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Overwhelmed by New Year’s Resolutions? Try a Monthly Challenge

Woman relaxing after working out.
Nutthaseth Van/Shutterstock

New Year’s resolutions offer you a way to work on things you want to change about yourself, from being kinder to losing weight. Just because you resolve to accomplish something in the new year doesn’t mean you’ll keep at it.

It’s easy to fall off the path of your New Year’s resolution, and most people tend to do exactly that within the first few weeks of the new year. If weight loss is your goal, you might give up because you’re not seeing results after the first month. If you’re going to the gym more, spending more time, or doing anything that takes you out of your home, you might give in quickly because the chill and snow of winter weather keep you comfy in the warmth of your home.

Instead of setting your expectations so high by trying to force yourself to dedicate the entire year to one resolution, why not look at your resolutions as individual monthly things?

What Is a Monthly Challenge?

If you’re a regular on Facebook, you’ve probably seen (or even participated in) a monthly challenge or two. Some of them require you to share certain songs or movies each day (like a favorite song that starts with a number of your favorite classic horror films). Some of them require you to do a little more—like writing and photography challenges.

Some of these social media monthly challenges will translate well to a resolution-based monthly challenge, and some won’t.

Planning Monthly Challenges Throughout the Year

Instead of making one goal for the entire year, set monthly goals. You don’t even have to plan out all twelve goals at the beginning of the year. You can plan in advance if you want to, but picking a new monthly challenge at the end of the previous month will take the pressure off.

Keep notes throughout the month of things that inspire you. Write down all of the things you considered using as your actual resolution.

Each month’s challenges might stick with you into the following months, and that’s okay. It’s okay if they don’t, too. The idea is to try something new and give yourself a better chance of success by dedicating only one month to each of your “goals.”

Pick Things You Want to Do or Change

Just as you would for your usual New Year’s resolution, jot down whatever you’d like to achieve this year. Once you have a list, you can break it out into workable one-month strategies.

Here are common New Year’s resolutions people make:

  • Lose weight
  • Be more positive
  • Quit smoking, drinking, or doing drugs
  • Learn something new
  • Find love
  • Buy a new home, vehicle
  • Go on a special vacation
  • Save more money
  • Eat better
  • Spend more time with friends or family
  • Write more
  • Read more
  • Spend more time outside
  • Find a new career
  • Volunteer more time

Some of these things take longer to do than others, but all of them can be broken up into monthly challenges.

Make a Challenge Plan

If you have enough ideas to cover all twelve months of the year, you can break them up across each month. If you don’t, don’t worry about it—as you do each of your monthly challenges, you’re likely to come up with new ideas.

Here’s an example of a couple of monthly plans you might use as your New Year’s monthly challenges.

January: Eat Healthier

While one month of eating healthy might not make a huge impact on your health, in the long run, you might learn it’s easy to do and that you enjoy the new foods you’ve tried. That realization could go with you into future months as just a new part of your routine. Pick new healthy foods to try each day or each week. Make healthy food swaps each week.

February: Write More

If you want to do more writing, give yourself daily or weekly prompts (depending on the type of writing you want to do). Write a poem or a blog post each day. Write a chapter of a book each week. Write a short story each week. You can even find writing prompts online or make up your own if you need some inspiration.

Track Your Progress

Put your daily goals in a planner or on a calendar. Check off each one when you’ve completed it. If you miss one, leave it. Maybe you can do a similar challenge during a later month and add your missed goal there!

Keep It Up, and Don’t Get Discouraged

Since you’re focusing on a different “goal” each month, you might feel less overwhelmed and find more success. However, even the month can get away from you when you’re busy with work and kids. Don’t get discouraged when you miss a weekly or daily goal. Even if you write only one chapter of a book during your “writing month,” for example, move on to the next month for a fresh start and don’t let the previous month’s failure keep you from working on being a better you.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »
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