Thursday, 7 March 2013

The 30 Day challenge - Day 30. The art of finishing.

I know how he is feeling right now...
So finally! The end of the 30 day challenge is here! Only a mere 126 days overdue! Its not that long! Is it? What on Earth can you achieve in 126 days? Well, thats the amount of time it's taken me to write the last 7 blog posts for The Focused Mind! It's the amount of time the US Congress will sit in session this year! Its the length of time the Da Vinci Science Centre in Pennsylvania exhibited the Bodies Revealed exhibit to 15 million people. And apparently it's the length of time it takes to find your career (should you want one) with your humanities degree! A popular e-book it seems. :-)

Joking aside, I went into the challenge in October with the greatest of intentions and a voyage into the unknown. Initially, I was inspired by Matt Cutts TED talk where he advocated trying something new each day for a month. Equally, I'd been reading on and off the blog of Anna Dahlstrom who went way beyond my remit, and blogged each day for a whole year! (Congratulations on doing that by the way Anna!). During my blogging content explosion, former BBC R & D colleague Ian Forrester did a similar 28 day blogging challenge.

What lessons did I learn from the experience?

Fundamentally, time management (or lack of!) and how long it takes to write web content of a decent standard!

Looking back at the first post I stated I was going to:

"...set myself the small challenge of writing 30 engaging blog posts in a month"

For 23 days I did - moreorless - keep up that level of productivity. Where Ian found he was blogging more than once a day on occasion, I was having to spend more time going off and researching various sport psychology content/fact checking/verifying what was publishable, sometimes eating up hours - which I hadn't initially legislated for.

A couple of very unexpected things also happened... By doing the very researching on this blog, I was learning about topics that helped me attain a PhD post at UCLAN in Preston. That was a very profound and unexpected by-product of the blogging process!

I also had to break off from blogging whilst I was revising for my BPS Sport Psychology Chartership exams and getting ready for 2 months travel to South America. It was great to actually be able to include and blog about the race to Christ the Redeemer in Rio that I did whilst away at Christmas!

But, through updating each post via my Twitter account and putting out a call for guest bloggers to get in touch/contribute, I was able to learn about and publish on "running with will power" (Thanks Simon Freeman), find out more about what it's like to live in Kenya and train with elite athletes (thanks Ad Finn), learn more about Paleo living and diet (thanks Simon Whyatt), find out just how much music and running obsessions have in similarity (thanks Gilles Peterson), explain how great I think the Chimp Paradox concept is (thanks Steve Peters), offer practical advice on how to improve athlete mental toughness (thanks Duncan Simpson), what the secrets of top level pro cycling training are (thanks Carlos Taboas), what you need to know if you want to train for a triathlon (thanks Nick Holt), and finally, how the winning and losing margins in sport can be swung by momentum (thanks Greg Young).

The response has been enormous - re-tweets, new followers, and traffic that I hope I can retain by continuing to write about my passions for educating to those interested about sport psychology and coaching. I don't feel enough of what is taught and learnt in higher education on these subjects gets filtered down to those people who need to read about it. That is why I try and translate the academic without dumbing down, to pass on to those who will most benefit. The academics who have helped contribute over the last month have got this, but also have said that it is much tougher writing for this audience than their usual lectures and publications!

I hope that if you've taken the time to read my ramblings you have enjoyed (and learnt) something along the way. The benefit of doing this exercise is that I still have so much I want to add on to the blog. I research on eating disorders and depression in athletes. There is definitely a requirement to highlight and help in this area. There are books and films to review (Bradley Wiggins & O Zelador in particular), more guest blogs and advice to pass on.

As the picture for this post shows, maybe its not as important to come in at the desired finish time, its  more important to cross the line and finish full stop. It is a cliche I know, but taking on this challenge has definitely been as much about the journey as the destination. For now I'm going to do what is probably the most apt at this point. Close down the computer, stick on my kit and go for a run.

Thanks to all,

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