I love the excuse that a new calendar provides for encouraging me to try new things, push myself, and break out of bad habits. But even though I’ve heard that it takes just three weeks to develop a new habit, my new year’s resolutions always break down around week five or six. There must be some resolution-busting ingredient in those candy message hearts… How to effect change in my life without the crushing “Aw, bummer, I screwed up my resolution! Guess I have to wait ten months until my next opportunity” feeling of failure that comes around in February?
So this year, instead of attempting a 365-day resolution, I am considering trying something different: twelve one-month challenges. Every few weeks a different “dare” to myself in areas of health and lifestyle, or our culture’s omnipresent consumerism and need for entertainment. Here are some ideas I’ve been considering:
Screen-free-home month. It’s not TV that’s a time suck for me as much as the internet. Can I go for one month at home without constantly distracting myself with Netflix and lolcats? If I lock my laptop in my desk at work, maybe I’ll finally have time to do all those things I say I’m too busy for… like cleaning the storage closet or reading that book.
Sugar-free month. Self-explanatory, and also potentially one of the biggest challenges for this sweet tooth!
Car-free month. I have the luxury of living close enough to be able to walk to work, but could I also bike to the grocery store and bus to friends for a whole month?
Mile-a-day month. My friend made a 2012 resolution to run at least one mile per day for the whole year, and she’s kept it! I’m not sure I could do it for a whole year (she’s stubborn enough to keep going through injuries), but can I discipline myself for one month? After all, running one mile only takes a maximum of fifteen minutes.
Zero-waste month. Can I produce no garbage — only compostables, recyclables, and reusables — for a whole month?
Cook-from-scratch month. As much as possible, prepare everything that goes into my mouth from scratch. Several benefits here: knowing what’s in my food, the healthiness of whole ingredients, and learning how to cook more things!
One-dress month. Inspired by onedressprotest.com, can I “fast from fashion” for one month by wearing the same outfit every day for everything I do?
Try-something-new-each-day month. A new food or recipe, a different route to work, a book I’ve never read, a different radio station, a new hairstyle — can I break free of the comfortable ruts I’ve worn in my routine to try something new? Who knows what I might discover!
Make-art-every-day month. Open up my closet full of random supplies and draw something, paint something, sew something, sculpt something every day for one month.
Zero-dollar month. Not sure how do-able this is, but with the exception of paying necessary costs like rent and bills can I plan and budget so that I don’t spend one dime for a whole month? Just use the gas already in my tank, just eat the food already in my cupboards, and resist buying those “oh-it’s-so-cheap-who-cares” temptations in the dollar aisle.
All of these are things that I’ve pondered at some time, but seem too daunting to try to commit to for an entire year. But commit for thirty days? Quite do-able! And if I discover I can do it for a month, I may be more likely to work these habits and changes into my regular routines. Is this a crazy idea? Can I pull off this “resolution”? I haven’t come up with twelve different challenges; any other ideas I should add to my challenge list?