A few years ago, I created a list of monthly goals aimed at feeling more centred and balanced. I was braving through strange times and I felt the need to increase my ability to commit, and crush challenges successfully.
The challenges were meticulously planned,as they had to be attainable and help ease pain points that needed serious attention. The idea was to complete the same challenge every day for one month with the caveat of, one free day per month. If for some reason I couldn’t complete the challenge for that day, I wouldn’t feel bad because let’s face it, we have all been there. We eat a piece of cake then talk ourselves into eating the entire cake. The free day was insurance against giving up on the rest of the month. If the challenge was completed successfully , then I would treat myself to a massage or a mani/pedi.
- JANUARY – Regain my love for bodybuilding. I stopped bodybuilding and training after a failed attempt at summitting Mount Elbrus in Russia. For 7 months I trained 6 to 7 days a week, often 2 times a day in an effort to summit. Bodybuilding took a backseat and cardio and endurance became the major components of my workout routine. After the trip, I fell into a funk that lasted a few months; I ate everything in sight, gained weight and slowed down. This challenge was meant to reignite my love for weights and get me back on track. Successfully completed.
- FEBRUARY – Workout every day. This challenge was created to ride the endorphin high from January. Working out consistently for 2 months helped make training a habit again. I worked out 7 days a week, with one day reserved for a fun group activity . Successfully completed.
- MARCH – No eating out. I was not allowed to buy food outside my weekly grocery list; this meant no food courts, restaurants, or snacks. Coffee was the only respite. Being a very social person, this challenge was difficult because I missed restaurant nights with my friends and dating became awkward because they couldn’t understand what I was attempting to do. Successfully, but painfully completed.
- APRIL – In bed by 11 pm, out of bed by 7 am (with the exception of weekends). This challenge took a lot of planning because I was dealing with insomnia. I had hoped that this routine would help ease my sleepless nights…it didn’t. However, I did feel more relaxed and created a bedtime routine that eventually calmed my state of mind and stress over lack of sleep. April was a difficult month, I allowed for two free days.
- MAY – Stop retail therapy: not allowed to buy shoes or clothes. Shopping was fast becoming a false panacea for joy; the rush of happiness was fleeting and left me feeling empty after the buzz wore off. May’s challenge was aimed at getting to the root of my unhappiness. I spent the majority of the month reflecting on what triggered those irresponsible shopping excursions. Similar to emotional eating, it became apparent I was unconsciously using shopping as a substitute to facing difficult problems. I quickly realized this would be a forever-challenge to always be mindful of.
- JUNE – Read every day for at least one hour. Reading was an oasis but lack of sleep made it hard to concentrate, which made reading long prose and books difficult. June’s longer days made it easier to find the time to read and once again, get happily lost in other people’s stories. Successfully completed.
- JULY – Meditate every day for 10 minutes. This challenge was not as easy as it sounds. Sitting still and trying to clear your mind is one of the hardest things to do when your brain doesn’t stop. I started with a couple of minutes at a time (building up to 10 minutes a day), by the end of the month, I was able to calm my monkey brain for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night. Successfully completed: I still meditate daily.
- AUGUST – Give thanks every morning. August was meant to help me see how fortunate I was. Once I started giving thanks every morning, my day seemed lighter and less onerous. Successfully completed and I still give thanks every day.
- SEPTEMBER – No alcoholic beverages. I don’t drink much as I prefer to eat my calories. September was an easy month, which gave the year of challenges some much-needed levity.
- OCTOBER – Knit every day. I successfully knitted every day, except for one day. Unfortunately, after October 31st, I never finished what I was knitting. Three years later, I am finishing the long awaited Christmas gift leg-warmers.
- NOVEMBER – Journal every day. Another fun challenge: I love writing. I wrote about any topic that caught my fancy, short stories, dreams, thoughts, declarations of love, letters, lists, poems etc. Spontaneous topics made writing enjoyable again. I missed one day.
- DECEMBER – Save 10$ a day. By the end of the month, I had an extra $300; it was a great way to end the year of challenges.
The idea for the year of challenges came at a point where I needed to feel a sense of accomplishment. Even though some of the challenges were seemingly insignificant, at the end of the year I felt empowered and my lagging self-confidence received a much-needed boost. These challenges also inspired a few friends to make their own list.
With 2017 being only 30 days away, it’s time for some new challenges. The rules for 2017:
- No repeats from 2014
- Stretch challenges with only 2 easy months
- One free day per month
- Ask a confidant to create one challenge for me and
- Blog about the process.
Some monthly examples may include: practicing veganism, daily yoga, take pictures of what makes me smile and produce a collage, daily Instagram posts, and run 1 km every day.
Now it’s your turn, to create your own challenges. Try some easy ones that will make this a fun experience and sprinkle in some nail bitters to show yourself how strong, adventurous and committed to self-improvement you can be.
Comment if you are up for the challenge!