21 Day Challenge: My Journal.

18 min readJan 24, 2024

DAY 1:

Being pumped up before a challenge is one thing but maintaining the same energy through is a different ball game.

The day started on a dull note as expected. We were out for dinner the previous night to celebrate the 17th birthday of my twins. It was a lovely night and I was stuffed. So waking up a bit lazy is allowed.

But I still managed to get on with my early morning routine.
Did squats and push-ups as I listened to ODB.
I tried to read but it was time for school-run before I could say Jack Robinson.

School-run! Perhaps the most important task of my life so far.
I wonder why I haven’t done a story on a duty that takes up to 90 minutes each weekday.

Ironically my day later evolved into a hectic one of work and writing.
I had to write a post about our first meeting.

Read it here.

During the cold season, I usually abandon my attic and use my dining as a workstation. I will end today’s journal with a picture of what it looks like.

DAY 2:

This should be a better day because I was up at 5.15 am on the dot.
By 5.40 I was already writing. It’s a wonder what rising early can let you achieve before the day begins for others. I mean we assume the day starts at 9 am over here because that’s when most businesses open.
I had a 3–4-hour headstart ahead of them like I try to do each day.

By 8 pm it turned out I was too busy to write anything lengthy like I did yesterday. But let me write about how I ended up shopping at Frasers of all places today.

I heard the Black Friday ad on the radio while doing this morning’s school run.

I usually don’t bother with such ads. Moreover, I had no intention of driving about 10km to Mahon Point shopping centre where Frasers is located. Nevertheless, I jumped to their site, had a cursory look at a few items, and carried on with my day.

By noon while I was listening to Lucky Dube during a coffee break, Frasers’ ad popped up on Spotify again…algorithm?

I mean, how can that be when I heard the ad previously on the radio?

Still, this time I browsed through a selection of fragrances on offer and saw 90ml Gucci Guilty EDT for €45.

Holy Moses!

That’s about half the RRP for that perfume. I saw the 50ml bottle for twice that amount in Boots recently.
Long story short, I drove to Mahon and grabbed that bargain from a young lady whose long nails prevented her from operating the POS machine.

She had to get a colleague to do it. My remark that she doesn’t want to spoil her Black Friday nails left her giggling like a schoolgirl.

I fell for the distraction I’m trying to avoid and it would be a silly expenditure if don't sell that perfume for profit because I have at least 3 bottles of perfume right now.

If I had renewed my Spotify premium there wouldn’t have been a 2nd ad to lure me. So to avoid distracting ads I have to spend €10.99
No more distractions!

DAY 3:

I was lured to Twitter again this morning but I only posted 2 replies with my Aba story published a while ago. I scrolled away immediately to do some reading.

This title Hush by Becky O. Peleowo kicked off my day in a lovely way. “Silence should not be mistaken for low self-esteem or cowardice. It is a sweet skill that helps you to connect to the inner self.

Silence is an important ingredient for a life of the mind. I fell in love with this phrase while reading Art Of Teachingone of the many audiobooks I’ve read from the great course. It reminds me of Maria Popova the Bulgarian literary genius behind BrainPickings. Her combination of art, science, philosophy, history and poetry is as astounding as it is unique. Some of my best mornings during the Covid pandemic lockdown were spent reading her deft prose delicately woven with panache. I think it’s time to start reading her again to spice up the creative part of my writing.

That will do for today. I’m travelling to Naples via London tomorrow so I should start packing!

DAY 4:

Landing in the sprawling capital city of Campania at about 1 pm was an enjoyable experience.

In the past, I’ve always landed here at night because I want to rest and start shopping the next morning. However, due to time constraints, I have to maximise the day on this trip. I have only about 36 hours to be here and could start shopping from the airport.
The southwestern coast of Naples is a sight to behold. As we hovered over the seaside, I felt the soft crashes of the ocean waves and imagined the gentle breeze blowing across the faces of the occupants of a small boat beneath.

I could see a huge Island but there was no sign of the magnificent Mount Vesuvius which completely buried Pompei in ashes during the volcanic eruption of 79AD. I guess I’ll have to find out the name of this Island later. I have no pictures as my battery was already flat before departure.

On arrival, I savoured the beautiful weather and the warm sun welcomed me with a temperature of 17°C. A nice and cool break away from the wet and near-freezing conditions back home.

I charged my phone for some minutes and proceeded to the nearby bus stop ignoring the cab drivers calling on travellers in Italian. “Centrale..Garibaldi..cinque euro” ie Central station..Piazza Garibaldi at €5 each. The moment I hopped on the bus, my phone beeped again..low battery!

I will leave it charging in the hotel room while I hit the streets. That should do for the day. I’ll continue tomorrow.

DAY 5:

I’m still in Naples. Woke up to the usual early morning noise of blaring horns and echoes of prego prego pregoooo!

Street traders doing their thing as customers huddled over goods.

The prices here are amazing. I won’t tell because it will sound incredible. It is better seen than heard.

It's going to be a busy day cos I have 3 markets to visit after which I’ll comb the high streets. Just the other day I asked my sales girl if she knew the toughest part of this fashion business.

She replied “Marketing”.

Of course, marketing is hard. Especially with the economic hardship in Nigeria, people will first eat, and buy fuel and other essentials before thinking of fashion.

But the hardest part of this business for the owner is shopping. Some days I cover over 20km on foot without knowing. In the early days, I once had blisters on my toes to remind me that walking had to be done in comfortable footwear.

As I left Naples tonight, I saw this glass counter after passing through security. It made my day!

DAY 6:

Time flies! Especially when you are productive, but when you are not, you will have all the time to scroll down the rabbit hole of link wandering.

I landed in Manchester after 11 pm and by the time I reached Warrington, it was already a new day.

Picked up by my best homie and indeed my best man we had plenty of catching up to do with gist and elbow bending. Between watching GOT and brotherly banter, the blue label was more than halfway down by the time we dozed off, glass in hand. It will be one of those eternalised nights

Back in the first quarter of this year, I had all the time in the world to play.
But as I boarded the aircraft this morning I had to set a reminder to repeat every hour for me to send a mail for our 2nd virtual meeting. In the last 48 hours, I’ve been to Dublin, London, Napoli, Manchester and back to Cork.
That is how hectic my life has become.
Yet in between I still manage to update my 21-day journal.

Perhaps my trip to Naples accelerated the time but it’s day 6 already and I’m yet to open any of the books I borrowed from Blackpool library. I guess I’ll get some sleep now and continue the next paragraph after I have done a bit of reading. It’s Saturday and I should find time to do some reading.

DAY 7:

We are meeting today and I’m excitedly looking forward to it. I had to prepare for the session but my body needed a good rest.

I figured that the gym would help me get that. I hadn’t worked out for 3 days. So I hit the gym and exhausted myself. I slept till about 4 pm.

The meeting starts in 45 minutes and my preparation was just to go over the notes I had earlier jotted down. When the session is about discussing without long speeches, going through your points is often the best preparation. And I have clarity because I have been through these points before but more importantly I had written them down.

I also have to call my mum today and discuss important family matters. My reminder has “Family” perpetually set on Sundays at 4 pm. That way no matter how busy I may be on the day, I’m reminded to at least chip in a word on the family WhatsApp group.

DAY 8:

Writer’s block!
I woke up with a million thoughts racing through my mind.
I had to send money to Nigeria for a project.
Month end was fast approaching with the usual expenditure, salaries, contributions etc.
I have a meeting scheduled for the 30th and I’m yet to organise my points. Even though it will be informal, it is with an award-winning entrepreneur I met at a recent #EnterpriseIreland conference so it's a high-profile engagement. Or at least I reckon it would be.
On the same date, I booked a van for household removal but my attic still looks like a junkyard.
My head was spinning with thoughts and I couldn’t imagine sitting down let alone typing.

Remember that one with endless priorities has no priority at all.
I headed to the gym and played back
The gym is another heavenly home of therapy. It practically holds the solution to more problems than we often acknowledge.

The rest of my day wasn’t filled with writing but I got to relax more.
I reread my old post on prioritizing and immediately itemised the problems I had to solve, allocating reasonable time to each.

For today, I will wire the money for the project to my mum.
Tomorrow is another day and the next…

DAY 9:

This is the day I wrote about Day 8 and also the day I finally started reorganising my Table Of Contents. At least in my head!
It's amazing what long-form reading can do to our brains.

I had enough material in chapters even though they still need more development, but having a sequence will make it easier for me to do that.
It was at this point that I began to wonder why we write. A reoccurring thought to which I had coined a simple but deep answer.

Why do we write?

We write to share our thoughts with the reader.

I always say that the writer’s job is basically to write. Whether or not you entertain, inform or persuade isn’t completely dependent on you.
But to write is entirely up to you.
This is why the most popular but most potent advice to budding writers is “write daily”.
And that is why I will strive to put down some words for these 21 days.

I’ve heard and read so many arguments against writing daily.
That writing daily could lead to burnout, boredom or even kill your passion.
That’s all good and fine, but what people who make these arguments miss is the fact that whether you like it or not, most people still write daily via SMS, chats, posts and replies.

So the advice isn’t a mandate so to say. It’s simply what it is — a wise counsel that sharpens your pen and helps you find your voice.

You mustn’t publish every day but you should strive to write daily. It leads to clarity!

DAY 10:

I have to collect a deep freezer from Curry’s at Mahon Point.
Going to that end of the city is always a trek, especially on weekdays.
It’s not my idea of fun but it has to be done.

It ended up being a frustrating day as I suspected.
I got to Mahon alright but didn't collect the freezer.
It was too large to enter my back door. I measured the gap and was certain it would enter given the specifications in the order details.

The young Curry’s staffer did his best to see if it would enter but to no avail.
A good Samaritan even offered to help with his van if I was heading in his direction.
The man said he had been in my situation in the past with the same car.
BMW 320..sleek and powerful but too compact for certain items.
Unfortunately, I was headed exactly the opposite way.

I guess my wife will have to collect it over the weekend.
I feel for her. She massaged my ego so much to avoid this task.

DAY 11

Today is jampacked.
We are decluttering and somewhere in between I have the meeting I earlier wrote about with Brigid Farrel so writing will be done at night if I can find the time.

Phew! What a day. It's 9.35 pm and I’m propping up my eyelids with matchsticks to scribble a few lines. It’s tough. The soul is willing but the body is weary. I need to sleep. Today’s events will constitute the bulk of my narration tomorrow but I must acknowledge that it’s been a fulfilling day!

DAY 12:

Yes! I will struggle with time but yesterday’s meeting with Brigid Farrel will be eternalised in my memory.
Scheduled at 11 am I was there 15 minutes early.
As I sat waiting for her at the cafe of Clayton Hotel Silver Spring with my cup of Americano it struck me to stroll around the expansive grounds and savour the environment.
It was a cool but sunny morning.
The birds chirping overhead and the fading sound of vehicular traffic added flavour to the scenic beauty of Tivoli.

One of the buildings behind was used as a test centre during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve forgotten the name of the company but I remember having my first test there before travelling to Nigeria back in August 2020 when the lockdown was partially lifted.
I walked to the building just to reminisce and as expected the company was no longer there.
I googled and got the name. Randox travel health.
They are now only located at Cork airport where I’m sure they won't be doing much.

My phone beeped and I saw a message from Brigid that she was running a little late because of unexpected traffic.
I strolled back to the cafe and in less than 5 minutes she was there.
If being a couple of minutes late is a virtue the world would be a better place!

We got chatting immediately as if we had known each other for ages.
That’s what it should be when enlightened minds are united with a common objective.

She is an instructor, widely travelled and a German speaker too.
At her age which I assume to be 30 or thereabout she had achieved so much that her modesty couldn’t cloak despite the repeated line of “I’m still learning”.

Our meeting lasted 2 hours which felt like 2 minutes.
Yet I can write several pages about those ‘2 minutes’

DAY 13:

A busy weekend is loading for me.
Starting with the removal of household items already stacked in my living room.
And then I’ll join the EUI virtual meeting on PhD after which I’ll go to the gym.
Time! What a precious commodity.
If I didn’t have a clear vision of where I’m headed I would have loved to port myself back to last year when I had all the time in the world to waste on social media.
But today’s labour is necessary for tomorrow’s success.
So I must find time to do what is required..period!

DAY 14

Another day for our 3rd meeting on the 21-day challenge. The weather is better because we had subzero temperatures for most of the last 2 days.

It doesn't feel like freezing today.

Time has been brutal with me and as such I haven’t written a follow-up post after our last meeting. But that's ok. I will combine that with today’s meeting for my next post.

My life chairman and mentor called to know how I was faring in the diaspora. I remember he subtly advised against my relocation. He wanted me to stay back and build wealth.

My reply then was that I could build wealth anywhere but I couldn’t possibly build my family in Nigeria since they were already well settled in Ireland.

We had a healthy chat and he told me to stay put where I am because it’s better. I promised to buy the 200ml bottle of his favourite John Paul Gaultier on my next visit.

DAY 15:

Thank God for life and sound health. I woke up feeling like a toddler.

Said my prayers and did 30 each of squats, push-ups and sit-ups.

I’m ready for another day.

It turned out to be another hectic day but I managed to do something I cherished.
Roselyn Sho Olajide is a star writer in our community.
She won multiple competitions.
But for over a year or thereabout she hasn’t been writing.
I remember she had given me a reason for this in past — there’s always a reason not to write just as there’s always every reason to do so.
So after having Peace Habila, her friend and fellow Josite — also another writer who has been MIA — in our last virtual meeting, I decided to chat with Roselyn.

She again lamented that she hadn’t been writing.
I wanted to do a long paragraph on how she could overcome this block but decided that a conversation would be better.

It’s about time I improved the congeniality in our community of practice.
So I have scheduled to surprise Roselyn with a call.
I hope to inspire her once again!

DAY 16:

During the school run this morning, I asked my son if he had come up with any idea of what he would like to be in the future.
He replied “I would like to study Criminology”

I was shocked! In a very pleasant manner and I’ll tell you why.

Before now his sisters had made up their minds about their future careers, but each time I asked my boy he would say he would indifferently reply that he was unsure.

I recollect that he wanted to be a gamer or YouTuber (Gen Z professions) when he was in primary school. But since they moved up to the secondary level he seemed to be uncertain about a career.

Being a Gen X raised in Nigeria, I was largely influenced by my parents.
Now as a parent, I’ve grown to become a firm believer in guiding kids to evolve on their terms….
Yep, I carefully used the word “guiding” because they are still kids who need guidance not necessarily rules to make decisions.

On my way back I stopped over at Bean Leaf which is now my cafe of choice for 2 reasons; They have Eurodam, the secured internet access for EU libraries and their coffee is as good but €1 cheaper than the regular price!

I took this pic in the parking lot.
An icy but sunny day.
Only in Eire!

DAY 17:

I went to bed last night mulling over a poser.
Should you monetise your content before publishing a book or vice versa?

I’m reminded of a not-too-recent discussion with a friend.

He studied English and Law. It wouldn’t be out of place to say he’s a writer by profession because he’s a published author with some books in his kitty. But he is also a politician by choice.

He had said, “I love what you are doing, building a community of digital creatives for learning is wonderful but I will advise you to establish your authority.”

For some seconds I didn’t grasp this point. Then it struck me.

“Like authoring a book?”, I asked curiously.

“Exactly!,” he exclaimed.

I don’t recall the words used to elaborate the point he was making but in the end, I assimilated everything.
I’m grateful for friends like him.
He has recommended wonderful books that shaped my perception of notable life issues.
An author I fell in love with based on his recommendation is Malcolm Gladwell.

People see the value you create, especially online.
Some will appreciate it while others may not.
But to earn respect and establish yourself as an authority you need to pen a book or build something that offers a solution.
It is how our world is wired.

It's important to know that an author’s platform size is often of greater importance than the author’s writing quality. So if you can build a sizeable platform with good writing you are in the elite group.
I wrote more on this topic here.

Now it must be said that writing a book isn’t the only path to becoming an authority in your chosen field but it is one way, and a damn good way for that matter.

By the way, look up Malcolm Gladwell and read any of his books.
I recommend Blinks. I promise you’ll be hooked!

DAY 18:

We are on a yellow warning and frankly, the rain will drown a frog!

Returning from the usual school run, macabre thoughts of how Noah’s ark would fail in our modern world flashed through my mind but I quickly switched focus and headed to my fav coffee shop.

I enjoy writing in coffee shops after reading Natalie Goldberg.
The atmosphere is enough to inspire. You are treated to many tiny scenes from diverse individuals. It could be a small group of classmates convened by a difficult assignment or a couple arguing over which is better on scone..butter or jam? It could still be the barista trying to convince a customer that a slice of carrot cake has just about the right quantity of sugar. It is the little things really and little wonder soundscape generator apps like Noisli have a cafe background.

I have a thought now. Next year I will write from as many coffee shops as I can. Maybe a Twitter thread or even another journal. It is not a bad idea at all..it promises to be interesting!

DAY 19:

Rainy day again but today is better. Much better. I was in the gym by 11 and sweated out till half 12. Not bad at all given that I rarely find time to work out in the mornings these days.

It's a Friday and I decided it would be nice to ring all my siblings. To hear their voices at least.

DAY 20:

It’s a Saturday and another busy weekend for me.
I love earning premium wages because I have no toddler at home.
That doesn’t mean I don't value quality time. I won’t miss a family vacation for anything.
But today, I gotta work!

DAY 21

Driving home for Christmas. One of my best songs of the season. It serves as a nostalgic reminder of my boyish days. When my cousins and I would rather hop into the rear of our pickup van than join my dad in his car for the Xmas trip to our home town. All in a bid to enjoy the scenery of the dusty roads as Odudu our driver navigates to Amawbia. It gets better when we have to pass through Enugu which is often. My Dad always has one building project there. He has to go and do Christmas for the builders before they vacate the site to their various homes.

We then relax to enjoy the magical byzantine windy road of the famous Milkin hill.

Ah those were the days!

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