I’m no stranger to all manner of self-improvement plans, and in the last year or so, I’ve really stepped up my game. That’s why I eagerly accepted a challenge to try Hell Week, a seven-day challenge to become your best self.
This program comes from the new book Hell Week by Erik Bertrand Larssen, an international best-selling author and top performance coach. While the title might conjure images of college fraternity pledging, this “one week to change your life” plan originates from the author’s Special Forces experience as a Norwegian Army paratrooper. Later in his career, as Larssen coached business executives, Olympic athletes, and others, he developed seven maxims to train mentally and physically for a greater focus and a higher level of achievement.
Now, anyone can make their own Hell Week journey by following the book’s simple rules and daily themes for an intense burst of personal growth. Here I go …
The 7 rules of Hell Week
- Early to bed, early to rise.
- Look your absolute best at all times.
- Exercise to the extreme.
- Stick to a healthy diet.
- Take charge of your digital life.
- Get hyperfocused.
- Step up your game.
Hey, I can do anything for a week, right?
The book describes in much more detail about what these rules mean and why they help set you up for a successful journey. Suffice it to say, you’re cutting out much of the junk and distraction that creep into our modern lives in order to focus on your mission.
Day 1: Harnessing the force of habit
The first day of Hell Week is supposed to be Monday, although I imagine you could really make any day your “Day 1.” I stuck to the Monday kickoff, because I’m a rule follower and really, Monday is when I feel like my week truly begins anyway.
Each day of Hell Week, you follow the same seven rules as listed above, while zeroing in on one specific daily theme. On Monday, I had to take an inventory of all the habits that make up my usual routine. After all, most of our time is spent doing habitual actions—from that first stretch as you get out of bed in the morning to that “one last” iPhone check before you turn in at night. All those little things you just do, automatically without even thinking about them, add up to your personal reality.
As I charted my list of habits, I became aware of how many I have (and I don’t think I’m unique in this, either).
I was pleasantly surprised by how many positive, healthy habits I’ve acquired in the last year. I replaced soda with water—dentist’s orders after another round of cavities. I meditate and pray every morning to get my mind right before I start the day. I make a gratitude list each night before I go to sleep, to help me remember and acknowledge all the blessings in my life.
But of course, the act of noticing also forced me to acknowledge habits that act as barriers to my best self. Like waiting until my gas tank is not just on “E” but a few miles past it before I’ll refuel. Or allowing myself barely enough time to drive to an appointment, always assuming the absolute perfect traffic situation (which, of course, is almost never the case).
These procrastinating tendencies may not seem like a huge deal, but the whole point of Hell Week Monday is to identify all those little things that add up to help or hinder me. And guess what? I filled up my gas tank when it reached the 1/4 mark yesterday, and got to work early this morning. Just by making myself aware of these habits, I’ve begun to implement change in my daily life.
Stay tuned to see how I fare during the rest of Hell Week, as I tackle themes such as getting into my mode, managing my time, pushing beyond my comfort zone, resting and recharging, controlling the committee in my head, and putting life into perspective. Much to do, and no time to waste!