Lifestyle Design / Self-Mastery

52 Ways To Challenge Yourself In 2018

by Niall Doherty Updated: January 31, 2018

Every month in 2018, I’m going to take on a different challenge.

One month I might give up coffee, another I might meditate for 20 minutes every day, another I might make myself get up before 5am every morning.

I posted about this idea on Facebook recently and received many great suggestions for different things I could try. The best are listed below (plus a few more I thought of).

Feel free to give a few of them a try yourself, and let me know how you get on.

  1. Get up every morning before 5am/6am/7am
  2. Watch the sunrise/sunset every day for a month
  3. Go to bed every night before 9pm/10pm/11pm
  4. Meditate for 5/10/15/20 minutes per day
  5. 5 minutes of breathing exercises every day
  6. Intermittent fasting every day (e.g. only eat between 12pm and 6pm)
  7. At least 10 minutes of exercise every day
  8. Go for a run every day
  9. At least 10 minutes of stretching/yoga every day
  10. Eat vegetarian every day
  11. Eat vegan every day (no animal products)
  12. Say hello to a stranger every day
  13. Compliment a stranger every day
  14. No email until after 12pm each day
  15. No internet after 6pm every day
  16. Write 1000 words every day
  17. Create a small drawing/painting every day
  18. Send someone a thank you card/message every day
  19. Publish a blog post every day
  20. Publish a video every day
  21. Plan out your day every morning
  22. Keep a journal every day
  23. Drink a big glass of water first thing every morning
  24. Spend at least 10 minutes playing a musical instrument every day
  25. Spend at least 10 minutes learning a foreign language every day
  26. Write down three things you’re grateful for every day
  27. Eat breakfast/lunch/dinner with no distractions every day
  28. Write a poem/haiku every day
  29. Complete a crossword puzzle every day
  30. Spend at least 30 minutes reading for pleasure every day
  31. Take a cold shower every day
  32. Write down 10 business ideas every day
  33. Make 5 sales calls every day
  34. Put on some funky music and dance for a few minutes every day
  35. No coffee/caffeine
  36. No bread
  37. No gluten
  38. No sugar
  39. No fast food
  40. No soda
  41. Cook all your own meals
  42. No chocolate
  43. No alcohol
  44. No Netflix
  45. No YouTube
  46. No television
  47. No Facebook/Twitter/social media
  48. No complaining
  49. No news
  50. Free write for 5 minutes every day
  51. Take and share a photo every day
  52. No pornography

I will decide which challenge I’m taking on each month just a few days in advance, following this wise advice from a friend on Facebook:

For January, my challenge will be to plan out my day every morning, something I picked up from an excellent book called Deep Work.

What’s The Point Of All This?

Inevitably, whenever I announce something along these lines, I hear from a few critics and naysayers, like these two folks who posted on my Facebook page:

In case you’re also wondering what the point of challenging yourself is… well, it’s to learn and grow.

I’ve taken on many challenges over the years, tried many different experiments, tested lots of different habits. Some have worked out well. Others not so much.

I keep what makes my life better and ditch what doesn’t.

For example, I decided to quit drinking alcohol for an entire year back in 2011. That turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. Not that alcohol is inherently bad or anything; but on balance my life is certainly better without it. I now haven’t had a drink in seven years.

Maybe you’ll try doing or quitting something every day for a month and find it doesn’t improve your life. No big deal. Go back to how things were, but with better knowledge of yourself and what’s best for you.

As Socrates once said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

Challenges such as those listed above are a great way to examine your life, and discover new and better ways to keep it a life worth living.

  • Do any of the challenges on the above list resonate with you?
  • Anything else you’d like to try for a month?

Let me know in the comments below.

January 31 Update

Above is a quick video update from Bansko in Bulgaria.

I ended up doing two challenges in January:

  • Planning out my day every morning
  • No coffee

The first went well. I missed only two days (both due to travel), and overall the daily planning really helped me set realistic expectations for how much I could get done each day, and helped me prioritize my most important work and stay focused throughout the day.

I took on the no coffee challenge at the last minute to support my girlfriend, as that was the challenge she decided on for the month.

In February, my challenge will be to keep a journal of all the complaints I make, and to try turn each complaint into something positive.

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