This year (2021), I’m doing 40-day discomfort challenges, as a way to continue my training in falling in love with discomfort and uncertainty.
I’ve been deepening into this training even more in the last 5 years. And now I train others in it, in my Fearless Training Program — the uncertainty & discomfort of doing your meaningful work.
This year is going to be a further deepening. I’m going to swim in the deep waters, out of love for life and those who I serve.
My Year of Hard Challenges
The first challenge, which I started January 1, is jumping into a cold pool everyday with two of my sons. We do some Wim Hof-style breathing before we dive in, then count 3-2-1 and jump into the air! It has shown us that we can do hard things every day, and has been a meaningful bonding experience for us.
Here are my discomfort challenges this year:
- Cold swimming (Jan 1 – Feb 9)
- No Internet + ego eradicator (Feb 10 – Mar 21)
- Sew rakusu (Mar 22 – Apr 30)
- Learn language (May 2 – June 9)
- Write book in 40 days (June 10 – July 19)
- Podcast episode a day (July 20 – Aug 28)
- Death contemplation + sleep outside (Aug 29 – Oct 7)
- Launch something every day (Oct 8 – Nov 16)
- Meditation (Nov 17 – Dec 31 – skipping 5 days for holidays)
My Discomfort Challenge Log
- Jan. 1: We started the cold swimming challenge today — me, and my sons Seth & Rain. We did some Wim Hof-style breathing to start with, one round of 40 breaths. Then counted down 3-2-1 and jumped! It was freezing in our pool. We only stayed for about 10 seconds and then got out. But I told the boys, “Today you’ve proven to yourself you can do something hard. It’s irrefutable proof.”
- Jan. 2: Still hard to go in today, but we were determined. We’ve decided to do it every day. Seth counts 10-9-8 … down to 1 before he gets out, and I try to stay in with him.
- Jan. 3: Didn’t log, but we did it again today, still hard, still did the 40 breaths beforehand.
- Jan. 4: Didn’t log, but we did it again today, still hard, still did the 40 breaths beforehand.
- Jan. 5: Didn’t log, but we did it again today, still hard, still did the 40 breaths beforehand.
- Jan. 6: Didn’t log, but we did it again today, still hard, still did the 40 breaths beforehand.
- Jan. 7: Justin jumped in with us at night! It was his first time going in, he really hated it. Actually, I jumped in the pool in the afternoon with Rain, then the evening with Seth & Justin. It’s getting easier to go in.
- Jan. 8: Didn’t log, but we did it again today, still hard, still did the 40 breaths beforehand.
- Jan. 9: It was Rain’s birthday, so we went for a 2-hour hike with Eva & the four kids living with us. He asked us all to jump in the cold pool with him, which meant that Eva & Noelle jumped in too! I had to hold Eva’s hand to get her to go in. It was a really nice day.
- Jan. 11: Challenged the boys to find something to love about the cold water. We came up with things like, “We did it together, so it was a nice bonding experience.” And, “It was a way to know we are fully alive!”
- Jan. 12: We did 40 breaths, it’s still shockingly cold, I immediately want to get out! Trying to relax and find something to love about it.
- Jan. 13: We did 40 breaths, I timed myself today, trying to deliberately stay in longer, stayed in for a little over a minute.
- Jan. 14: We’ve switched to slower Wim Hof breaths, only 20 this time. Timed myself again, stayed in for about 1 min 15 seconds.
- Jan. 15: Warm-ish day, again we did 20 slower breaths. I timed myself again, was able to stay in for about 1.5 minutes.
- Jan. 16: It was an unseasonably hot day today! Really nice outside. But the water was still really cold. Did 30 slow breaths before we went in. I stayed in for almost 2 minutes, longer than previous days.
- Jan. 17: A rather hot day today, it made it easier to go in. That said, because we were heated up by the sun, it felt even colder once we hit the water. Stayed in for about 2 minutes today.
- Jan. 18: Another warm day. Did our 30 slow breaths, jumped in. I was able to stay in for 2 minutes after wanting to get out. I got a pool thermometer today, the water is in the low to mid-50s (F).
- Jan. 19: It was a cold and windy day. We really weren’t looking forward to doing this. We did our breathing, jumped in and it was shockingly cold. I couldn’t stay in for very long, decided today just wasn’t my day to tough it out. I’d gone for a run with Eva just before the swim, but that didn’t seem to help today.
- Jan. 20: It wasn’t as cold as yesterday, but still not a warm day – as always, it was a shock when I first jumped in, and for the first 10-15 seconds I really wanted to get out. But I stayed for a little longer, relaxed, and even found something to enjoy. Stayed for almost 2 minutes.
- Jan. 21: Another fairly cold day, I invited the boys to surrender completely to the experience. We did, relaxing into it, and stayed for about 2 minutes!
- Jan. 22: Today was overcast and cold, I invited the boys to find the joy in the activity. We stayed in for about 2 mins 15 seconds, and it was glorious!
- Jan. 23: It was a cold windy day and we waited until it was dark to go in, and we really didn’t feel like doing it. We said, “Let’s just jump in and get out.” We did 10 quick breaths, then jumped in and almost immediately got out! Freezing.
- Jan. 24: Today was another cold day, but there was some sunlight. 30 breaths, then we jumped in — I did some “warrior yells” like I was going into battle. Cold was shocking as usual, but then I relaxed. It wasn’t so bad, and I told myself that my discomfort is nothing compared to the hearts of the people I care about. Stayed in for about a minute, then enjoyed the sun and felt invigorated!
- Jan. 25: Super cold day, we waited until the evening and it was freezing! We decided it wasn’t a day to be courageous, and just jumped in and got out. Shockingly cold! But invigorating once I got out.
- Jan. 26: Another freezing day, we yelled like warriors and once again just jumped in and got out. Shocking but once I was in for a few seconds I felt like I could stay longer — still, I got out immediately.
- Jan. 27: Another cold day, we yelled like warriors again, and jumped in without too much preamble … except that I invited myself to savor the moment! I jumped in and then stayed for a little longer before getting out, savoring the intense moment. Then after I got out, I playfully jumped in again to make my two sons laugh.
- Jan. 28: A sunnier day, still cold but the sunlight was nice on our skin. We did 30 slow breaths before going in. I stayed in a little longer than I have recently, though it was pretty cold. Tried to find something to cherish about the moment of cold, and it was lovely.
- Jan. 29: It was cold & rainy today, though there was also a rainbow and orange clouds by the time we went out at around sunset! Today I practiced not worrying about it, not building it up in my head, and simply diving in. I also practiced having a little fun with it. :)
- Jan. 30: Nice and sunny, and yet I made it a quick one today, didn’t stay long. Tried to practice having fun with it. The moment when I’ve left my feet and am in the air headed towards the cold water is always a little terrifying!
- Jan. 31: Dove in, got out. Paid attention to the sensation on my skin.
- Feb. 1: Dove in, got out. Don’t remember what I practiced, I forgot to log it.
- Feb. 2: Dove in, got out. Practiced with having fun with it, and laughed while in the water. It was a warmer day!
- Feb. 3: Dove in, practiced with finding something joyful. Stayed for a little longer than usual.
- Feb. 4: Dove in, practiced with not needing anything to be different. This was a great practice, and I stayed in a good bit longer than usual.
- Feb. 5: We jumped in with the attitude of “No Big Deal” … and it really helped! We loved the casual approach, not needing to make it into something challenging or hard, just jump in and it’s not a big deal. It actually removed a lot of the stress of the cold.
- Feb. 6: Another No Big Deal day, just casually jumped in. We didn’t stay for very long.
- Feb. 7: Again, we used the No Big Deal approach, and it wasn’t a big deal! This is pretty helpful
- Feb. 8: Another day of No Big Deal. Nice sunshine today, it was a beautiful day to jump in the water. Stayed for a little longer, enjoyed the sunshine after the cold.
- Feb. 9: Final day! We did 40 breaths of Wim Hof, then dove in with the No Big Deal attitude. We also tried to stay in a little longer today. As I was in the cold water, I tried to find something about the sensation to love, and did find some beautiful things to love. Successful challenge!
Minimal Internet + Ego Eradicator:
- Feb. 10: Started this morning doing Ego Eradicator + Breath of Fire pose from Kundalini yoga. I could only hold it for a few minutes. My idea is to hold the pose until I get to the edge of my discomfort, when I don’t want to do it anymore … and then hold the pose. Stay at the edge of my discomfort for awhile longer. I was able to do it today, it was challenging but good. I did sitting meditation after.
- Also started my Minimalist Internet challenge today — basically, no Internet except for creating and calls. I’m giving myself 30 minutes a day of doing email and messages, financial tasks and research. No videos, news, social media or casual Internet reading for the next 40 days. No phone usage. Starting off well, I’m setting up the Freedom internet blocker.
- Feb. 11: Did the Ego Eradicator in the morning, felt like I did it a little longer than usual (though I’m not timing it). It helps to keep my awareness above my head, as instructed.
- No phone or Internet browsing today. No TV watching at night has meant I have been getting a lot done!
- Feb. 12: Did Ego Eradicator in the morning again, about as long as before, staying at the edge of my discomfort as long as I can, even relaxing in the discomfort.
- Feb. 13: Ego Eradicator was good today, hard but was able to stay with the discomfort. I often take a break from the Breath of Fire when it gets hard to manage.
- Feb. 14: Another decent day of Ego Eradicator in the morning, I forgot to log this but I know it was similar to the day before.
- Feb. 15: Today I didn’t do the Ego Eradicator for very long, I had to rush before a meeting.
- Feb. 16: I put off doing the Ego Eradicator until almost noon, letting myself get caught up in busywork … but when I did it, I felt completely devoted to it and I think I did it longer than I have before.
- Feb. 17: I didn’t do the Ego Eradicator until the evening! But interestingly, I was able to hold it even longer than yesterday, staying in the discomfort with relaxation.