When I was 13-years-old, I gave up pop (or soda if you’re not from the Midwest) for Lent. Yes, I went 40 days and 40 nights without a single drop of the sugary ‘goodness.’ At first, it was difficult. I would crave pop multiple times per day. But as time went on, the craving diminished. Around day 25, I actually didn’t want pop at all. Do you know how I felt on day 40? I didn’t even want to touch the stuff. Yep, even when Lent was over, I didn’t go back to pop.
You may be wondering why I chose to give up pop. After all, most Americans drink pop like a nasty water replacement. Breakfast – pop. Lunch – pop. Dinner – pop. Maybe another pop in the afternoon to ward off drowsiness. Heck, even Warren Buffett admits to drinking 5 Cokes a day.
I gave up pop because it wasn’t good for me. There’s nothing inside one of those cans that will help make me healthier. The only thing making me want pop was a silly craving for an instant sugar rush. After day 25, I no longer had the sugar rush. Therefore, I no longer wanted pop.
Ever since then, I’ve been giving things up on a trial basis. Yep, I go for a trial basis that always turns into a permanent fix.
I simply tell myself that if I can go 40 days and 40 nights without something, I can have it at 12:01AM on day 41. Do I ever? No.
I take this approach with my finances. It works even when you’re trying to create a habit, not get rid of one. For instance, if I want to start a new side hustle, I simply give it 40 days and 40 nights. I try. By day 41, it’s a habit. I don’t want to go back to how I was before. I don’t want to give up the extra money I earn.
Biking to work is something I think everyone should try. I began biking to work for 40 days. On day 41, I was leaner, happier, I looked better, I saved money, and I respected myself more. Why would I give that up on day 41?! I wouldn’t. I didn’t.
On day 1, it’s not easy. But what gets me through the day is remembering a phrase: You are a summation of your habits. I couldn’t give up pop for one day and change my life. I couldn’t start a side hustle in one day and expect my income to change, I couldn’t bike to work for one day and expect to become fitter and richer. If I were to do something for just a short while, I may as well not do it at all.
Habits are simply amazing. It’s amazing how adaptable we are as human beings. We can change our situations in just over a month! It’s madness! If you live to age 85, that means you’ll have 1,020 months to get things right. I think anyone can get their lives figured out in 1,020 months.
Suggestions where you can begin your 40-day journey:
Bike to work
Stop using vending machines
Stop eating out on weekdays
Only eat out at restaurants below a ‘$$$’ price-point on Yelp
Switch from a private to public golf course
Limit yourself to an hour of YouTube per day
Go on a shopping fast
Don’t pay attention to any advertisements so you’re not tempted to spend more money
Become a mystery shopper
Start a blog
Become a bike messenger
Start detailing cars
Become a gardener after work
Become a painter
Become a personal shopper
Pass your knowledge onto others by becoming a tutor
Take a part-time job working for someone else (you definitely won’t want to hurt your reputation by quitting after only 40 days)
Decide on a small amount to invest. I recommend starting a Roth IRA. Pretty soon you’ll become a millionaire. I’m not joking. After you see your money grow, you’re not going to stop at day 41.
Invest the money into a business. Returns of this sort can be astronomical. The only concern of mine with this way of investing money is that it will probably take more than 40 days to see a good return. However, with some businesses, you can see a ROI quite quickly. For instance, if you’re a tutor, you can buy ads on Google AdWords, setup a website, and begin getting paying clients within 40 days. With the internet, 40 days is much shorter than it seems.
What will I do next?
For lent this year, I gave up watching more than one hour of television/YouTube per day. It was a bit of a struggle but I’m happy to continue doing it. I have more time worthy ventures. For my next 40-day challenge, I’ll be going to bed at 9:45PM and waking up a 6AM. I do best on 8 hours and fifteen minutes of sleep. My earning power increases when I’m most alert (as does everyone’s).
Even if your not religious, a 40-day trial can work for anyone. So I’ll leave you with one last question…