Project PUSH Forward

To me, ideas are like appetizers. Strike that. To me, ideas are like those little taste samples at Costco. To all my Indian readers, Costco is like a giant Big Bazaar, where they often hand out tiny hot samples of their food (they also sell amazing hot dogs with a soda for $1.50!). You rarely end up buying the full blown version of the frozen chicken enchiladas you just ate but a lot of times the tiny morsel makes me think of something else you’d like to buy or helps you remember something you forgot to buy. Sometimes the value of an idea is not in whether people believe in it or not. Value lies in the ability of an idea to make people hungry for something. Value often lies in the questions and concepts that result from a given idea.

That being said, I’d like to present a tiny new dish for you today.

This Friday, October 30, I’m going to try a cracked out version of my 30-day challenges, Project PUSH Forward. For those of you not familiar with these challenges, every now and then I like to create 30-day experiments for myself. In the past, I've become vegetarian for a month (which led to me being vegetarian for a year), cooked everything I ate for a month, ran two miles a day for a month, sent two personal emails a day for a month and a bunch more. Over the years, I've learned more about myself through these challenges than anything else I’ve experienced. They’re not about depriving myself and they're not about testing my discipline. They’re about isolating a part of my life and becoming conscious about it. They're about being extreme for a short amount of time in the hopes of finding a long-lasting balance.

So the newest challenge? I’m going to keep score of my life for a month (smile). Hey, don’t laugh. Hear me out. Here’s how it’s going to work:

I sat down a while back and made a list of buckets that daily activities would fit into. For example, playing basketball would fit under the ‘Fitness’ bucket and cooking would fall into a ‘Food’ bucket. I came up with 8-10 buckets. Then using the buckets as a starting point, I brainstormed a lot of the common activities I do. For example, the ‘Fitness’ bucket has ‘playing basketball’ and ‘going for a run’ in it and the ‘Finance’ bucket has ‘taking a taxi’ in it. I then went through the list and categorized each activity as either positive (which I call PUSHes forward) or negative (which I call pull backs). Positive activities are actions that are productive (don’t think of productivity in the traditional sense. To me going out for drinks and being social is productive, so is therefore positive. Going out for drinks and drinking so much I lose half of the next day feels like a step back and is, therefore, negative.). I’m going to spend the rest of the week deciding on point values for each activity. From Friday onwards I’m going to keep track of my actions during the day and tally my positive and negative points at the end of each day.

As robotic as this all sounds, the challenge is going to make me decide how to spend my time. It's going to force me to think about the opportunity cost of my actions and although that's not incredibly sexy, I think it's going to cut out a lot of things I do subconsciously and don't actually enjoy that much and free up more time for fun shit!

So what's the motivation? We live in an age where we have become so overwhelmed with future goals and talking about what's on the horizon that we are rarely are in the moment anymore. What's up with that? We complain about our situation instead of taking the tiny steps needed to move towards our goals. We also go through the motions of so many things in our lives. This is my attempt to be more conscious of those things in my life. It's an attempt to stop talking about the life I want to live and instead to be proactive with small steps each day towards actually living that life.

I've included some of the buckets and actions I've come up with below. I plan on adding to the list throughout the week. You're all welcome to join the madness too. You got till Friday to come up with buckets and activities to fill the buckets. I'll post my updated list on Friday and we'll see where this craziness leads.

And remember, this is not about depriving myself of actions. I'm not trying to become lame! Negative things are necessary. This is about balance. Whether you want to join or not, I hope this was at least a little snack to whet your appetite.

PUSHes forward

Community: volunteering,

Exploring: visiting art galleries, seeing a new part of town, photography,

Fitness: playing basketball, going on a run

Eats: cooking

Language: studying Hindi, studying Kannada

Martha Stewart: cleaning the house, doing laundry before all the clothes are dirty

Reading: books, the paper, blogs

Writing: blog posts, short stories, personal emails

Pull backs

Finance: taking a taxi when I don’t need to

Fitness: napping during the day,

Eats: drinking enough to cut way into the next day, eating right before going to bed


Vaishnovi Kamat said...

I really like this PUSH forward concept but more than that, I really like the idea of trying something for 30 days. I think I might give it a try :) Thanks for giving me the idea!

mei said...

cool idea. i think it's really important to spend time enjoying things in the moment and this seems like a good way to gain some insight into that process (as long as you don't spend so much time calculating and tallying that you don't have time for fun shit:)

question: facebook and the like. productive socializing or negative time suck? both?

mahesh said...

never thought on such lines!!! great idea!!

jandro said...

sweet. you should let us know the point values you assign each activity. does volunteering count as much as taking a photo? if you post instructions on how to score all activities i'll keep track too and we can compare notes!

noa said...

what a splendid idea! i cant wait to see where this takes you.

Tyrone said...

Yup yup, I wanna see your scores playa!!!

Vaman said...

thanks for the comments
@vaish - i'd love to hear what 30 day challenges you have in mind. i have a bunch if you need ideas.

@mei - haha hilarious facebook question. i answered it in my latest post.

@jandro - do you want to win this challenge. haha. i answered your question in the newest post too.

@mahesh - thanks for the love

@tyrone - you're half cool. half wack

Xixi said...

Hi Vaman,

You always have cool and inspiring ideas. I will be learning two new recipes a week to keep myself busy for 30 days. Your idea of doing something different every 30 days is great!