Continuous Creation ChallengeIf you like this, don't miss the related Community Craziness, Experience, and Insight article and the revealing recap article.

Well here we are again.

Looking for inspiration, motivation, education, or experimentation that will forever change our actions and behavior.

My personal renaissance demands a tremendous amount of evolution.

And to feed that evolution, I need diverse sources of inspiration, movitation, education, and experimentation. Fortunately, I've found it in some amazing places.

Places like:

  • Blog posts, magazine articles, TEDTalks, books, and podcasts.
  • Invigorating new friendships with people who bring a perspective totally different than my own.
  • Engaged in a riveting conversation with a cousin while walking down a dirt road in rural Minnesota.
  • In a weightless sensory deprivation tank free of sight, smell, sound, and feeling temperature.

But there's just something about creating your own challenge – with your own rules or the lack of them – that provides meaning and impact unlike anything else.

I experienced that with the 72 Hour Continuous Creation Challenge in April and need you to help me take it to the next level.

Starting at 7:00 pm CST on September 9th, I'll be entering uncharted waters with the 120 Hour Continuous Creation Challenge.

I'm challenging you to join me for up to 120 hours in your own version of a Continuous Creation Challenge!

I have a ridiculously ambitious goal to have 100,000 people do this challenge by the end of 2014. So I need your help.

Why am I doing this and why would you want to join everyone else doing this?

Read on.

Taking It from the Top

Remember when you were little and all you wanted to do was create? You were obsessed with creating.

Building sand castles. Creating a tower of blocks. Art projects with squiggly lines or blobs of paint. A fort made out of snow.

But now you're obsessed with consuming.

And most days you don't even realize it. Yeah, it happens to me too. Modern life gives us many more opportunities to consume than create.

In April, I learned the power of spending every waking moment for 72 consecutive hours just creating.

What I created didn't change the world. But it filled me with a mission and purpose so much bigger than what the results were. It went well beyond handmade cards, website and book reviews, and planting the seeds for what you see now – Value of Simple.

To achieve all this, I went to extremes (according to most people I told about my experience).

The short version is I didn't eat, read, watch, listen, browse, modify, run errands, or have any nonessential communication for three days.

As you read that, you might be thinking:

  • I could never intentionally fast for 72 hours.
  • I would never want to purposefully give up reading emails, texts, books, blogs, magazines, the news, and social media for three days.
  • I should never deliberately stop listening to music, podcasts, and the radio.
  • I cringe at the thought of tenaciously keeping off the TV, video player and video game system, YouTube, or anything that requires electricity to watch.
  • I could never plan well enough to avoid needing a grocery store trip or jaunt to the mall for so long.

Those are legitimate thoughts. But keep in mind I'm not being unyielding about the framework for your version of this. I have lots of suggestions for how you can personalize it to make this work for your unique needs and goals.

It's hard at first. But as the hours pass of passionately diving into projects and goals that have been idle for months or years, excitement and a sense of accomplishment build upon each other.

Excitement about starting – and finishing – one goal leads to swelling pride. That pride leads to a feeling that you can accomplish even more…so you attempt something bigger. Something more meaningful to you, the people you love, or the legacy you want to leave the world.

Continuous Creation ChallengeAnd before you know it, the challenge is over. Then, you look back in awe of not just what you've achieved, but how the experience has revealed what's possible.

What's possible for you.

What's possible for others if they experienced this too.

What's possible when you channel that dormant energy away from passively consuming and into actively creating. I mean, straight up, hard-core creation.

Your Framework

I'm going to give you my framework for the 120 hours but you should liberally modify this for your unique needs. If you need to tweak the length, types of consumption eliminated, the start date, or anything else, do it.

  • Can't imagine 120 hours straight? Try 24 first.
  • Can't see yourself creating effectively while fasting? Don't fast.
  • Want to skip some hours of sleep so you can create even more? Do what you think is best.

Besides, challenges are always more fun when you get to customize them.

Remember though: The overarching rule is no consumption – as you define it – for the length of the challenge.

With that said, here's your template.

Not Allowed for Joel

  1. Food: Yep, it's a total fast.
  2. Reading: Newspapers, books, magazines, RSS feeds, social media, incoming emails, general Internet sites, texts, etc.
  3. Watching: Online videos, movies, TV, or anything else that requires electricity.
  4. Listening: Music, the radio, podcasts, etc.
  5. Browsing: Google, YouTube, or searching in general.
  6. Modifying: No tweaking something that has already been created like an article or a sweater. Fixing things around the house is also off limits.
  7. Errands: Going to the library, grocery store, etc.
  8. Communication: Nonessential interaction with friends and family in any format. Exceptions will be made for Melinda and Grant because I live with them and need to interact with them.

Allowed for Joel

  1. Value of Simple Content: I have a ton of to-be written articles, podcasts, videos, future freebies for the newsletter community, and more that need to go from nothing to finished.
  2. Products: Most of the content for my upcoming product should be done in this time period.
  3. Handmade Cards: I love making handmade cards for friends and family. Bring on the birthday, anniversary, holiday, and “just because I can” cards!
  4. Peace and Quiet: Walks with the dogs and yoga are fair game because they create peace and quiet.
  5. Sleep: Normal levels of sleep are encouraged as this isn't about productivity or “getting things done.” Plus, the quality of my creations will be crap unless some sleep is involved.
  6. New Relationships: With cool people in the neighborhood or online.
  7. TBA: There's more I have in mind and time is allowed for spontaneous acts of creativity.

Gotta Do

The realities of life require me to create some things that are outside the core of the challenge.

  1. Meals for the Family: Creating meals for Melinda and Grant are permitted so their basic needs can be met. Since I'm not spending 120 hours by myself in a secluded cabin in the middle of nowhere, I'd like to stay married and avoid being a deadbeat dad.
  2. Drinking Water: For safety reasons. This is the only physical thing I will consume.
  3. Sending Emails: I won't be reading incoming emails but I will occasionally send one.

A Little More Context

The biggest thing people get hung up on or grill me about is the fasting.

This isn't about how much weight I can lose or body image. It's just that everything that goes into consuming food (buying, prepping, eating, and cleaning up) takes a frickin' ton of time. Time that could be used to create. I'm primally adapted for intermittent fasting which helps enormously.

I'm also doing this simply because I can. Fortunately, I have life and work flexibility to attempt this without too many complications.

If you're already getting curious, excited, or angry, don't worry. You might just need to think about and write down the powerful reason(s) you have accepting this kind of challenge.

Note: I'll be recapping my experiences and a few others in a follow up article shortly after my challenge ends. Get your suggestions in now for what you want me to create from Sept 9th to Sept 14th (for you or in general) by typing up a comment to this article!

Join Us!

Starting planning what your personal Continuous Creation Challenge will be. Like, right now.

Ask yourself:

  • What are the projects I burn to create but never find the time or motivation?
  • When will I start and how long will I go?
  • What powerful reasons do I have on why this could be a challenge to help liberate my talents?
  • Should I add or subtract forms of consumption from Joel's framework?
  • What arrangements do I need to make ahead of time so this can be a success?
  • What are the things I gotta do or my wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend will divorce/break up with me?
  • What feelings of accomplishment, pride, and self-worth will come from this experiment?
  • How much joy and confidence will I get from sharing everything I've created with the Value of Simple community?
  • For Community Connectors: How many new relationships could I start with this spark?

And now get going on your plans and set that start and end date!

Hell, if you want to show me up with your awesomeness and start your personal Continuous Creation Challenge before mine, I'd be elated!

I'll be creating a separate page for people to share their Continuous Creation Challenge experiences and read about everyone else's. You can also use the Twitter hashtag “#ContCreChal” to share and see what everyone else is up to.

Be someone who can state with pride, “I was one of the first of 100,000 to do the Continuous Creation Challenge! It felt and still feels awesome!”

Start consuming less and creating more. What are you waiting for?


Photo Credit: Chris JL