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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Erik Bertrand Larssen. All opinions are 100% mine.
This past week, after reading the book Hell Week: Seven Days to Be Your Best Self by Erik Bertrand Larssen, I undertook the Hell Week Challenge, doing my best to push myself and follow Larssens instructions to make improvements in all areas of my life. If you are curious as to what Hell Week is all about, read my first post, Take Back Your Life with the Hell Week Challenge. I wrote about the first three days of Hell Week here. Check those posts out if you havent already. I just wrapped up my Hell Week Challenge as a stay at home/work from home mom. Here is how I pushed through the Hell Week Challenge and why, after experiencing it all, I would do it again.
The Final Four Days of Hell Week
Thursday – After a solid three days of Hell Week, I was feeling confident and pretty good about my performance up to that point. However, Thursday is designed to be the hardest day. You just made it over the hump of Wednesday and you can see the finish line, but BAM! Thursday hits you and it is tough. You really have to take an intense look at your life. When I read this I thought, Hey dude. Ive been taking a tough look at my life and making new habits all week. Cant we chill out a little? Nope! You have to push through Thursday and then you see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The craziest part of Thursday is that you are supposed to pull an all-nighter and skip sleeping all together. However, Larssen points out that if you have medical or safety reasons that require you to sleep, you should skip that part. I have my son with me all day, every day. I dont have alternative childcare so I could not stay up all night and be a safe and effective mom on Friday. I modified Thursday and stayed up later than normal to finish a project, but I did get enough sleep that I felt like I would be alert and awake on Friday.
In addition to staying up late or not sleeping at all, you face your fears and work on your patience during the fourth day of Hell Week. Facing my fears was not something I wanted to do because I have a tendency to worry. My faith demands that I not worry. Larssen explains that you have to take on your fears in order to defeat them. So, you say your fears out loud. I will admit that this exercise had me a little shaken up. A lot of my fears center around my son and I did not like saying those things out loud. However, by saying my fears out loud, I realized a lot of them were blown way out of proportion in my head and I didnt need to be so afraid. Knowing your fears can allow you to prepare for bad outcomes instead of just focusing on them. You expect the best and prepare for the worst and can walk through life more confidently with that strategy.
The type of patience that you focus on and practice during Hell Week is the long term patience needed to achieve all your goals. Not everything you want to do can happen by just pushing through a little harder. Some stuff just takes time and if you cant see the big picture and wait long enough, you will miss out on some pretty great accomplishments. I see now that I need to be more patient with myself. To be really transparent here, for the sake of encouraging anyone else who is dealing with this, I have a lot of debt from law school. A LOT. I feel like it will never be paid off and I just begrudgingly pay the minimum payment every month. I see now that I need to be more patient with the goal of paying off my debt while working harder to achieve it at the same time. No, I cant pay off my student loans next month, but I will persevere and I will work harder to pay them off as quickly as I can.
Since I couldnt stay awake all night and still safely care for my son on Friday, I skipped the all-nighter but I did stay up later and I achieved a lot by working in the right mode and managing my time wisely. Thursday was an incredibly full but incredibly rich day during my Hell Week Challenge.
Friday – The theme for Friday is rest and restitution. If you are able to stay up all night, you will be overjoyed to see that rest is part of the next day. You dont take the day off though. This is still Hell Week! I awoke on Friday, tired from a later bedtime but proud and happy for taking on such big challenges. Like Larssen recommends, I started the day with some exercise. I needed the jump start because I had a lot to accomplish on Friday and Saturday.
On Friday you analyze your normal rest habits and find the ideal amount of rest for you because there are consequences for being an over-rester and an under-rester. I am pretty confident that no mother of a preschooler is an over-rester. When you have a 3 or 4 year old, you rarely rest and if you do get a break during the day, it is a short one! Rest isnt just about sleep. Exercise can be a rest from working. A bath can be a rest after cleaning up. Hanging out with your spouse once your kids are asleep is a rest that is good for your marriage. After considering all the factors involved with rest that Larssen presents, I am going to focus more on resting with my husband. We need to hang out, just the two of us more often. I also need to take more moments in my every day to just be quiet and pray. Larssen suggests meditation, but I know prayer will be more useful for me and it is something I crave more time for anyway.
Even with a very full day of shopping and preparing for my sons birthday party, I stuck with my Hell Week rules and had some big realizations on how I need to prioritize rest in a healthy and helpful way in order to have a better relationship with God, my husband and my son. Not everything in Hell Week has to be about work and I found that my focus on Friday wasnt about work at all.
Saturday – When I hit Saturday I did a little happy dance. Only 2 more days left in Hell Week and I knew that I still had some great introspection to come and I would still be making some needed improvements to myself and my habits. After 5 days of being pleased with lessons learned, you look forward to the next day. Saturday is designed to be your happy day. I think thats perfect. Saturday should always be a happy day!
Saturday is about realizing the power of your own voice. Your inner dialogue can make or break your day.
- I need to stop self-defeating talk! Even on my worst, most worn out day, I can still pick myself up and keep trying my best.
- I have to choose how I will talk to myself and understand the power I hold there.
- I need to focus on keeping my thoughts in perspective and using words that will drive me toward what I need to accomplish instead of using passive words that actually set me up to fail if things dont go so well.
I caught myself speaking in a negative or defeated way all day long and that made me mad. I am overwhelmingly grateful to the Hell Week Challenge for giving me this realization so that I can change my bad habits before it is too late! I dont want my son to grow up hearing his mom putting herself down or acting defeated. I want to raise a confident, positive, happy child and that starts with my own thoughts and word choices everyday.
Sunday – Sunday is the last day of Hell Week and it is all about putting things into perspective. Larssen has you focus on the most intense thing possible for gaining perspective on your life: your death. He believes focusing on your mortality is a great motivator. You dont focus on your death in order to scare yourself into getting stuff done. You focus on death to remind yourself that your time to accomplish things in this life is limited and that you will want to look back on your life with pride and a feeling of accomplishment. For me as a Christian, I do not believe that death is the end of me. It will just be the beginning, but it will be the end of my time on this earth as we know it and God does have a plan for me and I was designed to accomplish great things while I am here. Because of this, stopping to reflect on my mortality was a good motivator for me, especially when I think of my long term goals.
The second task for Sunday was to define my values. My value system is shaped by my belief in God and this is something I focus on everyday already so this task was not new to me. Finally, I was asked to think of people that I can look to as role models. I thought of possible role models for all the different aspects of my life like being a mom, being a writer, being a wife and being a Christian. I know I need to check in with people who have more experience in all those areas in order to be my best self. I loved the last day of Hell Week because it really did bring every lesson gained from the tasks all week together so that I can move forward with my new habits.
Why Hell Week Matters
Hell Week is tough. The rules alone are enough to fill up your day. It is especially hard to stick to it all because life with a young child can be so random. One minute you are focused on laundry and then your kid breaks or spills something and you have to handle that. You plan on hitting the gym at 9:00 a.m. and it takes twice as long to get ready as normal because of an unexpected dispute over teeth brushing so you end up going in the afternoon.
As a work from home mom, I benefitted from the exercises on modes and time management. Saturday was the most powerful and life changing day for me because I realized how often I am negative and self-defeating. I have now set goals for myself in this area of my life and I look forward to seeing all the positive changes here and how those changes will allow me to improve in every aspect of my life. Hell Week may be divided up into different themes but each theme is interconnected, and at the end of it all you see the whole picture, and the whole picture I saw was a strong woman, who can make healthy choices and accomplish anything she desires with the right focus, values, thoughts and decisions.
I sincerely believe that we all can benefit from the lessons from Hell Week!
Up for even more challenge? Complete the Daily Mom 31 Day Organization Challenge: House Edition to get your home in order with just a few minutes, every day for a month. You can start this anytime and you won’t believe the difference it will make.