Archive for the ‘Challenge Result’ Tag

3 Reasons to Complete Personal Challenges

GoalsWhat I like best about assigning yourself challenges is:

1) They are a surprising learning opportunity

Changing your habits of TV/Exercise/Sleep/Cleaning/e.t.c., sheds a big light on your relationship with those habits. If you want to know how you use the letter “b” in your writing, try using the letter twice as much or try writing without it. If you want to know the impact that TV has on your life, try giving it up.

2) They are a gateway to continued good habits

When you exercise everyday for one month. It is almost effortless to exercise a several times a week the following month.

3) They teach you how to integrate good habits into your life

Logistics are a big stumbling block to adopting good habits. For example, sometimes the hardest part of exercising is figuring out when to do it, where to shower, how to pack a bag, and how to handle laundry. When you force yourself to exercise, you also force yourself to solve and practice all the logistics involved.


Challenge #9: Now We Never Need to Clean Again?

[Need to Clean]Wow, I was naive about this clean for a week challenge! I did use my egg timer. I did do good things. However, the time spent cleaning made such a tiny dent in the things that I wanted to address.

After this week, I have a better understanding of the problem, which is this: There is maintenance cleaning and there is deep cleaning.

Maintenance Cleaning
Maintenance cleaning is the laundry, dishwashing, incoming mail, vacuuming, garbage, and recycling. Yet, all this stuff can easily take up those 15 minutes a day. So, after following this challenge for a week (or a month, or a year), you are no closer to where you want to be. The original challenge wasn’t supposed to be about this stuff.

Deep Cleaning
Deep cleaning means dealing with all that stuff in your various junk drawers, all that stuff in piles or boxes, all that stuff that you don’t know what to do with. After you take care of this stuff, your life becomes simpler and happier. The physical clutter is hidden in the back of a closet is manifested as clutter that you carry in the back of your head.

Updated Challenge
I am extending this challenge for two more weeks and I am adding a new rule. The new rule is that you have to spend at least half of your time doing non-maintenance cleaning.

Remember, organizing isn’t import because it helps you find your stuff. Organizing is important because it helps you find your peace. (I just made that up. It sounds famous. Doesn’t it?)

Completing Challenge #8: Learn to Play a New Song

A GuitarThis musical challenge has a surprise ending, just like the “I see dead people” movie and the “guy crying in the bathtub” movie. To compete this challenge you need to perform the song that you just learned this week for someone else.

If you need chord charts or lyrics for the performance, I suppose that is OK. If you are really dreading this, your alternate option is to perform this song for yourself by making a recording of it.

Me? I’ll be playing a Damien Rice song for my fiancee. I don’t like performing, but I am crazy about her.

Result for Challenge #5: Week with No TV

Turn Off the TV One problem I find with my bad habits is that they are often strongly associated with other environmental factors. When I eat dinner on the couch, I always turn on the TV. So, the only hard part of this past week was trying to break that association.

I know lots of people who have quit smoking, and they have the most trouble in the environments that they associate with smoking. Perhaps when they get in the car there is a trigger to light up. You also see this all the time in bars. I bet there are millions of smokers who failed an attempt to quit while they were at a bar, because they associate, too strongly, smoking with bars and drinking.

I completed this challenge and tonight I watched TV for the first time in ten days. I watched a new episode of Mythbusters on Tivo (while eating dinner, of course).

Result for Challenge #4: Teach Your Dog “Take It” and “Drop It”

Dog with Bone I have seen real progress with my dog. So, I have decided to end this challenge.

It is a refreshing change to see her instantly and cheerfully stop a game of tug of war, with the words, “Drop it”. Giving her a treat and then continuing the game is one effective way to reward this good behavior.

Remember the rules of tug of war with your dog:

  1. You are the one who starts the game.
  2. You are the one who ends the game.
  3. You win every time (or almost every time).

If you are not winning at tug-of-war, then you are in serious danger of promoting dominance and aggression in your dog. Your dog must be crystal clear that you are the leader and you are in charge.

Result for Challenge #6: Photography Weekend


This challenge was aimed at novices, because I too am one.

Based on some things I read this weekend, here is my interpretation of the the process that a savvy photographer with a average (or better) analog camera might follow:


  • A given light level,
  • A given film ISO (the films sensitivity to light)
  • A desired depth of field (e.g. Is everything in focus or just the foreground/middle/background?)

The analog photographer will choose:

  • An aperture setting
  • An exposure duration that must be calculated by the photographer or the camera

Because this challenge targeted novices with average (or worse) digital cameras, much of this process is quite different. For an average digital camera:

  • There is no film and therefore no ISO value to be concerned with.
  • The camera is reasonably smart about deciding the exposure duration based on the lighting.
  • The depth of field is always (impressively) wide. Which is very nice, until you decide you don’t want it.

Another piece of advice that I figured out on my own is this: Don’t let your digital camera decide if you need a flash.

  • Digital camera are very good at capturing existing light in an average indoor setting, and using the flash indoors drowns out this surrounding warm natural three-dimensional light. So, consider turning your flash OFF indoors, but be sure to hold your camera steady while you take pictures.
  • While outdoors, considering turning your flash ON. When your nearby subject is surrounded by a lot of bright sky and bright background, your subject could use an extra bit of oomph to stand out. Your flash can provide exactly this.

I completed the challenge, and I took many experimental and many bad pictures. I accidentally left my camera behind for much of the weekend. So, I got a late start and even resorted to using my phone’s camera. Here are some of my pictures:

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Book Review: Improv Wisdom

As previously challenged, I have created my first-ever book review. (I assume that junior high school book reports don’t count.) The following is now on Amazon.

(2 stars) A great idea with a trite implementation

I love improv, and my short time learning and performing it has taught me much about how to live life adventurously.

I was expecting this book to have the following promising premise:
1) Here is a concept from improv.
2) Here is how this concept applies to creating great improv.
3) Here is how to apply this concept to your everyday life to make it more exciting/rewarding/entertaining/fulfilling.
Unfortunately, this book didn’t have this premise. At least most of the book didn’t. A couple chapters almost followed this format, and half of these chapters half worked.

Many of the chapters had no discernible or explained connection with improv at all. For example, one chapter covered saying “thank you” to people, but never explained what this has to do with improv. Many other chapters make long nonsensical segues into topics like meditation or Japanese tea parties.

My favorite lesson from the book is this: Saying yes is an act of courage and optimism. That is where the book started and, unfortunatly, it rapidly went downhill after that.

My advice:
1) Be suspicious of the abundance of five-star reviews. A number of them feel like ‘astroturfing’ to me.
2) Find a (free) local improv group/workshop that practices together every week. This is the best way to gain improv’s wisdom.

This happened to be the most recent book that I was reading. It happened to fit into this blog’s theme of challenge, but it happened to be for a book that I didn’t care for. Oh well. I’ll be sure to highlight some favorites for my next few reviews!