300 words a day for 30 days straight

And 3 life lessons that forever changed the way I live…

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As part of my self-improvement experiments, I took up the challenge of writing 300 words per day sometime in November 2019. The initial days were a struggle and there were many moments when I thought I wasn't cut out to write and that I should just give up.

I persisted anyway because I like to joke that I'm not naturally good at anything, I'm just unnaturally stubborn, and it would be a shame to not let my innate stubbornness shine through when I needed it the most.

Over the course of these last few months, I’ve made the 300 words per day ritual a part of my routine — always making sure to show up to write no matter what. Sickness, weekends and vacations were not permitted as acceptable reasons for not showing up — I really like to turn up the heat.

Looking back at how this experiment has turned out, I am extremely grateful for having tried it out. The journey has not only made me a better writer but also taught me things about life that I have always taken for granted — things that are now fundamental to how I live my life...

Right off the bat, I must say that to set a challenge to write 300 words a day from a place of writing 300 words a month was an insanely stretched out goal. A small voice inside my head even chuckled, “Good luck with that!” when I wrote it down in my journal as proof of my commitment.

When the first day of the challenge rolled in, I was staring at the keypad and the blank sheet I front of me thinking this was a dumb idea. The ticking of the clock seemed to mock me, almost getting louder with each passing second and my body was already restless from a long day’s work. Panic set in and I felt like I was going to explode, so I decided to write what I was feeling.

The first sentence I wrote was, “I can’t stand it anymore” which led to a long, long ‘stream of consciousness’ rant about my day and how I was losing my mind because of some work related issue. In a crazed state, I typed and typed and when I finally looked up at the clock it had only been 10 minutes and I’d already written 200 words. I kept at it and by the time I got to the end of whatever I was writing, I came up with an idea for an article which I finalised the next day.

If I had dallied and never sat down to write that day, I would never have come this far.

If I’d waited to feel ready, let’s face it, I would still be waiting — such waiting can last an entire lifetime if you let it.

The thing about life is your life lessons are delivered to you whether you’re ready or not, so don’t hold back on yourself just because you don’t ‘feel’ ready. Don’t wait for the road to be paved, start walking and your footsteps will form a trail.

The 300 words per day challenge required the investment of a decent amount of time each day. Some days I would need 30 minutes, other days I would need 60 and still not quite reach the 300 word mark. But the important thing was to show up and make an honest effort to reach the daily goal. This meant that I would have to free up my time and rearrange what was already filling up my days. I needed to make some sacrifices to free up 30 to 60 minutes each day. This seemed daunting and unreasonable at first, but there was something about the satisfying feeling of having met this goal each day that helped me sleep better. I’m not kidding.

Writing or at least winning the daily challenge soon became an obsession for me and I was willing to give up a few things for the sake of it. Some things had to be given up intentionally and other nonessential things fell away on their own without me noticing. Let me explain — I took an inventory of my time on one weekend to see what exactly I was getting up to each day after work and before starting work. I even looked at App usage stats on my phone to see what I was doing on my phone.

I realised with some horror that a staggering 30 mins a day were being spent on mindless browsing and YouTube video watching. It’s like going down a rabbit hole for me; I can start off googling book reviews and end up glued to the phone 2 hours later reading conspiracy theories about how John Titor prevented a nuclear war and we’re all living in a safe parallel universe. Giving up all of those things was a bit of a stretch so I just said I would write before I slacked off, I tried positioning these distractions as a reward for completing the challenge. It worked remarkably well. I realised that on days when I was too tired, I would make sure I wrote the 300 words but was happy to skip the reward in favour of catching up on some sleep.

That’s how priorities work, things will get done if you move them up the value chain and you’re sure of why the priorities are priorities.

Being deliberate goes a long way

I am no stranger to self-doubt, anxiety and risk-averseness. I had seen my friends publish article after article, book after book and make it all look easy. I never once thought I could come close to what they had. Oscillating between feelings of envy, fear and frustration, I finally decided to stop watching from the sidelines to step in and get things done. I decided to stop assuming that things others can do are out of my reach or out of my league and went out and did it. The results have left me pleasantly surprised.

This experiment has reinforced the notion that there is nothing that can’t be achieved without enthusiasm and grit. A little belief and lots of leverage is all that I’ll ever need to make the unattainable, attainable. There is a great deal of danger in defining what I’m capable of and what I’m not capable of. There’s a temptation to look at someone else’s story and say, “there’s no way that would ever work for me”, or, “They have plenty of time/money/resources...and I have nothing”.

The reality is that there’s a whole lot we don’t give ourselves credit for. There’s so much we have within us that lies dormant waiting for a challenging enough project to show up to rise up into conscious reality.

The key thing to remember is it’s always possible to raise your game even though the easier option would be to dismiss a goal as impossible.

No more of that sour grapes mentality — you’re more capable than you realise. You owe it to yourself to give things a chance no matter how seemingly low the odds are.

The important thing is to take the first step and then do it again and again and again until it feels natural.

Life is more malleable than it feels. Don’t let your dreams remain dreams — pull them into reality, one audacious experiment at a time.

Author of 'How to be a Lighthouse'. I write for those pursuing excellence and meaning.

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