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  • Writer's pictureMaxwell Murray

Burn: My 50 Day Challenge

Updated: Feb 19

Are you willing to die to accomplish your dreams?

Grab a sticky note and take out a pen. Take a deep breath and relax. Okay, write on the sticky note the answer to this question:

What are 5 labels that you hate about yourself? Labels that you no longer want to identify with. Labels that are in your way of becoming the person that you dream of. Be harsh, only you can call yourself out on your bullshit. Now, post that sticky note to your wall until the end of this journal.

My question / challenge to you is: are you willing to die to accomplish your dreams? Not literally, but are you willing to burn down your current identity. Your habits, thoughts, actions, and labels. To create the version of yourself that you have always wished to become.

41 days ago, I wrote 5 labels that I no longer wanted to identify with. It felt awful to write and was even worse to read back. At the time, I had gone through a 4 month stretch in my life where I no longer knew who I was. 2022 was a tale of two cities for me, a year where I saw the best parts of myself and the worst. By the end of the year, the person that I thought I became was unrecognisable. I sat down at the coffee shop, grabbed a napkin because I left my journal at home, and I drew a T-chart. On the left side, I wrote down labels that I didn't want to identify with and on the right, I wrote down the labels that I do want to identify with. In doing this practice, I crafted the identity of the person that I wanted to become.

When you change your identity, you change your habits, and you change your world.

40 days ago, I started on a 50 day challenge to better my life. I was in a bad mental place last semester and I knew that I couldn't fall back into that. I had to take care of myself and win on the inside so that I could better serve the world and produce masterful work on the outside. I learned that before, I was basing my happiness on the inside by what I was accomplishing on the outside. I thought that if I could just produce better work and continue to serve, my happiness on the inside would come back. Sadly, that is not how it works. In order to take care of anyone else, you first have to take care of yourself. There's a quote that I have been obsessed with lately that says: "what you achieve inwardly, changes outer reality" - Plutarch. Start within.

My challenge was simple: 50 days of sobriety, reading, writing, working out, and completing small assignments.

At the start of the challenge I was scared and embarrassed. I had no clue how to tell the people around me what I was doing. I knew that the contents of the challenge weren't bad but that the biggest challenge that everyone would clearly notice is that I was not drinking alcohol. This was the change that I was most self-conscious about. I live in New York City where the drinking culture is extremely prevalent. I love to party so I had no clue what life would be like if I was sober. I was scared to go out, scared to see what people would think of me when I told them that I wasn't drinking, and scared about the possibility of not having fun and enjoying my senior year.

One thing that I learned about fear is that you can use it as an inhibitor or a deterrent. I wanted to prove to myself that I could go out, hang out with people sober, and have a fun senior year. I wanted to explore who I truly am and learn more about myself. I knew that not drinking would better my life, but I didn't expect all this.

I just started reading "Atomic Habits" by James Clear. He said "If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on systems instead". This mistake that many people make is choosing outcome-based habits, instead of identity-based habits.

If you look at this graphic, there are 3 layers to behavioural change. The first layer is outcomes / your results. This is you wanting to write a book, have a bodybuilder type physique, or have a successful business. The second layer is your processes / systems. This is where you have the opportunity to assess your habits and systems. The third and inner most layer is changing your identity. This involves your beliefs, self-image, and your judgements about yourself. To change your life, change your identity, and your habits.

For example, you can easily identify yourself with being a bad student. If you have that identity, you are going to skip class, miss assignments, and not pay attention to your teacher. Now, tell yourself that you are a good student. To do that, you are going to go to class, pay attention, and complete your assignments. The result will be having better grades. The point is, do not focus on the goal of getting a 4.0, focus on your identity and the systems that will get you there.

Ask yourself, "what would the person that I want to be do? What are their fears? What are their desires? What are their habits?"

Now, take out that sticky note, grab a lighter, and burn the note. Write down the new identity that you want to associate yourself with. Focus on building the systems and habits that can help guide you there and I promise, you will see a dramatic change in your life.

Presence is the #1 change that I have seen in my life. When you are out at the club, you can easily think, "Oh, another drink will make this a better night". This is the concept that if I have x, then I will be y. If I have more money, then I will be happy. When you can't have that drink, you have no choice but to live in the moment and have the best night that you possibly can have right now. This concept went into every other thing in my life.

Second, there is no better feeling in the world than showing up for yourself. In 2022, I thought that showing up for myself required showing up for other people. I didn’t know that in order to take care of anyone else, you first need to take care of yourself. I got back into my morning routine of waking up early, going to the gym, writing, and reading. This routine helped me revive my 4 interior empires: regaining the fire in my belly & mind (mindset), working on my heart (heartset), bettering my physical and mental health (healthset), and remembering who I truly am (soulset). This life of discipline and consistency allowed me to regain the love that I had for myself.

By taking care of myself and being more present, I have been able to create some of the best work of my life. I stopped saying when I get a podcast studio, then I will have a successful podcast. Over the last 40 days, I shot 5 podcast episodes. I produced over 50 pieces of content on Instagram alone. The unbearable task of building a successful business was replaced with systems of prospecting, outreach, sales calls, and delivering value. The want to get stronger, was replaced with an additional pushup each and everyday. I did 105 straight the other day, each additional pushup reminds me of growth.

I fell back in love with myself.

I will end this post by reiterating my first question: Are you willing to die to accomplish your dreams? Are you willing to burn down your old identity, to create the person that you have always wanted to be?

Thank you & I love you

Maxwell Murray

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