I know I’m not alone. By February or March, with all the best intentions, I struggled to keep my New Year’s resolutions. Whether I was trying to hit the gym, read more books, or organize the house, the excitement often waned a few months in. Sound familiar?
But if resolutions are hopeless, how do we push ourselves to improve? In the past year, without fully realizing it, I adopted a different approach – I began taking part in challenges. These challenges were short-term goals I set with family and friends, and sometimes with myself. Let me explain.
I’ve taken part in multiple weight/health challenges, book reading challenges, and a couple of walking challenges in 2022. I think I’m drawn to them because they are limited in duration but also because I’m competitive in nature (see my post, Building a Winning Trivia Team!). Those two qualities make challenges, or mini-challenges, a win-win for me. Maybe they’re for you, too!
You can apply this idea to just about any area of your life in order for you to take incremental steps to your goals. Think home improvement, health/weight, crafts/hobbies, work-life balance, mental health, writing, reading, or blog management (ha!).
Here are just a few ideas on how to move the needle on some of your goals using challenges or mini-challenges – instead of the ill-fated annual resolutions:
Weight loss (or improved physical health) is undoubtedly the most popular New Year’s resolution. Therefore, there are loads of options to be found for this goal.
Create a private Facebook group with family and/or friends. My brother started the group in 2022, and it brought several of us together. “I started some Fit Family Challenges not only for my family but for myself. I needed some short-term goals that could focus and re-energize me each month,” Sean said. “I will ask the family again to start in January. The challenges take discipline and focus but only for 30 days. We live an ‘instant world’ so we can use short-term goals to achieve our long-term goals.”
Walking – For the last two summers, I took part in the Stride for Kauai 100-Mile Challenge with friends across the country. The goal was to walk 100 miles (virtually around the island) over the months of May-August. Not only did it create a walking plan, but we all earned some pretty cool swag at the end of the challenge. Loads of charities have jumped on the virtual walking challenge bandwagon including the American Cancer Society and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to name just a couple.
Nutrition/Movement/Sleep/Mindfulness – As a Weight Watcher, I can attest to the many challenges its digital app has to offer to keep you motivated to move, to track your food, to get quality sleep, and to practice mindfulness. These challenges include one-week to one-month options.
Overall Health – 75 Hard is a physical and mental challenge over the course of 75 days that has gained popularity in the last couple of years. It’s not for the faint of heart, but I certainly admire those who have completed it.
Crafters always have lots of projects in progress or lined up to start -- unless you're one of those crafters who finishes one project before starting a new one. (Really? Is that possible?) Jodi is a long-term quiltmaker and has recently rediscovered cross-stitch after many years. So, she has LOTS of projects in the started pile and many more to get to "someday." She has used two different challenges in the past and plans to use both for 2023.
Works-in-Progress Challenges – A "flosstuber" who makes cross-stitch videos for YouTube shared her idea of WIPGO a couple years ago as a way to make monthly progress on WIPs (works in progress) using a bingo card-style game board. In a 5 x 5 gridded board with squares numbered 1-25, the cross stitcher selects a cross-stitch project for each grid square and what the goal is to complete on that project during a month. Square 13 in the middle of the grid can be a free square or also contain a project goal. Then each month, Jessie Marie (the flosstuber) announces two numbers for cross stitchers to work on. If square 13 is one of the numbers, she will announce three numbers so there are at least two project goals to work on. To learn more and to get involved, check out the WIPGO 2022 video (or search for the WIPGO 2023 video when it's released) and request to join the WIPGO 2022 Facebook group (it will be updated to WIPGO 2023). Jodi completed 17 out of 25 project goals this year and made progress on three additional projects. "WIPGO is a great way for me to focus my stitching time," Jodi said. "There are so many projects I want to work on, so each month I can focus on just a couple and try to meet my goals for them."
Unfinished Project Challenges – She has the same problems with too many quilt projects, many that are started and then called UFOs (unfinished objects). The American Patchwork & Quilting magazine offers a year-long UFO challenge that works in a similar way to WIPGO. You make a list of projects numbered 1-12, and each month a number is announced on the American Patchwork & Quilting's UFO Challenge group page on Facebook. "I participated in this challenge a couple years ago, but I didn't make it through the entire year due to other busy things in my life," Jodi said. "But I do plan to do this challenge in 2023 because the number of UFOs I have is way too many. I really want the extra motivation of this challenge to help me make more progress on my quilts."
I’m a member of a couple of book clubs, and I have lots of friends who are voracious readers (as I aspire to be). Reading more has been a big goal for me in retirement, and I’ve made strides, but I’d like to do more. I’ll be looking for the right challenge this coming year to get me reading even more. Here’s a couple of resources:
The Goodreads site and app allows you to set you own reading challenges and, bonus, is a great app all around to track the books you’ve read and the one’s you want to read – plus there are reviews and synopses aplenty! Gold standard here, folks.
I’m going to share another blog that has done a fabulous job at aggregating some great reading challenge ideas for 2023 – check out girlxoxo for a nicely curated list.
Home Organization – Need to get your house under control but don’t know how to start and get past that overwhelmed feeling? Try this 7-week challenge offered up by Nourish + Nestle. It may be just the trick to get you started in 2023.
Email Organization – Don’t get me started on the trials and tribulations of email clutter. I have NOT mastered a clean inbox, so perhaps I should take on The One Percent’s 2022 Clean Your Inbox Challenge.
Google proves that there are a gazillion ideas for challenges that are engaging, short term, and manageable – that can help you meet your goals. Get creative without getting overwhelmed – that’s my New Year’s Resolution. Whoops! I wasn’t going to have any resolutions this year …
What challenges will you take on this year? Let me know if the comments section below or post on the Friendsville Square page on Facebook for today’s post. You just may help others!