10 Ways To Challenge Yourself In The New Year

Written by James Kicinski-McCoy
9:00 am
01/06/17

JULIE O’ROURKE, PHOTOGRAPHED BY GRETA RYBUS

As the holiday chapter closes, you may have noticed those around you (and on social media) beginning to tackle their lists of resolutions for the year ahead. You may have even started on a few good ones yourself! And, while making resolutions is often a healthy way to jumpstart the new year, it can be easy to set ambitions too high or get down on yourself when those goals don’t quite hit the mark. In addition to setting resolutions for 2017, why not try challenging yourself in new ways, as well? No matter what the outcome, it’s a stress-free, no-strings-attached way to challenge yourself and, perhaps, develop a few good habits along the way. We’ve listed 10 simple ideas below. Try one, or try them all, and see if you can beat your personal best.

Get Active- Challenge yourself to see how many days, or weeks, in a row you can get your body moving. Is it three? Five? Even if it’s just for 20 minutes a day, set aside time to head to the gym, your favorite workout class, or get outdoors and walk your neighborhood. It’s been said that being active is one of the best things that you can do for your mind, body, and soul, so why not kick it into high gear for the new year, and see how many days you can commit to feeling your very best?

Ditch The Stimulants- Most of us feel as if we cannot get our day started without our morning cup of java or that we need to unwind after a stressful day of work and parenting with a glass of wine. Challenge yourself to see how many days in a row you can go without outside stimulants like coffee and alcohol. On these days, try drinking water exclusively, and take note of how your body’s feeling.

Shop Local- Challenge yourself to buy locally. If it fits into your budget, see how many of your groceries you can pick up from local farmer’s markets and other community vendors. You’d be surprised at just how much your city or town has to offer. Your community will appreciate it, and you can rest easy knowing exactly where your goods are sourced.

Penny Pinch- One thing we could all benefit from is planning for our family’s future. Challenge yourself to put away a certain amount each day, week, or month into savings (even if it’s as little as $1), and see if you can go the entire year without missing a “pay day”. If you’re looking for a convenient, hassle-free way to save, try downloading an app like Qapital to track your money-saving progress!

Unplug- Given that we live in a tech-driven world, we tend to be tethered to our smartphones, laptops, and more. Challenge yourself to turn off your devices. Once a day, see how long you can go with your cell phone turned off or in the “do not disturb mode.” Can you go five minutes? Ten? Could you go a whole hour? For an extra challenge, try using this time to focus on the things toward the bottom of your to-do list that you may not have gotten to otherwise.

Read- With less screen time, why not challenge yourself to dive into a book each night. Even if it’s only a few pages, create a short list of books that you want to have read by the end of 2017, and chip away at them little by little, night by night.

Meditate- Challenge yourself to see how many minutes a day you can spend in complete silence. With constant distractions that can pull your attention in so many directions, allowing yourself moments of absolute silence, whether it be through simple quiet moments or something a little more complex like practicing mediation. These time-outs can be not only beneficial, but essential. Studies show that silence can relieve stress, replenish cognitive resources, and even regenerate brain cells, so why not try giving yourself a daily dose, even if it’s for as little as five minutes?

Say No To The Snooze Button- Challenge yourself to refrain from hitting the snooze button. When the alarm sounds come 6 a.m., it can be all too easy to give your snooze a little tap one or two or ten times before getting out of bed. This year, see how many days in a row you can go without relying on that seemingly liberating button, and try getting your day started a few minutes earlier.

Organize- We all have areas in our homes that could use a little decluttering. Challenge yourself to set aside a certain amount of time a day to get organized. Even if it’s once a month, try setting a timer for a specific amount of time and dive into those hallway closets, junk drawers, and unloved nooks and crannies. You might be surprised at how much territory you’ll be able to tackle in a short timeframe.

Get Down To Zero- Challenge yourself to clear out your email inbox, and see how long it takes you to get the number of unread messages to zero. Depending on the current state of your inbox, this may take days or even weeks, but you’ll feel like a champion once the tedious task is complete. For an added challenge, see how many days in a row you can keep the number of emails without a response to zero by the end of each day.

Leave a Comment

2 comments

Anna

I really like the idea of getting up earlier in the morning to get things done like practice yoga, meditate, write in your diary, that kind of thing. Why the mornings and not the evenings? I feel like there are so many things you could do in the evening, other people who require your team, food prepping, movie watching, winding down after a long day. In the morning on the other hand the likelihood of having time to yourself is much higher. I am also trying to get active in a gentle way by practicing yoga, stretching, strengthening, etc.

    Lauren

    I love all of these ideas…except the ‘email to zero’ one. I just read a recent study that said, contrary to what you might think, keeping your inbox at zero becomes a major waste of time and mental energy in and of itself. It also concluded that we are much quicker finding an email with the common ‘ol “search” feature than navigating to the proper folder in an organized folder tree. My resolution in this area is to just let it go and not waste the mental space by being bothered by something so insignificant as the number of “unread” messages.

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