I love a challenge. I’m driven to succeed, even if the only one measuring the success is myself. However, I also live a life that fluctuates, and I have some commitment issues, so committing to a year-long or multi-year goal can be really hard for me. When I discovered “monthly” challenges, though, my life was changed. Each month, I set a new goal for myself, and it usually involves doing something every day, which builds routine and helps me actually accomplish a lot in what is really a little bit of time. First, I’d like to explain to you why I chose to do monthly challenges and some of the ones I’ve completed, then offer suggestions for your own challenges.
Monthly challenges are great because it’s easy to do something for just a month. It’s long enough to make a difference in your life and build up a habit, but you also won’t wear yourself out. I’m pretty good at keeping resolutions when I want to, but after a few months, I just don’t want to anymore. Monthly challenges allow me to spice up my resolutions and try new things without worrying about committing to them for a year. I can also tailor the monthly challenges to the always-moving aspects of my life. If I know I’m traveling a lot that month, I won’t attempt to make it to the gym every day, because I’m just setting myself up for failure. Making monthly challenges can be very rewarding, but you have to set yourself up for success, not failure.
For example, I’m never going to set a monthly challenge to run 5 miles a day. That’s just not happening. I haven’t run five miles in the past year, and I’m not going to become a new person overnight. However, I could maybe shoot for running half a mile a day for a month, and after a month, I may be interested in continuing.
Now, I’ve only recently adopted the “monthly challenge” but I love it so far! As a librarian in training, I’m trying to diversify my own reading to better serve my future patrons. Because of that, I’ve geared a few months this year around certain reading goals, intending to read 10 graphic novels in January, 10 books of poem in February, and 10 plays in March, for example. That didn’t limit my reading to just those books in those months, but also forced me to strive to meet those goals.
In April, I watched a Ted Talk every single day. It was a really easy way to learn, learn, learn. I got to pick my own topics every day, and I could choose to diversify each day and also pick a Ted Talk with the appropriate length for how much I had each day. Some days I could commit to a 15 minute Ted Talk, other days I could only squeeze in five minutes. I gave myself this leeway, and with the massive amount of Ted Talks to choose from, it was easy!
In May, I worked through a 31-section devotional that involves reading a little bit, being creative, and journaling. It’s the perfect length for daily work and lasts exactly a month. I made a purposeful decision to do it in May, a month with 31 days, so it would be a month long, but other devotionals are only 30 days, and you could do those in a 31 day month to give yourself a little bit of leeway in case of life’s circumstances.
What will you challenge yourself to do in a month or for a month? Here’s just a few examples:
Read your religious text of choice in 31 days
Work through a month-long Bible study program.
Commit to doing 50 sit-ups a day
Commit to doing 30 minutes of exercise a day.
Get rid of one item each day
Clean up your home every day.
In college, I challenged myself to make my bed every day for a month, and now I do that always unless something crazy happens in the morning. Something I’m thinking about for a future challenge is to write a handwritten card each day to someone important to me–old teachers, friends, et cetera.