I want to try something new. Ideas?
September 14, 2011 10:25 AM   Subscribe

What's a good habit to challenge myself to pick up/lose over 30 days?

I just saw this TED Talk about challenging yourself to try something new over 30 days for self improvement and making the time pass by more interestingly.

I like the idea, but I'm curious about what's a good idea to do on it. Thinking for myself, I realize I could:
  • Write a program outside of class of some sort each day to develop my computer science skills
  • Start exercising daily in some form (I've wanted to start weight training, but can't seem to find a gym in my budget, but for now, I could start biking/jogging regularly and/or do bodyweight exercises)
  • Stick to an alternate diet, like ketosis/low carb or paleo, which I've been curious about trying. Hard, as I live with my family, but not impossible. I've tried vegetarian in the past over 30 day periods and I am ethically okay with eating meat. (Really not trying to derail over health/morals of meat)
  • Photo a day, as suggested in the video, if only because it'd encourage me to get out of the house more to take interesting pictures.
  • Teach myself the piano or another instrument with a certain amount of time devoted each day. Piano is more convenient as I have a decent keyboard in the house.
  • Restrict my internet usage. I don't watch much TV unless I need to watch something while doing something repetitive with my hands (knitting, cherry pitting, etc), but I definitely spend more time than I should online.
But I'd really like to hear other people's ideas. It's interesting to think about what might be cool, but I want to hear from other people's experiences what's fun to learn/is fulfilling or useful to have learned or what life is much better with or without.

For some context about my situation, I'm a 22 year old male part-time (for this semester) college student, with not much spare cash, but enough for the occasional $100 project. I commute to school from my family's home, and work part time. But I do have enough spare time for hobbies and leisure.
posted by mccarty.tim to Grab Bag (14 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Did you check out this question?
posted by restless_nomad at 10:26 AM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I like the idea of walking one's entire city in a set amount of time. There are some blogs about it, but I would just do it for myself. If I had the time.

You could combine it with the photography idea.
posted by headnsouth at 10:28 AM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh wow. I did not find that in search. Thanks, r_n!
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:29 AM on September 14, 2011

Just yesterday, actually, I (successfully!) finished the whole9 plan mentioned in the other thread. It was very interesting. I became much, much more aware of what I ate, and I lost 10 lbs over the month. However, it's fairly expensive to buy all the fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat that it recommends, and is a big pain for anyone you live with (my roommate was continually frustrated with me).

Regarding strength training, I recommend this bodyweight circuit workout. It has you do only exercises that you don't need equipment for and is brutal. Be sure to allow a day of rest in between workouts. It's 6 weeks rather than 4, but I bet you'd feel the gains even after just 4, if you really did want to stop then.
posted by losvedir at 10:48 AM on September 14, 2011

Please check out Habit Judo.

It essentially turns fulfilling habits into a video game with a random number based score system, much like an RPG. Instead of just integrating one habit, you can use this tool to integrate many new habits. It has been a great tool that has taught me how to do many different activities consistently.

Also, if you go the spreadsheet version, I have a modified Google Docs spreadsheet you might be interested in, with extra features I implemented to allow easier visual tracking of your statistics. Please message me if you are interested.
posted by mungaman at 10:57 AM on September 14, 2011

Flossing. Simple thing people manage not to find time for.

Just don't do it on the bus, please.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 11:17 AM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was also going to suggest flossing!

How about a project to make your work time more focused and productive, for example by using the Pomodoro Technique?
posted by medusa at 11:25 AM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Giving up personal pronouns is an interesting exercise. I stopped speaking at all for two weeks once. I'd do it again for a month or more, but my friends hated it.

If it's something of that general nature (something you shouldn't say/think/do), weara rubber band around your wrist and snap it when you screw up. It only hurts enough that operant conditioning kicks in, and it's inconspicuous so you're not self-flagellating at the grocery store.
posted by cmoj at 11:30 AM on September 14, 2011

Learn to build electronics? :) Start here: How to Build the CMoy Pocket Amplifier

Teach something you know to someone?

Work with kids?

If you're shy, greet everyone you meet?

And ... Exercise. First and foremost.

For me personally – it's all subjective – but for me, the daily exercise bit is by far the most important one. We cerebral types so desperately need exercise. Vigorous exercise pulls the crazy strangled miasma of abstract thought back into the body, back into the temple, and sockets it.
posted by krilli at 12:06 PM on September 14, 2011

Say to yourself 10 times every morning the following mantra:

"I deserve great things to happen to me. Its possible my dreams will come true."

I heard it off a Less Brown podcast. Hes an awesome motivational speaker.
posted by amazingstill at 1:04 PM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Fix your sleep schedule (ideally around 10p-6a usually) and get it in your head it's ironclad, with no more leeway than maybe midnight-8a on wild weekends for the most part. Like quitting routine caffeine, this takes patience and at least a weeklong window of time to fiz physically, not to mention the scheduling/emotional readjustment.
posted by ifjuly at 7:12 PM on September 14, 2011

You can check out Matt Cutts' blog entries tagged with the 30 day project.
posted by backwards guitar at 6:32 AM on September 15, 2011

Do a kind deed without being asked first and record it, along with how if affected your mood and how others reacted (if anyone was present) by the end of each day. Try not to repeat the same act of kindness, if at all possible.

(If you do this, please post it in Projects! I'd love to see how it goes.)
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:35 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I like your idea, Unicorn on the Cob. I'll post it on my tumblr and to projects after I get it going. I'll try to think up some rules for myself.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:11 AM on September 16, 2011

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