I’d like to talk about CHALLENGES.
Now, when I say challenges, I’m not talking about how hard it is to get out of bed in the morning, or how tough that six-hour road trip with your in-laws was. I’m talking about taking on a physical or mental task that is outside your comfort zone for a finite period of time. Some examples: two-minute plank challenge, food journaling for a month, Dan John’s 10,000 kettlebell swing challenge, trying to crawl for 10 minutes a day, etc. You get the picture, I’m sure. (If not just look at Facebook, these things are EVERYWHERE.)
Now, I’ve done a TON of these. I’m a bit of a challenge expert. Every October, I’ll do the 10,000 swing challenge because it’s the 10th month. I also do the Pat Flynn 300 swing-a-day program in March, because it’s the 3rd month. In April, I had a goal to track my food EVERY DAY, which is a BIG one for me personally. I’ve also participated in the Velocity Diet (only made it two weeks), a daily pull-up challenge, and many others. FOR ME, it’s the best way to make your personal goals interesting. Challenging yourself to explore something new for a week, month, or any extended period will teach a person a whole LOT about themselves.
Since July begins soon, and the first of the month is always a great time to start a new challenge, I wanted to give you, dear reader, my three main guidelines on how to choose the correct challenge for YOU. To make this easy and accessible, I’ve boiled these down to three A’s! ALLITERATION WINS!!
Now… the HEMINGWAY TRIPLE A!!
First of all, your challenge should be ACCESSIBLE. What do I mean by this? To put it as simply as possible, make sure you can actually DO your challenge. If I challenge myself to do 20 pull-ups a day for a month, I’d better be DAMN sure I can do a pull-up. You laugh, but you’d be surprised how many people approach me about doing a 300 kettlebell swing-a-day challenge, and then ask me to teach them the KB swing, or ask me where they can find a kettlebell to use when they aren’t at the gym. In my experience, for your challenge to succeed, you need working knowledge of the basics, and you need all your equipment accessible at ALL times. TRUST ME. When you’re 15 days in, you’re not going to wanna worry about tracking down a bell to get those swings in. In that scenario, you’re more likely to just give up and start feeling like you’ve failed. I want you outside your box a little, but don’t build a new box just to step out of it.
SECOND criteria. How will this challenge affect your life? How is your life going to change during and after you perform this mighty feat of physical and/or mental prowess? This is a big one not just for you, but for those around you. The Velocity Diet is an extreme fat loss program where the subject drinks nothing but protein shakes 6 days a week, and then has ONE meal on the 7th day for a month. You can bet your SWEET BIPPY that anyone who undertakes the Velocity Diet needs to take a hard look at how they will adapt to these massive changes in their daily structure, and how it will affect their loved ones and co-workers. Eating out is going to be NO FUN. This is just one example. If you’re undertaking a Squat challenge, you’re gonna be pretty sore and irritable on some of those days. Also, examine how your life will be different post-challenge. Are the results sustainable? How long will you need to recover? Are the results just a step in the right direction for a lasting life change? This is another great tool in determining if a challenge is right for you.
LASTLY… and I bet you KNEW IT…
Yes dear reader, this is EVERYTHING. Without accountability, when your challenge gets tough, and it will, you will most likely just walk away. And why not? No one will stop you, you took this on yourself, right? NO WAY MAN! Put that challenge out there. Talk about it on social media, tell all your friends you’re in the middle of keeping a food journal. Shout out that you’re doing five pull-ups a day from the rooftops! Ask your friends to join you in your meditation challenge, whatever it takes to have those around you checking in and keeping you on track with your accountability. Not only will this keep you honest in your challenge, it’s a wonderful way to build an intentional community around something that’s going to benefit you and those around you in the long run.
So my friends, you now have three great guidelines to determine if a monthly challenge is the right thing for you. And in reality, trial and error is the very best guideline of all. Taking that first step and choosing something that will challenge you for an extended period of time is a wonderful way to stay fresh and add new skills to your already expanding AWESOMENESS.