In the name of Allah, most gracious and most merciful,
1. What Happened?
It is apparent that I have stopped writing posts about the challenge for a long while. The reason is simply that I failed. That has had a negative impact on me temporarily, especially since I was sharing the challenge on my blog. Failure seems to be a bad word. However, soon after that, I analyzed why I failed. I kept experimenting with many systems again, and again as usual until finally, I noticed a pattern. This pattern could be specific to me or could be general for a lot of people. So, here is a good thing, which is to understand what works for you, and what doesn’t work.
We all hear the many failures that big achievers faced. There is a quote that says “if you don’t fail, you are not even trying”. So yes, challenging myself for 40-days in a row is not an easy task, so I faced the probability of failure which actually happened. But at least it proves that I tried. Moreover, after reflecting on the reasons I failed I became to understand myself more, what worked for me and what doesn’t work for me. Hadn’t I challenged myself to do the 40-day challenge, I may have not yet monitored myself enough to produce a better system.
2. The Decision
Therefore, I thought, why not try again after understating myself? By analyzing my failures, I truly found patterns. So why not use these patterns to form a new better system. A system that avoids the pitfalls of all the previous systems. And that is what I did. I even experimented with this system for validation before embarrassing myself and taking another challenge that might fail because of unrealistic expectations or momentous emotional spikes.
But the difference is that I won’t write daily as I did before. Writing about the challenge really took much time from me, and I am really busy. So maybe just writing the last days of the challenge will be more convenient. I want to complete the 40 posts for that challenge.
3. Why I failed & Identifying New Principles
Here is a list of reasons that I think led to my failure, and the principles deduced to avoid failing again:
- Continuously changing systems. I changed systems too much because I was experimenting. Although those too many experiments helped me to understand my success and failure patterns, they weren’t a good thing to do if one is challenging himself. Yes, maybe minor weekly changes will be acceptable but more than that will break out the system. The key idea it too many system changes break the system which finally leads to no system.
- Not scheduling my time accurately enough. I didn’t specify what I will do in every period of the day. I have just put expectations and I hoped it work, although that was against the piece of advice I learned from the Deep Work book. When I don’t schedule my day to the minutes or at least to 15 minutes, I introduce randomness in the system, and thus the system became indeterministic. I could do that thing or that thing or that thing in that time or that time or that time. There was no defined time plan.
- Some of the systems I did were unrealistic or too exhausting which means that they won’t be sustainable. When I am completely exhausted, it is difficult to sustain the effort. However, by doing hard work and good work while having enough sleep and a good routine, then expect good results. The secret is that there is no secret. The shortcut is that there is no shortcut. Simply think critically, and do consistent actions daily even they were small. At the end they will build-up, and that’s it. Nothing extraordinary, and nothing fancy. Exploit your time wisely, prioritize your tasks, have goals, learn continuously, monitor your progress, change your environment, and keep evaluating and changing your actions gradually to the better until you reach what you want, and then look for your next milestone.
- I was in a hurry for a fast enormous change. Being in a hurry is not a good thing. Great achievements usually take time. It is a process, and not an event. Cooking a good meal takes time, building a great building takes time, working out to build a good body takes time, learning to master something takes time. Yes, that is the truth. Everything takes time. Why be in that hurry? Do you think that when you solve your problems you will have no problems? That is too far from the truth. When you finish your current problems, most probably you will face other kinds of more updated problems. And that’s it. The point is to focus on solving the problems you want to solve to hopefully get you the results you want. Choose the most important problems you want to tackle, plan for them accordingly, take consistent action, and don’t expect an overnight success. Remember that if you have a goal, then that implicitly means that you accept the problems that you will face in the journey of achieving it. So, depending on your goals, you will have different problems. When we want to achieve things superfast, we may end up seeking shortcuts that eventually leave us nowhere. Instead of bearing the hardships of the process to achieve the goals, we fake actions that make us appear as if we are moving towards our goals. But at the end of the day, action faking, and shortcuts won’t do you much good. The entrance barrier to shortcuts is small, while the entrance barrier of the real effort and road is big. Therefore, you may usually find more people in the shortcut paths and less people on the real road. Hence, the law of supply and demand. If there are too many action fakers, the demand on them will be too low. In short, good achievements take time, so be patient!
- Putting engagement as a goal in everything. Yes, engagement is truly important for good learning and for doing great work but sometimes you won’t be very engaged at the beginning. You could start to get engaged later after bearing the difficulties in the beginning. So may be a better approach is to put a high enough realistic threshold for engagement, like if I was not engaged after 30 minutes of starting my work or my learning session, then I have to stop and see what am I doing wrong to fix it until I become engaged. That seems more realistic, and more doable. Maybe sometimes I am in a bad mood, and want to have some good break or to do some workout to be engaged. So, if your mood is not good, try recharging your mood by doing good refreshing activities instead of sitting for hours trying to be engaged.
- My failure started with working around rules by trying to tweak them. Step by step, eventually I dropped a lot of rules, dropped the challenge, and stopped writing. To avoid this from happening again, I should put realistic long-term rules that I should never compromise during the challenge of course unless there is an emergency. These rules I should seek to make them habits by continuously applying them during the challenge period.
4. Success Patterns
Here is the list of things that I think if I did will make me highly engaged on average and have a good productive day
- Start your day early, sleep early, and wake up early
- Have enough sleep
- Schedule every minute or at most every 15 minutes of your day at least one day before it. Set down a good routine and just stick to it. Good results take time, so the key is to do small consistent correct actions.
- But keep in mind to be realistic in scheduling every minute of your day. Plan for realistic sustainable working hours, and have enough refreshing breaks.
- Have good refreshing breaks, and leave a room for your mind to relax in between difficult and demanding learning and working sessions to recharge yourself.
- Be patient, and think critically about how to do your job better and to learn far more effective.
- If you are not engaged for up to 30 minutes, then try to identify the reasons for this and take corrective action accordingly. If your mood is not good, try recharging your mood by doing good refreshing activities instead of sitting for hours trying to be engaged.
- Try to always learn in context. How whatever you are learning will be useful to you or to others? Try to convert any piece of information you consume to something more valuable by thinking critically about how you can use it to solve your problems or other problems. In short, learn in context, and solve problems. Do realistic projects, and see how what you are learning will fit into the big picture to solve even more advanced problems. Challenge yourself to be producer rather than just a consumer.
- Don’t change the system a lot. Stick to it at least for one week or one month to see how good it truly is provided that you are getting good results by sticking to it.
- Put realistic long-term rules that you should never compromise during the challenge unless there is an emergency. These rules I should seek to make them habits by continuously applying them during the challenge period so that they become habits after the challenge.
5. The New Challenge – Another 40-days + 1 Day
So here am I starting a new 41-day challenge, starting from the 7th of October 2022 until the 16th of November 2022. Why 41 days instead of 40? Because I missed a day in the previous 40-day challenge and said in one of the posts that I will substitute it by adding another day so that I will have a post for every day of the challenge.
As I said at the start of the article, I will write the last days of the challenge that I didn’t write about in the previous challenge. So there is a total of 7 days to be added to the challenge starting from day 35 which Insha’Allah I will write about on the 10th of November 2022 until the last day “the 41st” which will be on the 16th of November 2022.
Here are the general rules I must follow throughout the next 41-days challenge unless there is an emergency:
- Learn or apply useful skills related to my career and not direct tasks in my work (i.e., Non-work time) for at least 1 – 3 hours daily
- Check social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Telegram, and Email) at specific times per day unless necessary
- Try to be highly focused and engaged effectively and efficiently in my daily tasks using the techniques, tips, and tricks I know about (Time Management, how we Learn, and Self-control)
- Sleep early, and wake up early
- Plan every day ahead, and if my plan got out of control replan the left time of my day before starting to work
- I will try to follow most of the success rules I wrote about in this blog post
And that’s it. I hope that this new challenge will be more fruitful than the previous one, and I hope to build sustainable long-term habits.
Thank you. I hope this post has been beneficial to you. I would appreciate any comments if anyone needed more clarifications or if anyone has seen something wrong in what I have written in order to modify it, and I would also appreciate any possible enhancements or suggestions. We are humans, and errors are expected from us, but we could also minimize those errors by learning from our mistakes and by seeking to improve what we do.
Allah bless our master Muhammad and his family.