I swear I wrote my daily 300 word (378 more precisely) but I hate it too much to post it. Shit, keeping up with the challenge while on vacation is not easy.
It took me 9 days to break the flow. I skipped the post yesterday, because I had such a great time at the spa, I completely forgot about the challenge. It was a special day with my family, and my personal reward for the hard work of the past few weeks. So I dedicated it to complete relaxation and indulgence. I don’t mean to give up, but I feel sad I couldn’t complete this challenge perfectly. Here is the reason why:
Maybe it is my personality (you know I’m rather a thinker than a doer) or because I never learned self-motivation, but I’ve always had problems keeping up promises to myself. I’m much better sticking to a plan when there is somebody who supervises me, checks the results or nudges me to keep going. I know this is not an entrepreneurial mindset (that I really need if I want to freelance or have my company at one point) and I want to change this.
The purpose of this challenge is not only to develop my writing skills (I’m not even sure it’s developing, because I’m not really focused on the technical aspect in these short posts, but more like the feeling of writing every day) but also to improve self-discipline. I want to teach myself to stick to a plan, to feel the weight of responsibility even though nobody holds me accountable.
9 days is more than my usual persistence span, so I’m already proud of myself. On the other hand, I shouldn’t be proud of myself just because I’m doing better than usual. I should be proud when I completed the challenge and I really accomplished something. What do you think? Am I too hard on myself? Should I give credit for baby steps, or should I feel bad because I skipped a day.
My feelings are controversial. I was so happy to spend some quality time with the people I love the most, I don’t mind not completing the challenge perfectly. Probably I overthink this, but I believe for my personal development I have to learn how to keep the work-life balance, when is it okay to relax, how to reward myself and how to prioritize.
(368 words, 40 mins)
Let’s talk about money
There is a famous quote about how too little and too much money influences your happiness. I didn’t find the quote, because I decided not to spend time on research while I do this challenge, but go with the flow and listen to my gut. The point of that famous quote is that if you don’t have enough money you are not happy, because chances are that your basic needs are not covered. If you have too much money you are miserable, because you lose the sense of purpose and replace human relationships with dollar bills.
I’m lucky enough not to experience poverty in my life. Growing up we were not rich, but never missed a meal or clothing or fun. We had the best childhood because our mom is the most resourceful and wise person on the planet. She has always been a boss when it came to finances. The queen of saving and smart shopping. Growing up under her surveillance, I never not knew how to handle money. Debt, overspending and debit card were unfamiliar expressions in my childhood.
That is why I’m shocked to hear that in the U.S having more than one debit card is standard. People spending their money (well actually the bank’s money) in advance, so they can repay it from their salary next month. What? Why would anyone ever do that? Why anyone would choose financial insecurity in exchange of unnecessary stuff? This is so far away from my mentality my by brain simply refuses to process this.
For me money means the numbers I have on my account and maybe some cash, but no more. If I can’t afford to travel or buy an expensive item or eat out then I don’t. I save up money, so in the future I can do all that stuff. But I would never ever spend non existent
money just for fun.I would rather live without travelling and eating out than risk future financial troubles.
On the other hand, when I have some extra money, I love to makes others happy with it. I like to buy gifts (however with my minimalist mindset I don’t want to buy useless stuff, so I usually don’t buy gifts) but even more: create experiences. This is why I decided that this year, to celebrate everybody’s birthday, I’m going to take my beloved Mom and brother for a wellness day. This way, we can spend some time together, relax (which is well deserved for all of us) enjoy the amazing weather and view from the spa..and just be together.
(423 words, 40 mins. I start every post with a title, then I have something in my mind, and the final result is completely different. I should start planning and have an outline where to start and where to end. On the other hand, I’m so proud of myself, because this is my first
Let’s talk about career
If you’ve been reading the 30×300 challenge you already know that in the past years I went through a massive personal development. My opinion about career and work-life balance is entirely different than 3-5 years ago thanks to the eye opening experiences in my life.
Before I had any idea about life, when I lived in my own reality during high school/uni, I thought I wanted to have an old fashioned career. Climb the ladder at a multinational company, work my ass off and get a well paid manager position at 40. I wanted to be successful in a socially accepted manner. Earn a lot of money, have power over people, and have an influence on the company’s operation.
Again… how naive I was. Today I’m just laughing at my old self.
Since then I left the pampering school environment. Indeed I left my original cultural and social environment that determined my worldview for so long. The world opened up for me, and my perception about career and success has changed completely.
Today success means happiness. Career means doing what I love. I’m appreciated and I get decently paid for my work. Loads of money and power are not motivators any more. I would rather take a job that pays less, but gives me freedom to travel and live my ad-hoc life than one that pays shitload of money but ties me to a chair in front of a screen. I would rather be a part of the team and work together with people, than above them. I would rather have fun and amazing experiences than sell my soul and work fork in a box and feel miserable in my office suit.
Is it the socially accepted definition of ‘success’? Not today. But I believe we are going there. Millenials are changing the way people think about success. They are more open for untraditional career paths, and care less about social expectation regarding their life. I completely understand why (maybe because I’m a millennial myself). I don’t care if somebody thinks I have a poor life because I don’t own a car or I don’t have a 9-5 job. I’m happy without those things. I don’t want to fit in a box just because others expect me to. I only have one life and I want to spend it as it pleases me, not others.
Of course here I talk about myself. There are people who are happy with an office job, 30 mins of lunch break and summer holidays. I don’t judge them. As long as they are happy I support all of them. But having that lifestyle just because that is socially accepted? No thank you.
(371 words, 40 mins + editing)
In Hungary I got used to the old school professor-speaking-student-listening way of teaching. I had to sit in lectures all day long, learn theory from books, recite learned theories on tests and never get practical experience. (Well we had an internship semester, but I didn’t use any school knowledge during that period, that is for sure.) In Denmark it is exactly the opposite. Every class is a discussion, students are as much part of the conversation as teachers. There are theoretical readings that we are supposed to read before the class. During the class the focus is not on teachers presenting those theories, but more like discussing our interpretations, and how we can apply those theories in real life. We are encouraged, sometimes expected, to contribute with our opinion. And there is the practical part. Instead of tests, we have projects. In groups we have to solve a problem, most of the cases are real life cases, and present our solution to the teachers. Instead of grades, we get feedback.
At firsts I hated this system. I didn’t understand why they can’t just leave me alone with my books, and ask me anything after a month of sitting at home and memorising the content word by word. Why do I have to spend hours after school working together with people I don’t even like? Why don’t teachers give me a straight answer to my question? Then after 1 year or so the picture had started to clear up and I understood: this is how it works in real life. Because in real life, I’m by myself. Nobody cares if I know the 4Ps or Porter’s five by heart. I can easily Google it any time. Nobody cares how many books I read about marketing strategy. They care about get things done. Being resourceful, dynamic and adept has its advantages when it comes to results. (I’m talking about marketing-branding field here. I’m sure it is not the same with doctors and lawyers.)
I’m not saying that theory is not important. Of course it is. I have to have a basic knowledge at least to know what to Google. But spending all the time on learning theory and not put them in practice is useless. I’m not saying that the Danish education model is perfect. Far from that. But I’m lucky to experience the two ends of the spectrum that opened up new perspectives for me.
(It seems I can only write diary level posts after 14 hour of work. Which is kind of understandable considering that my brain is mashed potato. It is fine for now. I’m not going to give up the challenge because I’m exhausted, just lower the bar. But I also know that if I really would like to improve, I have to take my time, prepare and focus on writing.)
Expat life has changed me
It is common sense that moving abroad turns your life upside down. Relocating to another country means new living environment, new people, new cultural norms and probably a new language. I’m not saying that these huge changes are not overwhelming in themselves but living in the everyday reality is even more challenging. Fight your way through the bureaucratic system to get registered or figure out how to go to the pediatrician or do your own tax assessment is hard.
These are only few examples I had to deal with in the past years and there are so much more. Small, everyday things that are easy and obvious in your own country where you grow up in the system. Moving to another country means leaving the familiar system, the comfort zone and accept that there are going to be challenges on the way. You have to be aware that as an outsider to the new system you are going to be treated differently. You have to be strong and persistent to get your will through. You have to be resourceful and adaptable to manage daily life. You have to see the process as an opportunity for self-development otherwise it’s going to break you.
At least this is how I did it. I could have given up when I didn’t find a ‘real’ job for 2 years. I cleaned during the night to get enough money to pay my rent. I didn’t. I hardened my skin and cycled in the ice cold nights for 30 mins to hoover for a few hours and then go to school in the morning. Or worked 5 days straight from 9am until 1am (16 hours). It wasn’t easy or fun, but looking back it was the best thing that could have happened. Facing all these challenges made me a stronger person. I learned how to stand up for myself, how to push myself in difficult situations, how to keep a positive mindset when everything seems gloomy. I learned how to appreciate small things, I learned how to live on a supertight budget, I learned the value of money and the value of people around me.
Even though it was probably the 2 most difficult years of my life I’m so grateful for them. I’ve changed completely (for the better): I’ve become more humble, tenacious and 100% self-reliant.
I wish everybody could have an eye and mind opening experience like this.
(412 words, 70 mins)
Fashion is my nemesis
I remember when I dreamed of becoming a world famous fashion blogger. I fantasized about walk in closets and shopping trips with so many bags I need a person to carry them for me. I envied all the fancy people at fancy fashion shows in their fancy designer clothes. I wanted to be the next Chiara Ferragni who doesn’t wear the same outfit twice and her biggest concern is which shoe matches her new Gucci skirt.
Oh how naive and careless I was. It feels like a completely different person. It is amazing how I changed 180°. Now I’m repelled by that lifestyle.
Today I see fashion simply as a business tool that is used to encourage people for overconsumption and mindless spending. Do you think we really need new clothes every two weeks? Because that is how often the fast fashion stores roll out new collections. By putting new styles on the shelves regularly their goal is to make the old styles obsolete. If you buy the hottest trend today, I guarantee it will be out of style in latest 6 months. No insta fashionista wants to be unfollowed because of his/her outdated sneakers. Keeping up with trends means weekly shopping trips, clothes worn 2-3 times and devastating card balance.
I know, I’ve been there myself. I used to shop to pass time or because I was in a bad mood. I lived in the false perception that lots of clothes equals good style. I couldn’t be more wrong. It is exactly the opposite. Buying too much means I’m looking for my style. Experimenting with colors, shapes and fabrics. It’s okay for a while, because we need to find what looks good on us, but most people stuck in this phase, and never settle. They keep buying, keep trying to follow all the trends even though it doesn’t fit them, and they might never realize that their sense of style is as phony as mine was.
I feel lucky, because I stopped caring about trends and being ‘in fashion’ when I learned about minimalism and mindful living. I realized that there are so much more I can do with time than trying to satisfy other’s expectations about my appearance. I’m not saying I’m ignoring how I look, but clothes are not a priority anymore. I still spend time to put together an acceptable outfit in the morning. The difference is that I only own a few items, I love all of them, I know they fit me and they mostly black so I don’t have to spend hours to match colors, decide about patterns or figure out what suits my mood. I’m not trendy or fashionable, and I’m absolutely fine with it. I feel confident in my clothes, I don’t spend my precious time&money on shopping. I’m completely against the concept of fashion and excessive consumption.
On the other hand I’m a big supporter of conscious consumption and personal style.
(Today was a bit hectic, so I couldn’t keep track of the time. Also I don’t really like this post, it doesn’t have a style. It’s more like a diary. But the point is that I kept my my promise, I wrote 500 words which shows that my self-discipline is improving. Also, I overcome my ‘perfectionist’ mindset and I posted something I was not proud of for the sake of personal-growth.)
How to survive 14 hour workday for 2 weeks
I’m lucky enough that 14 hours workday is not an everyday reality for me. 8 hours of struggle seems just fine, sometimes even a bit too much. Life can be a bitch from time to time and roll challenges in your cozy life just to remind you: don’t get too comfy, good things comes to the ones who work for it.
Well… I definitely work for it. 14 hours a day.
Before these 2 weeks even started it seemed impossible. I was so stressed about what will come: I will be exhausted, I will have no energy & time to go to the gym, cook or wash my hair. I was so frustrated it drained all my energy and made me miserable.
Then the day had come, the first 14 hours were gone, and I survived. It happened next day, and on the third day I had to realize that it is half as bad as I expected. I felt worse in the previous few days stressing about the possible negative outcomes than actually being in the situation.
This made me understand that attitude is a game changer. Why should I make this already difficult situation even worse by focusing on all the negatives when I could relive frustration by focusing on the positives? Since then I’m training my brain to find the silver lining. Every time when I feel down, I get myself to think about the stuff I’m grateful for.
“After all it is ONLY two weeks. I’ll have time to get some rest when I’m going on vacation. I’m LUCKY because both of my works are flexible so I can take 2 weeks off. I already planned everything and it is going to be awesome. I have extra work now, which means I have a bit of EXTRA MONEY to spend on the vacation. And I don’t have to worry about the cooking either, because I have FREE FOOD at both my workplaces.” (Free food, best thing that can happen to a foodie)
Did you get the feel of it? Yes, I could complain because this situation is not ideal. But life never will be. And if I keep focusing on the negatives I never will be happy or satisfied.
Happiness is a mindset. I’m grateful for all I have, and in hard times I have to keep in mind: I’m extremely lucky and I appreciate every small gifts that life offers. I’m trying to make the best out of every situation even if it means waking up 5 in the morning to be able to go to the gym before my long workdays.
Wherever you are in life I wish you can apply this mindset. It changes your life, believe me.
(464 words, 95 mins. After 30 mins I had to start over, because I wasn’t satisfied at all.
Let’s discuss why the hell do I have 14 hours work days.
Do you remember the moment standing with your crispy new university degree in one hand, probably a beer in the other hand, laughing around with friends about the good old schooldays? Do you also remember the day after, waking up still buzzed and as you are trying to retrieve some memories from last night a tiny question slowly creeping up on you? What am I going to do with my life? The moment when you realize that the good old schooldays are over and you have to get your shit together, start earning money and be a constructive part of the society is scary as shit.
I had this moment more than once in my life. Finished school, degree in one hand, beer in the other and the question hanging over my head: What the hell am I going to do with my life. I haven’t find the answer yet, so long story short, I’m still in school. I’m still trying to figure life out and in the meanwhile collect as many education as possible to increase chance of my future employment.
To finish this current one I have to complete 10 weeks of internship. During the summer obviously, because every student’s dream is to spend their probably last ‘free summer’ closed up in an office and work for 0 money. Yeps, this is how we roll in Denmark. I got paid for all of my previous internships in Hungary, but not in Denmark. Indeed the school puts in the contract that the internship MUST be unpaid. Like life isn’t hard enough already, you have to have 2 jobs. One that pays you and one where you start building your future career. (If you look at it like that, working for free is a good investment, but not everybody is lucky enough to get a dream internship.) I have one at a restaurant where I earn money, and one in an office where….well I go because I have to.
In the first 3 weeks with 2 jobs I worked in the restaurant 4 days a week. It was okay, I had some afternoons and Sunday off, I could do grocery shopping and even practice guitar. Then my boss realized he needs me more in the restaurant, so he asked me to come every day. I said yes, because as a student with a part time job, extra money is always nice. So I ended up with a 8-16 office job and a 16-22 restaurant job for two weeks. (Only two because I’m going on vacation soon.) No grocery shopping, no guitar, not even washing time. Lucky me I have socks and panties enough for 2 weeks.
Other than lack of energy I’m alive and well. Halfway through, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Tomorrow I’m going to write about how I survive this workload and even make room for workout and outings.
(500 words almost 2 hours. I didn’t have the flow in the beginning so the start was pretty slow.)
There is no such thing as perfect timing.
As you know, I’m a compulsive procrastinator. I tend to postpone my project plans because I convince myself the time is not right.
“I can’t start my sugarfast when my bf is here, we enjoy eating sweets together”
“I’m gonna be plant-based when I will have the money to buy almond milk for my morning smoothies”
“I can’t start practice writing because my schedule for the next month is C.R.A.Z.Y. In the next 2 weeks I have 14 hours work days every day (no kidding, this is happening right now) and after that I’m going home, so I’m going to be super busy with meeting friends, hugging my family, getting tanned and hiking. How could I pull of writing 300 words every day? Let’s start when I get back from vacation!”
But wait…I’m practicing writing right now, exactly in the middle of my 14 hour workday weeks. So what happened?
We can call it miracle, or simply I understood the lessons from my past experiences, but I finally accepted that there is no such thing as perfect timing or perfect conditions. I can always find excuses to procrastinate. I can always blame the circumstances for failing to get started with a project. I did so far and already missed too many opportunities. Now I see that the circumstances are not the problem, but my attitude.
What is the right attitude?
Yes, I can, if I want to and I will.
The ‘want to’ part is the trickiest one.To commit yourself to something (for real) you have to be sure you truly want to do that something. My something at the moment is writing. I want to get better at writing. So good indeed I can make a living of it. There is no better timing to start achieving my dreams than…right now.
(318 words in 80 mins with editing. I can do better!)