This week I am taking the HELL WEEK challenge from the book Hell Week: Seven Days to Be Your Best Self Now by Erik Bertrand Larssen that can be purchased on Amazon if you’d like to participate with me. I introduced the book, why I am taking the challenge and what I hope to achieve through the challenge in THIS POST. I hope some of you are going to join me in the challenge and have ordered your own copy of the book. You can grab it on Amazon if you have not already.
Before HELL WEEK can start, there are some preparations you have to do. This is laid out in the book and I want to share how I prepared for my HELL WEEK challenge that starts on Monday. I am so excited!
The preparations for the Hell week include 7 steps, each one with an action plan. I won’t go over every single one but just the ones that caused an emotional or experiential reaction in me.
Step One: Embrace adversity.
This is about how accepting and even enjoying adversity can help you get out of the most depressing life moments and situations. You can push through when things get really tough.
This was a very interesting chapter for me to read. Maybe because I haven’t really felt like I’ve had enough of adversity in my life. I mean, if I were to tell people all of my story about my childhood, about school and college, people would think that I’ve had plenty of adversity and they often wonder how I did so well. I’m not bothered or negatively influenced by the events of my childhood or my early adulthood now. However, when I look back I don’t see it as adversity or anything difficult. My story is just that, my story. It is just what I went through and it wasn’t anything major. I see most Americans having a much easier childhoods in terms of parents and schooling than some other countries, like Russia where I grew up. But I still loved my childhood. It was easy for ME. I understand that adversity means different things for every person. What might be considered adversity by one person is just everyday life for another. It is all about your perspective and what you are accustomed to I guess.
After reading this chapter, I feel like I am craving adversity. Maybe because I want to prove to myself that I can overcome anything, even if it’s self-inflicted. I often push myself to my limits because I think I crave that satisfaction of coming out on the other end a better, stronger person.
I make things more difficult than they have to be, better than they have to be, because it gives me satisfaction. My friends will be the first to tell me “Elena, just relax sometimes, don’t take on so much!” But I WANT IT!
So surely enough this chapter really resonated with me and made me get really excited for whole week. I am ready to be strong and to push through. I feel like I’ve gotten softer over the years because of lack of adversity. So I’m looking forward to introducing some of it back in. And figuring it out.
The Action Plan here is to take stock. Recognize your ups and downs in your life.
This is very hard for me because I haven’t really considered anything that has happened in my life as a down and have always done things based on what I thought was going to be best. So even those events that could be a down, I never saw as a negative.
I remember when the market crashed and it was really tough years ago but that made me just work harder.
I remember when I first realized that I didn’t want to be in my marriage anymore. That just made me rely more on friends and my activities and think harder and come up with a solution.
Step Two: Get mentally prepared.
This chapter didn’t resonate with me as much because it was talking about how most of our actions are and should be focused on emotion. I have spent my whole life making decisions based on logic rather than the emotions, even if the emotions are given consideration in the logical process. I strive for happiness which is essentially an emotion, however I make actions to achieve it using my logic.
I’m hoping that as I continue reading and working on this I will understand what he means when he says that all our actions are driven by emotions. I have a suspicion that he is simply talking to the majority of people whose actions are truly driven by emotion and are rarely overridden by logic. We will see. But as of right now I haven’t seen anything that applies to me in the action plan or the chapter since I seem to be doing all those things naturally as part of my personality.
Step Three: Strengthen the connection between mind and body.
“The discipline and mental clarity that comes from keeping your body in shape cannot be gained any other way than through regular exercise.”
“You cannot win on game day if you don’t win the other days as well.”
I love how this chapter talks about how exercise can change your mood. Mental preparation is going to influence physical preparation and physical preparation is going to influence mental preparation. The physical and the mental are incredibly interconnected. You can influence both of those with the other. Some of the ideas that Erik Bertrand Larssen brought in this chapter are very interesting and I’m going to have to reread it to really fully remember and apply it all.
I feel like lately I have done a pretty good job getting back on the exercising wagon and pushing myself more as well. But I think I’m still holding back a little bit. I still think that I pull back on the volleyball court. I need to push through and make myself do better than I do right now both on the court and at the gym. I think I can do it. For those who are not regularly exercising, you can learn to use your mind to push yourself through a work out and use the work out to push your mind.
Step Four: Gather Feedback
This preparation was a little bit more difficult and uncomfortable for me than other steps, as it will be for most people. Basically it involves gathering feedback from other people on what your strengths and weaknesses are and how you can improve.
I am already very critical of myself and I analyze everything that I do. I focus on how I come off all the time and try to change things that I think are wrong. Plus, I often ask her friends and people close to me to list some of the things that they think I need to improve. This was not an exercise that was new to me, however because of all the criticism that I regularly receive from myself and from people around me who truly know me, I felt like I didn’t want to get any additional feedback, because going into this I want to feel good about myself.
However, the necessity of pulling information from people that goes over your weaknesses is clear when you are trying to embark on a journey to change yourself for the better. I bit the bullet and I texted some people around me who I have not had that conversation with before or who I could trust to be completely direct and not worry about offending me. I asked what they thought my strengths and weaknesses were and what I could improve. The answers I got were in no way surprising, again because of the fact that I’m constantly analyzing myself and listening to other people’s criticism even though I may appear like I’m not listening. I am very sensitive to it in a way that I listen to it and try to analyze to see if it’s correct and try to make changes. Some of the things that I received during the feedback process that need to be changed were very spot on.
One of such feedback was that I stretch myself too thin and that I need to focus on what’s in front of me and not embark on new projects, which I feel is absolutely true. I just don’t know that I can exactly pare myself down at this point with everything that I have started. So I’m going to work hard to try and manage everything that I have and maybe delegate even more stuff like I have done to free up some time to focus on things. Or maybe it would be smart to take one thing at a time, focus on it, get it somewhere and then focus on the next thing.
Step Five: Define Goals
I am the queen of goals. My to do list is full of goals. That is how I keep my crazy life organized and that’s how I stay sane so this is not a difficult exercise for me. I really thrive on goals, so I made a list of my current goals that I have right now online, combined with the long-term goals I had already written in my wunderlist. Basically what the chapter has you do is figure out what’s truly important and what really needs to be at the top of your list.
Dream big. I think that in my case what really applies more is not dreaming big because that’s what I do on daily basis but dreaming small. I feel like I am so behind on everything that I can’t even get to the next step of all the big things that I have started and put into motion. My challenge for this whole week will be not getting into something that I haven’t been able to get to (which is truly nothing because I jump on everything) but to get myself to the point where I’m caught up enough and I can work on these big things on daily basis.
That might be my goal for this whole week. Something tells me I will do another whole week in a month or two with new goals in mind that are slightly bigger than this. This is the realist in me kicking in. I feel like it applies more to someone who has been brought down by everyday things and hasn’t been able to get to big goals versus my situation where I’ve always found the time to get to my big goals but I have neglected the everyday stuff that needs to be done because my priority has always been focused on the big things not the small things.
My goals are as follows:
- Spend more time with Lexi. That’s a consistent goal of mine that I’ve had from day one. It is a struggle to make that happen because of everything that is going on and has always gone on in my life. All the things that I have always taken on get in the way. I want to make being present a focus. I want to actively spend time with Lexi, come up with activities and do extraordinary things. I tried to start that with 52 weeks of experiences and it was a great idea and it works really well. We went through all the 52 weeks (even though I didn’t end up blogging about every single one of them). So I want to pick that up again and do something similar to that. I also would like to travel a lot more with her. I travel a lot by myself and a lot with her but I would like to focus on more travel with her. I need to pass on some solo travel opportunities.
- The next goal of mine is to catch up. Yes, that sounds like a very very small, short-term goal but in reality because of how behind I am (I have a to do list of 760 points on it), catching up is actually a very large goal, mostly unachievable, unless I take this whole week to take care of it. That will include catching up on emails, catching up on online everyday work, catching up on some scheduled work, reaching out to some contacts that I’ve meant to, and just crossing a lot of stuff of my to do list.
- My third goal is to go to Russia. There are a lot of steps that I’m required to do in order for me and Lexi to visit Russia, including renewing my passport which will require three different trips to Washington DC. There’re a lot of paperwork but I want to make that happen during the week if I can. No, wait. I can!
- My next goal is to purge. For the last 8 years I have lived in the 4000 square-foot house accumulating more stuff than one person needs. It has just added up. I want to clear it all out, sell and donate as much as possible. Not just because I’m moving from a 4000 square-foot house to a 1500 square-foot townhouse with just me and Lexi but also because I love organization and this has been driving me absolutely nuts and I’ve been able to do nothing about it.
- My last goal is to get my finances in order. Going from being married to being a single mom will require different planning, a different financial structure and a different savings structure. I would like to take the time to get it all together with my new financial goals in mind. It also helps that now I’m the only one who’s in charge of that, which will make it a lot easier and more streamlined.
In general, I am extremely excited about being able to catch up on all of these things that I’ve been wanting to do for a very very long time. I feel like I need this week. And I can definitely foresee doing this again and again and again every couple of months.
It’s funny because I had a conversation with my mom about it. As soon as I told her about the book (and she’s a 60 something-year-old woman) she loved it. She wants to do the challenge so bad with me. She feels like it is what she needs as well even though she doesn’t have that much going on her life. The concept just absolutely appealed to her. She is the same personality as me and we both strive to push ourselves to our limits.
Step Six: Visualization
This is a very interesting concept for me. Basically it involves visualizing yourself in the situation that is going to occur that makes you nervous, going over the situation in your head over and over and over and over again unless and until it is no longer unfamiliar to you. I’ve heard about a visualization before in the past but I’ve never felt like I had an application for it because all of my work is on the computer. I don’t need to instantly perform in front of people, I don’t need to be in front of crowds, until I started competing in volleyball tournaments. I have to say in the beginning when you are very nervous about your first few games, your nervousness has physical manifestations. You’re kind of weak in the knees and your heart races. I can definitely use the visualization technique and see how it works out. Very interesting.
If you are as excited about this challenge as I am, you can join me by buying the book on Amazon, and joining me on Instagram with the hashtag #hellweektaomab and the official #heelweekchallenge hashtag.