One Week Without: The Gameplan

Created with GIMP

The Problem

I’m tired, I don’t feel well in any general sense, and I’m seven steps beyond stressed out.  Don’t get me wrong, I love life, I have great friends who make it worthwhile, and I treasure the memories I make each and every day.  Still, I can’t help but feel that I’m doing something wrong.

I feel like I put all of my energy into trying to make enough money to sustain a lifestyle ripe with conveniences, simple pleasures, and fleeting desires.  At the end of the day, I can’t help but feel that all of the things I work for aren’t worth their weight in worry.  It’s time for a change.

Where I’m Coming From

I studied Human & Organizational Development, English & History at Vanderbilt University and read a great deal and wrote too many papers on what it means to live the good life.  I know that taking all things in moderation is the path to happiness, wholesomeness, and success, but in my own life I’ve struggled putting this into practice.

Though I graduated close to a year ago, try as I may, I haven’t been able to shake the lifestyle of late nights, little sleep and even less productivity.  I don’t eat well, don’t exercise, go to bed late, wake up even later, drink too much, and generally careen my way through life in search of cheap thrills, southern food, fleeting pleasures, and stories to tell another day.

The fact is, I never developed the good sense of self-discipline and restraint necessary to live a healthy life of moderation.  Though I could point fingers to events in my life which led me to this point (I’m looking at you, midwestern protestant upbringing), I’m tired of shifting blame and rationalizing my shortcomings.

The Path to the Solution

As a number of great books will tell you (see Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit), the small habits we form and keep throughout our lives, both good and bad, play a profound role in shaping our lives’ eventual direction.  This knowledge, coupled with a sincere desire to find, design, and live out the very best life possible, has led me to write this post, start this blog, and begin my journey towards a better, happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life.

So, in an effort to force learn self-discipline, I’ll be testing all of the habits, vices, and conveniences I’ve come to rely on, by eliminating them from my life entirely–for one week at a time.

The Goal

Through these experiments in isolated elimination, I’ll strive for a better understanding whatever it is I’m abstaining from, write about the experience of giving it up, and above all, try to come away from the process a few lessons closer to living the good life.

A Few Caveats

I have a long list of things I’m excited to cut out for a week, alcohol, meat, negativity, stress, media, just to name a few, and I’ll also eventually start taking suggestions or even opening it up to a vote.  I do have a job, however, so much as I might like to try it I can’t give up clothing or speaking for a week, though I hope to eventually use vacation days creatively.

Furthermore, the goal of this project is to isolate and study the things that I’m eliminating within the scope of normal, urban life (I live in Nashville, TN, by the way).  It would be one thing to show that you could become a hermit and live in the woods without any possessions, and quite another to show that you could live in LA without a car, NYC without a cell phone, or Seattle without coffee.

Lastly, I just want to put it out there that I am very, very far from perfect and I can all but guarantee that I will screw up from time to time.  If I haven’t made it clear already, I love a good whisky, a good steak and sleeping in until noon, that’s why I’m where I am in the first place.  What I can promise is that I will be honest about both my shortcomings and successes, and try to learn from them equally.

The Pitch

If you feel the same way that I do about this, I want to invite you to join me, in whatever way makes the most sense for you.  The comments section of this blog will remain an open forum for discussion, and as with any experiment, the bigger the subject population, the better.  Maybe you want to dive in and take these challenges on headlong, maybe you would prefer to read others’ experiences first and then try it yourself, whatever works best.

Each of us has our own weaknesses and strengths, some of the things that might be the most difficult for me to quit might be totally irrelevant to you.  If that’s the case, please feel free to substitute something that makes more sense for you.

All that I ask is that we remain respectful, kind, and courteous to one another at all times.  If any of us were perfect, we wouldn’t be here.  There are no rules and there is no book, we’re writing it together.

Comments

  1. says

    This is fabulous. Our lives are consumed by convenience and technology (as I sit at my desk typing this on my computer lol ). Changing the way we live our lives and getting rid of all of the things that clutter our mind will lead to a better life. There are too many membership cards, and passwords, and accounts for everything. Life is not meant to be so complicated. @happyhealthhope

  2. says

    I think this is a really interesting idea! I’ve tried it in different ways myself over the years (I once tried to give up alcohol, eating out, television and dating at the same time for 40 days) and failed miserably each time.

    I think a few reasons I failed is 1) I tried to do it all alone and didn’t clearly express to my friends and family how important it was, 2) I didn’t make it a priority, so I would give myself the “just this once” slip too often and 3) I tried to give up too much for too long.

    It seems that you have a much better grasp on the idea than I did, especially creating a blog with followers to hold you accountable. I also believe giving up one vice for one week at a time makes your goal much more realistic.

    Some advice – find a (productive) replacement for each vice you give up. It’s a lot harder to give up alcohol when you’re still going out to bars with your friends under the assumption you’ll be “strong enough to resist”. The energy spent resisting would be of better use elsewhere.

    Lots of luck to you! I think the idea is great :)

    • says

      Thanks so much for this Megan, it’s truly helpful! I too have tried giving up too much for too long and never succeeded, that’s why I’m limiting myself to one thing at a time for one week at a time. I think it’s the perfect amount of time to realistically give up something and watch its effect on the rest of your life.

      I really like your idea of finding productive replacements for each habit, at current I’ve been focusing on what I’m calling “active leisure,” doing things that I can grow through like reading, writing, exercising, etc, but I’m considering focusing on one or two replacements each week, we’ll see how it develops as it moves forward. Thanks again for following and for your wonderful advice, I look forward to more of it in the future! All the best to you and yours.

  3. says

    I love this idea! I do similar challenges on my website Cultivating Habits, only in 21 day stints. I used to only add positive habits in the hopes of overshadowing some of the negatives (for example, I took up the habit of reading every day to limit the amount of time I was spending on my computer). And then I decided to challenge myself further by seeing if I could give things up, like alcohol and sugar. Coffee is on my list, but I’m waiting for summer for that one! I love the idea of living simply and eliminating all the unnecessary distractions and habits that tend to accumulate without conscious thought. Good luck to you!