If you try and make a graphic sketch of all the months in your life, you will quickly come to realize that one month is a very short time frame. Perception changes dramatically when you see small and insignificant squares aligned next to one another, but for the purpose of this article that’s exactly where I want you to be.
On the other side of the spectrum though, when you look across the trajectory of a person’s life, nothing is being measured by the same units. Years of studying in exchange of a better prospect, relationships that take time to build, and a whole eternity spent on autopilot doing mundane tasks hoping to move your life’s needle in some direction.
Regardless of your long term planning being a nicely built castle on the shore, life is a never ending current occasionally messing things up. And it is this experience which gave you the never resting skepticism when it comes to starting something new.
If you have a strong foundation and stones instead of sandy walls, starting to build extra towers seems doable. If not, you will make a muddy mess trying to switch between preserving what you have, and the ambition to apply for new building permits.
And here is where I ask of you to once again take a look at the same graphic sketch (courtesy of Wait But Why). You don’t even have to scroll up, let me…
What if I tell you that one month – the short insignificant time frame mapped on the chart – is enough for you to build a new tower unit?
Grab your Lego pieces and let’s go.
Wait… Didn’t we try to build a castle mads out of sand? I just brought my scooper along.
Well screw that. Sand is where dogs go out to piss and poop. And you don’t want to build your life foundation out of dog poop, now do you?
Accomplishing something in less than a month
Whenever I try to set myself up with a time consuming goal, there is this déjà vu moment reminding me of past failures. All of the sudden I become irrationally fearful, and impotently angry. The long haul, as much as it can represent possibility, knows how to discourage significantly.
After all, there must be a reason why people chose to follow a seven day diet plan and a month long workout schedule, instead of a yearlong transformation. Commitment to an ongoing process scares the life out of us.
Think about it – when you started college, you hardly had a clue of what 4 years mean. You had the intellectual capacity to understand such a timeframe, but not the life experience to envision it vividly. Were you to make a decision all over again, it certainly wouldn’t be an easy one to make.
The same holds true when it comes to your love life. And while you are probably saying right now that you’d repeat everything ten times over, if that’s what it takes, know how easy it is to say that when knowing the outcome. One of the reasons you invested your energy so carelessly is because you didn’t have a way to predict the time it usually takes to build a strong and fulfilling relationship.
The same holds true when we are talking about your best buddies. There is a reason why nobody after age 30 is eagerly investing his time building one friendship after another.
But what if I repeat myself as a broken record and tell you again that much can be achieved in less than a month? What if you can slightly suppress doubt, and see where you end up after one month of reading this?
Let us start with the easy ones…
Learn a language
Whereas language learning usually took years in the past, it takes months now. Ever refining technology and ever refining methods made Duolingo a very powerful tool that allows you to learn languages for free. I’m on my second week of Spanish y Yo como nuevas palabras para el desayuno.
What I especially love about the process is that it merely takes 15minutes out of your day. An easy investment to make when you can squeeze it between launch and an after work nap.
And while one month won’t make you fluent in any language, you will have a very strong foundation, and understand roughly around 20 percent of it. Detaching from myself for few seconds, I instantly see this to be a very intelligent trade off.
To surmise what learning a language does to your brain, I will need to write a separate article far surpassing the length of this one.
Rearrange your neurons and change patterns of thinking and behavior
Meditation, I’ve learned, is the fastest way towards neuroplasticity. Many studies show that after just few weeks, your daily practice starts to build new pathways within your neocortex. All it takes is you sitting down for 10 or 15 minutes each day, resting in silence.
I’ve been using meditation app Headspace for a year now, and it changed the way in which I relate to many of my thoughts and emotions, reflexes, and feelings.
So what do you get in exchange for one month of your time?
Increased awareness, significantly more relaxed mind that is less reactive and quite more perceptive; and of course constructive ways to experience anger, anxiety, and a range of unpleasant emotions, while staying focused and calm.
It is possibly the habit of a lifetime; and quite possibly one that will last for several years. Though you will be surprised how many of the benefits can be felt after only one month.
And not only to the extent of knowing how each piece moves across the board. Using programs like the Chessmaster, you will learn a number of openings, strategies, the complexity of different tactics, as well as the power of each piece by going through dozens of drills each week.
In less than a month, you will be able to take on any opponent and play a decent game of chess. Considering the trade off, it is immensely satisfying.
Learn how to dance by losing 20 pounds throughout the process
My fiancée went through one month of dancing routines in hopes to lose some inches around her waist. She completed the new Cize workout from Beachbody, and wrote this massive and hilarious Cize review. Not only that she managed to lose weight and tone her body, she also had a ton of fun and learned a lot of attractive moves as well.
It all took less than a month.
So for all of you out there, who are still doing the math, know that one month can become a truly transformative period. Paraphrasing her words, she managed to discover a new hobby, meet her fitness goals, as well as increase coordination and store in memory an arsenal of cool moves for fun.
Become a fitness god
It’s been more than two years since I’ve completed the Asylum. A workout program designed to test your limits and transform you into a… Well, I don’t have a word for what it does.
You will enter this madness literally sweating buckets, but come out all ripped and strong the other way. Guess what, the tradeoff is once again less than a month.
And here is the tradeoff- for one month of torture, you will be able to dramatically improve every aspect of your physical capability including but not limited to strength, speed, cardio endurance, agility, flexibility and coordination.
Learn how to code
Even knowing how to read code can significantly increase your employment opportunities. In some verticals, it can open broad horizons and ensure professional progress far beyond what your code-illiterate buddies can achieve.
But the read-only skill is a given after only one week of dabbling with coding tutorials. In a month or so, you can even learn how to put together something tangible and functional on the outside.
The possibilities are endless. Coding might not only improve your professional profile, but speed up thinking patterns in totally unrelated verticals. Would you say that’s worth a month of your time?
Create a massive following
YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… Becoming part of our lives, we slowly learn ways on how to make our voice resonate with a stronger echo. What if I tell you that with a little know how and continuous dedication for less than a month you might be able to gather a strong following?
There are many creative ways in which you can spread your voice, and given the tools that we nowadays have in our pockets you will soon discover a new reality once you start trying enough. A reality in which people will listen if you are diligent enough to refine your voice and build your reach day after day.
Opening up a YouTube channel takes less than half an hour. Invest the same amount of time each day, and you can be producing content viewed by millions. Narration on Fiver is 5$ per 150 words, and graphic design is cheaper than ever if you outsource… Structure your content and start broadcasting.
This site averages 100,000 visitors per month, and it took only a couple of hours per week during the first year.
Your sleep patterns, your wake-up schedule, your caloric intake, the number of steps you take while commuting… Measuring some aspect of your life can give you a unique perspective on yourself.
If you are not prone to OCD then this can be the biggest resource on self-adjustment. Measure, and map one area of your life during the course of a month. You will be surprised or quite possibly terrified with the results.
The tradeoff? This can invite massive change into your life, and dramatically increased self-awareness.
Read a book, one book
This is easy, right? Well, not so much if you don’t frame the task properly.
When you put in front of you the equation of reading one book per month, it instantly sounds irresistible. That’s 12 books per year that might have a huge influence over your life.
But if you don’t use this framing technique, it is simply “reading a book”. Try and tell me how many books you’ll read in a year with such an enticing task.
Think of it like this- when you add “per month” or “in one month”, the task in front of you instantly loses in perceived complexity and will-power needed to complete it.
Start a blog
Similar to the one above, this can be a very liberating journey. My fiancée and I are preparing a course and we plan to teach middle school kids on the importance of having a personal website.
What’s the purpose and the topic of the website? That’s the good news, it’s up to you.
It turns out that when you create a log of some kind, one that ties together with something that you love or simply chosen to do in life, the likelihood of doing it better increases a lot.
When people start a blog about cooking, their recipe list and cooking skills tend to grow by a factor of ten. Same goes for someone who starts a photography blog as well.
After a month you end up with enough knowledge to run a WordPress site, use a palate of plugins, and have a vague understanding of the ins and outs of generating traffic, social media, as well as inbound marketing- skills increasingly important in today’s world regardless of your profession and industry.
It may also propel you in many other verticals as well.
Freelance gigs, every few months, have a way of increasing by a huge margin.
It’s like a never ending demand regardless of supply. My cousin started to dabble with Adobe Photoshop a year ago, and she is now earning 5 digits per year working from home.
If nothing else, this can become a very satisfying pastime.
I played with Paint long enough to learn that my fiancée loves a silly cartoon whenever I send her one. You never know the application of this skill.
For reference check sites like Lynda.com and start building your knowledge from the bottom. Much can be achieved in a single month.
Cook something new each day
This is pretty much self-explanatory, and drifts slowly into “100 ways not to be bored” territory.
But much of it is purely pragmatic.
Whether you are alone, live with your partner, or have kids to look after, this will enrich your life judging by many parameters. Health, comfort, fun, curiosity, skill… 30 days can build into a newly discovered talent, or at least a rich arsenal of recipes for showing off.
This technique is nothing short of revolutionary. Many gurus in the personal development niche speak highly of it, and many productivity junkies swear by it as well.
The basic premise is simple enough to be explained within a sentence.
You set the timer and try to perform without interruption whatever it is that you’ve previously set as a goal.
If I had to write this article without much distraction creeping in, I’d set a pomodoro session of 15 minutes and write without interruption. As soon as the timer hits zero, I’ll rest for a couple of minutes, depending on circumstances, and start all over again.
The power of the technique lies in the fact that you program your mind to work and perform without interruption within the given time frame. Practiced long enough, it will strengthen your focus and improve the quality and quantity of work you can deliver in a single breath.
Practiced for a month it can teach you to become ruthlessly efficient, and never drawn close to the pitfall that is work for work’s sake.
How is this something that you can learn? Sounds weird right?
Let me elaborate…
Journaling, what I’ve been doing daily for the last year and a half, usually takes up to 5 minutes of your time. But here is the rub- if you train yourself to do it for a month, you will quickly discover how brutally honest your voice becomes when speaking inwards.
Most of the time, we fool ourselves regardless whether it is about feelings, emotions, or the real reason behind our actions. Journaling outranks other methods of self-examination nine ways to Sunday.
Adopting this technique for about a month will make you ever more perceptive and increasingly self-aware.
Do 100 push-ups
Back to the fitness department.
Lesson one, compound growth.
Here is a challenge I particularly enjoyed- stop doing whatever it is that you do now and try to make as many push-ups as you can. Take your phone or a piece of paper and write down the number.
Tomorrow comes, and you will try to do half as many, rest for a minute and repeat that twice. You will rest for additional two or three minutes and do another set till failure.
Do this for a month, and tell me how far you managed to go. It’s not a lot to have in the bragging department, but I think it is nice to know that you can drop down and wipe out a flat 100. Your body will thank you as well, especially given the time frame and what takes less than 10 minutes per day.
You can do this same thing with pull-ups, and arrive to an enviable number. Cannot do a single one? Here is a hint- focus on the eccentric motion, or negative part of the pull-up. Go up with a jump, and try to move slowly down. You will be doing proper pull-ups within days.
Spend a month abroad
If you are a US citizen, you are likely to land somewhere within the 5% wealthiest people on planet Earth. Much the same is increasingly true for western Europeans.
But when it comes to traveling you will soon come to realize that most adventures don’t require a fat paycheck, or an expensive hotel resort.
My fiancée and I went to Paris, stayed there 15 days, and spend close to 1500$.
And when you consider companies like AirBnB, Booking, and cheap flight services, you end up deleting your previously conjured images about how much traveling costs, and return to the drawing board once again.
We had an amazing time there, managed to see big parts of the city, visited Disneyland and had a blast, and fell in love with the architecture.
But something else happens when you spend time in a foreign land. You get to learn a different culture simply by observing. There is much information hidden within each movement of a pedestrian, each gesture of a cashier, the way people act while on a crowded bus station, and the way different demographics dress…
Observing the city while immersed completely in it gives you a lesson in foreign culture you cannot learn elsewhere.
Two of my friends visited Tokyo and wrote an article describing this experience. 20 days – my friend says – 20 days is all you need in order to soak yourself in the taste of a city, and bring that with you on the way back.
Get up early
Each day, try to set the alarm one or two minutes earlier depending on your goal. It is not a huge step to take, and certainly not one that will have you look like you’ve come straight out of a Walking Dead audition.
You have one month, which translates into 30 or 60 minutes of extra morning time. The transition would be gradual and hardly noticeable, but the habit long-lasting and strong.
If you have the alarm next to you, within an arm’s reach, you are up to no good from the start though. Begin by placing your phone far away from your bed, so you have to get up in order to hit the button.
Do a good deed for someone every day for a month
This already starts to sound cliché and boring, but we are almost at the very end of this list.
The routine is simple, yet the outcome hard to predict.
You cannot tell for sure where doing good might take you, and in what way it will influence your personality and life in general.
Apart from the obvious feel-good infusion after each deed, you might end up re-examining aspects of your life and discovering new paths along the way. The great thing is that the entirety of this journey will happen within no more than a month.
Learn and become passionate about something new
You never know when a pile of information can significantly influence the course of your life. Most of what you love doing today began by innocently following a thin cord of interesting facts, amusing details, or entertaining websites…
For many people this is also the trajectory of how they started bringing bread on the table as well.
True love towards something starts with passion, but in order to have passion you need to put enough time into whatever it is you are falling in love with.
I learned about meditation while watching Ted videos; read about Dualingo while flipping through articles by Tim Ferriss; found out about fitness programs flipping through Fitness blogs.
Here is the challenge- learn about something new, and try to delve deeper before one month comes to an end. More often than not you will find yourself deeply enamored in less than a week or so.
Learn about concepts; get curious and passionate about different topics. You will appreciate this later when there is something particularly moving that stays with you. I love to read about artificial intelligence, and I equally enjoy movies that touch on the topic, but in order to get there I flipped through volumes of info some of which slightly boring. Don’t give up on developing interests- pursue them; give them a month. You will end up with more and more things that make you feel alive.
This list albeit put together in a hurry, hopefully reflects the endless possibilities one can open up in front of him after deciding to trade one month in exchange for what can easily become a significant transformation.
The best aspect of it all is that most of what is required of you is almost, if not entirely, done on autopilot and takes between 10 and 15 minutes depending of the goal. This is the bare minimum and long enough to take you places you previously thought were out of reach.
Wrapping this long rant of mine, I’m once again leaving you with the picture that has a serious impact on perception. Oh, and do tell – what do you want to achieve in a month? Is it from this list or something else entirely? Tell you what – just write it down below, and come back after a month to check on your progress.