30 days

What is with WordPress and all the demeaning comments it leaves you all over the place?  It begins on the title page of your blog with “just another WordPress blog”.  Then, after I post my 3rd post it gives me a big “honky dory”.  In essence I’m being told that if I don’t pay for their service I am relegated to exist in mediocrity, and therefore I should never feel great about what I have done on here.  Interesting marketing tactic.  Just a random observation.

Do you know who Neil Strauss is?  If you do, you probably just felt a connection of brotherhood that I mentioned his name.  If you don’t think you do, you actually most likely do by proxy unless you are over 40 years old.  Well, I once saw Strauss talk about this idea he picked up on called a 30-day challenge.

[Disclaimer:  If you just googled “Struass + 30 days” don’t give up on the idea just because of the first things that came up.  1) There’s more to it than that.  2) Don’t judge].

Essentially, the idea is that every 30 days you pick some area you want to improve, change, or just try.  Then stick to it for 30 days.  Ideally, this is something that is actually a difficult task.  It’s like a New Years resolution except since it’s only 30 days you trick your mind into “it’ll be over before you know it” and can actually follow through with it.  Also, since it’s short you can come up with really difficult things and do it.  The idea isn’t so much that after 30 days you’ll continue to do whatever it was you chose to attempt but rather the fact that you did it.  Accomplishing something difficult like that is a tremendous boost to your confidence.  Also it’s nice to accomplish things.  Of course this all has the by-product that once your 30 days is up you’re basically 2/3 of the way toward building a habit (6 weeks, right?).  So, you find that you’re a bit changed after all.

Oh, one more thing:  You’re not allowed to feel guilty about failing.  If you fail you just keep going like nothing happened.  Ideally your goal is obtainable but only barely so.  Also, “lose 5 pounds” isn’t a goal.  Nothing abstract like that.  The 30 day challenge is all about concrete goals.  (In the original version of the challenge day one was “strike up a conversation with 5 random people today.”)  You can divy up each day with an escalating task, or just stick to a 30 day general rule/goal.

Well, my September challenge was no snacks, sweet, or junk food.  I allowed myself a pass at work (henceforth called “school”) because I only eat half of the lunch every day and I’m usually famished enough to snack on something.  That something is usually in the form of a snack as it’s the only thing school has around.  I did pretty well on it.

I had no October challenge as I didn’t actually realize it was October until Halloween eve.

I have some co-workers that are English-capable.  Therefore, they tend to want to practice English with me as much as possible.  Also, my job happens to be teaching English.  So, I tend to use quite a bit of English over the course of my average day.  Furthermore, I love shows like True Blood, Dr. Who, Dexter etc., all of which are in English.  And video games.  Video games I can understand (read: in English).  I am also in the habit of reading books regularly, in English.

So, my goal for this month is to speak no English unless necessary (read: around other foreigners).  Again, I’m doing fairly well.  I use English occasionally with some of the co-workers that really don’t like it when I speak Japanese, and today I used it attempting to mitigate an oncoming storm of rage that might possibly touch down in my town tomorrow afternoon.  But, overall my amount of English spoken has drastically reduced and the amount of Japanese spoken has gone up a bit.  Good stuff.

This all brings me to next month’s goal and one of the best websites around if you are interested in learning a language.  You see, there’s this website called AJATT, which stands for All Japanese All The Time.  Check it out: http://www.alljapaneseallthetime.com/blog/  The idea is to immerse yourself in the target language completely.

So, next month I’m thinking about making 30 days of AJATT the goal.  I will allow myself an out of video games.  And my reading (hmm.. this needs a challenge, too) of Greek and Latin.  Those are key to my future so I can’t discard those (the Latin and Greek, not the video games).  But, all else would change.  Phone, Facebook etc all over to Japanese.  Daunting and inconvenient are the two words I can think of to describe the change, a third being beneficial.  Anyway, I have a few weeks to think about it but it seems like a good idea.

So, there it is.  Something I’m currently investing some time into thinking about and attempting.  It’s not much but I hate not feeling like I’m improved in some way on a daily basis.  Hopefully it gave someone else some good ideas about making a change or learning something.


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