24 Hours To Greatness

Resolving to become a better me wasn’t working out. So I decided to take a more radical approach

There’s a lot of complicated stuff out there that I wish I knew how to fix. But who am I to save the world? Right now, I can barely take care of myself. It’s certainly not for lack of desire—my apartment harbors plenty of evidence of an alternate, perfect me. A copy of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has cluttered my nightstand for a year. While I devoured perpetual lifehacker Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Body book—white foods bad! gut bacteria good! red wine ok-ish?—the closest I came to following his “superhuman” diet plan was posting it on the fridge. I even considered proto-productivity guru Benjamin Franklin’s strict hourly schedule, which he scrupulously tracked in a virtue journal—until I got to the part about a chaste, sober, and totally sincere life.

Perhaps it’s time for a new strategy. Instead of all these piecemeal failures, I’m going gung-ho on every lifestyle tip I can think of, all at once, within the span of a single day. Can a 24-hour optimization boot camp overhaul my undisciplined mind, leading to that ever elusive perfection? There’s only one way to find out.

[quote position="right" is_quote="true"]A copy of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has cluttered my nightstand for a year. [/quote]

5 a.m. Wake early. Ben Franklin greeted each day with a Deist power mantra: “O powerful goodness! Bountiful Father! Merciful Guide! Increase in me that wisdom which discovers my truest interest.” My truest interest! I can’t wait to find out what that is.

6 a.m. Get organized. Franklin liked to “contrive the day’s business” in that virtue journal he was so fond of. I do the same in a bullet journal, a trendy to-do list/sketchbook that aims to maximize productivity by forcing you to write things out by hand. Also, you use icons for some reason. An open circle indicates an event; a bullet point is a task. I log my agenda for the day, which includes whittling down my belongings, fitting in some super-efficient exercise, turbo-charging my creativity, and becoming a better person. NBD.

7 a.m. Spark joy. I put away laundry using minimalist phenom Marie Kondo’s methods, such as: Treat the act of folding as an appreciation for the way clothes support our lifestyle. It’s true. This bra has supported me often. But do these pants “spark joy” in my heart? Merciful Guide, they do not.

8 a.m. Hack my metabolism. According to The 4-Hour Body, I can prime my metabolism by doing a series of deep knee bends and chinups whenever, wherever—even in a bathroom stall! Luckily, I’m at home, so I can squat unseen. I do 10 moves in a row and celebrate by crossing out a task. Damn, that feels good.

9 a.m. Manifest my destiny. I half-listen during a meeting and jot down a few standby affirmations from that old self-help chestnut The Secret. The one that tells me “I have as much brightness to light up this world as anyone” puts me in the right mindset to tackle a project due EOD today: a marketing deck for a body wash that, according to our copywriter, smells like both a rare ghost orchid and your first kiss.

[quote position="full" is_quote="true"]Brainstorming in a cool co-working space with exposed brick walls and a foosball table isn’t doing it for me anymore.[/quote]

10 a.m. Realization. I don’t care about selling body wash—not even on behalf of a resumé-boosting multinational client employing innovative scent technologies. Brainstorming in a cool co-working space with exposed brick walls and a foosball table isn’t doing it for me anymore, either. Bullet point: “Be own boss 1 day.”

12 p.m. Be charitable AF. To maximize my lunch hour, I donate my joyless pants and stop by a coffee shop to jot down startup ideas. The best one has to be “Uber for Showers,” an on-demand, portable spa facility. For every 10 showers booked, one will be given to someone in need. So generous! I keep up my benevolent attitude by lowering a $10 bill slowly into the tip jar so the barista will perceive me as a kind, glamorous stranger with moonshot ideas. He doesn’t notice.

2-5 p.m. Be mindful. I close my bullet journal, and finish up that deck. We dazzle the client with our insider millennial insights! And yet, while my mouth says body wash, my heart murmurs Uber for Showers.

6 p.m. Engage. I arrive home to enjoy “supper, music, diversion, conversation, and examination of the day,” just like Franklin. I cook up lentil chili (#4hourbod FTW!) and discuss the day with my wife. I put on the most inspirational music I can dig up—Beyoncé’s “Flawless.”

9 p.m. See the big picture. Before bed, Franklin always asked himself “What Good Have I Done To-Day,” so I take stock. I streamlined my household pants supply, squeezed in a workout, and thought outside of the shower stall. Will my startup be my “truest interest”? Probably not. Based on today’s exhaustive wisdom, greatness is just a matter of time. •

Center for American Progress Action Fund

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