Sid Sethupathi bio photo

Sid Sethupathi

Software engineer at Major League Baseball. Graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

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I am embarking on a Project for Individual Excellence during the month of November. Inspired by my friend DJ Podgorny at Be Opposite and my roommate Bo DellaMaria, I spent the last month brainstorming challenges that I want to take on in order to develop myself.

The Project

You can read about Zak Slayback’s initial project here, but to sum it up, it is a challenge towards self development. You create and make progress towards goals, growing at every opportunity, both positive and negative. For November, I’ve created three goals that I will set out to achieve. I’ve deviated a bit from Zak’s PIE structure by adding deliverables to some of the goals, but I think this will make the whole experience more interesting for myself.

1. Physical: screenless sleep preparations

I am notoriously bad at staring at my phone while still in bed. Before I go to sleep, I check Facebook, Slack, and Reddit. As soon as I wake up, I once again instinctively check Facebook, Slack, and Reddit. This makes it difficult to fall asleep at night and probably worse, get out of bed in the morning.

For the month of November, I challenge myself to reduce the amount of time I look at a screen while getting ready for bed and waking up. I will accomplish this challenge by:

  1. Abstaining from using a screened device 15 minutes before getting into bed. This includes, but is not limited to, a cell phone, laptop, or TV.
  2. Abstaining from using a screened device 15 minutes after waking up. This includes, but is not limited to, a cell phone, laptop, or TV.
  3. Leaving my phone across the room when sleeping.

Deliverables: None

2. Creative: practicing the piano

For about 15 years of my life, I took piano lessons. However, for the early portion of those 15 years, I didn’t enjoy practicing (sorry if you are reading this, Ms. Andersen).

Fast forward to this year when one of my closest friends asked my to play the piano in his wedding, to which I excitedly responded yes. It only dawned on me after the fact that I hadn’t played for an audience in over 4 years. This meant meaningful practice, something that has eluded me since I stopped taking lessons.

Preparing for the wedding reminded me how much fun it is to learn music. Even better, it sparked my interest in playing the piano with purpose once again.

For the month of November, I challenge myself to practice the piano for at least 30 minutes a day.

Deliverables: A practice log of what I worked on

3. Virtuous: cleaning my room

It is a little known fact that I keep a very untidy room (unless you have once been my roommate…or are my mom). Throughout college, I used my room solely as a destination to sleep which left it in a constant state of disarray. It was impossible to see the top of my desk through all junk mail, loose papers, and books. Empty boxes and laundry baskets covered the floor forcing me to jump to the bed on more than one occasion. More often than not, I slept on the third of my mattress that was not covered by unfolded laundry.

For the month of November, I challenge myself to keep my room clean. This means:

  1. Clothes are hung up or organized in the closet. No clothes on the floor or bed.
  2. Desk is usable.
  3. Bed is made.
  4. Trash is in a trash can. It is a sad truth that I even have to mention this one.

Deliverables: A tweet every Wednesday with a picture of my room

For reference, here is a picture of my room at the time of this post: dirty room

The Stakes

In order to motivate myself to complete this project, I have set up the following stakes for anytime I regress on my goals.

For every time I use a screened device before I sleep or when I wake up, I will sleep in a sleeping bag on the hard wood floor in the family room.

For every third goal I fail to complete, I will wear an ugly sweater, turtleneck, or blazer to work on a Friday purchased from Community Thrift.

Barring any physical limitation or emergency, these stakes will be stricly adhered to.