What if you would do everything differently for one week?
Last week I participated in the hell week: a week of being the best version of myself. To challenge myself, break my patterns and step out of my comfort zone. All with the purpose to create energy, focus and clarity. A super valuable experience.
What seemed impossible at first, turned out to be easy. And on other aspects I was unexpectedly confronted with myself. In this blog I describe my experience.
What is the hell week?
The hell week originates from the army. A part of the training where candidates are challenged and tested to the limit. The Norwegian Erik Bertrand Larssen, former navy SEAL, translated this army hell week to a personal development hell week.
Often we know what we could improve: more time with family, healthier food, getting up earlier etc.. Yet actually changing these habits is not so easy when life is comfortable and "pretty ok".
The question is: is "pretty ok" how you want to look back on your life in your 80's or 90's?
For me that is a very clear NO!
So I signed up for the Hellweek from Home, organised by Alex Malone and Suzanne Koolen from Meetings In The Sun. Stepping out of my comfort zone with over 400 others: getting up at 5 AM, working out at 5h15, learning from inspirational sessions, meditating and going to bed early. And as ultimate challenge the hell night: staying up all night and working, to feel what that does.
Quite a challenging schedule, but at the same time more than enough free time to fill in for myself.
Since I started working on personal development, I have broken and adapted some habits already. Eating healthy for example if not such a challenge anymore.
Getting up early on the other hand...different story! I am an evening person, most productive between 14h00 and 19h00 and need a minimum of 8 hours of sleep.
That's comfortable, but also somewhat slow and frustrating (when my morning rituals clashes with appointments for example). Breaking this pattern was my most important goal in the hell week.
I expected it to be really hard to get up at 5 AM, that I would be low in energy in the morning and to have a head ache the rest of the day (as I often have when getting up earlier than usual).
From sleepy head to early bird
Well that was not nearly as bad as expected. I was totally energised by doing an experiment like this in a group. Though I was in my own home, just the idea of over 400 others getting up too, gave me the boost needed to step out of bed at 5 AM sharp.
Once I was up, the work-outs helped me to get energised and I was totally awake and ready to go by 7 AM. Another two hours for meal prepping, walking the dog, doing the dishes and getting some work done, before we started the inspiration session at 9 AM. And then from 11h onwards the day was free to do what I wanted.
Lethargic and lost
After 11h I noticed I was tired. I didn't really know what to do. Couldn't concentrate much. Until 14h30, when I could log in to an online work session (nothing more than a Zoom session with some nice music, where everyone was working). And right away my energy was up again. Afterwards it collapsed again and at the closing ceremony of the day at 20h30 I was back with attention and focus.
This pattern repeated itself on day 2 and 3. And then it hit me. As soon as I didn't feel the energy of the group, didn't get inflamed by the music, didn't get inspired by the speakers...I felt lost, restless and unmotivated.
I wondered: why am I so dependent on others and on circumstances? Where is my own control? Why can't I just get my shit done, when I have all this time to do it?
I realised there were two reasons:
I didn't have a target, a goal nor a deadline for this week. I purposefully didn't have any coaching sessions or meetings this week, to have the space to embrace whatever would come up in this week. I had a whole list of things I cóuld do, but none of them were really urgent or important.
I am in a period of my life, where getting things done is not my focus. My main goal for the summer is to be fit, to undo, to be in the moment.
At first all I felt was frustration. I had the tendency to block these unpleasant feelings and focus outwards. I became active on sociale media and in several whatsapp groups with other participants, but this wasn't giving me the energy I was looking for.
Later I was able (inspired by the sessions of the team and other participants) to open up to the insights this was bringing me. The biggest shift happened when I let go of the idea "I HAVE to get something done" and surrendered to just being in the moment, also when this meant being with restlessness or frustration.
You need to feel, to feel good (unknown)
This hell week brought me many many valuable insights. If I were to pick the three most important lessons it would be this:
With the right intention, motivation and circumstances anything is possible! My conviction "I am not a morning person" turned out to be false. "Skipping a night is undoable" turned out to be untrue too. Just as "I have to eat every 2-3 hours" was busted, when I tried intermittent fasting a while ago. I (actually we) can do so much more than I (we) think!
I can actively influence my mood. When I feel tired, restless or down, it's up to me change this. With dancing, reading, music, social contact etc. I can influence both my mood and my energy level enormously! So it's up to me to actively pursue these things. Tip: make a list of all the things you like to do and write down which feeling it gives you (rest, calmth, energy, happiness). Then whenever you feel down, look at the list: what mood are you looking for and what would bring you that mood?
It is ok to get energy and happiness from others, it is also ok to feel restless now and then. Even though it is true that it is up to me to influence my mood. This does not mean I have to do everything by myself and that I álways have to feel good. That I get a lot of energy from groups, means I could actively seek for this more (which is not evident as a self-employed person in Corona times). Whenever I feel restless, there often is a valuable lesson to learn, which I will only learn by going through it (not by moving away from it).
So I am super grateful I went through this week. It surprised me on multiple levels and even now the week is over I am still getting up at 5h30 sharp every morning. So I dare to say my original goal to break my sleeping pattern was achieved and as a gift I gained some extra valuable lessons!!
Want to experience a hell week too?
If you speak Dutch, you can join the next (and last) Hellweek From Home from 3-10 oktober. After this Meetings in the Sun will join forces with mr. Helweek himself, Erik Bertrand Larssen, for international hell weeks. So if you don't speak dutch, keep an eye out fo the first international version!
Want to know more? Send me a message or check Meetings in the Sun.