Last night I completed my 30-day German Journaling challenge and I’m pretty damn proud of myself. My german is nowhere near perfect but for the last 30 days, I promised myself that I would write a journal entry every single day in my desired language, and I did it. I didn’t miss a single day. If I was cranky as a motherfucker and just wanted to sleep, i wrote in my journal. If i didn’t have anything interesting to write about, I wrote in my journal. If I came home drunk and tired at 6 in the morning, I wrote in my journal. Like i said, I’m nowhere near mastery of the language, but I sure am a lot better than I was 30 days ago. i’ve learned 248 new words and filled 15 pages with quality, flawless German writing (yeah right… special shoutout and some serious gratitude goes to my roommate Jenni for reading and correcting all of my word-vomit). I still have a long way to go, but I have written proof that I’ve made at least a little bit of progress.
I was inspired to take on this trial by Steve Pavlina’s 30-day challenges. The rules are: you have to stick to guidelines you set for yourself, and if you miss even one day, you have to start over from the beginning. If you don’t like the results after 30 days, you’re totally free to ditch your new habit or state of being. I think its such a great concept: because its a limited time, and you have an end goal in sight, its a manageable task. Telling myself “I’m going to learn German” is a vague goal which is allowed to stretch on forever, but putting it in the context of a 30-day journal writing exercise, I had clear actions to take with a light at the end of the tunnel. Knowing that its only 30 days means there’s no risk–I can try a new habit and see results without guessing about the outcome. Then I can make an informed decision about whether I would like to continue my habit or go back to my previous state.
I’m so excited about my results though, that I am truly looking forward to continuing the daily habit. I found that it doesn’t take more than 15-30 minutes per day, but it really makes a big impact on my learning. Many tiny repetitions, which seem insignificant on their own, accumulate to create something big and meaningful. Just like one pushup doesn’t give you huge biceps, if you do just a few every day, you’re going to see results.
The 30-day challenge not only improved my German, but also my confidence. I may have dragged my feet many days, but I reached the finish line. I am damn proud of myself: I’ve grown my self-discipline muscle a little and proven to myself that if I put in the effort, I get a result.