First things first. You might be wondering what a 280 Day Challenge is. In short, it is your baby, one of the few things in this world you care about more than any other. However, it is a baby you have yet to bring fully into your life.
Maybe it’s a dream you have yet to live. Perhaps it’s a goal you have been meaning to pursue. Or it could be something you have not allowed yourself to truly dream because – for some reason – it seemed unrealistic. Whatever it is, there are two things you need to know right now:
- It is not too late for you to have this baby.
- You will have 280 days to bring it – or some part of it – to life.
Why 280 days? That is the length of a typical full-term human pregnancy. It provides a designated period of time in which we can focus on pursuing our goals. The days break easily into trimesters so we can set smaller goals or checkpoints for ourselves. And in the same way that a pregnant mother must eat for two, get plenty of rest, and in all other ways care for herself to promote the greatest health of her baby, we too must care for ourselves – body, mind, spirit – while we pursue our greatest dreams.
Preparing Yourself for a 280 Day Challenge
Yesterday, following a fresh six-inch snowfall, I went for a hike through the woods. Overgrown stretches and down trees typically camouflage the trail, and with a fresh layer of snow I could not see where to go. If not for the hike I had taken the day before marking a path through the woods, I would have strayed from the trail many times.
Similarly, this is my second 280 Day Challenge. The first time I started my Challenge, there were a number of missing components, many of which I’ll write more about in future posts. I wasn’t fully prepared to take on the challenge. I lacked focus. I had no plan for how to weather storms, and it was not a successful experiment. Though I did make some progress on writing my novel, it was pale in comparison to the progress I have made during my second 280 Day Challenge. That being said, I learned so much through the process that I can now apply to this second attempt.
Based on my experiences, I recommend a period of time to lay groundwork for a successful Challenge. The duration of the pre-Challenge preparations will be based on your needs, your goals, and your life. Over the next few weeks, I will share steps to help you get ready for your 280 Day Challenge, should you decide to join me.
What the 280 Day Challenge Is NOT
This is not a New Years Resolution! Start preparing for it now. Immediately begin thinking about it. Zero in on the passions that drive you. Take the next several weeks as an opportunity to give deep, mindful consideration to your personal needs. However, do not start the 280 Day Challenge on a hot-cocoa-and-pajamas day when you have all the time in the world to dream and focus and hope. Those days, though wonderful, do not represent real life.
On the flip side… Do not start the Challenge when you are barely treading water or, worse yet, sinking. Avoid starting it during a period when you can barely care for yourself and those who rely on you. The 280 Day Challenge is not a way to escape the stressful situation in which you find yourself. Rather, spend your few precious moments to reduce stress and rejuvenate spirit.
Really. If you want to be successful in your 280 Day Challenge (and you do!), start it on a “normal” day. A normal busy day when a lot is going on, and you still feel – at least for the most part – as if you hold the reins.
For now, be satisfied to plan and dream and discover the heart of your passion.
First Steps – 5 Crucial Considerations of Your Passion and Goals
1) Find Focus: For most of us, we know what we love. It fills us and excites us. However, we might not be as clear about our goals within that passion, or there are so many dreams and ideas that we can’t focus enough to achieve any of them.
- One strategy to discover our deepest wishes is to mine our daydreams. By keeping track of our day to day downtime thoughts, focusing in on recurring themes, and following the energy, we begin to learn where we are and where we want to be.
- Another way is to share our passions with a trusted friend. Talk to someone who will ask questions, dig deeper and provide unbiased feedback about the conversation. Ask them to pay special attention to your nonverbal communication – when your speech patterns show excitement, resistance or other hidden emotions – through which you subconsciously reveal even more.
2) Identify Obstacles: Common obstacles include time, the people in our lives, and resources (financial or physical). Emotional, intellectual, or other barriers may also exist. Do not allow this process of identifying hurdles to be daunting. For every barrier you identify, devise at least three to five ways to get around, over, under or through it. This is part of the challenge. While obstacles can make our lives harder, they can also lead to the infinitely greatest satisfaction. Few things feel better than achieving despite – and sometimes because of – our obstacles.
3) Develop the Self-Confidence to Move Forward: I cannot stress this enough. Some people are born with innate confidence, while others of us have to discover, fight for, and earn it. Now is the time to begin thinking of yourself in a positive light, a true light that shines on your strengths, rather than weaknesses. We all have both, and confidence comes when we focus on strengths. Choose not to compare yourself to those around you. You are an apple, and they are all oranges, bananas, kumquats, and pears. If you must make comparisons, measure your current self against your past self. Take pride in areas of personal growth, and draw confidence from the many characteristics you have that contribute to your own happiness.
4) Frame Your Goals and Passions in the Positive: I have said it many times on this blog. Words matter. They change how we think about ourselves, our goals, and the world around us. No matter what else you do for yourself, please, please frame your goal(s) in the positive. Which of the following statements is more motivating?
- I’m going to lose weight. or I will achieve wellness.
- I’m going to get out of debt. or I will achieve financial freedom.
- I’m getting out of this dead end job. or I will start a career that excites me.
- I’m going to stop doing “X.” or I will do “Y.”
5) Write It Down: If you love to write, journal about it. If you prefer to think deeply about things in your head, that’s great. Do what works for you. Just make sure to keep notes about the most important details. Your notes – in whatever form you choose – will be good reminders to help you stay focused. They will prevent you from straying off the path later on. While these notes are less “official” than your personal 280 Day Challenge to be written later, they are the beginnings of a personal contract with yourself to understand who you are, recognize your dreams, and take the first exciting steps toward achieving them.
Are You Ready?
If you think about it, our babies – whatever they maybe – deserve so much more than a haphazard approach. More than a wish and a prayer. Important as they are, a New Year’s resolution is not enough when it is likely to be tossed aside in a matter of a few days or weeks.
It can be tempting to jump right into a challenge. Success is much more achievable with mindful consideration of the upcoming task – a little planning and time spent preparing ourselves and minimizing obstacles.
I invite you to spend the next few weeks, months, and maybe even years with me – dreaming, planning, and pursuing our goals together.
This is only the beginning!