Why I Plan to Complete 36 Monthly Challenges in 2017

I’ve been sitting with the new year for about a week and am still struggling with what exactly my intentions are for the year. I’d love to say that I thought of something brilliant like Cait Flanders’ Year of Slow or Mrs. Our Next Life’s Year of No, but that just hasn’t been the case. My gears have been turning to no avail. Right when I think I’ve grasped something essential about the way I want this year to unfold it drifts back away and I’m left wondering if my word for 2017 should be “indecisive.”

There’s so much that I’ve striving for this year and it feels hard to boil down into a simple word, phrase, or even a handful of resolutions. I’ve been reading like a wild woman already this year - memoirs and how-to books and pop psychology and blog posts galore. The essence of it all is an effort to find contentedness - not even necessarily joy - just that quiet happiness and solidity that comes with having enough and being enough. Because the truth is I don’t feel like I’m enough right now and that’s an impossibly hard thing to realize. So I steep myself in the work of others who have reached some level of “enoughness” that is currently eluding me in the hopes that their strategies will get me there too.

As you can imagine, this has left me feeling a bit moorless. On information overload. With a million things that I “should” try if I want to be more successful, happier, more stable, healthier, etc. etc. etc. The rebel in me wants to reject it all and sit on the couch and eat a peanut butter cookie and reread Harry Potter, quite honestly. And yet, I know there are some pearls of wisdom out there if I could simply separate the noise from the truth. And I mean the truth for me - what resonates with my soul. MY truth. The difficulty comes in the fact that my truth is that I want contradictory things - as do we all. I want challenge and ease. I want security and freedom. So where does that leave me for the new year?

Let’s start with challenge and ease. The truth is that I need to move through many challenging situations to get to the ease I want to experience this year. Get rid of a lot of my possessions (challenge) to live a simpler, more meaningful life (ease). Pay off massive amounts of debt (challenge) to reach the freedom of a debt-free life on the other side (ease). Exercise consistently (challenge) to feel better in my body and to find stability in my mental health (ease). And the great thing is, all of these challenges will not only bring me to ease but to a place of security AND to a place of freedom. Once I free myself from debt, I’ll be able to build a more secure financial base. Once I give my body the freedom of movement and maximized potential through exercise, I’ll feel more secure about myself and more stable in my mood. It’s all intertwined. Which is perhaps why I’m rebelling against the single “word of the year” that I’ve always embraced in the past.

So this year, I’ve decided to challenge myself. Every month. With the thought that I will, in turn, find ease, security, and freedom on the other end. I can only imagine that it’s going to be rough going from time to time, but the beauty is in the timeline. 30-31 days. That’s the duration. If I want to maintain the habit (because at that point it should be the start of one) I can. If not, I can let it go. But either way, I will have challenged myself, stretched myself, and made progress toward a more content me in the process.

So what are the challenges? Glad you asked, I’m arranging them around the Level 10 Life premise brought into my life last year by Hal Elrod. The basic idea is that there are 10 areas of life and you can strive to reach a level 10 in all of them. Now, a level 10 is not the goal for me this year (especially because my levels as we move into the year are all over the map). But my goal is to push myself a little further than where I currently stand. Since there are only 10 life areas and 12 months, I’ll be doubling up on a few areas where I could use the most growth - specifically Finances and Health and Fitness. So here it is:

January - Finances - this month the challenge will be two-fold - saving money and getting rid of unnecessary items. I’ll do this in ways that I’ve already discussed, but to reiterate, I plan to:
--Play The Minimalists’ Minimalism Game and get rid of approximately 500 items

February - Health and Fitness - this month the challenge will be to feel healthier and fitter through diet and exercise changes. Specifically, I plan to:
--Complete The 21 Day Fix
--Drink at least 100 oz of water per day
--Use my sun lamp for 30 minutes every day

March - Physical Environment - this month I’ll be focusing on my physical environment. This is probably the toughest one for me as I enjoy my physical environment quite a bit as it is. Still though, I plan to:
--Get outside for 30 minutes per day
--Tidy my apartment (including my desk) for 10-15 minutes before bed every evening
--Donate or sell items that I don’t need at least once per week

April - Career and Business - this month I’ll be challenging myself to grow my blog and online presence. To do so I’ll be completing the following:
--Post on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest 5x/week
--Post three blog posts per week
--Complete my coaching course by completing modules and practicing coaching daily

May - Giving and Contribution - this is the month of a big fundraising event for the organization I’m on a board of directors for. That means that my big challenge this month will be raising money for them. Specifically I’ll plan to:
--Raise $2000 for gala from outside sources
--Save $500 using Chris’ $500 savings challenge from above and give it back to the
--Hang out with my Little Sister at least once per week

June - Spirituality - I fell of the meditation and mindfulness train quite a while back and I’d like to jump back on so to do so I plan to:
--Meditate for 10 minutes every morning
--Read a passage of The Book of Awakening every morning
--Read one book per week on the topic of spirituality

July - Significant Other - my partner will be living out of state this summer which means I’ll have to be even more intentional about growing and nurturing our relationship than usual. I plan to:
--Write her one letter/postcard per day
--Visit at least once
--Work on planning our next big international trip every day

August - Fun and Recreation - this month I’ll be focusing on the things I love that I don’t make time to do and on the things I’m not very good at yet that I want to improve. Specifically, I plan to:
--Practice guitar for 30 minutes per day
--Read for an hour per day
--Work on my Spanish for 30 minutes per day

September - Personal Development - this is very much a favorite category of mine and there are so many things that go into it for me! For the month of September I plan to:
--Keep a gratitude journal and write down three things I’m grateful for each day
--Write down one reason I am valuable each day
--Start a list of one new thing I can learn each week and jump in!

October - Family and Friends - my family and friends are incredibly important to me and I love showing them that as much as I can. That’s why for the month of October I plan to:
--Write a letter a day to an important person in my life about why I value them
--Call one long distance friend per week
--Make plans with at least two friends or family members per week

November - Health and Fitness - back at it with the health and fitness as we enter the winter months, my birthday month, and the month of Thanksgiving! For all of those reasons I plan to:
--Get over 10,000 steps per day
--Complete 30 Days of Yoga with Adrienne
--Go to bed by 9:30pm every week night

December - Finances - and finally, because this is a personal finance blog, I’ll be closing out the year focusing, again, on my finances. Specifically, I plan to:
--Complete another spending freeze/shopping ban
--Have a giftless Christmas
--Spend less than $200 on groceries

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