Spiral of Awesomeness II & Goals for 2015

What’s up? We are over a month into the new year already, so its kinda late to be starting setting goals for the new year. And its kinda not necessary this year, as I already set my longer term goals in an earlier post from last year. However, some of those do need a little recalibration so I am going to touch them briefly, but main point of this post is re-initiation of one of my most successful things that I’ve done on this blog, Spiral of Awesomeness.

For those that don’t know nor care to read the original post, Spiral of Awesomeness was an 8-week challenge I set for myself in 2013 after having first been on 12-week challenge to write 3 hours a day for 4 weeks. Not only did the challenge make me work harder than I ever did before and elevate me into a whole new state of mind, it also indirectly led to me in getting my new job. I was scoring very high in my scoring systems at the time. In short, my life was just very well together at the end of that challenge. It had a grand title, but it truly lived up to it, for that period of my life truly was the spiral of awesomeness. I’m still feeling the ripples of it in my life today.

Feeding More Awesomeness into My Life

There’s kinda the sense though that my life has been a mess for a long long time. I’ve not had my things together like that pretty much at all since the challenge ended. After Spiral of Awesomeness, I got my job which completely threw my life off balance. I couldn’t retain the way of life I had had before that, especially since I’ve capitalized heavily on the nature of my job by traveling extensively.

But now travel is the norm. Working every week for 40 hours is kinda the norm, even if I still struggle to do it well – as said in my numbers post, I really only average about 20 hours of actual work per week, so its obvious I’m lagging far behind on what my actual productivity could be. Accepting these things are really what are the start point of embarking on Spiral of Awesomeness once again.

Cause on the surface it appears that if you read Spiral of Awesomeness today, in many ways I am doing more right now than I ever did on Spiral of Awesomeness. So why did I feel so awesome back then, and so shoddy right now?

Engaging Every Day

Part of it is habitual, cause Spiral of Awesomeness was a daily challenge. You had to engage every day. Every day you’d have to sit down and push through the resistance with 3 hours of writing. You always had to earn your keep.

What now instead happens is I kinda go with the flow and dilly-dally around too much, then are forced to engage on massive 10-hour work marathons, scrambling to make it to my weekly required hours. That’s not how I want my life to be. Not only it is stressful, it also takes a lot away from the quality of my work. What if I were to engage for 3 hours every day of the week with my work? I’d actually match my 20 hours of work a week I am currently doing. If I was actually focused and did it every day, even for just 3 hours a day, I’d almost certainly increase my overall output.

Life is built of habits, and I’ve let a lot of good habits crumble. What Spiral of Awesomeness is essentially is a challenge to make sure you retain your habits – all of them, or else its a failure.

You might remember that I actually failed my original challenge. Still it gave me massive momentum and motivation to keep those habits up.

Spiral of Awesomeness II

I can’t do the challenge in its exact, original form. Or I could – but I don’t want to. Frankly it would be too difficult right now to do in its original form. Despite having had my job for over a year, because I’ve not taken it upon me to build proper work habits, its still too straining for my willpower to complete 3 hours of writing / the path and still manage my 40 hours of work a week well. So instead, the sequel of Spiral of Awesomeness will revolve around work, and getting the basic things in ones life working right.

However, one thing that has saddened me in my life of late is that I’ve completely neglected some things of it, like writing. I want to get back on the stride with it, so that will be part of the new form of challenge. There will be also weekly goals to give more sense of purpose to actions that are taken. Let’s not waste further time on explanations, I’ll go through all the different parts of the revised challenge now:

The Work 4 hours

The simplest part of the challenge, just have to put the hours in every day – note this is measuring the time I spent engaging, not the time that my work timer is running. I would guess it takes at least five hours every day to reach this four hour mark daily – some days it might take up to 10 hours.

Writing 1000 words a day / 1 one story a week

I’ve been writing 750 words a day since forever, but now I’m gonna bump it up to thousand. Furthermore, to keep myself from just aimlessly writing descriptions or continuous stream of consciousness like I often do, I am going to set my mind to put out a short story every week – out of 7000 words I write every week, one decent short story should be reasonable to expect.

Working Out at least an hour

In my old challenge I only demanded myself 20 minutes, but nowadays I know that’s just going to lead to stagnation. I have to put the time in, that’s the only way to really take care of your body.

Stretching 30 minutes

I actually wasn’t intending to put this back in, but just now that I read through the original challenge I decided to drop it back in. Why? Cause stretching is not only a break for the mind, it especially is very good for MY body. As much as I’ve started the neglect this part of my old routine, its just made my body to be more and more dysfunctional over time. I need this half an hour, my lifestyle is too sedentary to go without it.

Meditation 20 minutes

Another thing I was kinda on edge if I really wanna do it, but whatever, lets go with it. I’ve never been able to maintain this habit, and I’m unsure if I’ve ever seen any benefits myself, but I am gonna give it one more shot – if I could even sustain it for 2 months in a row, I’d have much fairer opinion of it.

Reading 1 hour + complete a book per week

I heard average CEO reads a 50 books a year so it makes it about a book a week. Even if my record is 14 books a year I’m gonna set that ambitious goal and try to keep feeding my brain with good information. It might indeed take more than the mandatory hour of reading to complete a book per week… This was just an additional goal in original Spiral of Awesomeness, now I’m going to make it a mandatory part of it.

Going out complete a social challenge

As final point of this new challenge I’m gonna add going out regularly to cover all the bases in my Universal Awesomeness Score categorizations – I want to make sure I don’t have any negative marks left on the daily scores. The social challenge I complete my time out will vary and increase in difficulty as time passes on – important thing is that it’s more willpower taxing than time-consuming, for time is not something I have a lot.

Setting a goal for the next day

Another one of my continuous life failures is that I’ve still not mastered this habit. Setting a goal for the next day before you head to sleep is OBVIOUSLY massively valuable habit. I gotta get this down.

Three meals

I know what you are thinking, this should not even make it to a challenge like that. What’s the point, everyone does it anyway? Well, not me. I’m a mess when it comes to basic things in life. That’s one of the bizarre complexities of my personality. I’m advanced on some facets of life, have very deep, well-thought out opinions and views, but on the other end stay skinny cause I constantly skip meals. This challenge takes time, so to not start skipping meals to make more time, I have to include having 3 meals a day as a point in challenge. Failing this will need to fail the whole challenge, otherwise I simply will let it slip at some point.

The Part About “Stop Doing These”

I am going to stop all the same bad habits as last time around, with the exception of drinking only water, I want to keep as much calories going as possible this time around so while I will surely drink plenty of water, I will drink other stuff too. Also, music is okay too this time around.

So there you go, whole challenge that is Spiral of Awesomeness II. Hope it goes well!

Gradual Start

Of course, I won’t jump into the whole challenge right away – I’ll have a transitional week first where I’ll only do work, writing, meditation and reading. “Bad” habits are still allowed for this week as this is only final preparation for the “real deal”.

The Challenge officially begins on February 9th.

Now of course the question is, what about the rewards? Those were the key component that made my original challenge work – just that little bit of extra motivation to keep you going on the lazy moments.

Rewards

Preliminary 3 weeks: Completing this with flaws won’t ruin the whole challenge, but if I do succeed, I’ll reward myself with… something personal haha.

Week 1 – I’ll allow myself to post on Facebook again – if I fail, I’ll delete my Facebook.

Week 4 – Another Hong Kong trip (if I fail, I just go to somewhere else)

Week 8 – full completion – Skydiving & Lake Taupo Bungy in New Zealand

So length-wise this will be similar to original challenge,  8 weeks of main challenge. It’s difficult to complete and I think the reward matches that difficulty.

I also allow myself 3 times of missing some habit – simply because challenge is so hard, I don’t want it to fail just cause I eat only two meals one day for instance, or maybe forget to meditate. So I can make 3 mistakes, and only at fourth one the challenge actually is broken. I think that’s fair considering challenge is harder this time around, and also gives a little bit room for maneuvering. It’s still enough to keep you honest so that the only time habit is missed is when there’s absolutely no time or it’s simply forgotten.

I really struggled to find a compelling week 1 goal but then when it came it really clicked perfectly into place – Ever since I got a Facebook account I’ve been slowly getting sucked into there more and more, but its not actually necessary. I’d feel bad to have to delete my FB but if things come down to that,  I still can do it, so it works perfectly as a reward/potential punishment for failure. And pending I succeed and won’t have to lose the account, it works as easy template goal to set for start of future challenges.

Now that the Spiral of Awesomeness II is all set up, lets have a look at the goals for the ongoing year.

Goals for 2015

As established in my 18-month goal post, I already have a set of goals I’m working towards in the midterm – the end point of the 18-month period followed there is February 2016, so this basically is year from now. I set the following physical goals 6 months ago.

Physical Goals

  • Gain weight until 85kg 80kg
  • Run 3000m in 12-minute test
  • Deadlift 140kg
  • Bench press 85 kg
  • Free-standing handstand
  • Record in chin-ups
  • Become much more flexible
  • Get rid of back pain

Let’s look at the progress made so far in each of these, then revise if needed

Gain weight until 85 kg

Well I’ve dropped weight or stayed about the same over 6 months. I think its impossible to expect me to make it all the way to that target, but its doable to get to 80kg if I improve my habits and work hard. So let’s revise this just to 80kg

Run 3000m in 12-minute test

The good thing about cardio is that I have strong base and its pretty quick to train. 3000m in 12 minutes is very reachable from even mediocre shape in just less than 6 months of training. Even if I’ve not really gotten in any better shape, this is still very reachable goal.

Deadlift 140 kg

I’ve not done any deadlift in a good while, so its hard to say where I stand. However given how beginner I am still with this move, I don’t think its impossible to achieve as long as I put any training in to do it.

Bench press 85 kg

Again, not doing any specific bench press work – my life really changed in terms of me not being able to regularly do weight training. I am working on my upper body and getting stronger, so I’d predict there’s hope to achieve this goal even without much specialized training. No revision here.

Freestanding handstand

Not practicing much, but I’m actually doing good progress on this. Able to do headstand for as long as I like pretty much, also able to hold a crow stand. I think its very reachable goal over next 12 months.

Record in chin-ups

There’s hope for this, but I’ve not once again trained enough. I need to up my training to have any chance. Still doesn’t merit a revision.

Last two goals are more general and vague, so I won’t go through them, they will stand as wanted.

Work Goals

  • Add $1000 / month to income
  • Get one raise over next 18 months
  • Add steady 10 hours / week of oDesk work
  • Work your SEO site to earning 500 bucks a month
  • Start reading 2 hours a day every day (kinda indirectly related to this and didn’t really fit anywhere else)
Add $1000 / month to income

No progress in this one. That said, I don’t see any need for revising, targeting more income is always a good goal and I think its also very reachable amount.

Get one raise over next 18 months

Well even though only 6 months has passed, is basically been two review periods without raises so I think I need to improve a lot soon to reach this goal. But I think its still doable so no changes.

Add oDesk work

As seen above, I scrapped this goal completely. Frankly I don’t want to target this. If I do wanna do extra work, I wanna pour it into my own projects, not into working more for other masters.

SEO Site

This has actually taken steps back. I had hacker put phishing page into my site so the rankings took a heavy hit, of course not updating it in a while didn’t help either. It’s a shame cause there’s still potential, and I do believe this can be improved and goal ultimately reached – I just dont know how I am going to have time for all of this.

Start reading 2 hours a day every day

Given this is more of a habit thing I guess this might be done at any point, I am definitely reading more now that few weeks ago, the process has only started though.

Social Goals

  • Approach people when abroad and get used to talking to strangers
  • Look to express yourself with less barriers, more freely. Knock people off the fence so that they either like you a lot or hate you.
  • Learn Portuguese at least to such extent you can have basic conversations.
  • Retain your freedom by not committing into anything yet.
  • Become calmer, kinder, less judgmental – generally just keep ironing out the personality flaws.
  • Get a social circle of friends wherever my journey takes me next. Retain and deepen the existing friendships.
Approach people

This is something that has to become one of the main goals of the year, one that I’ve definitely not done enough progress on. It’s just matter of willpower and getting the habit going.

More expression

Despite failure in the first one, this second one is already showing significant improvement. While I might be still a bit scared to offend some people, I’m getting better all the time, just cutting layers of pretense of my personality all the time.

Learn Portuguese

Well this whole staying in Thailand thing kinda threw me off this goal, I know very basic stuff only. Should this be on the backburner and should I be focusing on learning Thai/Asian languages? I think yes, but I don’t have to completely drop it anyway. Maybe by next February I’ll be in Brazil anyway.

Retain freedom

I had honestly forgotten I had this goal, haha. And I was honestly considering to let go of at least some of my freedom. But let’s keep this, for this is actually very good and self-aware goal. I need freedom right now, it’s deeply tied with my other goals and living situation, and the phase in my life.

Becoming calmed & kinder

I’m doing good progress on this one, I think. A girl recently told me “oh I’m so polite” which is ironically exactly the opposite of what the previous girl said. Shows that pain and failure is a good catalyst for growth.

Get a social circle

Trying to make progress on this but honestly not so good so far, I’m struggling to retain the relationships I build. Still, it’s a good goal.

In Conclusion

So yeah, these goals didn’t need that much ironing out in the end. They are all very doable goals. Combined with Spiral of Awesomeness, I have a good idea of where I’m headed at over the coming 12 months. If I achieve even half the goals set here, I will be happy – the most important goals for me to achieve are the social goals, then physical goals come secondary to it. Work goals are actually the least important for me right now, but obviously all of it is important.

Spiral of Awesomeness has in it built enough time for everything, to make progress towards all of those goals. After the 8 weeks is gone, my life should look very different already than it looks now. This is really only the launchpad to the next level – most fuel is burned escaping the gravity of the old life, and once you’re at the orbit, you’re kinda just floating around, doing corrections but not having to expend so much effort any more. That will be the next level shit.

2 Responses to “Spiral of Awesomeness II & Goals for 2015”

  1. Sergio Felix February 3, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

    Hey what’s up Jarkko, long time no speak man!

    Just received your e-mail broadcast for this article and I had no idea you were traveling so much, that is amazing man.

    Hope you start writing about your stories in SE Asia as well, you had a very good run recording videos and I hope you can re-take that again.

    Take care man and keep up the good work!

    Sergio

    • Jarkko Helenius February 3, 2015 at 6:35 pm #

      Thanks Sergio!

      There’s a lot of stuff still coming up that I’ve not gotten around to editing yet. Whenever I head out for a trip somewhere I try to put out a video of the key ideas I have floating around my mind and shoot a video.

      I have video from Taiwan, at least 2 videos from Ko Sichang (remote and quiet island off the coast of Thailand) and now one video from Cambodia on the works. Unfortunately I’m not as good and eager video editor as I’m a writer, especially when there tends to be more urgent matters often times at hand.

      But I do hope to keep finding ways to make my blog more entertaining, inspiring and informing. The key thing would be to close the gap in terms of time of creation to time of posting, cause where my mind is at changes a lot over a period of month when there’s so much constant transition (different location, relationships shifting constantly, improving my lifestyle)

      Jarkko

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