This week I’m preparing the launch of my monthly challenge program. I’m really excited about it, but I also have some fears at the same time: will my initiative find echo? Will I be able to encourage people? What can I bring to them?
By preparing it, many questions came to my mind . Therefore, I decided to introduce you to the project in more details. I also wrote a FAQ about the monthly challenge to answer some specific questions.
Ready? Let’s go in this together!
Why you should do a monthly challenge (or shouldn’t)
What’s the point of doing a challenge you may wonder? I’m glad you asked 😉
First and foremost, you shouldn’t see the challenge as you not being enough this or enough that. You are perfect as you are. Read this sentence again, or let me write it once more. YOU ARE PERFECT AS YOU ARE.
No one should ever tell you to be someone you aren’t. Even if that person’s intention is good, the change has to come from you, from within you. Unless you are ready and willing to go on a transformational journey, it won’t work. You will miserably fail and your self-talk won’t go easy on you.
The rule of thumb is: if you want to be a better you, do it when you feel ready and do it for yourself, not because you’ve been told or asked.
How to identify the monthly challenge you want to take
Taking my experience, when I decided to go on a yearly journey with a different challenge every month, I first got excited and felt I had plenty of ideas. After writing everything down, I fell short on topics to finish off the year.
You may already have a few ideas (one is enough or none is still good, stick with me, I’ll get to this a bit further down).
Have you ever thought “I wish I could be a bit more like this or a bit less like that”? Well, here we go now!
List everything you’ve ever wished for, even the scary ones
Can’t think of anything specific? That’s all right too. Be curious and observe yourself for a day or even a week. Notice the things you do, take notes and ask yourself “Could I quit this habit for 30 days?”, how would it impact your life? In a positive way of course.
Let’s take two examples.
- If you feel you can’t start your day without your cup of coffee, I feel you. I’ve been there. The simple thought of saying goodbye to my best friend in the morning made me nervous. That’s exactly the reason why I did it. I was addicted to it. Now, I’m not telling you that you should quit your addictions (we all have some at some points), but this is an area you can look into.
- Do you need to watch a few YouTube videos before switching off the lights in the evening? What could you use this time for instead?
Have a closer look at what you do daily or weekly
Observe what you do throughout the day – without judging yourself please – and ask yourself the following: “Why do I do that?” and “How would this change of habit impact my life?”.
Quitting a habit or starting a new one, both are possible. Anything you want it possible. One of the secret ingredient for success is action. Why? Because with action comes motivation. Not the other way around. Do you want the second secret ingredient? Well, read on!
The most common example of having a new habit is to start sports. I don’t know about you but to me sports has always sounded unpleasant and discouraging. Now, look a bit further into this idea: what do you mean by starting sports? Do you simply want to get more active or do you want to lose a few kilos? In both case, consistency pays off and with consistency pleasure will come.
How to get started
Now that you know what you want to challenge yourself on, how do we ensure that you enjoy your practice every day? I’m personally a big fan of baby steps.
The idea is to stick to a habit for 30 days, not for your whole life. Under the sport category, you can decide to go for a walk every day for 10 minutes, choose to do planks for one minute every day, do 10 push-ups, or do 20 reps for abs. The list of possibilities is infinite and the challenge doesn’t have to put you off. On the contrary!
You should be excited about it for many reasons: experiencing something new, something that will have a positive impact on your life is great. You’re also about to know more about yourself. It’s called growth. And you know what? The great news is that you only need to commit for 30 days! After that you’ll have the possibility to go back to your previous lifestyle if you want to.
You’re free and you don’t owe anything to anyone. No one should judge you for your decisions and especially not yourself.
Why you should stick to 30 days
So, why a 30 days challenge and not just a week? Well, beside this theory of 21 days necessary to take on a new habit, a week isn’t long enough for you to see the outcome of your new habit. That’s it. Let me give you an example from one of my recent experience: quitting sugar for a week was easy. I could refrain myself from eating sweets by some “clever” moves – basically avoiding social events. I called it the “honeymoon phase”. I was confident and I felt strong. The funny thing is that I wondered why everyone wasn’t doing the same.
However, over a whole month I faced more tempting situations than I would have in a week – like a birthday cake at work. Put it simple, I encountered more situations where my temporary new habit was challenged in a month and I learnt more about myself. If I would have done it for a week, I wouldn’t have failed. spoiler alert: I failed 3 times and I still feel good about it.
Failing is part of the whole experience. Once again, you shouldn’t be afraid of failing the challenge, because you aren’t. You only fail if you quit and give up. Deviating from your goal a couple of times is part of the learning experience and that’s totally fine.
Tailor your challenge to your own lifestyle
Another thing I mentioned earlier but I want to make it clear at this point: your challenge is YOURS. It’s up to you to decide what you want to do with it. Your challenge should be achievable and easy to follow. You don’t want to have a negative self-talk because you’re not able to do what you planed to. This isn’t the right approach.
Taking another common example of a challenge: drinking more water. Let’s say that you usually don’t think of drinking water and you want to drink more. Your challenge is to drink a bit more water every day. How much more? It’s only up to you. Recommendations say 2 liters a day. Is it realistic from your starting point to aim at those 2 liters? Only you can answer this question.
Whenever I set a new habit for myself, I’m already super happy just by the fact of sticking to that new habit. How much, how long, how many isn’t so important in the first phase. You can always think of scaling up later. Later only.
Before doing 10 push-ups every morning I had to learn to do one. For days, I did one push-up and I was happy. I was happy because I never thought I could ever do one push-up – in case you wondered, I’m a girl – but I showed up. And this will be my only piece of advice: show up for your challenge. You’ll build discipline gradually.
In the end of the day, this is all it is about: discipline. Building or quitting a habit is great. What happens behind the scene is even greater. You build and strengthen discipline, boost your self-confidence and realist that with the right mindset, everything is possible.
Examples of monthly challenges
I doubt that you still haven’t figured out what challenge you want to do, but just in case, I’m listing here the ones I did in the past months as well as the ones I plan to do this year:
- No sugar
- Intermittent fasting
- No coffee
- Running/Walking every day
- No social media
- Getting more social
- Act of kindness every day
- Love gesture
- No negativity
- Minding my own business: stopping judging
Looking at the list, and at challenge number 12 especially, I don’t plan to succeed from Day 1. I don’t expect to not judge anyone AT ALL by the end of that month either. BUT, I want to be more aware of my thoughts about others and turn those negative thoughts into positive ones. That’s it.
I will tailor this challenge the way I want it to be, the way it serves me and makes me become a better person. You don’t need to succeed for it to be a success.
Other ideas of challenges found on the internet: monthly book challenge, monthly declutter challenge, monthly gratitude challenge, monthly savings challenge etc. If you’re interested to know more about specific ones, let me know. I could share some of my experience too!