Bright and shiny me
January 28, 2013 9:02 AM   Subscribe

Lets say you have 30 minutes a day for the next six months, and at the end of the six month period you have the vague goal of being an extra awesome, turned-up-to-eleven version of yourself. What types of things do you focus on? What skills/behaviours/changes to your life do you take on to achieve that goal? Big or small changes, it doesn't matter.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson to Grab Bag (23 answers total) 130 users marked this as a favorite
Run Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Work out Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Read Sunday.
posted by Etrigan at 9:09 AM on January 28, 2013 [11 favorites]

Go for a walk outside every day.

If this time is flexible, and you can instead have 3 or so hours every week, spend it volunteering with children.
posted by phunniemee at 9:10 AM on January 28, 2013

Yoga. Learn a language. Read.
posted by the foreground at 9:11 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Couch to 5k MWF, yoga Tues, Thursday. I did exactly this three years ago and have run about 3000 miles since then.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:15 AM on January 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:20 AM on January 28, 2013

I know this is so frequently recommended on AskMe that it's practically rote by now, but: develop a mindfulness meditation practice.

You don't have to do it for a straight 30 minutes every day, even 15 (or 10! or 5!) minutes in the morning and 15 in the evening will adjust and perhaps amplify your sense of self if you can make it a regular habit. It will help you recognize when your usual litanies of half-assed responses, excuses, and protestations have been needlessly activated; it will help you explore and map out the nooks, crannies, and mazes of your own mind, so you will start to learn when you are falling down familiar rabbit holes.

As you practice, mindfulness meditation should help allow you to break on through and simply accept the panic, tension, boredom, fear, anger, sadness, and joy as they come rather than projecting, anticipating, or assuming. Ideally, it will help you to react to situations with less impulsivity and more considered wisdom, leading to an overall increased sense of equanimity and peace that tends to self-replicate in a "pay it forward" kind of way. It will help teach you how to create a workable space between your actual self/reality and your thoughts, and to act with compassion and judiciousness whenever possible, which I have found to be the most important lessons I've learned in adulthood. And really, truly: All you have to do is sit, be quiet, and let go.
posted by divined by radio at 9:20 AM on January 28, 2013 [18 favorites]

Lift heavy weights. You'll gain strength, improve bone density, be able to move your own furniture, and look better.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:25 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yeah, meditate. It is like lifting weights for your brain. Though instead of lifting, you put things down for 30 minutes.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:27 AM on January 28, 2013 [7 favorites]

> Couch to 5k MWF, yoga Tues, Thursday.

This is my exact plan for the next few months. Now to just get off my ass...

I also agree with divined by radio. I'm lucky that my yoga instructor is a big proponent for mindfulness, so I'm hoping it will be a good way for me to add meditation to my day, too.

Take it one day at a time - big changes can be scary, but making your decisions daily are less daunting.
posted by jillithd at 9:27 AM on January 28, 2013

I love optimization questions like this. I totally think this way and I love plans and kits and so on. Just remember, it's fun to think about but you're extremely unlikely to adhere to any plan perfectly. Make sure to take it a bit lightly:)

I would say....
Day 1 - Running, on a trail in the woods if you can possibly manage to arrange it. A park would be good too. If you don't know how to run, C25K is indeed awesome and it made me a runner too. While you run, listen to an audiobook. There's value in running without being distracted, but listening to books while running is cool too. I would consider books that are: big and perspective changing (eg: Howard Zinn's "A People's History"), broadly educational (eg: Bill Bryson's "Short History of Nearly Everything") or mind-expanding (eg: Stanislaw Lem's "Solaris").
Day 2 - Mindfulness meditation. In a comment I made a few years ago I gave some basic advice on how to start, but by all means follow any advice that works for you. The most important thing is to recognize that any instructions are simply pointers; you get nothing out of "doing it right" or following instructions to a T. I'm always happy to talk about meditation, so feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Day 3 - Running, same story. Even if the weather is horrible. Stay inside only if it's actually too dangerous to be out or you are sick. This will probably be really uncomfortable some of the time. I find being uncomfortable in relatively controlled ways for short periods of time to be one of the fastest ways to grow.
Day 4 - Meditation again.
Day 5 - Running again.
Day 6 - Meditation again.
Day 7 - Go, alone, to a cafe. Bring a piece of paper and a pen. Order a treat, something you really enjoy. Eat it slowly. On your piece of paper, write down the things you are grateful for. It could be anything from "the sunlight on the table" to "my Grandmother" to "the fact that I left work 10 minutes early" - everything is fair game. I've been listing 1 thing I'm grateful for every day for more than a year now and it has been a really beautiful thing.
posted by Cygnet at 9:35 AM on January 28, 2013 [14 favorites]

I would not use it to work out, and that's because I consider working out essential, like eating and sleeping - it has to be done just about everyday and deserves a place of its own.

The best added practice I would say would be to spend 15 of the minutes preparing for the next day, reviewing any appointments or deadlines and thinking about how to get ready for them, and 15 minutes doing mindfulness meditation or walking meditation.
posted by Miko at 9:39 AM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

check out
It has helped me make changes, or maybe I just like lists
posted by ibakecake at 9:43 AM on January 28, 2013

Morning pages. Or heck, do the whole Artist's Way for twelve of the weeks.
posted by instamatic at 10:05 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

shiva nata
posted by spindrifter at 10:10 AM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

I will be watching this question, but I will say that I have begun sending small notes and postcards by mail to family and friends this year. I have a list of around 30 names and I'm making an effort to send something to each of them once every couple months at least. Email doesn't count. I'm really enjoying it so far. Restricting it to postcards makes it a LOT easier to just get off my ass and do it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:27 AM on January 28, 2013 [6 favorites]

An exercise routine is good, but it's also kind of a generic, "everyone should" goal. I personally would recommend practicing an art, craft, or skill that you are interested in and that will make you just a bit more "uniquer": that may be drawing, writing, quilting, or playing an instrument, or perhaps a kinetic artform that has some fitness benefits but where artistry or skill are the real focus. Think back over you life about the activities you may have enjoyed as a child or teen and have gotten away from in the hecticness of adult life. Or perhaps there is an art or craft that you always thought would be fun to learn.

I think one of the advantages of art/craft/skill over exercise (not to discredit exercise) is that if you practice for 6 months and get better at it, even if you then abandon it for a while (even a long while!) you will not lose all your progress. In contrast, there is something a little Sisyphean about exercise.
posted by drlith at 10:35 AM on January 28, 2013

30 minutes? is this all the free time you have in your day? if so, then daydreaming is good. i'm serious. micromanaging your life is not really a good idea for your mental health if that is what you are doing. studies have recently come out about daydreaming being necessary but i didn't read them because it seems rather obvious. make a glass of iced tea or whatever beverage you prefer, kick up your feet, put on some nice music and chilllll.
posted by wildflower at 11:46 AM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Write experimental fiction/poetry.
posted by twentyfoursummers at 11:48 AM on January 28, 2013

Focus on different dimensions of wellness each month. February is social, March is financial, April is occupational...Or different day of the week-Mondays are emotional, Tuesdays are physical. You could use the time to brainstorm how to be more well in these areas. I like the 8 dimensions but there are also 5, 6, or 7.
posted by Kitty Cornered at 12:05 PM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Coming back to say a bit more. I mentioned morning pages/the artist's way because if you don't already know *how* you want to change your life, this is the best way I know of to figure it out. It's rather like meditation, in that it gives you a set amount of time to be mindful and get to know yourself, but I found it more productive, in the "what the hell do I really want out of life, and how do I get there" way. It's not always fun or easy, but whenever I sit down to do it, I very quickly come to realizations about...well, anything. How to get more balance in my life, whether I should shift my career, what to plant in my garden, how to avoid having the Exact Same Fight with my spouse yet again. You name it.

Speaking of which, I wonder where I put my journal...
posted by instamatic at 1:34 PM on January 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

if you haven't started already, keep a journal. Find a favorite place in your house to read and read there once a day for at least an hour. If you have a couch you can lie full-out on, this will immediately do you wonders and make you an addict of this practice. I'd recommend reading books written or about people who are your heroes.

Start walking daily. I would suggest walking a half-hour daily, preferably between 6:30-7pm as the light is the finest, in my opinion.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:00 PM on January 28, 2013

Nthing the recommendation for meditation. You can't be good or bad at meditation. There is no good or bad. Just sit down quietly for a prescribed period of time a day (I personally set a timer, though on weekends I might just go until I feel done), close your eyes and try to quiet the mind. I would not aim for something like 30 minutes to start. Try for 5 minutes for a few days and go from there.

Lots of thoughts will come up. Try not to get stuck in a narrative with any of them. When a thought comes up, just label it as "thought" and let it float away. Keep trying to bring yourself back to focusing on your breathing. I concentrate on feeling the air on the tip of my nose - it is cold when I inhale and warm when I exhale. Don't try to control your breathing, just notice it.

I am a very visual person so I enjoy the Zen concept of envisioning that your mind is the sky, and that any thoughts that come up during meditation are just clouds. Let them float by, don't concentrate on them. Just focus on being expansive and empty.

Alternatively, 30 dedicated minutes a day of learning a language will you get a lot further than you could imagine.
posted by corn_bread at 9:05 AM on January 29, 2013

read the Bible. in its pages, it covers the beginning of time until the end of time. it'll make a big change for your life.
posted by dracomarca at 6:40 AM on February 1, 2013

« Older How am I supposed to feel about property lines?   |   Edgy mission statements from Gen-X-targeting 90's... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.