“Challenge” Yourself to Ditch the Resolutions This Year

checklist with goal, plan, and action on desk with laptop and smartphone

With New Year’s every year comes millions of New Year’s Resolutions from people around the globe who are looking to be healthier, happier, smarter, stronger, wealthier, or simply BETTER.

But despite their popularity, U.S. News & World Report says only about 20% of New Year’s Resolutions are achieved. Most are forgotten or given up on every year by mid-February.

That doesn’t have to stop you, though. You can still have BIG plans for this year.

You just need a smarter approach.

Rather than setting a vague Resolution, like “lose weight” or “make more money” …

Or even having a specific goal — like “lose 15 pounds in three months” or “earn six-figures” — without a plan to achieve it …

You can join millions of others by participating in an official Challenge.

And to be clear, I’m not talking about those Challenges designed to go viral on social media, like the Ice Bucket Challenge.

You’ll find all kinds of Challenges online related to career, wealth, fitness, family, spirituality, and more, that can help you improve your life.

The important thing is that a well-constructed Challenge has many advantages over trying to stick with a New Year’s Resolution on your own.

But not all Challenges are created equal. Here are four things you should look for in a Challenge that will put you in the best position to succeed …

1. Who’s got your back?

Too often, our goals and Resolutions are solo ventures. We decide we want to accomplish something and then set out to do it without help or support.

But the best Challenges lean on community. In many cases, you’ll be able to join a Facebook group or online forum that lets you check in with the other members who are participating.

This is where you’ll share your struggles and triumphs — and get a healthy dose of accountability.

A study from the American Society of Training and Development shows you have a 65% chance of completing a goal if you commit to someone. And that skyrockets to 95% if you have a specific accountability appointment with someone you’ve committed your goal to.

That’s a far cry from all those abandoned New Year’s Resolutions!

The community aspect of a Challenge can also be fun — and a way to learn more.

If you’re doing a fitness Challenge, maybe everyone shares the healthy recipes they’ve enjoyed.

If it’s a writing Challenge, you might share your writing. Or tips on productivity and finding the time to write.

There are endless possibilities for how to tap into this support group.

2. Follow the leader

While peer support is critical, it’s also really important to have someone leading the charge. Especially if your Challenge involves different activities every day.

If you’re doing tasks that build on one another, it shouldn’t be up to you or the group to determine how to make them work.

That’s where having an expert matters. That person will give you clear instructions … they’ll keep the Challenge on track … and they’ll be available for advice, feedback, and support.

In short, they can be teacher, motivator, and cheerleader rolled into one!

3. No shades of grey

When you participate in a Challenge, you know exactly what you’re shooting for and how long you have to get there.

Maybe it’s to run 100 miles in 20 days …

Or write one poem every day of the year …

Or write for at least 15 minutes every day for a month.

Whatever it is, your success or failure is objective. You either accomplished it or you didn’t. There’s no grey area.

But in order to reach your goal, you need a plan or action step every single day. And a good Challenge will give you that.

This will make it easier to stay on track.

Think about it …

Let’s say your resolution is to lose 15 pounds in three months.

You know you’ll achieve this by eating healthy and exercising.

But day-by-day, do you really know if you moved closer to your goal?

HOW healthy is healthy enough? Were you allowed to have that cheat meal? Did you burn enough calories during your workout?

It’s incredibly hard to stay motivated without daily reinforcement.

But if you were trying to lose 15 pounds in three months by participating in a Challenge, chances are you’d have daily meal plans and workouts laid out for you.

You’d go to bed every night knowing whether you did what you were supposed to do.

That’s far more rewarding. And the daily wins will make it easier to stay motivated through the end.

4. Take it easy

No matter what type of Challenge you sign up for, your participation should feel easy and fun.

Not the work, mind you. It’s called a Challenge for a reason. The work should push you to get better.

But if there’s a Facebook group … or videos to watch … or an app to check-in with …

Whatever lets you track your progress or get your instructions should make you want to be there.

You should feel motivated by the technology to keep going because of how easy and user-friendly it is.

Because even if you’re succeeding with the work, a bad user experience is enough to derail some people’s progress.

But every aspect of a good Challenge will support you so you can put all your energy toward the work.

Do it for YOU!

There’s one last thing about the best Challenges …

They’re relevant … meaning they’ll help you make tangible progress in an area that’s most important to you.

But it’s not up to the Challenge to make sure this is the case. It’s up to you.

Don’t choose what someone else wants you to do or thinks you need to improve at. Choose a Challenge you believe will have the greatest impact on your life.

Since you’re a writer, there are all kinds of writing Challenges you could sign up for.

Some are simply meant to get you writing every day …

Others will teach you a specific type of writing …

While some will help you gain the confidence to put your writing out there for constructive feedback.

Now, if you’re a freelance writer running your own business or trying to get started, there’s a proven-to-work Challenge starting soon that contains ALL the characteristics I just talked about.

Marketing expert Ilise Benun, who has three decades of experience working with freelancers, is running the next round of her 21-Day Challenge for getting clients. You’ll find your invitation to join here.

And if you’ve ever participated in Challenges before or want to share what you’d like to improve on in 2021, we’d love to hear from you in the comments!

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: January 15, 2021

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