While some folks start their New Year’s Resolution’s in January, I find that December works better for me (maybe July will be better for you). A challenge is different than a resolution, because a resolution has no end date, where a challenge stops. Also, because of the holidays, this month is already choppy. That means if I take some time each day to do something new, it’s not going to impact other obligations as much as it would in a less choppy time. December is also the darkest month in Boulder; having a task to ‘check off’ every day feels like progress, and that feels good.
You can either pick a new thing or a task you’ve tried to do in the past. All of my experience is with the latter. New things are often exciting enough for me that I don’t need any kind of push to experience them. But something I’ve tried lackadaisically that I intellectually know is worth exploring–that kind of challenge is perfect for a month.
A month is long enough to give a new habit a chance and to learn some of the benefits and warts of it. It’s also short enough that you can gut your way through it. I read about people doing challenges for a year, but I am not sure I have the mental stamina to commit for that long. After some December challenges, I was happy to drop the activity, because I didn’t get much value from it (or not enough for the effort). Others I picked up later.
As far pure mechanics, I’ve found that a PDF calendar that you can ‘X’ out each day is helpful. Post this someplace you will see it (by your bed or your desk). Get a big sharpie and enjoy the ‘X’ing out process.
I also think it’s important to publicly state any kind of ‘I’m doing this for a month’ goals because that external pressure will help you when encountering a day where you really don’t want to do the task (like today, for me. haha). “Public” can mean announced on Facebook, Twitter or a blog, but it could be a conversation with your roommate or SO or family members.
I know that this is a bit late for December 2017, but hopefully it will inspire you in the future–there are plenty of months for a challenge in 2018.