May 2, 2011

The 30-Day Challenge

Good morning!

And welcome back for the 30-day challenge. I’m going to be honest, this started out as a pretty simple challenge basically just about social media. But the more comments, facebook posts & emails I got about this yesterday…the more I realized that it needed to be something more than that. That maybe we all really need something more than that right now.

So it’s now a challenge made up of five parts. Five small steps to getting back to….you. To remembering why you’re in this in the first place. To getting that fire back and gaining a clear vision, maybe for the very first time, on where it is that you’re trying to go. I don’t think it holds all the answers. But I do think that it might just give you enough space & focus to find them on your own. We’ll be giving you a different step every day this week, and you’ll have the next 30 days to see them through. The next 30 days that could maybe change the course of the next 30 years. Or, maybe just the course of the next 30 days. Either way, it’s worth it.

Here we go, don’t get scared now.

Step 1: Eliminate the negative. Accentuate the positive. This first step is really all the challenge was going to be about originally. So that should tell you just how important of a step I think it is. As I mentioned in this earlier post, I’ve been filtering out the negativity on my twitter feed. But the real truth is…lately I’ve been doing this in all forms of communication with the outside world: blogs, twitter, facebook….and yes, even real life people. And I can’t tell you what a difference it’s been making. I had no idea how much all of it was weighing me down until I decided to let go of it.

I don’t know about you, but I absorb other people’s negativity like a sponge. I soak it in, every last drop, and then I hold on to it until it ruins my entire day. Even if it had absolutely nothing to do with me, just seeing someone’s angry rant or a comment thread bashing someone else gives me a pit in my stomach that I carry around the rest of the day. It sucks me in. I give my energy to it. I lose a little bit of faith in humanity because of it. I stew on it. I stress over it. Until all that negativity becomes a part of me too.

Now just imagine what it does if the thing I saw was actually about me (and believe me, we have more than our fair share of those). Yea, that can take days to bounce back from.

But sometimes, and here’s the hard part, it’s our own negativity that we have to deal with. Sometimes, if we’re being really honest, it’s the negativity that we bring to the table by comparing ourselves to others or wishing for what they have that really causes us the most harm. Because it hardens our hearts. Makes us ungrateful for all the things we do have. Postpones our happiness to some undisclosed point in time in the future. And when we give all of our fuel to that fire, we should not be surprised to wake up one day and find that our own spark inside us has burnt out.

Now since I don’t know of any overnight cure for the disease that is comparison or the epidemic of negativity that surrounds us, in this case the best medicine will have to be prevention. A one-month detox if you will. A chance to get all of that negativity out of our system, so that somewhere under the broken pieces we can start to find us again.

So what am I suggesting? For the next 30 days, I want you to go on a communication detox. From the blogs you read, to the people you follow on facebook and twitter, to the people you allow into your world in real life. Completely and vigilantly filtering out all the negative. But here’s the thing, and maybe the most important part: this is not one of those drink only water and cayenne pepper and starve yourself for the next 30 days kind of detoxes. You know, metaphorically speaking. This is the kind of detox where we’re not only eliminating all that is bad for us, but we’re making sure to feed ourselves plenty of the good stuff in its place. The kind of stuff that actually nourishes us. And pushes us to be better people.

So here’s your action plan. For the next month, in each of these areas I want you to do this:

blogs: For the next 30 days, I want you to create a temporary RSS feed in your reader of choice. Actively add in only blogs that you believe will feed your soul. Things that inspire you, uplift you, get the creative juices flowing. For me, this will be things like design blogs, food blogs, the Daily Om, Joel & Victoria Osteen‘s blog, and then I’ll also add in anyone whose blog I already read who has a track record of consistently putting out feel good posts, like Miss Gail Werner who I just adore . As for your normal reader, I want you to close it. And make a pledge not to open it for the next 30 days. Anything that you didn’t actively add to your temporary reader as something you believe will continue to inspire you gets filtered out for the next month. Anything that is constantly negative or drama-filled gets filtered out. And any blog that you currently read, as good and well-meaning as it might be, that consistently brings out the comparison monster in you (yes even if that includes this blog) gets filtered out. It’s only for 30 days. It will still be there when you get back.

twitter: Now I want you to go and do something similar for twitter. If you’re not ready to filter out all the negativity on your regular account, create a temporary account just for the next month. From that account, follow only positive people and people who will push you to live better/ think more creatively. For me, that list will include Women’s Health magazine, Dave Ramsey, Tim Sanders, Joel Osteen, Ellen, and Rachel LaCour to name a few. For the next 30 days, check only this timeline. You’re still more than welcome to update your own status under your real twitter account. But I also challenge you to only tweet (or retweet) positive, encouraging or helpful things. Be part of the solution, not the problem.

facebook: Plain and simple, stay off of the facebook news feed. It is a black hole of bitterness that will suck you in every time. If there is someone you want to check in with, actively go to their page. The only exception for going to the home page is to check birthdays. Then go leave that person a little birthday note. Spread some love.

and finally, real life people: For the next 30 days, surround yourself only with positive people. Grab lunch with them, take them out to coffee, have them over for dinner. Dream with them, and let them push you to dream bigger. For anyone who has a track record of sucking your energy dry and spewing negativity to everyone around them (you know who they are), well for them you’re going to be too busy washing your hair. For the next 30 days.

Whew. Ok, there it is. Step 1.

I know it sounds like a lot. And maybe even a little unattainable right now. After all, 30 days is a long time to make such drastic changes in the daily rounds we’ve become so accustomed to. But it’s called a challenge for a reason. And at the end of the day, if it wasn’t hard work it wouldn’t be worth it.

And as you go boldly in the direction of becoming who you were meant to be, just keep reminding yourself of this:

So who’s up for the challenge?? Let us know by leaving a note in the comment box below, and that way we can all help support each other! Let us know what you plan on doing to eliminate the negative & accentuate the positive in your life for the next month!

  1. ashley barnett

    Woohoo!! This couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I put in my notice at the corporate job and I’m going full force as of May 20th. And let me tell you, there are DEFINITELY those people who are already nay-saying me, I can FEEL their negative energy and doubts about me. There are double the people who are pushing me forward and supporting me, and those will be the only voices I hear. Thank you for this, I am ready for this adventure and this challenge!! :)

  2. Glenda

    Sigh…this just gives me the shivers but, you are absolutely right – thanks for the reality check J&M ♥you guys!!

  3. Nicole Gravatt

    I am so in! I have already done this in my real life people so I will pledge to do the other and randomly show up in those people’s lives I value and appreciate just to say hi and maybe take them some food happiness. Thank you for your challenge and I will accept it and conquer it! God Bless!

  4. Liz Bedwell

    I’ve been feeling the same way lately and this challenge could not have come at a better time. Thank you so much for being such an inspirational and motivated positive force. Of course I will have the J&M blog on my Google Reader list this next 30 days and on. :)

  5. katie yuen

    This is the best 30-day challenge I’ve seen thus far! I’m just like you Mary the way I suck in other’s energy! I’ve been meaning to work on filtering the negativity out but the intention just gets lost in the daily motions..


  6. Heidi Shartrand

    totally doing this. i’ve started doing this with my facebook, simply because i do just as you do Mary, i take everyone’s negativity & bad decisions and allow them to bring me down. i’ve started deleting, hiding and de-friending those whose posts bother me or bring me down. its so lovely!

    also, i’m turning in my Hallmark Institute of Photography final portfolio in 30 days – i don’t think this is coincidence! <3

  7. Karen Stott

    LOVE this Mary…and seriously LOVE you for making this challenge. It is so so helpful to only surround myself with positive people. But it does take work. I am SO ready for this challenge. xoxo!

  8. Angelsea urban

    Ok, I’m in. The negative people part is going to be hard. One of them is my employee :{. She’s GREAT, but glass is always empty no matter how hard I try to help her fill it. Any advice on that would be AWESOME! lol

  9. Linda

    Thanks for this post. I have been working on this for the last 3 years, and it is so important and a choice. It’s funny because today of all days, I was feeling uninspired and down and really needed to hear this again because it has given me a spark or and umph to keep continuing on even when your having a down day. Thank you for this inspiration.
    Oh, and I love your pictures, your attitude and blog. You are one of my weekly positive inspirations.

  10. Christy

    This is PERFECT timing! I just started to do this in my own life last week (after having a terrible day at my day job, hearing negativity ALL day from co-workers that I soaked up like a sponge – just like you – until I got home that night at dumped all that negativity/frustration/etc. on my husband. Not good!)

    So I actually created this sign for my desk the next day: haha!

    What are the odds?! Anyway – thank you for the reminder! And I am going to continue to implement the no negativity policy in my life! Can’t wait to see the rest of the challenge!!! :)

  11. Lesley

    Ah Mary, it was like you are inside my head right now! I’ve been going through my RSS feed taking out everyone who makes me feel not good enough, and filing it with positive people. Same with facebook, twitter I’ve always been selective so its okay for right now. But I’m so in on your 30 day challenge, what fun to have a group of people who will support and encourage! Booyaa 30!

  12. Julia

    Count me in! I’m going to sign up for twitter and follow some inspiration people! And then I’m going to read all of the books on your book club list! Positivity IN, Negativity OUT!

  13. Wendy Cunningham

    This is something I announced on my blog just a couple of weeks ago. I am so happy to hear that I am not the only one that struggles with this. Now I have faith that I can overcome the negativity. Thank you for being real, and allowing us to embark on this journey along side of you!

  14. Sarajane Case

    That comparison monster is a jerk! I love this post!

  15. Linda Kuo

    Hi Mary,

    I’m in. I was already part way there. I only subscribe and read positive uplifting blogs. My blog only dispenses the positive and encouraging. The FB one is good. It’s exactly what you said. A black hole. The most negativity that I run up against is within myself. That is the biggest challenge I have! I couldn’t believe (but then again I can) it when I read that you receive negative comments about yourselves. But then on second thought, once you put yourself out there and also achieve, it’s open season. Ironically, before I read your challenge, I had started the ball rolling and began to cut out anything that didn’t feed me in a positive way. Glad to know you’re in the same camp xo

  16. Crystal

    Thank you for this! I’m in!

  17. Tira J

    I’M IN! Just wish this was starting June 1st, because that is really when all the negativity in my life will be gone. Actually, May 20th. Most of the negativity I have in my life is from what goes on at my day j0b, which is sad, and one of the reasons I am leaving. However, I fully accept this challenge and will do my best to try to turn all of their negatives into positives. I have already cleaned up my twitter and rss feeds. YES, FB is the black hole and I get sucked in. I love the idea of just never looking at that darn newsfeed. On my iphone, I have my few favorite people saved and just go to their profile. it makes life better. :) Thank you Mary!

  18. Gail

    Ahhhh..Mary! You’re just the SWEETEST! I have to say, I’m sure for a lot of us, your blog would be in our "good news" feed. You and Justin do so much for this industry in boosting positivity — this awesome challenge is just the latest!!!

  19. Karen (Mikols) Bonar

    Great challenge! :) 1) Rachel Marten of Clark Marten photography talks about this. You’ll love her if you haven’t met her; 2) growing up, we were not allowed to say the word "can’t" … if we did, we had to put a coin in the jar. Sort of like the cuss jar, but a jar to banish negative words. It worked. I rarely say the word, even in my grown up days.

  20. Alicia Candelora

    I read this post shortly after you blogged it and thought to myself "hmm…I like this but I won’t do it fully. I’ll make some modifications". Then I got an email. One of those that, like you said, totally affects and/or ruins your entire day. The kind that makes your pulse soar, your heart beat fast and gives you that sinking feeling in your stomach. And just like that, I was ready to sign my name in blood to this challenge.

  21. Lara

    I’m in. Facebook definitely has the ability to make me feel awful sometimes…so that one is great. I just (like 4 days ago) joined twitter, so I’m going to search out positive people on there and only follow them. And I’m excited to feed my mind and soul with positive words from my favorite blogs…the ones that don’t make me compare myself. As for friends…I’m quite lucky to be surrounded by people who support and nurture one another. Fantastic idea!

  22. Lori Calhoun

    Love this!

  23. Yesenia Emeric

    I’m up for the challenge. Negativity is not helping me grow and fb is not helping. Taking a deep breath and gonna do it

  24. Nancy Mitchell

    I am so up for the challenge, but it will have to start tomorrow:) Haha…I have to get all my ducks in a row! Thanks for the daily inspiration and NO WAY am I deleting this blog for 30 days!

  25. ajira

    I’m in. Like you, I also find it easy to get drawn into people’s dramas and ill will. I’ve been working on surrounding myself with less of it, and also on letting go when I notice I’m holding it. My biggest issue is that I often think that I ought to keep giving people another chance. You know?

  26. Christa

    Yay….so excited for this challenge…..and here we go :)

  27. katie

    love this :) :)

  28. karen

    I am in as well. Facebook is my negativity hole…I will be avoiding it and looking for more inspiring home design blogs. I am inspired lately by all the colors!! Thanks for the challenge

  29. Maggie

    It’s like you’re in my brain :) Love these ideas! Positivity, here we come!

  30. Alison

    Seriously I read this post yesterday and 15 later I received a text from one of those people in my life who is sucking the positive and emotional energy out of me. I took a deep breath and told her I was tied up. And I felt better. Today is a facebook cleaning and a long hard look at the blogs I spend my time on. Thank you so much for this!

  31. Susan Wacht

    I may be a day or two late but what a great challenge!

  32. Chase+Jaime

    Mary! We are with you all the way! Let’s embrace this uplifting way of business relationships and the journey we are on! Thank you so much for the challenge! We’re in it together!

  33. Charisse

    What an awsome challenge Mary and right at a great time for me. I have recently been feeling that overwhelmed, I can’t do it, comparing myself feeling. Before reading this, I realized that fb & twitter are sucking some life from me right now due to me not using them in a productive manner. I was all set to go cold turkey for this next week. I like your suggestion about setting up an inspirational twitter account and ignoring my fb feed. Think I will join and try to reset my mojo! Happy 30 days!

  34. Janet Galland-Hunt

    I put a reminder in my calendar to check this everyday. No matter who you are, you can make life a better place for everyone!!

  35. Ray

    Wow, what an entry! You really need to write a book. I’m not into "self-help" books, but I’d buy yours. That’s for sure! =D A lot of social networking sites do breed bad energy. You’re so right. Negativity floats around like fine wine. And it’s so easily attainable. The negativity that we surround ourselves in (whether it be from others or ourselves) is bad news. That’s why it’s good to tune out the bad. You’re absolutely right. And to fight the darkness from within, no matter how bad it gets. To be hopeful. I’m going to try to join in on your challenge. Hopefully I’ll succeed. Hopefully, we all do. ;o)

  36. Sarah

    I desperately need this. I am in the stage of my business where I feel like it is just about to take off, but I is still not consistently taking on new clients. Facebook is a black hole of bitterness for me. I get so jealous and envious of my local competition, who happen to be my friends too, but who have been in business longer than me and are therefore experiencing a different kind of success. There are many a day where I shut down after reading others posts and feel insignificant in return. I NEED to do this. Thank you.

  37. mireille

    I found this post today but no reason not to start because everyone can use a little positivity and I love a challenge. So as I have not been on FB for more than a week I will continue to do that. Create my own twitter list, makes it fare easier to follow and not spend my time there unnecessary and the same applies for the blogs. Go for inspiration. I just started a vacation so this could not have come at a better time!

  38. sarah

    girl i’m on this like white on rice. I need a major reality check & some life spring cleaning is on the agenda

  39. Karen

    I just found this challenge. I’m starting a few days behind but I think this is going to be good.

  40. Eryn Kesler

    I’m late to the 30 day challenge, but I’m going for it none the less. GOOD stuff here, guys, GOOD stuff. I LOVE it!

  41. Betty Bird

    I really like this its consistent with my vow to be the exact opposite of my father. I kinda of do this naturally of course the drawback is people say your antisocial.

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