuck out and hate it afterwards. All I know is that after I experienced it, I will not be wondering any what-if scenarios. In the past football (soccer) has been my primary athletic passion and in that sport, I always loved being the gritty, tough as nails type of player who would get bloodied up and bruised during the matches.

Of course, there is a world of difference between being combative in relatively soft sport like football and actually kicking and punching the living shit out of someone. Long story short, I most probably will be suffering some broken bones for the first time in my life in the coming years

Secondary goals:

  • Read 15 books
  • 50 posts on Becoming Awesome.
  • Rewrite and publish 2nd Edition of Healthy Eating
  • Going out average of 5 days a week

There is a little bit of a danger that the above four goals are a little bit too arbitrary to really stick, which is weird considering I spent all week pondering about these things only to have to finally decide just on the spot, but lets dissect them more anyway.

Even if they are a little bit arbitrary, there is some method behind the madness. First goal is to read a lot of books. I have always found the experience of reading a lot of books extremely beneficial for me. That being said, I never was much of a bookworm. My best year was 14 books in a year and I have not since come close.

Hence I set the target to 15 to set a new record. I initially wanted to go as high as 52, but realizing that week one is already over and I am only 10 % in the first book that I am reading this year, it would obviously be too high goal. Then I thought a book every two weeks would be good, so it dropped to 26, but then I realized that I would still be behind the pace, and it would nearly double my record.

It is like setting your target bench press to 200 kg when you are benching 100kg at the moment. Perhaps possible, but it would have to be the primary goal, not a secondary one.

So I will target moderate improvement. My thinking quality is always vastly up reading many books, not to mention it trains you for that more focused, quieter state of mind that is very important for being successful in anything. It is also a good relaxing counterbalance for all the tough combat-training.

As for 50 posts for the blog, that is literally just roughly every week except that I already missed one week, so setting it bit under every week. The goal is to make sure I satisfy my creativity need. Added benefits is the fact that I will be observing myself communicating on a pretty much weekly basis, so that will automatically make me a better speaker, both in a public setting and socially.

It doesn’t really matter to me whether my blog will grow as a result, though it would be nice if it did. I am not doing this for any financial or attention incentive though, the blog is just a record of the evolution of my consciousness as well as just means of expressing my personality.

It has been over five years now since I published the only book that I have fully written, edited and laid out for everyone to see, Healthy Eating. While I don’t think that most of the information in that book is outdated, my attitude and mindset towards nutrition might have shifted a little bit. Furthermore in hindsight I never really felt happy with the end product.

Again there is no financial incentive to go back and improve it, the book was not critical success but it was not atrociously received either, it had a little drip of sales for a year or two that eventually dwindled as the competition got more fierce. The only reason I want to improve and update the book is just for my personal pride.

It is not like I feel ashamed of what I did, I just want to go back, revise and improve the book to be even more useful so I feel like it deserves to have my name on it. So that I feel like it is work worthy of representing me as a person.

Working on the book will also put me in a health-conscious state of mind which will support my fight preparation, getting to fight weight and all that good stuff – I want to look ripped by the time I get into the ring.

Finally there is the most vague and arbitrary goal of them all – going out. What does it even mean? Well in this instance I define going out to a public venue to socialize with someone in a non-professional context. Perhaps the latter part is unnecessary to mention given that I make my money online so I don’t meet anyone professionally, but who knows where life goes so it is important to have exact definitions.

The reason I add this goal is that since I have been more family life -oriented there has been a tendency to revert into my usual hermit mode that led to all my original problems that I had in the beginning of this blog.

It is something that is very simply cured by simply being involved with people enough. Hopefully it can also be a goal in good synergy with my Muay Thai goal, since I will be out and about anyway doing my training, so hanging out before or afterwards is not a too big of an ask.

Why 5 days? Well I need consistency for it to be really useful, but at the same time I am not really sure if I can realistically expect myself to be able to maintain it every day for a year or even close to it. However I don’t think five day average is a bridge too far.

Mapping out the goals

My initial target when I originally decided to fight Muay Thai somewhere early in 2017 was to get my fight before turning 30. Despite consistent training and my best efforts, I am not quite sure if I will be fight ready by March, but I will not be far off and if a proper opportunity arises, it is possible. More realistic target though is to do it in the April / May range.

Which would mean the first 1-2 months would include lot of skillwork, leading into another couple of months of more intensive training to be fully conditioned for the fight. Within that time frame, I should be able to adequately perform the basic techniques by end of February or at least in March, then condition myself to last full match-length of high intensity training by end of April.

Rest of the stuff is all about building the consistency and then just maintaining it. After achieving the first fight the Muay Thai might still remain the primary goal, however that will be the time for re-evaluation. Did I enjoy it? Did I dislike it but see potential to continue anyway? That is something to be decided when that time comes.

As for reading, that should be gradual increase starting at four books first four months, then five books next four months, six books at the final third to make up the full fifteen, which would set me up to read 18 books in 2019 if I just retain that speed. Nothing impressive, but massive improvement. I am not here to impress anyone with my reading after all.

Looks like I am way past 1500 words already, so I will be done with this post for now. I might post even more careful rundown of the planned timeline of the year, though I am not big fan of too careful planning. It might help in putting a fire under my ass though.

That will be something for the future weeks though, or maybe just something I write for myself and don’t share. As for now, drop a comment if my post provoked any thoughts.

 

 

 

Looking Back at Year 2017


I always mean to post on this blog, then I get delayed and have to postpone it a few days, then days become weeks and next I know I haven’t posted anything in months. Actually, over last two years my blog has been much quieter than it was on the two years prior. The fact that it has been 14 months since my most recent post just sums it all up.

If you already watched the video, you have some idea why I have been absent, so I don’t really delve back into it too in depth. It is however end of the year again, so it is an opportune time for doing a little bit of debriefing about the past year.

While the year definitely was a success in some measures, I also fell off the wagon in many ways, be it writing the blog, work or even my diet. To illustrate this point I cannot even do the usual numerical rundown based on my Universal Awesomeness Score tracking, cause my tracking that I so reliably did almost a decade (not in this extent but in some form) has been sporadic as best.

In other words, in that way it has been a forgettable year. On the other hand, it has been a transitional year. Everyone goes through phases and life events where the old paradigms kinda crumble and need to be shifted. Or some of them you just get disconnected with in the storms of life and need to reconnect with them. Also at the same time, it has kind of been the best year of my life by default.

Main shift of course has been becoming a father. It is of course something that is advertised as a major shift in people’s life, but for me it is less about change in day-to-day life and more about mental shift. It is something that is difficult to put in words, but I will try it at some later time. Suffices to say though that the amount of free time I have has gone drastically down and the priority of work projects has shifted down from simply trying my best to be the best dad I can be.

That is the beauty of having location independent income in the first place and making money online, shift to a very hands-on father is fairly smooth. If I had gotten used to big social life and being on the move all the time, having to take care of my baby all the time would have been bigger transition, but now it all flowed fairly smoothly. That is not to say it has been all easy, but there has been the minimal amount of friction.

While I have not been writing much at all over the last year, I do still consider writing something that is very important to me. Sometimes important things just get buried under the urgent. It is something I should have not allowed to happen, but it happened.

In lot of other things I have been transitioning my goals. My goal to be more social has not been forgotten, but I have regressed from my peak point due to becoming more of a stay-at-home family man. I went from 2012 struggling to hold eye contact with people to my peak where my strong eye contact was the key to my charisma, to now where on my worst days – as much as I hate to admit it – I sometimes just dont wanna look people into the eyes again.

Fact is I will never regress all the way back, but without consistent practice a lot of the changes wont stay. It is like going to the gym in that – you can’t just do a few week regimen and be fit forever, but you probably will stay stronger than you were.

Speaking of the gym, if there is one thing that I did progress on, it is my fitness. I cannot say for sure if I am in the best shape of my life right now, but I am definitely moving to the right direction. Despite eating too much and gaining 15 kg of weight in my close to three years in Thailand, I look better without shirt than I ever have.

With my training for the first Muay Thai fight looming in the near future, I expect this to get even better going forward.

The key takeaway of the year for me is that I need big things to drive my actions. Big, exciting goals like the Muay Thai fight. Other than that I also am still looking for the consistency in my life that has evaded me thus far.

My discipline might have wavered but I have never felt like I am far off for things to click into place.

Solving those issues so I could finally be moving forward at full speed without being stunted will be one of the main focuses of 2018.

Flow vs. Rigidity has been one of my big topics over the years, and while going with the flow works to a certain extent and for certain parts of your life, it puts a ceiling to how high you can go. Once you have to go past certain point in terms of output, you have to increase the rigidity in your life. In other words, amateurs wait for inspiration, the professionals just show up.

How engaged one can be really is the keys to progress. I yearn for those days of Spiral of Awesomeness challenge when I was fully in there, doing a lot and being engaged with it. Nowadays it seems I only have my heart fully in the things I am doing during exercise and spending time with my daughter. Other things suffer from lack of me really being there, either because I am multitasking as a necessary evil, or because I am just not excited of that said mundane task.

All of that still consumes your life, so might as well enjoy it and might as well be fully engaged in it.

I would have done some kind of look into 2017 goals, but as mentioned I have not posted anything to the blog in over a year. That is pretty sad state of affairs for a blog that used to see action pretty much once a week at its peak. Since I still believe that my peak is far away and with maturity comes more insights to share, I hope to start moving towards a peak in that too.

Blog is just the tip of the iceberg for me, so for me to be posting a lot means my life has to be in order first. There is lot to unpack and make sense in anyone’s life, especially during such a drastic transition as becoming a parent and starting a family is. So I am still figuring things out. When you have a life with many differents aspects to it, obviously you cannot move everything forward at once, or at least the odds of doing that are very low even if it not impossible. (Though ironically the momentum in one thing does feed into everything else so it is not so black and white – worth talking about in depth on a later date)

So it is no wonder that while some things are moving forward like they should, lot of things have regressed as well. That is the story of 2017 and more of less also for 2016 as well. As far as how the overall big picture is moving it is really hard for me to tell since it is sum of such subtle parts, but if the overall measure is how well I believe I could be doing and how engaged I am at an moment-to-moment basis in my life, I believe there has been significant slipping back going on in many aspects.

The evolutionary need to do as little as possible has kicked in. Fact is that in this life the ones who suppress their harmful drives best and use their positive drives to thrust them, will succeed the best. Getting some success turned out to be the enemy for me and stunting lot of my overall growth. I got too satisfied too fast when I still had a lot of growing up to do.

It is never too late to become awesome though, and even if you think you got there, it is something that has to be re-earned every day until the end of your life. You don’t get to become awesome once and just stay there forever. The moment you think you got it, that there is something inherent to you that makes you not capable of failing, is the moment when the rot has set in. The slipping back is inevitable. Despite all that gloom and doom, I do believe that it is never too late to course correct.

You have to know where you are course correcting though before you can do it though – that is the thing that I will delve into next when we hit into the goals for the next year first time since 2015. That will wait until next year though.

The Esteemed Sir Challenge

So it has been a while since the Kickstart Challenge ended. I considered it a success even though strictly speaking I failed to reach couple of parameters on some weeks, however I reset the goals for those weeks and reached some alternative goal – so it is close enough in the end.

Besides, the kickstart challenge completed the things it set out to complete – kickstarting my productivity. Now I have not quite reached the highest peaks I was on during the previous challenges, but I have gotten up to a higher baseline level.

It is time to ramp up the challenge. This time the challenge is called “The Esteemed Sir Challenge”, because the reward is some expensive shit that I have been feeling oddly drawn to yet I don’t really need. That is uncharacteristic of me, and so the challenge will be at a quite high difficulty level.

I actually fully expect to fail this challenge due to its high difficulty level, but like I said, I don’t really need the items that I would reward myself, that cost more money than I usually spend on anything, so when the reward is high, the challenge should be high as well. If I am going to splurge, might as well use it as a leverage to elevate my life to the next level.

Instead of it being daily challenge, I will once again go after weekly quotas on different things. First and foremost goal at the moment I have is getting into the best shape of my life, so first segment of the challenge is exercise. In my Universal Awesomeness Score tracker I have a tab for my exercise tracking where I have (quite irregularly) tracked my exercise sessions with intensity rating 1-3 for each session. So the weekly quotas are just sums of those intensity ratings.

To make it more understandable, a sum of 18 could be 6 super intense sessions of 18 very light sessions, or 9 moderate ones, or any combination of them that sums up to 18. Also I require myself to start stretching more. The challenge will last for 6 weeks, getting harder every week.

The Fitness Quotas:
Week 1: 18 / 3 hours of stretching
Week 2: 21 / 3.5 hours of stretching
Week 3: 23 / 4 hours of strectching
Week 4: 25 / 4.5 hours of stretching
Week 5: 27 / 5 hours of stretching
Week 6: 28 / 5 hours of stretching.

The next up for the challenge is reading. It is something I love but something I somehow always fail to have time to do. Now all this reading should be long-form reading, in other words, BOOKS, not just blogs and shit.

Reading Quotas:
Week 1: 2 hours
Week 2: 4 hours
Week 3: 6 hours
Week 4: 8 hours
Week 5: 9 hours
Week 6: 10 hours

Final part of the challenge is productivity, however this time I dont focus on the main work I do but rather on my side projects. No quotas this time, instead, there will be two separate goals for completing projects.

By the end of week 3, my intention is to have cleared out all the videos and posts I have on queue for the blog. They have been on my to-do list forever, so now is time to do it, or if they are not good enough at least check them and abandon, should that be the case.

For the second half of the challenge I tackle on another project I have been wanting to do for a long time – that is reworking and rewriting my old nutrition book Healthy Eating. While lot of the data on it has not changed since I wrote it, my overall views have gotten more practical and I am not really happy with the book. Also I want to re-edit it and rework it into more functional book. So publishing the 2nd Edition of the book is my goal for the 2nd half of the challenge.

Aside those two goals, of course I want to keep my writing streak alive by writing 750 words every day, and finally for my work I want to retain the goal of getting to 30 hours of work done before end of Friday just like in the kickstart challenge. However, I won’t have bar for effective work this time around.

So upon completion of all of the above, the challenge will be completed at the end of the six weeks.

Now I gotta add that I might slightly alter the challenge based on how it feels on the first week, once I get a feel how all these parameters feel in practice. However I will retain that the difficulty level of the challenge will stay high, so the alterations will be to higher difficulty if it feels too easy, or if it feels that the goals I set are absolutely impossible (unlikely), I will ease them off a little bit.

Kickstarting Things Again

Around the time of me setting up my last challenge everything was looking so good again, yet somehow everything crumbled down again.

Guess you could say that the older habits run even deeper. It seems very tough for me to have a truly extended time of being truly productive. Especially the outline of daily productivity stack I wrote in my last post that seemed so possible at the time of writing seems so distant right now that my waking up habits have deteriorated.

It appears holding any consistent sleeping pattern is simply an impossiblity for me unless there is an external factor that forces it upon me. That being said, if I am incapable of keeping consistent levels of effort up, this is pretty much all that I will get out of life. The changes that you force upon yourself will eventually change you from within.

So lets get to work, I am not 21 any more so the time is running short.

Today I am going to establish the parameters of new kickstart challenge that will run until midway-october. (October 16th)

To complete the challenge, I have to do following every day:

  • Write 750 words
  • Exercise

In addition to this, there are weekly quotas:

  • 10 exercise / stretching sessions
  • Complete 30 hours of work / 10 hours effective by end of Friday
  • Go out 5 nights a week (minimum 2 hours out)

A reward for me for completing the challenge is visit to the supplement shop to buy some supplementation that I have been wanting to test out a long time. Should I fail I won’t get any supplements for at least a year, and it will be also considered failure of the Challenge Eternale.

The Challenge Eternale

Monday was a rare kind of day, for three different things coincided. First of, it was start of both a new week and a new month. Also, I just failed my previous challenge. So why not start off the new one right away?

The whole long time struggle with my points based challenge gave me plenty of time to think what kind of challenges I would like to have. So what now happens is a basically eternal challenge where I look to build up by habits towards the ideal kind of days that I would have. Indeed I have a whole productivity stack designed for myself.

Funny enough it is something similar to what I designed years ago for a challenge yet then failed miserably. While I just failed my previous challenge, I can totally see myself being able to adapt to that kind of routine now.

Here is what I am looking to build towards.

The Productivity Stack

4 – 7 am: 2.5 hours of effective work with stretching in between the breaks (30 min work 5 min rest cycle)

7 – 7.30 am: Stretching 15 min.

7.30 – 9:00 am.: Breakfast, 1h of reading, 15 minutes of stretching

9.00 – 12.00 am. 2.5 hours of effective work, stretching, same as before.

12.00 – 12.30 am: 750 words of writing.

Lets overview what I wrote above a little bit. Broken down into 4 little segments there is a full hour of stretching, that is my personal limit for enough exercise for a day, that being said after twelve I am free to spend all day in the gym should I please so, but at least this stack fulfills the bare minimums in that regard, regardless of what I do after that.

Aside that there is five hours of effective work. Now in terms of time logged in, it might be closer to 5.5 hours of 6 hours, but your effective work time is never exactly the amount you spent sat down working. By working 30 minutes at a time I make sure I have high focus and that I am blasting away every moment I spent working.

For me personally five hours of effective work per day translates to 35 hours of effective work per week. Might not sound so much, but if you have followed my statistics, even my super productive weeks rarely even reach this amount. Most people who work 40 hour weeks actually do barely 20 hours of effective work, so 35 is actually already above average.

Also the writing counts as work too, so there is basically 5.5 hours of work per day when that is taken into account as well.

I threw in an hour of reading there too cause I feel that the hour I spent eating my breakfast could be better spent than mostly watching nonsense youtube videos. But that might never come to fruition, cause I truly enjoy that moment of break in my mornings. Will see about that.

Now you know what is my long-term goal to make my day look. However, obviously if I just jumped into trying this it would fail. Instead what I have in mind is a gradual approach where I add a layer at a time to it.

Also the times on the clock, while intentional, are not set in stone. Some days waking up at four is impossibility, some days I might have a good reason to be doing something else at that hour. The times are to be held onto most of the time but parts of the stack can be rescheduled as needed.

The Challenge Eternale

So why do I call this with such a bizarre name? Well, as you might guess it is bit silly way of acknowledging that it is an eternal challenge for me. Every month I set a new target, but the challenge never ends. Should I fail, the negative consequence is for me to have to sell my computer. Yes, I recently bought a new gaming PC for myself which probably directly contributed in the previous challenge failing.

To make sure the damage it causes stays limited, it will be the sacrifice should I keep failing my challenges.

As established in the earlier challenges, for a thing, whether it is a reward or a punishment, has to matter to me for it to keep me moving on those hard days where I really feel like doing something else.

One of the problems with the previous challenge indeed was that I simply did not care enough of the rewards to be inspired. In the May Madness challenge, on the other hand, I was very motivated cause the reward excited me. So losing my PC works for sure in this regard for getting me moving whenever that early work is too much.

Now obviously I do not start with doing everything at once, though I will use what I mapped out there as a guideline, but for this first month it will be all about getting that morning work phase adjusted to. So the goal is to do 2.5 hours of work every morning before breakfast. Whether I hit the exact timing is not important as long as it is around four, and like I said earlier some moving around is acceptable, the only thing that is important is that I get it done before breakfast.

Now that should be a fairly easy goal, for I have done something similar numerous times before. So to make sure it does not get too easy, I will also go for going out every day. It is another habit that I also had setup few months ago already, and is not hard to do, but combination of these two should provide some challenge – and ample amounts of points, easily clearing 60 points today, for instance.

The important thing is to get back to the right ways of doing things after succumbing into bad habits as my previous challenge crumbled down. You gotta always start small and build up from that.

So that is it for August. I did not come up for any rewards, I figure just the potential punishment for failing is enough to make sure that I keep at it. Also I do give myself some leeway through there being acceptable one missed day per month without failure – two missed days though and it is all over.

As said this will be an eternal challenge to which I will add to once September rolls around. Hope by then I have a good foundation to build on.

Final Regroup After a Slip-Up

I have been gently slipping in the challenge this whole time, while just about making up the numbers generally, but being an hour late here, an hour there.

Ultimately I finally slipped two days completely off due to my sleeping pattern being kinda off the hinges right now. Of course that is no excuse, for I still should have about the same wake hours in my use anyway, but it does pose some more challenges for me.

Needless to say I did not wanna consider the challenge completely failed just because of this. So instead of failing it I will regroup, readjust and retry. I had a few days off due to the slipping off, so the challenge will restart tomorrow from where it left off. I am right now at week 6 of the challenge.

Starting tomorrow, that means I have 3 days of reaching 70 points a day left, then 7 days of 70 again, and finally 7 days of 75, as per original schedule. Then after that I will add a week to make up for the slip-up, with 7 days of reaching 80 points a day with no off day. This would be my all-time record week (for 80×7 will be at least 560 points).

Another change is that the timed targets become more of a suggestion than a rule. I really loathe living my life according to the clock. However I do not want to alter the original challenge too much, so they remain in the challenge. This time though if I do not meet the timed targets, I will have penalty of +10 points added to my daily target. So 70 becomes 80 and so on. There is still incentive to get my points done early, but it doesn’t completely dictate over my life any more, so I won’t be trying to manipulate the system just to reach a certain limit at a certain time.

Another thing that will change is that there will be no flimsily earnt points. 70 points is a lot of points to reach on a daily basis, that is why I have had a tendency to let myself get off the hook a little and earn some easy points. If I want the full points, I need to be fully focused on the things I am doing, no two ways about it. The whole system loses its purpose if I start to give myself easier time to score high. The number is supposed to be a measure of how effectively I am using my time. It does not measure anything if the conditiions under which the points are gained get looser.

Now that is just a problem with the application of the system, not with the system itself. Example of this would be, say I work 3 hours but I do it while texting bunch of people. Now obviously I effectively did not work 3 hours cause I was constantly distracted by the text convos I had going on. Good general rule of thumb for the point system is to add one hour worth of points in a situation like this. It is not like the whole time was wasted, but the productivity as I have studied on my own drops significantly.

Maybe you can validly add points for 1.5 hours, but that is always a judgment call. Uh-oh, that won’t be enough for make me reach the limit for four o’ clock. Whatever, I can slip 2 hours worth of work there, that works.

…and that is how the whole system starts taking it up the ass. If I want full points for worked time, I better actually work the whole time and not be distracted.

Last week I was on course to making my all-time record, but I stopped short on the last day. I did not feel good about the week actually being my all-time most productive week, cause I know there was a lot of padding on the scores. Or hell, it might not even be a lot, but even just 10-20 % is enough for me to not feel that the score is legit.

That being said, on the early days of the score I was also very loose on the score, only just measuring the quantity of the time I spent on activities rather than taking the quality into account as well. So maybe some early high scores are tainted in the same way. Regardless, I do not want to further that.

So yeah, there is the whole rambling regarding the challenge. Needless to say, if I slip-up again I will have to consider the challenge failed and scrap it. It wont be easy and the whole purpose of the challenge was to slowly ramp up the challenge. Now that I have lost a bit of the momentum it will be hard to jump back up to 70-point daily grind – but hey, it would not be considered a challenge if it weren’t hard.

So It Failed

I have failed my share of challenges over the years and this was yet again one of those. Turned out that the 35 points by 4 pm. was too tight limit for me. Of course it is all just an excuse but that limit indeed did not leave me much room to manuever if I slept it.

Now it leaves me at a position where I either accept the punishment which is dealing with my broken headphones for next 6 months, or set a new challenge where I can attempt again earning the right to buy new ones.

One thing is for sure – the headphones in themselves did not work as a very strong motivator, unlike the Muay Thai pads for my previous challenge. It just did not get me excited in the same way so on those days I woke up sleep deprived or unmotivated, there was just not enough to fire me up. Of course, one problem for future to solve is the question why I can’t get bothered just intrinsically, but that is something I can figure out later – for now, it is important to get back on the horse and keep the good habits going.

New Challenge Parameters

My first instinct is to punish myself by making the challenge harder to make up for the failed day – but that won’t obviously work, as I already failed, what is gonna happen with the harder challenge? It is like after failing a heavy bench press, you slap another couple of plates on the bar and try again. You will just crash harder.

The answer is to drop back the intensity a bit, but to add the punishment factor in just add more repetitions – in other words, just make the challenge have more days by making it longer. So the amount of points I need to score will start off bit lower again on a level I know I can do it, but challenge will run until August 14th to be full 8 weeks. Also I will gradually pick up the intensity to keep up the challenge.

Another change is instead of having high limit to reach before 16, I will add more checkpoints during the day to make sure I gain points more evenly.

8 Weeks of Intensity

Week 1

Daily limit 60

12:00 – -10 points

16:00 – 15 points

20:00 – 40 points

Week 2

Daily limit 65

12:00 – -5 points

16:00 – 20 points

20:00 – 45 points

Week 3

Daily limit 65

12:00 – 0 points

16:00 – 25 points

20:00 – 50 points

Week 4

Daily limit 65

12:00 – 0 points

16:00 – 25 points

20:00 – 55 points

Week 5

Daily limit 70

12:00 – 0 points

16:00 – 30 points

20:00 – 55 points

Week 6

Daily limit 70

12:00 – 0  points

16:00 – 35 points

20:00 – 60 points

Week 7

Daily limit 70

12:00 – 5 points

16:00 – 35 points

20:00 – 65 points

Week 8

Daily limit 75

12:00 – 10 points

16:00 – 35 points

20:00 – 70 points

By the end challenge will be much more difficult, but it starts off easier and gradually builds up – this one should be very manageable and by the last week my record for the week should be bordering on 600 points.

Rewards

So aside making the challenge more gradual, I also made the rewards more engaging including making this a mutual challenge with my girlfriend so she has her own stake in this to put some social pressure on me to meet my daily goals. So should I succeed I will buy something for her too, and should I fail it is something away from her – I have noticed that I hate disappointing people so this should hit some deeper personal value and thus provide more intrinsic motivation to keep going during those lazy moments. As for myself, I will still keep going for the new headphones, cause the old ones really annoy me.

For simplicity’s – and consistency’s – sake my daily goal will every day be static 3 hours of work without wifi to ensure no distractions. This will make sure gaining the 10 points from completing the daily goal will be equally easy or hard every day. Furthermore, I will allow myself one off day every week, where I do not need to meet the point goal. But fail two days in a week, and it will be a failed challenge.

May Madness Completed – On to The Next Challenge

May Madness Challenge completed last night with me finishing off a 478-point week in UAS terms. That is an all-time high and the statistics about the resounding success of the challenge won’t stop there – during the five weeks of the challenge, I managed to score two top-10 all-time days, and have now record streaks of over 50 points every day and 300 points a week running for a record of five weeks in a row.

So yeah, in short, while I was only getting through the challenge grazing the bar, I still succeeded in a massive way, actually bumping my general productivity, as measured by UAS, by over 50 %. The effect on consistency was the biggest though – I have never gone even close to scoring so much successive strong days.

What I stumbled across what something that works for me as emotional leverage to get myself to feel that gun in my head that makes me work hard – or if not hard, at least harder – hard enough to reach the goal I had for the challenge.

While I am undecided whether there is actually such thing as momentum, I know that resting on my laurels now would be to lose all the good work I have done. So I will keep building on this win and string it with another challenge.

June Joy Challenge

So let’s use what we learned in the original challenge to start another, add some challenge and make sure I remain motivated. There has been countless challenges I tried and I failed before, and the difference was probably some form of accountability. Even if I am only accontable to myself, as long as I understand there is clear consequences to failing or succeeding, it will be enough to keep me moving on those slow, unmotivated moments. The vision of getting the Muay Thai pads was compelling enough to really fire me up and the prospect of screwing it up would have pissed me off. At the same time it was something I did not have to get in case of failure, so I could actually follow through with denying them from myself, should the challenge fail.

Obviously material things are not the best thing to fuel your motivation, but whatever gets the animal moving still works in the end. So I am going to keep with that theme. The reward, for completing the challenge will be this time getting new earphones for myself. The old ones are pretty much destroyed, but still usable so I don’t absolutely need new ones, but should I fail it would definitely be a punishment to keep using the old ones. So upon failing, I would doom myself to using the old ones until at least December.

Challenge Parameters

As for the exact parameters, we look to build up from the old challenge again, with some adjustments based on the experience of May Madness challenge.

  • Challenge will run 4 weeks, ending on Sunday the 3rd of July
  • Every week I have to score at least 400 points
  • Every day I have to score at least 60 points, but I can have one off day every week as long as I still complete above
  • One of the weeks has to be record week
  • There has to be at least one 100-point day and 3 days over 90 points
  • I have to reach 35 points every day before 4 pm. local time

So lets quickly run through those. Some of those are a bit arbitrary, like wanting to score one 100 point day, but as for the 60-day daily goal, the key is just to keep pushing the requirement higher and higher as I adjust. I do give myself one day off in a week, should it be needed, cause sometimes it is just nice to have some flexibility in your life. The final point is actually one I have most to say. The thing that was very common during May Madness was me rushing before midnight to make the points and admittedly sometimes manipulating the points a little to make the last few points (like drinking stupid amounts of water).

Things like that of course go beyond the point of the point system, but I did it because that was the requirement I set for myself. To avoid such things this time around, I want to get up to 35 points, 25 points of the daily limit with good eight hours to go. Hopefully this is enough to prevent me from needing to last minute rushes to get points. Another positive effect I hope to see is it spurring me to start my days strongly. I know the strongest days only come after really fast starts, so if everything goes like planned this should encourage me to not only reach 60 points daily, but go much higher on a regular basis.

Will see if this will be as successful challenge as May Madness, regardless it won’t be too big adjustment directly following the prior challenge. I can just keep doing the same things that I have been doing so far and that have worked for me so far.

Intermediate Stop on My Journey

It has been an enjoyment, albeit a humorous one, to have been reading my old blog posts. My inspiration does not always hit the times when I am free to write, so I have been browsing through my old posts in attempt to find ideas for new writings, or regurgitations of my old ideas in more mature format.

If one point of my blog has been to document my self-development journey, it has at least partially fulfilled that function. In my old posts I might have been still finding my own voice, and perhaps still am, but there was enough of it there to leave a permanent stamp of the mindset, the thought-patterns and emotions that I had at the times I have gone through.

Reading my old posts one sentiment stands out above all – I have come a long way. Long way from the guy who was just struggling through everything, desperately trying to make some money to go to Japan. The guy who was trying to work so hard but getting so little done, yet in the end beating himself. Reading my old posts, I can be proud that I have gotten over those times, to a happier and calmer time.

However I am not particularly filled with pride with the stagnation that has followed since. I feel like sometimes slowing down is appropriate, but stopping for too long just leads to everyone else being far ahead by the time you are ready to move. Then you have some catching up to do.

It has been interesting to reconnect with my old self through my old posts, and to wonder what that kid full of hopes and dreams would have done if he had my resources and situation at his disposal.

Cause back in the early days of the blog, in the early 2013, over three years ago, I had next to nothing. The perception of time here is bizarre too – I have been to over 10 countries since, had multiple failed relationships and other strong experiences, which makes it feel like it was a lifetime ago. On the other hand, though, you think it was 2013 so it was just recently. In this case, three years makes a big difference.

Makes me wonder, what would I have done differently if that guy had gotten access to what I have now. Then again, I needed to go through my journey to get it. I needed to learn to work harder. I needed to let go of attachments. I needed to go through uncomfortable situations to get to the current, calm mindset that I generally have.

But like I said, there is no room for stagnation. That same kid who was far off, much farther off his goals than I am now, set his sights far higher than where I wound up. It is comforting to see that a lot of goals me from three years ago set, I have achieved and that most of the ones I did not achieve turned out to not be so important anyway, but it is not like I am ready to rest on my laurels.

In fact, you never will be, but even if such a time existed I would be nowhere close to it. I still have anxieties, I still have struggles in my everyday life, but also progress has been made. It is funny to read my old posts how happy I was over simple things, how I was painting them to be this huge challenge where in reality they weren’t. But that is an important reminder of where I come from: It was a big deal at the time, it was a big challenge at the time.

For me to be relatively normal today I had to overcome massive resistance in the beginning, such that 95 % of people won’t even ever understand cause they don’t see how simple things had become difficult to me due to mental resistance. It is even hard for me to understand it, despite having lived through it. Like I said, that time feels like a different lifetime and it is hard to access even the memories of that time. Yet, I am not even that far off yet. I could easily slip back there, things have not changed that much.

Which is why this life-situation should be just a temporary, intermediate stop in my life. A plateau from which I can look below to my old life, but where I should just take a breather before gritting my teeth, looking atop of the peak I am going to and then start trodding along the path.

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