It’s 1 November and we’ve got an entire month under lockdown to come.
Ireland’s been under level 5 Covid-19 restrictions since late October and they’ll remain in place until 1 December. Both France and the UK have announced similar arrangements this past week in the hope of reducing the spread of the virus before Christmas.
As such, we’re supposed to have this “extra time” on our hands, or at least be given the feeling of having added time by having our movements restricted, venues closed and the likes.
With no firm end in sight for overall restrictions, the HSE have published plenty of advice around protecting your mental health in the current climate.
And when it comes to mental health, there’s nothing I like more than a good challenge – so that’s what I’m setting myself for November, a number of challenges.
It’s not about succeeding and blowing them out of the water, but about challenging yourself – or in this case, myself – to do more, be better and look after numero uno for a little while.
In the first wave of the pandemic it was often joked about never getting time like this again, the opportunity to down tools and do something to upskill, educate, inform or improve your overall wellbeing.
While my days still start early and end late, I’m laying down a marker to to myself for one month and it all begins today (or at least Monday).
Some are on the serious side, some are on the fun side and may seem utterly mundane, some may never get done, but you can be sure I’ll make the effort.
1. Write (blog) once a day
I’ve enough blogs and enough outlets to write under. From gaming to food, music to podcasting and technology, there’s enough outlets now (with this one included) to satisfy my need and love of writing.
Now, I’m not talking about every day for the next year. Similarly, I’m not talking about every day, on every blog for the next year. There’s a month at play here. By writing once a day – whether it’s food, gaming or otherwise – I feel I will improve my writing and build on to a good library of content.
Therefore, my challenge is to write 30 blog posts on varying topics over the next 30 days. You can count this as one of them.
2 Start a new course, learn something new
I’ve signed up for the Optimium Nutrition Health & Performance course.
It’s a comprehensive, evidence-based course designed to upskill fitness professionals and coaches on all things nutrition. I’m neither a fitness professional or coach, but I do spend a lot of time interviewing and chatting with people who are. I’ve got a keen interest in food (eating and cooking) so this is both aligns with my interests and puts me on the edge of my comfort zone.
This month I’m hoping to up my game when it comes to nutrition for health, exercise and performance, by taking up a course.
We’re all well versed with Zoom classes, YouTube tutorials and the likes. Maybe it’s a new dish you want to try in the kitchen. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to learn piano but didn’t know where to start.
There’s loads of resources just a search away.
3. No takeaways
I should say that point two and three are unrelated, they just happen to be beside each other in this list. The takeaway side of things originally stemmed from me saying “I’m going to put the NO back into November but refusing a whole bunch of things next month”, or something along those lines.
Christmas is on the way and takeaways are a luxury while restaurants are closed. In our case, it’s either chips or Chinese. Some weekends it’s one or the other, this weekend was both.
On a budgeting side, that could mean anywhere from €100 – €130 on takeout food when I could recreate the same for a lot less and put some kind of a healthier kick on things. You can see where I’m going with that and I’ll document it at Ken On Food.
You’d think it’s a simple thing but small changes all add up.
4. Push that exercise
I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I was born to be outdoors. I love the air, land, sea, travel, the wind, the rain and the rest. Yet, I spend the majority of my time indoors between studio work and home life.
It’s important, for the body and the mind, to make time for a bit of exercise. The recommended level may be 30 minutes a day, but if you’re not lifting a finger Monday through Sunday that can be a shock to the system.
Get up and do something that gets your heart rate somewhat elevated and maybe gets the wind in your face. In my case, I’ve already signed up for this year’s Zoom Academy Road, I just need to finish it in the next 3 weeks.
5. Finish the books I’ve started
I used to have a subscription to Kindle Unlimited. I’m fairly sure that means I was either reading a lot, or optimistic about reading a lot. 2018/19 turned out to be my best year of late – a simple challenge of a book a month and I exceeded it by a few months worth.
In 2020, I’m struggling to get through two books – not because of the content, simply in not allowing the time to enjoy the books.
Those in limbo at the moment are Permanent Record, the Edward Snowden biography and The Man Who Never Was by Mark Dawson, I’ve had one or two audio books on the go that have fallen by the wayside but they can always be caught up on in the car.
Amazon tells me I bought Snowden’s book on 27 October 2019. It’s taken me over 12 months to get 90 pages in. That said, it’s been a whirlwind 12 months.
The real challenge is in getting to turn the pages all the way to the end.
6 Launch some new projects
I’ve a mate who I’ll speak with at least once a week and who holds the opinion of locking things down altogether, shut up shop until February or March. It may be the equivalent of going down to the Winchester and waiting for it all to blow over, but his point is this – it gives you the time to launch something new.
Even if you don’t get to launch it today, tomorrow, next month, next year, the feeling of working on a new project can be exhilarating and can really get the creative juices going.
In my case, I know that I’ve got three projects I’d love to kick off and some things I’ve already launched today alone.
For new projects, I’m working on some new musical developments, looking at a coffee company and I’ve a music blog idea on the boil since this time last year. Now is a good time to find a few hours – weekends in particular when we’ve got no visitors and nowhere to go – and invest those hours into new projects.
As for something new that’s already kicked off, take a listen to the latest addition to the Ken On Food podcast.
7. Get Pisa promoted in Football Manager 2020
This is the longest running saga when it comes to gaming. I had great visions in January, unboxing FM20 that my nights would be filled with European football, training regimes, contract negotiations, title races and relegation battles.
I was very wrong.
At time of writing, there’s three weeks to the release of the 2021 edition of Football Manager and I’ve got six games to go in my FIRST season with Pisa. It’s been hanging over my head for months and I just need to get them either promoted or just finish the season.
This one is for the sense of accomplishment in finishing a job that was started in what seems like another life ago.
What will you do?
Will you be doing something to challenge yourself over the month of November? Is it all a bit too much? Is there enough out there to challenge you? Let me know in the comments below.