The Lessons of Steve Pavlina #1:
30 Days of Success

When you are starting a large project like a novel or a screenplay, simply thinking about all those hours that you’ll have to sit at desk and work can overwhelm you before you write your first word. The same holds true for trying to make a change in your life that will affect your creativity, like a new diet and exercise plan or a new organizational system. People have suggested that you break the task down into smaller goals but your bullshit meter goes off: it’s still the huge goal disguised as a series of smaller ones.

Sometimes you need a little trick for your system. Steve Pavlina's “30 Days of Success” has been that trick for me.

Before I was a personal development nut, I was full of ideas and passion without any control whatsoever. I’d write a screenplay one day and then not write a single phrase for nine months. I had occasional bursts of will power, but I had very few lasting writing or creative habits. Somehow, I lucked into reading Steve Pavlina's site about the idea of the 30 day life trial.

Based off of a 30 day free software trial, you take something that you’ve wanted to try in your life. Anything ranging from writing for twenty minutes a day to massaging your partner’s feet. You take that task and you use your will power to do it for thirty straight days. And then you quit.

I started with an exercise plan. I ran a couple of miles every day for thirty days. Yes, the last few days I was definitely hurting, but otherwise I felt great! I extended the trial 30 more days and added weightlifting to the daily routine. By the end of that thirty days, I was a leaner, meaner me. I only abandoned the program because it was taking up too much of my time. It definitely taught me that doing anything positive for thirty straight days can make you want to continue the habit indefinitely.

The trick of the whole thing is that there’s an expiration date. Usually, when you come across a great but will-requiring task, you want to make it a part of your life forever. The problem is, forever is a really long time and even thinking about that length of time can make your head spin. Also, if adding this good habit to your life was all you were working on, it wouldn’t be so much of a problem, but there is a little thing called living to worry about. A new potential “life-long” habit can easily get lost in the shuffle.

Thinking thirty days into the future: not so scary. It’s not that big of a pain to rearrange your schedule for a month to add this new trial.

The real kicker: if it doesn’t work out at least you can check that off your list of things to try and if it does work out it’s already a habit that’s ingrained into your system. Plus, if it was any kind of writing activity, you now have material to work off of even if you stopped.

Does 30 days even seem like a long time? Here is a step-by-step procedure to help make it even simpler.

1. Choose your 30 Day Trial. Make it specific:
- I will run for thirty straight days for twenty minutes a day in March 2009.
- I will write 500 words a day for thirty days in a row starting April 1st, 2009.

Set a clear start date and an end date.

2. Make time for your trial. If it’s something like flossing, get ready for bed a few minutes early to make room. If it’s something more extensive like a poem a day, make sure to clear out a time to work on it. It will help if it is almost if not exactly the same time every day for the whole 30 days.

3. Clear out the obstacles. If you want to give up sweets for thirty days, you should give all of your sweets away. If you want to write for thirty days, then create a space on your cluttered desk or figure out a less hectic environment.

4. Gather all necessary materials. Writing will require paper and pens or pencils. If you’re planning to workout, you may need new shoes and an exercise plan. Eating more vegetables will be benefitted by having more vegetables. You get the idea :).

5. Motivate yourself. There are many methods to encourage you to complete the full thirty. Some people circle days on a calendar. Others count down from thirty on little sheets of paper. One method I use is telling all of my friends about it, but that can also add a lot of unwanted pressure. Use a method of your own that will help you along the way.

6. Do it. Begin your trial. Whenever you feel overwhelmed or you feel worried about it, remind yourself that it’s only thirty days. Also, think about how accomplished you’ll feel after completing your goal.

Take a chance on a thirty day trial. Introducing Steve Pavlina's concept into my life has extremely changed my way of being for the better. I hope that you can use it quite nicely as well :).

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