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Personal Challenges

The 30-Day Challenge: Waking Up At 6 AM

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wake up productiveI’m always looking to better myself and get out of my comfort zone. Sleep is one comfort I strongly hold onto in the morning.

The sheets are so warm and my inner-self tells me, “Sleep a little more, the day can wait.”

I’ve currently been waking up around 6:40am each weekday for my full-time job, and anywhere from 9 to 11am on Saturday and Sunday. However, I want to stretch myself further and be more productive during the week and weekend.

So, I decided to take on a 30-day challenge (starting today, June 22nd) to wake up at 6am each day. And my strategy for accomplishing this goal is to publicly declare it, and then honestly report my progress. I believe a little social pressure can go a far way in staying committed.

Why do I want to wake up earlier when my bed can feel so good?

Many Successful People Are Early Risers

Through what I’ve read, there is an association between waking up early and being successful. Major advantages of waking earlier, among others, include…

  • productivity. The early morning is best for an uninterrupted, distraction-free time to focus. You can complete one to two hours of activities while your house and time-zone is sleeping (talk about getting an edge). Also, you achieve a quick win—when you ignore the part of you that wants to roll over and go back to bed—to propel your momentum to greater wins throughout the day. You’ll feel and act like a man or woman on a mission with complete control.
  • organization and goal-setting. Before the craziness of classes or work, early risers have extra time to organize and plan ahead. This will save you the stress and anxiety that disorganization brings.
  • more restorative sleep. Going to bed earlier and waking up sooner will coordinate your body’s natural clock with planet earth’s circadian rhythms. Just trust the sleep experts on this one. I also read that sleep is similar to eating: Our body usually wants more than it actually needs.
  • health and fitness. You’ll have time for a morning workout that will leave you feeling happy and empowered. Let those endorphins do their magic to protect you from stress the rest of the day, and improve your interactions with friends and family.
  • more time living. If you spend less time sleeping, you naturally have more time in your day to be productive, relax, build relationships, have fun, and entertain hobbies. While this argument has its limitations, it works on a basic level.

Regulations

Any official challenge needs rules, and I’m taking this serious. So, these are the regulations for The 30-Day Challenge: Waking Up At 6 AM.

1. I have to go all in on this challenge for maximum growth. That means I’m including weekends in the 6am regime. So, it’s out of bed at 6 every single day for a month.

2. I’ll daily record my results in a planner. Then I will tally the results and publish a blog post about my performance and what I learned biweekly.

3. There will be no quitting of the challenge, even if I fail one day and sleep past 6.

My end-goal is to form a habit of waking up at 6am (or maybe improve to 5am in the future) until my retirement. But, I can’t look that far at this point. I need to take it one day at a time.

Please Join Me!

I would love for you all to join me. You don’t have to wake up at 6am if you don’t need to.

Maybe you normally get out of bed at 10 or 11am each day (no shame), and you want to get up at 8 or 9am. Or maybe you’re going to bed super late and want to improve on going to bed earlier.

The specific details of when you get up, or when you go to bed, don’t matter as much. What is more important is the personal progress you are moving toward to increase your productivity and daily happiness.

Like I said, look out for the biweekly updates until the end of the challenge. Here’s to early mornings and shorter nights!

Readers, how much more productive could you be if you woke up one or two hours earlier? Are you willing to test this experiment out? If not, what’s holding you back? Any other thoughts?

Related posts
The 30-Day Challenge: Waking Up At 6 AM (Week 1-2)
The 30-Day Challenge: Waking Up At 6 AM (Finale & Recap)

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Personal Challenges

Gratitude Challenge: Spend 7 Days Loving People And Yourself

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gratitude-challenge

I’m extremely pumped about this gratitude challenge.

Why? Mainly because I’ve learned that when you change your mental state into one of gratitude, you free yourself to be happy, do more, and make progress.

It’s this mental switch that turns off fear, disappointment, or sadness. And it turns on positivity, happiness, and a healthy spirit.

The beauty of it is you can choose to be grateful at anytime.

For example, if you get fired from your job, you’re probably first going to be down in the dumps.

However, you can stay there and mope around for the next month.

Or you can change your mental state to gratitude and feel thankful that you have a place to go home to. You can feel thankful about the lessons you learned from this job. You can have gratitude that you have a significant other who supports you and encourages you to get a new job.

And feeling grateful for big or small things in the midst of trial, is what keeps you going forward.

So back to our example. If you’re focused on losing the job and throwing yourself a pity party, you’re not going to get closer to finding a new one. But if you’re grateful for something, you’re more likely to get back on that horse and put in the effort to find your dream job.

And I’m by nowhere near perfect at this, ask the people around me, but I’m getting better at it. And it’s made a world of difference in my professional and personal life.

Just last week, I was down about the early sales of my online course. But I remembered to be grateful for the simple fact that I put together a killer course. Plus, I remembered the other successes in my life, like this blog and my bestselling books.

This gratefulness inspired me to keep going and try new marketing strategies for the course.

As you see, gratitude is the answer. It never fails.

Let’s get into more of the specific benefits of being grateful.

Benefits of Being Grateful

Gratitude gets less attention than other feelings (like fear, sadness, or anger), which is a shame.

So I’m trying to make gratitude famous. And I want your help in this mission, because gratitude helps you:

  • Have a high quality of life. Focusing on the good makes you feel good, and results in you stop focusing on the bad that puts you in an awful mood. Choosing to be grateful relaxes you away from stress, makes your life more peaceful, and produces more rest.
  • Improve life around you. Gratitude is contagious. You telling someone you’re thankful for them, puts a smile on their face the rest of the day. They often feel good so they pay gratitude forward to someone else. Then this person does the same. And your initial act of gratitude becomes the catalyst that indirectly encourages complete strangers.
  • Overcome adversity. As I mentioned in the example above, a feeling of gratitude gives you the energy to move forward. Your self-esteem improves when you recognize the good in your life. So you become more optimistic about the future, even if your present reality isn’t so bright. This optimism leads to more action and positive results.
  • Advance in your career. Being grateful makes a difference in the workplace, too. For example, you’ll build better connections, reach for higher goals, be more efficient, and get more out of work when you’re thankful for the opportunity to work.
  • Build a stronger social life. When you express gratitude, other people enjoy being around you more. That’s not rocket science. This will improve your friendships, build a stronger relationship or marriage, and opens you up to meeting more new people. Gratitude and happiness go together, and people love happy people.
  • Be healthier. The mind and the body are connected. Someone down on life most likely isn’t going to eat healthy, go to the gym, and live with energy because they don’t enjoy life. Living with gratitude gives you energy to make good decisions about health and nutrition. Plus, you get better sleep since you know everything is going to be ok.

How To Have & Show Gratitude

If you live in the US, you already have it better than billions of people. That’s the first reason to be grateful right off the bat.

Don’t believe me? Do this 10 second experiment. Type in your income or net worth in the Global Rich List calculator. This will change your entire perspective about your prosperity.

Now that you understand how blessed you are, it’s time to show it.

Expressing gratitude to people, and yourself, is much simpler than you think.

First, let’s cover showing gratitude to other people.

All it requires is a small, tiny effort to communicate to someone (or yourself) that you’re grateful for them. This can look like:

  • A pleasant phone call to your mom
  • A friendly email to an old friend
  • An old-school handwritten card
  • A big smile or wink to a friend or stranger
  • Stay after work to help a coworker
  • Give money to a local charity organization
  • Shower someone with praise on what they excel at
  • Plan a Saturday doing something that someone in your life has always wanted to
  • Tip 25% higher than you normally do at a restaurant
  • Surprise your significant other with flowers

Next, is what I call internal gratitude to love yourself. It’s when you stop and take a break to reflect on how good you have it, regardless of present circumstance. This can look like this:

  • Journal three things you’re grateful for and why
  • Give yourself an entire day to rest and relax
  • Splurge on an item you’ve wanted for a long time
  • Go on a walk and listen to your favorite music
  • Reflect on how far you’ve come since just five years ago
  • Take a month off to travel overseas
  • Think about all the people in your life and why you enjoy their presence
  • Compliment yourself after succeeding
  • Compliment yourself after failing, for having the guts to try it
  • Wake up each morning thankful for another day to live

Lastly, whether it’s external or internal, gratitude comes down to a choice. You can choose to be grateful.

When you harness this powerful, it’s truly amazing, especially when you’re feeling down and out.

The magic in gratitude is that you get to decide your mood, and you become happier by practicing gratitude.

And when you commit to being a grateful person through tried and true practice, eventually it becomes natural to get into the grateful mindset.

You become a person of gratitude that blesses others (and yourself) with the way you live.

To make progress toward that, please join me on this 7 day Gratitude Challenge.

7 Day Gratitude Challenge Rules

To avoid any feelings of procrastination or laziness, I like to set up official rules in these challenges.

Below are the official rules for The 7 Day Gratitude Challenge.

1. Start each day (all week) with a text telling someone special in your life that you’re grateful for them, and specifically explain why. You’ll blow them away and they will feel like the luckiest person on the planet. If you want to go above expectations, tell them in person or on the phone.

2. Block off 30 minutes each day (all week) to do something you want to do for yourself. Being grateful for life is as easy as spending time to enjoy it in the beautiful world we live in.

3. Before you go to bed each night (all week), think of three things you’re grateful for that happened that day—or that you have. Aim to think of three different things you’re grateful for each night, meaning don’t repeat anything. You can write this down in a journal, say it out loud, or think it in your head.

Get Excited!

I’m so confident that taking this Gratitude Challenge will be a healthy and special week for you. That’s why I’m extremely excited for you.

When you take this challenge, you’re going to invest in the relationships of your loyal friends and family.

You’re going to get an allotted time to do something you enjoy without feeling guilty about it.

And you’re going to go to bed feeling thankful for all that you have.

What’s funny is this can almost pass as the Thinking Positive Challenge. Because you’re going to feel high and energized about life.

That’s going to snowball a bunch of other powerful thoughts and life-changing actions.

Lastly, I need to get something off my chest: I’m grateful for you!

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Health & Fitness

30 Day Push-Up Challenge: Get A Beefier And Fuller Chest

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Why do a 30 day push-up challenge? Let me first ask you this.

What’s a better way to push yourself out of your comfort zone than a push-up challenge? It’s in the freaking name.

There’s something beautiful about getting in the push-up stance, putting your chest to the ground, and grunting to get the extra energy to go up and down again.

The push-up is old-school. It’s gritty. And it works like a masterpiece to use all of your body weight to get stronger.

You don’t need any machines, free weights, or a trainer. It’s just the ground and your body in rhythm.

Plus, you don’t need any special skills. All the push-up requires from you is consistent hard work—and there’s something to be appreciated about that.

Can you feel my love for this exercise? I want you to feel the same way about push-ups and to join me in this 30 Day Push-Up Challenge.

Push-Ups Are The Perfect Exercise

I dig push-ups. Their unique ability to transform an entire body and core makes them the perfect exercise in my book.

So what are the specific qualities of doing push-ups? Here you go:

Build a fuller chest – What do you do when you first meet someone? After looking at their eyes or teeth, you next consciously or subconsciously scope out their chest (for both guys and girls). Since your chest is front and center below your face, doing push-ups will build a chest that gives off an immediate good impression of you.

Get defined arms –  The wider your hands are in push-up stance, the more you’re working out your chest. The closer your hands are, the more you’re working out your triceps. Anyway you do it, the push-up breaks down and then grows your tricep muscles. Stick with push-ups, and you guys will have triceps busting out of your shirt. And you girls will have defined arms in a dress or sleeveless top.

Create chiseled abs – Maybe surprising to you, the push-up requires hardcore abdominal activation. When gravity is pushing down on your hips and your core during this exercise, your abs are getting much stronger compared to some other weak abs exercise. Got a six-pack on your mind? Start doing more push-ups to get there quicker. (And eat for energy.)

Grow boulder shoulders – Each time you do a push-up, you work out your deltoids—the rounded muscles over your shoulders. That’s why someone who regularly does push-ups is over time going to grow boulder shoulders. It’s a healthy, sexy look in my opinion.

Accessible anywhere – Besides the muscular toning, my favorite quality of the push-up is you can do it anywhere. Literally anywhere! At the office, on the beach, and everywhere on Earth that has gravity and a floor is open to get your push-ups in. This accessibility is the most important when traveling. It’s hard to find a gym on the road, so utilize the push-up to build your chest, core, and shoulders.

Less injury risk than bench press –  A push-up is a natural exercise for the body. With proper form, there’s essentially no injury risk. However, bench press puts a heavy strain on the shoulders and pectoral. That’s why there’s a term named bench-presser’s shoulders. And if you seriously overdo bench press (doing way more weight than your body can handle), you could tear your pectoral. Push-ups don’t have the same injury risk.

Raise your metabolism – Push-ups are a quick, easy way to put your body into burn fat mode and boost your metabolism. Feeling lazy on the couch while watching a commercial you’d rather not? Get on the floor and give yourself 20 push-ups. Make a deal with yourself (temptation bundling) to do this during each commercial and you just did a solid workout in your family room.

Feel good – Exerting your body strength is going to release endorphins in your brain. These endorphins will improve your mood and energy for the rest of your day. When you don’t have time to go to the gym on a busy day, you can avoid feeling guilty by spending 10 minutes doing push-ups.

30 Day Push-Up Challenge Rules

Every legitimate challenge needs rules. Otherwise it’s “everything goes” and the challenge breaks down before it has a chance to get started.

So here are the official rules for this push-up challenge.

1. Start day one doing as many clean push-ups as you reasonably can in one set. For me, I’m going to do start with 40 push-ups. Could I do more? Yes, but my form would start to deteriorate and that’s not the goal. As you’ll see in the section below, it’s all about good form.

2. Add one push-up for each day going forward. For me, this looks like: Day 1 – 40 push-ups, Day 2 – 41 push-ups, Day 3 – 42 push-ups, and so on.

(If you find yourself in the middle of the challenge not being able to do your push-up number in one set, feel free to do it in two sets. The goal is that you keep getting stronger so one day you can do all your push-ups in one set.)

3. Take every fourth day off. Your muscles need rest to properly repair and perform at their best. So this schedule means you would do three days of push-ups, rest, then three days of push-ups, rest and so on.

For example, I’m starting at 40 push-ups on Day 1 so my 30-day schedule looks like this:

pushup-schedule

What’s Proper Push-Up Form?

From gym class to middle school sports, I’m sure you’ve done push-ups before. But you probably got away with weak form and continued to use that same form going forward.

The problem with not doing a clean push-up is you won’t get all the muscle benefits and you can risk an injury.

50 push-ups for 50k followers: … 49, 50. Thanks for the support!

A video posted by Brian Robben (@brianjrobben) on

So what is good push-up form?

  • Place your hands on the ground slightly outside your shoulders, on the same horizontal plane as your chest.
  • Keep your body in a straight line at all times, including your head, torso, hips, butt, and feet.
  • Look slightly forward, not at the ground or your chin tucked in touching your chest.
  • Lock your arms out at the top, and bend them at a 45 degree angle when you’re an inch from the ground.
  • Tighten your abs and your butt as you do your push-ups.
  • Go at a steady pace, not too fast or too slow.

If you can’t do a regular push-up, do all the steps above except have your knees on the ground as you do them. This will be good strength training until you’re ready to do a regular push-up.

That’s all there is to a perfect push-up. See? Not so bad.

Let’s Go!

You could wait until the New Year to take your fitness serious. But who says that you’re not going to make another excuse then to push off getting in better shape?

So start this challenge now, today. Do as many clean push-ups as you can. And start building positive momentum.

Once you get over the hardest hurdle of beginning, you’re going to enjoy get stronger. You’re going to love filling out your clothes better. And you’re going to appreciate gaining confidence in how you look.

These benefits all come from getting in a push-up stance and getting after it. Let’s go!

Related: Other Brian’s Challenges on waking up early, eliminating sugar, being positive, reading, and more.

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Personal Challenges

28-Day Meditation Challenge To Appreciate More And Complain Less

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meditation-challenge

I’m not the type of guy to do a meditation challenge.

I’m a type-A personality who is ambitious, competitive, and in need of control. Those character traits often help me in business or with my fitness where I strive for excellent results.

But I’d be fooling myself if I said my type-A personality didn’t have its negative effects. This personality causes me to lack patience with people, complain when my time is wasted, and struggle to relax.

And I know that I don’t want to run through life always on the go, without taking the time to enjoy it. That’s not the good life.

So what am I going to do?

I’m going to do the best thing for me: I’m starting a 28-Day Meditation Challenge.

Why I’m Doing A Meditation Challenge

Depending on your previous experiences with meditation, you might believe it’s this out there spiritual technique that only weird people do.

However, meditation has a real purpose and unique results.

It’s meant to declutter and refresh your mind. It’s cleaning up and organizing what’s important in your brain before you speed through the day from activity to activity.

If you don’t do it, you end up like most of the world in an anxious, stressed, and out of control mental state. If you do meditate, you’ll discover the benefits of meditation:

  • Improves focus: It makes sense that priming your mind for the day results in better focus to tackle your to-do list. When your worries are assured and your outlook is positive thanks to meditation, you can dive 100% into your work without distractions.
  • Encourages appreciation: Slowing down to just think and be thankful of the bed you have to sleep in, the coffee you get to drink, or the people in your life will encourage gratitude. Meditation quiets the inner voice that complains about other people who have it better. And you’re free to be at peace appreciating what you have.
  • Decreases stress: Meditation gives your brain the time and attention it needs to address emotions. If you’re always on the go, you’ll continue to ignore your feelings until they all come out in one outburst. Meditation gets you to effectively manage stress so it’s not bubbling up for an explosion.
  • Develops self-awareness: Being attentive to your mind during this process leads you to have a deep understanding of yourself. You’ll learn what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling a certain way. Then you can recognize who you are and express your true self, which is good for your well-being.
  • Slows aging: It’s a fact that stress causes aging of the face and body. Yet meditators regulate their stress to decrease its effect and actually change their brain’s components. Similar to intermittent fasting, meditators take care of their brain and body. So they look and feel younger than their non-meditating peers.
  • Increases happiness: Scientific studies show that meditation increases the positive emotions  in your brain and decreases the negative emotions. I think you’re also happier when you’re in tune with yourself and pursuing what gives you joy, which are the fruits of meditation.

This meditation challenge will push me to be mindful of all that I have, not all that I desire.

It will encourage me to appreciate the moment and the people around me, instead of dreaming about the future.

And it will help me to enjoy the beauty of life, and stop complaining about the small things.

Just think about if you heard about a product that had all of those benefits. How much would you pay for it?

Meditation is free, and the benefits of meditation are priceless.

Your Favorite Stars Meditate

Most people, including you and I, are impressionable. If our favorite celebrity does something, don’t be surprised when we try to mimic it in some shape or form.

That’s why fans go crazy when they get the recipe to their favorite actor’s salad. Or why a product is sold out in 24 hours after a singer mentions that they love it.

But we often ignore what the influencers do to become super successful. For example, we’ll buy an outfit to look like them on the outside, but not do their workout routine to have a body like them.

We’d be far better off by following less of their trends and doing more of their habits. And let’s start with meditation, because all of the influencers below have found tremendous value in meditation:

Steve Jobs – “If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things—that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before.”

Oprah Winfrey – “Prayer is you speaking to God. Meditation is allowing the spirit to speak to you.”

Angelina Jolie – “I find meditation in sitting on the floor with the kids coloring for an hour, or going on the trampoline.”

Kobe Bryant – “I try to have at least 15 minutes of still time and just kind of sit in my thoughts in the morning and just kind of meditate.”

Jennifer Aniston – “I also do Transcendental Meditation morning and afternoon. It’s so helpful to me, especially in this crazy industry.”

Hugh Jackman – “Nothing has ever opened my eyes like Transcendental Meditation has. It makes me calm and happy, and, well, it gives me some peace and quiet in what’s a pretty chaotic life!”

When these celebrities have an insane work schedule, constant meetings, publicity events, charity appearances, commercials, and their personal life to handle, they still make time to meditate.

There are also hundreds of other top achievers who meditate that I could have used as an example.

If they make the time for it, that’s a sign that you can—and need to—meditate if you’re serious about your success and happiness.

28-Day Meditation Challenge

It’s easy to say you’re going to do something, and then later justify why you’re not (or forget about it entirely).

But if you set up strict rules, then you’re more likely to remain accountable to yourself and accomplish what you set out to.

Below are the rules I’m following for the 28-Day Meditation Challenge:

1) Meditate immediately after I wake up for five minutes each day during week one, 10 minutes each day on week two, 15 minutes each day on week three, and 20 minutes each day on week four.

2) Look out for three small things I appreciated during the day.

3) Think of three things I’m grateful for in my life before going to bed each night.

I’m keeping this challenge simple because I have little experience with meditation. There’s no reason to implement yoga or stretching techniques when I’m a rookie.

Instead, I’ll be sitting on the ground with my eyes closed, and focusing on my breathing.

And I want to point out, as I said in previous Brian’s Personal Challenges, the true goal of these challenges is not to do it for week or a month and then stop. There’s not much value in that besides the tiny short-term benefits.

The only way to change your life is to continue these habits, in this case meditation, after the challenge. The challenge is designed as the kickstart for the lifestyle change.

And when you follow through to stack powerful habits one after another in your routine, you’ll become version 2.0 of yourself. You’ll become more positive, thoughtful, productive, fit, and happier.

These challenges aren’t the end, they’re the means to an end. That’s the vision behind these personal development challenges.

Quick Note On Meditation

Millions of people get scared off or frustrated when they try to meditate because it feels weird or they don’t know what they’re doing.

The key realization is you can’t do meditation wrong. You’re doing it right by taking the time to do it.

Just sit down, close your eyes, breathe naturally, and focus your mind on your breathe. It can help to count your number of breaths to 15 and then start from the bottom again.

Also, don’t get frustrated if you’re mind is filled with thoughts because that is what your mind is designed for, to think. It’s doing it’s job just like your heart is by beating.

If you start thinking about work or anxiety about the future, focus back on your breathing to get back in the moment. But don’t think to properly meditate your mind has to be blank.

Go with the flow as best as you can and you’ll improve over time.

Helpful Tools

To get the most out of connecting with our mind, I researched and found two quality resources.

The Calm app (iPhone or Android) has great reviews for guiding you in meditation. I’ve downloaded it and played around with it a bit, and it’s the app I’m going to use for this meditation challenge.

And I’ve read that meditating and journaling work so well together, so the second resource is a journal to record what you’re grateful for, how you’re feeling, and what you want to improve on.

The Five Minute Journal is amazing for those of you who want a structured journal for each day, and it only takes five minutes. If you meditate first and then start your day with this journal, you’ll feel unstoppable.

You can also make a journal with loose leaf paper and a pen. Journaling will flesh out the thoughts that come to you during meditation, which will start your day in the right mindset.

Final Words

I’m pumped up because I know getting in the habit of meditating is going to improve my life in a major way. And I want to share this satisfaction with you.  

If people swear that meditation is the best thing in their life, why can’t that be true for you?

So please join me in this 28-Day Meditation Challenge.

Download the Calm app. Block off time in your morning to meditate (wake up early if you have to). And I promise you your outlook on life will be more present, positive, and carefree.

You don’t live forever, so you owe it to yourself to start living life to the fullest right now.

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