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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

30 Day Challenge - July 2014 and a brief summary

July has arrived and with it comes 31 new days to attempt another 30 Day Challenge (with a one day buffer ;) ). For those of you who are not familiar with the 30 Day Challenge, I would encourage you to watch this TED talk by Matt Cutts, who heads Google's webspam team. The idea, the rationale and the aim have all been wonderfully presented by him in less than 4 minutes.

Here are the list of 30 day challenges that I've attempted in the past. I've had fun doing some of them and have blogged about my experiences.

  1. No using Microsoft products for 30 days - December 2010
  2. Take a picture everyday for 30 days - January 2011 
  3. Walking regularly for 30 days - February 2011
  4. Keeping track of and getting my finances in order - May 2011
  5. No carbonated drinks for 30 days - September 2011
  6. Learn a new word everyday - October 2011
  7. Take an online course on Udacity for 30 days - January 2012
  8. Trying to get 8 hours of sleep every night for 30 days - February 2012 
  9. Monitor my sleep pattern for 30 days - March 2012
  10. Grew a beard and moustache for 30 days as part of 'No Shave November' - November 2012 
  11. Run 100 kms in 30 days (ran an average of 3.30 to 3.50 kms per day) - May 2013 
  12. Read 15 books in 30 days - June 2013
  13. Vegetarian for 30 days - July 2013
  14. Walking from Boon Lay MRT to NTU for 30 weekdays (in-progress) - June and July 2014

Some of the 30 day challenges were quite memorable and my rationale for attempting them varied over time. While I started off in December 2010 on a whim, I took some of them seriously to either curb a habit or inculcate some self-discipline. Gradually, it has become quite an enjoyable experience:

I had a great start to 2012 with finishing the CS101 course on Udacity in January 2012 and passing the online test with good scores.

The attempt to run 100 kms in 30 days in May 2013 was partially disrupted by the haze in Singapore. It would go on to get a lot worse towards the end of the month, as warnings were issued by the National Environment Agency (NEA) asking people stay indoors and avoid all forms of cardiovascular activities outside. As a result, I fell short at 85 kms and had to abandon the challenge. I did manage to complete the remainder of the distance in June 2013 just for the fun of finishing the challenge.

I managed to surprise myself by going vegetarian (incl. no eggs) for an entire month in July 2013. Not only did I exceed my own expectations, I also realised that the challenge was not as hard as I thought it would be for an omnivore like me. The abundant varieties of food available in Singapore is perfectly catered to attempt this challenge. At times, it was a bit of a challenge locating a vegetarian food outlet and this helped me better understand some of the difficulties my strict vegetarian friends faced.

Another memorable (for entirely different reasons) 30 day challenge included a feeble attempt at trying to get 8 hours of sleep every night in February 2011. This was a total crash and burn and I managed to sleep for 8 hours for only about 6 nights in the entire month. This, however, led me to using some cool tools like JMP (an overkill really) for the March 2012 challenge.

This month, I'm still completing a 30 day weekday challenge that I began in mid-June to walk roughly 4 kms every weekday from Boon Lay MRT to the NTU campus. The 45 min brisk walk is a pleasant experience which leaves me with time for some form of daily contemplation in addition to being my daily bout of exercise. In addition to this, I am hoping to take these 30 days to knock off some projects that have been in the pipeline for quite a bit of time. I hope to devote some time to it during the next 30 days in July 2014. These projects include finish reading some books, finish some other half-baked projects, helping a few friends in their work and so on...

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