Challenges Vs. Resolutions

New Year’s Prep: Post 11

Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

A friend posted something on Facebook the other day about a New Year’s Challenge. Actually — she posted about working on her list of challenges for 2019.

I love the idea. It seems different from a Resolution. Instead of an end goal, it’s more like a habit. Something that builds on itself.

The challenge my friend wrote about was getting rid of one physical thing from her home everyday. Can you see how different that is from a New Year’s resolution to declutter your house?

It’s a daily thing that will take just a minute — that, with a little luck, will become a habit that will keep you from needing to ever have a ‘declutter the house’ resolution in the future.

I love a teeny tiny goal. I’ve had one — write for ten minutes a day — for at least a decade that’s shaped my whole career. Several years ago a teeny tiny goal of exercising for ten minutes a day changed my life.

But when I think about goals this time of year, I always think about New Year’s Resolutions. Write a novel. Lost fifty pounds. Declutter the house.

I’m fascinated by the idea of coming up with a list of daily challenges for 2019. I’ve been working on that today. I think a total of ten challenges is a good place to start.

Inspired by the old Christmas gift guideline (something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read), I came up with a little framework for my challenges.

Something to start.

This is a good habit, to establish.

For 2019: Wear sunblock everyday.

Something to stop.

This is a bad habit, to quit.

For 2019: Stop bringing my cell phone to the dinner table.

Something for work.

This is a habit to start or stop that will improve my work life.

For 2019: Write on Medium every day.

Something for home.

This is a habit to start or stop that will improve my home life.

For 2019: Straight up stealing my friend’s challenge . . . get rid of one physical thing a day.

Something for my body.

This is a habit to start or stop that will make me healthier in 2019.

For 2019: Exercise for 10 minutes a day.

Something for my brain.

And this is a habit to start or stop that will expand my horizons in some way.

For 2019: Read from Leo Tolstoy’s A Calendar of Wisdom everyday.

And a couple of rules, in case you want to try this yourself. You should be able to finish the bare bones of your challenge in no more than ten minutes a day. Try to keep to no more than two challenges that will take that long, though. Most should take no more than a minute or so. Some (especially the habit to stop) might take zero time.

You want to be able to do all six of these things in far less than an hour a day, on a day when you can only give the minimum. But the times are minimums, not limits. Most days, I hope I’ll exercise for more than ten minutes or write a Medium post that takes me more than ten minutes to pound out. But on the days when that’s all I have in me? I get full credit.

Here’s my secret weapon for sticking with whatever your thing is.

Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She is an out-of-place Nevadan living in Northwestern PA with her husband, three superstar kids, two dementia patients, a good friend, Alfred the cat, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s on Twitter @shauntagrimes and is the author of Viral Nation and Rebel Nation and the upcoming novel The Astonishing Maybe. She is the original Ninja Writer.