2019: monthly challenges

sarah-dorweiler-357715-unsplashNew Years resolutions have never been a big thing for me. Committing to something for an entire year takes a lot of devotion and engagement, which I tend to lack. Instead, this year I will be doing monthly “challenges” to push myself to do and learn more, and in some cases just to push myself to do stuff that I have long been meaning to do but tend to forget when life comes along.

Having a monthly goal, or challenges as I choose to call it, is more sustainable since committing to 30 days of something gives a clearer horizon and you may not feel deprived in the same way since you can just “return to normal” if it’s not for you, without feeling like you failed. So just setting up reasonable goals that you can actually do. You might have heard about SMART goals. SMART goals is all about creating motivational and tangible goals that you can actually reach. SMART was first coined by George T. Duran in 1981 stands for:

S – Specific (or Significant).
M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented).
R – Relevant (or Rewarding).
T – Time-bound (or Trackable).

So by giving myself a clearer horizon by limiting the time to one month, it feels more attainable. I will also only focus on things that feel relevant to me and my journey, that are very specific for each month and that I will be able to see a result from.

Monthly challenges

January: Veganuary

This is a global challenge and yearly challenge from https://veganuary.com/ to inspire people to eat more vegan. All of January I will eat (or do my best to) eat vegan. To push myself to try something new, to try new recipes, ingredients and how to eat out.

February: Meditate daily

February is a dark month with bad weather, and if you live in the north it’s probably like four months since you saw the sun. So when the SAD (seasonal affective disorder) starts knocking on the door I will spend a month meditating daily. These past few months have been stressful for me and I have felt that my defence against stress is quite low. Hopefully with daily meditation I can improve this.

March: Digital detox 

For the month of March my focus will be on minimising my use of Internet, computers, tablets and phones. My only tech appliances that will not be on the decrease list are my e-reader and my camera. How much I will “detox” is unsure right now. Since Instagram is a big inspiration and I like to read interesting articles online I would not be able to do a full on detox, but I will be avoiding it as much as I feel is viable.

April: Shopping ban

This one is quite explanatory, I will not do any shopping for the entire month. Which of course excludes food, medications and hygiene stuff (I need to survive it!!). No new clothes, no new beauty products, no interior shopping, no unnecessary stuff I can live without.

May: 30-day yoga

I will do a 30-day yoga challenge to really feel the benefits of the practice and stretch out my body. I have done yoga on and off for almost 10 years and even though I love it during and after, I never seem to get into a routine that sticks, so this month I will challenge myself to stick to it and hopefully feel better both physically and mentally.

June: Capsule challenge

For the month of June I will commit to a capsule closet. I have yet to decide the number of items to be used but somewhere between 20-30 is where I am aiming. This years mini capsule challenge felt slightly too constricting for me, so I want to give a bigger and longer capsule a shot.

July: Plastic-free July

Plastic-free July is a quite well known challenge by now, which means that for all of July, the goal is to not consume any plastics. This means no plastic single use items like take away bowls or plastic cutlery. This feels like a tough challenge for me right now, but my hope is that it will teach me more about the low impact living.

August: Reading challenge

One of my goals this year is to read more and for this I purpose I will do a book club for myself, but I will also assign one month of the year for reading even more. When I was a teenager I would read several books a week, but when I started university and had to read large amounts of course literature, I lost the appetite for reading for fun. I want to find the fun in reading again and this is what I am hoping to achieve during this month.

September: Self care September

During September I will focus on taking better care of myself and doing stuff I enjoy. Since fall tends to be very dark and gloomy where I come from it feels like the perfect start to the darker times.

October: Slow-Fashion October

For October I will be challenging myself to be more circular when it comes to my closet. I will be mending broken clothes, tailoring bad fitting ones, upcycle that which is no longer my style or simply make new items. A personal goal for the year is to get better at sewing, so this challenge caters mostly to this. By using what we have better and not wasting fabric is good for the environment and my own economy, as I will feel less a need to buy new.

November: Food challenge

For this month the challenge will be to explore new foods. New recipes, new ingredients, new cooking techniques etc. The goal is to compile 25 new recipes to try out during the month, both breakfast, snacks and dinners.

December: Creativity challenge

When I was a child I was constantly drawing, cutting and pasting. I had subscription boxes for what we in Sweden call “pyssel” which is a somewhat broad word for doing any kind of creative hand-work. During December I want to get creative again, just like when I was a child. Maybe I won’t be gluing beads on a picture frame, but more knitting pot holders, painting, colouring and maybe practice my calligraphy.

The 10×10 challenge: summary

T-shirts on a rack

As I wrote about 2 weeks ago and as you might have seen on my Instagram I have done the 10×10 challenge. For ten days I have worn a mix of ten garments and shoes with the hopes of saving some time and getting more creative with using what I already own. So now that my ten days have ended and I have had some reflection time I just wanted to share it. Maybe someone is thinking of doing the same, or just interested in a capsule closet. Well, here is a summary of my experience and thoughts.

How did I do?

So in the ten days I did manage to create ten different outfits. A lot of them were quite similar and simple, but that might also be because of the nature of the garments. I had to do laundry in the middle of the ten days because I was clumsy enough to get all my white items dirty. Then after a few days I also noticed a hole in one of the items, not ideal. However, I think I easily could have done a few more days, but not with much enthusiasm. Overall I would say that I did well on the challenge since I did make it through those ten days, even if the outfits were new the new thinking or special.

Outfits
Three of the created outfits during the challenge

What did I think of it?

It did not really save time for me, which I had hoped. It was actually quite time consuming because I had to do a lot of laundry during the week (to keep up with only ten garments), which I normally don’t have to do that often. Doing laundry in my current housing situation takes a lot of time and effort, since we’re ten people sharing two machines, for which one cycle takes around three hours. Combining that with most people working during the day I have had to get up 3-4 hours before work just to be able to catch an empty machine. The time planning outfits I felt was more of a hassle than usually too, as I wanted to try to not outfit repeat or wear the same thing two days in a row.

Additionally, it did not really spark any new creativity, as I had hoped. I think I dressed pretty much like I usually do, no new revolutionary combination came up (I also did chose a rather basic selection so maybe this shouldn’t be a surprise). I rather felt restricted and bored.

Then there is the temperature or weather problem. I feel like a challenge like this is more doable in a milder, more stable climate. These weeks the temperature has ranged between 3-15 degrees Celsius, sometimes almost in one day. Dressing for this kind of weather is quite hard and when you always need several layers it’s hard to do with such few items. A summer capsule might be the easiest to start out with based on this.

Will I do it again?

Maybe, I’m not sure. I felt it took a lot of effort for me this time around. If I were to do it again it would be during a warmer season. Also, next time I think I would exclude the shoes to, not in a way to get to use more of my shoes (it was quite easy sticking to the two pairs), but because I felt a bit too restricted with only 8 clothing items. I’m up for trying a bigger, longer challenge. Maybe a month or so with 20 garments. I feel that would suit my preferences and habits better.

So all in all, the results of the challenge was maybe not what I expected. But one thing I felt afterwards was a love and longing for my full closet and maybe living with less for a while is also a way of appreciating living with sligthly more.