Take the 1000 Day Challenge!

First off: This isn’t the start of a new longer-term Primal Challenge. 1000 days would be fun, but I’m pretty sure we’d run out of ideas — and sponsors. Apologies to everyone out there chomping at the bit for a few years straight of new contests and prizes. You’d get sick of it yourself; trust me. Plus, that shorter 21-day Primal challenge format works because it’s the perfect way to quickly kickstart real change, disrupt bad habits and establish new ones. Today’s challenge concerns long, lasting, sustained, momentous change that happens over a greater timescale.

Let’s try a thought experiment.

Think about 1000 days. Try to picture it. It’s a long time, isn’t it? Almost three years. A lot can happen in 1000 days. Why, in 1000 days, a person could accomplish any number of things:

  • Think up a fantasy business idea with pals and actually plan, execute, and bring it to fruition.
  • Move across the country, even if they walked.
  • Conceive of and write a book.
  • Propose, plan a wedding, get married, get pregnant, give birth, and watch your kid take his first steps.
  • Learn a language.
  • Hem and haw about whether you really want one before starting and finishing a master’s degree.
  • Save enough money to travel for a year, travel for a year, and come back home and get settled back in.
  • Mount and complete an early 19th century expedition across a largely unexplored continent teeming with wildlife and potentially hostile indigenous people that starts in St. Louis, reaches the Pacific Ocean, and ends back in St. Louis without losing more than a single member while being hunted by four teams of mercenaries and soldiers commissioned by Spain.
  • Design, construct, and successfully test the first atomic bomb.
  • Start a blog about Primal living from scratch and grow the audience to millions of monthly visitors.

Yep. There’s almost no limit to what you can do. People can achieve incredible things in 1000 days. People have achieved truly monumental things in 1000 days. If you really think about it, you can reach just about any goal – or at least make a huge amount of progress toward it — in 1000 days.

And yet, in the grand scheme of things, in the lifespan of the average human being, 1000 days is a blip. It’s not that long. You get comfortable, allow your existence to grow staid, and dutifully punch the clock on whatever life you’ve fallen into and those 1000 days just slip right on by. They bleed into each other. “What, it’s Thanksgiving already?”

Furthermore, 1000 days is enough time to accomplish almost anything but not so much time that your entire life is wasted if you fail. You can bounce back and learn from your mistakes. “Well, that didn’t work. What’s next?” Some people bounce back after forty years in prison, and you’re worried about 1000 days?

All those hopes, those aspirations, those late night conversations about what-could-be? They don’t morph into anything resembling tangible reality all by themselves. If you don’t actually start the process, your dreams will remain fun thought experiments that elicit brief sensations of excitement. That’s not good enough for you, nor for anyone. Luckily, you’ve got 1000 days to get going. To get somewhere.

Okay, let’s move on to a doing experiment. Time to transcend mere thinking and imagining. Time to do.

Put a big fat X on April 9, 2018 (or set an alarm on your phone, arrange an email alert, etc). That’s 1000 days from now. What are you going to complete by that date? What will you change, learn, become? Who will you be? Where will you be? What have you always wanted to accomplish but have yet to even begin approaching?

That business idea you’ve mulled over for months now, the one that gives you the butterflies every time you allow yourself the luxury of imagining it? For that brief moment, your brain is convinced you’re actually living it. You’ve tricked yourself into treating the fantasy as reality. Then it comes crashing down. Felt good, right? Get on it. You’ve got a 1000 days.

So you’re 150 pounds overweight, nothing fits, you can’t handle the mirror, and a single flight of stairs is a conditioning workout. It’s hard, but get over it. Start today. People have been there. People have made it out in less than 1000 days. Be another.

You hate your job, or maybe you just know you’d be happier doing something else. Only problem is you need a specific type of training to shift careers. Maybe it’s a class. Maybe it’s a 2-year degree. Maybe it’s an apprenticeship or a certification. Maybe it’s simply a matter of buying a few books, perusing a few websites, and really buckling down to teach yourself. The point is that you know what needs doing, so use these 1000 days to do it.

That fitness goal. You know, that one that always seemed possible (because so many others can do it) but complex and difficult enough that you never got around to seriously trying, let alone mastering it. Is it a handstand pushup? A twice bodyweight squat? Hiking the Appalachian trail?

That home gym you saw on Pinterest last year, the one you shared on your Facebook wall? Remember how you half-assedly filled a shopping cart on HomeDepot.com with materials to actually build it, then did nothing? Perhaps it’s time to resurrect that “plan” and make it a real plan.

Forget the “ten year plan,” or the “five year plan.” Downsize those puppies down to 1000 days. (Or, if you’re really driven, you can lisen to PayPal founder Peter Thiel and condense them down to six months.)

Lots of goals will be more open-ended or less rigorously defined. “Be happier.” Or “live life.” That’s fine. You can still work toward an amorphous goal like “be happier” by doing things that make you happy.

It could be all or none of those things. We all have something, though. Shake yourself from reverie and seize the (1000) day(s). It’s plenty of time but only if you use it.

How are you going to tackle this challenge? Have you attempted a similar challenge in the past? How’d it go?

Thanks for reading, all. I can’t wait to hear back from all of you on April 9, 2018!

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About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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