“The pessimist complains about the wind;
the optimist expects it to change;
the realist adjusts the sails.” ~ William A. Ward
Adjust your sails. Good advice if you can do it. So many of us are set in our ways and adaptability and flexibility have left the building of our lives—darting out the door right before Elvis.
In order to flex my adaptability I have decided to take the advice of Matt Cutts who gave a TEDTALK recently. He suggests that we choose something from our bag of wishes and do it for 30 days. Or more exactly, he says in his 3 minute and 27 second talk “think about something you have always wanted to do and do it for 30 days.”
Apparently 30 days is just the right amount of time to add or subtract a habit and according to Cutts “makes your time much more memorable”. He said he was stuck in a rut when he decided to follow the advice of that great American philosopher, Morgan Spurlock, and add something to his life for 30 days. The audience reacted with laughter to this last statement so I looked up Spurlock. He is the guy who ate McDonald’s food three times a day for 30 days and wrote a book about it. It took him 18 months to regain his health and normal weight. (I am assuming he did not choose the salads or healthier choices on the menu). He was also the mind behind the television show 30 Days where he took on a variety of tasks and personas for 30 days, the most famous of which was spending 30 days behind bars. He only spent 25 days in jail though, as most people in his state of Virginia only do about 85% of their sentence.
I may be missing something here, but from a cursory review of the documentary filmmaker, television producer, screenwriter, and activist—I think that the audience’s laughter when Spurlock’s name was brought up was unwarranted. But, perhaps they were laughing at some of his stunts and not the man himself. What do I know? Anyway, back to the subject at hand—and one which was made famous by Spurlock: trying something new for 30 days.
In his TedTalk, Cutts urges us to give the 30 day challenge “a shot”. He believes that if you really want something bad enough “you can do anything for 30 days.” Some of the things that he did for 30 days were: ride his bike to work (which he now looks on as fun); take a picture a day for a month (he says he remembers exactly where he was and what he was doing when he did this); and climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa (something I will not be doing anytime soon).
He also wrote a book in a month. 30 days and he had a novel, which he calls “terrible” because “after all I wrote it in 30 days”. He said that it takes writing 1167 words a day in order to come up with a book and advises those who might take on this challenge to not go to sleep until you have made this daily quota. He jokes that you may be sleep deprived, but at the end of the month you have a book, and when you are making small talk at a party you can call yourself a novelist.
Cutts has inspired me. Not to climb a mountain—but taking a picture a day sound doable; as does possibly writing a book in a month; or finally taking that step and learn how to draw (something that has been on my wish list for years). He says that doing the big crazy challenges are fun, but it is the smaller things that you do for 30 days that will stick.
“What are you waiting for?” asks Cutts. Good question. I think I will adjust my sails and come up with a few 30 day challenges. One thing I know for sure though, climbing a mountain will not be on the list.
What could you do for 30 days that is out of the usual?