First challenge - Meditation: complete!
As promised, I started my meditation challenge with two 10-minute sessions. I started with the 10-day program with Headspace for iPhone. I did one session upon waking at 6:30am and another at bedtime around 10:30pm. So, how did it go?
To my surprise, it was enjoyable! I admit that I'm guilty of not taking it seriously for the first couple of sessions. I kept thinking to myself, "What in the WORLD am I doing right now? Am I serious?!" But I quickly shook off my doubts and excuses when I realized that it was incredibly relaxing. I also quickly realized one of my biggest mistakes: doing this right before bedtime was guaranteed to put me to sleep before finishing the session. In fact, I don't think I stayed awake past the 3- or 4-minute mark for the first few nights. For someone who routinely falls asleep in less than 5 minutes, this shouldn't have come as a shock.
I'll also confess that I did both sessions while laying in my bed for the entire 2-week duration. While that might not have been ideal, the level of relaxation I can achieve in bed is significantly higher than if I were sitting in a chair or on the floor. I'm uptight and composed for most of the day, so I unashamedly prefer to worm-out whenever any relaxing activity comes my way. Sue me! Wait, don't...I need that for my company...
Anyway, after moving back the night session to around 9:45, I was no longer in jeopardy of snoozing through my personal ponderfest. I won't lie and say that this challenge has revolutionized my life (an unrealistic goal for just 2 weeks), but I will gladly say that I've enjoyed this contemplative time. I started to look forward to the quietude and inactivity.
Future plans: I can't guarantee that I'll do this every day, but I can easily see "meditation" becoming an occasional activity throughout my week--especially when things get tough.
One of my favorite strategies is what I'll call the "gone strategy." I learned about it from Tools of Titans, which is the book that started this whole bi-weekly challenge thing. When a thought comes creeping into my quiet mental space, saying the word "gone" helps me drive it away. You can replace "gone" with anything, but the point is to recognize your thoughts as objects which can be manipulated and controlled by you. This turned out to be a crucial step in calming my mind down during the first few minutes of each session.
Second Challenge: (Not) Being Busy
For this week, I want to share a quote without a challenge. I chose to do this principally because 1 - these next two weeks are full to the brim with things to do and 2 - it's something I already do and feel is crucial.
"If you consistently feel the counterproductive need for volume and doing lots of stuff, put these on a Post-it note: Being busy is a form of laziness--lazy thinking and indiscriminate action. Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions."
In addition to lots of great quotes and information about meditation, Tools of Titans frequently talks about the importance of choosing one's work and social activities carefully by saying "no" to things that are extraneous, wasteful, or just simply things you don't really want to do. This is the end of being busy.
I'm already a king of "NO." In fact, saying "no" is so mindlessly easy and reflexive to me now that I might need an intervention in the opposite direction! There are plenty of people in my life who can tell you the negative side of this. Family, friends, coworkers...they all know that getting me to do something can be harder than achieving nirvana (which my 2-week meditation challenge failed to accomplish).
That said, I want to momentarily speak in defense of it. After all, it's the theme of this post!
Historically, my "no"s were based more on financial concerns than time constraints. After all, I didn't move to China, travel Europe for 3 months, or save up enough cash to start a company by letting money seep through the cracks. I was poor before I was busy!
Time, Not Just Money
When it comes to planning, it's easy to place the focus squarely on the financial aspects. However, that's only part of the story. While I'm still heavily focused on keeping my dollars bottled up, time constraints are always another rival vying for my consideration. As such, I could just as easily rewrite the sentence above to say, "After all, I didn't move to China, travel Europe for 3 months, or save up enough cash to start a company by letting my time seep through the cracks."
Using my time wisely has always been just as important as how I manage my money. Life throws lots of things your way. Work, school, parties, dinners, conferences, birthdays, meetings, exercise, leisure, financial troubles, invitations, complicated relationships, medical bills, and on and on. Most of these take money, but all of them take time. So, like my money, I guard my time with unforgiving efficiency. It's a must.
Not only am I doing whatever building my company directly entails, but I'm also studying Chinese, reviewing Japanese and Spanish, helping my mom fix up her house to sell, traveling, and taking classes on finance, importing, photoshop, marketing, web design and Excel (just to name a few). These may appear disparate to you, but all of them (apart from fixing up the house) are part of a much longer-term plan related to international business. Only by paring my schedule down to its essential components have I been able to push my plan forward this quickly.
Too busy? Not exactly...
This brings me back to my main point. While I reflectively say, "I've been sooo busy lately," I very rarely feel it. My days are occupied productively, my mind is constantly stimulated, and I'm still happily doing what I want. I wouldn't say my day is "busy" as much as I would say it's "full."
Eliminate distractions and choose your tasks wisely. Each person will have a different strategy to accomplish this. I like to bust my butt--focusing solely on work--until it's time to travel and let loose. Maybe my feast-and-famine mentality is wholly unsuitable for you. Nonetheless, I think everyone who has goals should purposefully think up a realistic yet effective way to balance those goals with everything else. Don't be "lazy" by saying yes to everything; be "active" by choosing those things that really matter to you. Don't have a busy schedule; have a full schedule!
Curious about how I do it? Thinking, "Don't you also want to live life a little?!" See my next post to find out where my energy reserves come from, how I stay focused, and how I manage to always be positive and happy through it all!
Also check out my new post, Challenge 3 - Articulating My Life Plan, to see the results of Challenge 2!