Over a month ago, I stopped taking warm showers. Forever.

The radical change came because of this article. I was looking to improve my life, so I blindly put trust in tips written by someone I didn’t know. It worked out.

The first few days of showering with cold water were easy because I was eager to do something different that pushed my limits. As time progressed, my motivation waned. I was much less eager to step into a stream of cold water before or after a long day. There were times when I almost gave in and turned the knob to warm, but I never did, partly because I’m stubborn, and partly because I remembered my “why.”

You see, taking cold showers isn’t just about being different, there are countless benefits that come from a few minutes of discomfort. I have experienced improved focus, attention, and motivation. I’ve been more awake in the mornings and calmer before bed. So take the challenge: for 30 days straight, only take cold showers.

Recently I have started walking. It’s a strange thing to say because you’re always walking somewhere, but I have started walking nowhere. Hour long walks to no place in particular have opened my eyes to lots of things.

First, I have experienced improved focus and personal awareness. Walking has allowed me to connect with myself and become reacquainted with my inner voice. In a day of always being plugged into podcasts, music, and videos, it has been good for me to disconnect.

Second, I have had some great ideas. Walking with nothing but thoughts as a companion has allowed my mind to go places that it otherwise wouldn’t have gone. I’ve had thoughts that I wouldn’t have had if I was listening to someone else talk to me on a podcast.

Third, I’ve learned that it’s really hard to slow down and listen. On one instance in particular, I couldn’t get a song out of my head while I was on a walk. I tried to listen to everything around me: the birds, the leaves, the wind. But try as I might, I couldn’t get that song from my mind. I would buckle down and try hard to focus on listening, but within 30 seconds, that song would be back. I know that slowing down and listening is a skill that will require time, and unplugging is a sacrifice that may get difficult at times, but I’m willing to try it because of the end result.

So take this challenge, too: go on a walk every day for 30 days. It doesn’t have to be long, but it does need to be focused. Sometimes that will include music or a podcast, and sometimes it won’t.

Taking cold showers has greatly improved my focus and alertness. Taking walks has improved my focus and personal awareness. The lessons from both of these actions have helped me get closer to finding the direction I want to take. Most of all, I’ve become more aware of my productivity, because time is money.

My time is too valuable to waste, and so is yours.

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