Can You Make It 30 Days?

Happy new year!  Did you make a resolution?  Will you stick to it?  Did you know that only 8% of people who make resolutions actually keep them?  Does that mean we shouldn’t make them?  Nah.  As Judith Sandalow noted in December’s PowerChute, the key to success is finding a third way
Here’s my “third way”:  Instead of one big resolution, I’m committing to 12!  12 30-day challenges, that is.  One for each month. 

As Matt Cutts said best in his TEDtalk, a 30-day challenge is a great way to shake things up, try something different, and form new habits.   30 days is long enough to really make a change, to feel good about the accomplishment, and to experiment with something new.  It’s also not so long that the novelty wears off or your willpower (or lack thereof!) gets the best of you.  And the same research that shows that only 8% of folks making resolutions keep them shows that people are really successful at keeping them for 30 days!
How will your challenge yourself?
Among the most common resolutions are to lose weight, spend less money, spend more time with family, and fall in love.  You can check out the others here.  My challenges overlap with those in some respects.  After all, they are common for a reason.  And some really speak more to things I’ve had on my list for a while, and haven’t found time to conquer.  So 2016 is a great opportunity. 
Will you join me?

When my clients commit to something, I always ask them: “How will I know?”  Sometimes they email me or call me, sometimes they bring evidence to their next coaching session.  So now’s your chance to ask me:  How will YOU know?  You’ll know because each day I’ll post something about my challenge on Facebook and Twitter.  And at the end of each month, I’ll let you know what I’ve learned, loved, missed, craved, and come to understand about myself. 
So here’s my year of 30-Day Challenges:
January: Go running or go to a gym class everyday – yes cliché, but it’s cliché for a reason.  It’s time to work off the holidays, and build some strength for a year full of new adventures (including my first surfing lessons!)  I started today with a great family hike, and a trail run!

February: Read a New Yorker article everyday – not so cliché, but VERY time-consuming, which is why it gets away from me almost all the time.  Plus the New Yorker’s weekly publication is simply relentless!  So I’m committing to taking the time to read one article a day in lieu of just checking out the cover and wondering when I’ll have a chance to read them.
March: Cook dinner at home everyday – not sure where this one is on the common scale, but I’m excited about it.  My family likes to cook, but we sometimes forget to make the time to try new recipes.  My sister gave me this cookbook a while ago and we’ve only managed to make 2 recipes from it.  So March we’re going to whip out our measuring spoons, crack some cookbook bindings, and serve it up homestyle! (And probably save some money to boot!)

April: Take a photo everyday at 6:06pm – an old friend has a ritual with a group of her friends where they each take a picture at the same time each day and send it to each other.  It keeps them connected and it sparks some creativity at least once a day.  Let’s hope it’s not 30 pics of me scrambling to get dinner on the table!

May:  Phone a friend everyday – when I met my husband, he thought I could use up the whole world’s cellular minutes if AT&T would give me the chance!  I logged HOURS on the phone with my friends who were and are dispersed throughout the world.  Now, for better or worse, we mostly communicate through text and email in between in–person visits.  But there’s just nothing like laying on the couch and catching up with a dear friend.  So May, I’m really looking forward to you.  And friends – you know who you are – I’ll be calling so get ready!

June: Spend-free frenzy – I read an article last year about a family who surveyed the collection of material goods in their lives and realized they weren’t living the life they wanted to live, and committed to a year of no spending.  They were allowed to spend money on experiences but not things.  We weren’t ready to commit to a year of that, but we did it in my family last October, and we’re going to do it again!  It’s amazing what we buy without even thinking about it, and what we can live without.  I encourage everyone to try this one.

July: Keep a journal – last summer my sister and brother-in-law moved to Europe and will be there for three years.  So this summer will be the second annual extended family vacation in Europe for us, and we’re staying most of July. I used to LOVE international travel; but after having kids it took me a little while to be ready to really brave the jetlag and topsy-turvy routines. Last summer, I remember feeling like the world had opened up again when we realized the girls were not only flexible travelers, but true adventurers!  This summer we’re hitting it again, and I’m going to take the opportunity to journal about it.  And when I’m done, I’ll add it to the stacks of journals I’ve saved through the years from my other expeditions.

August: Paint everyday – there are a lot of creative genes in my family.  My father (along with multiple uncles and cousins) is a brilliant architect.  And my sister is like the artistic King Midas – anything she tries to do with a paintbrush (or any other art tool) turns into something beautiful.  Me, not so much.  I’ve got some good skills, but art isn’t one of them.  Or at least that’s what I’ve told myself throughout the years.  So now’s a good time to see what I can do – and more important than the results, see how I like it.  So I’ll do some kind of painting each day.  The results might be embarrassing, but I’ll never know if I don’t try!

September:  Mail a letter everyday (bills don’t count!) – even before I had a cell phone (scroll up to May’s challenge), I used to write letters.  I have boxes of letters that I’ve saved throughout the years from friends who lived both near and far.  My most proud letters are the ones that I sent to my grandmother.  When I graduated from high school, I committed to sending her a letter every week no matter what.  And I did that religiously until the week she died.  When my mom and her siblings cleaned out her house, they found stacks of the letters I had sent her.  I didn’t always write a lot but I always wrote something.  There’s just something about letters – the writing, the mailing, and the receiving are all special.  So for September, it’ll be a letter a day.  I’m looking forward to this one already.

October:  Make something crafty everyday – when I was practicing law at Skadden, a colleague of mine turned me on to DIY projects, and I’m so grateful for it.  It was a time in my life when I really needed to see clear results of my work and to feel something heavy in my hands rather than just drafting briefs and other legal documents.  To this day, I love making crafts.  I do crafts with my girls; I do crafts for myself; and I make crafts as gifts for other people.  I never need them to be perfect, and I always love the process.  It’s easy to dismiss projects as being too big, but for me, the reality is most crafts I do don’t take ALL that long.  So in October, I’m doing 31 of them!  Got any ideas?  I’m all ears!!!  Here's one of my creations:

November:  Memorize an inspiring poem or speech – my husband and I are in this one together!  Research shows that we have to keep our brains active – especially when it comes to memory – to stay fresh.  Now, I’m hardly old, but for a person who has frequently been lauded for having a great memory, I’m starting to feel a little rusty.  The other day it took me a solid number of uncomfortable seconds to recall the names of my good friend’s children!!!!  So I’m challenging myself to memorize a poem or speech that’s meaningful and inspiring to me over the course of the 30 days.  At the start of the month, I’ll divide the speech up, and each day I’ll memorize the day’s portion.  I’ll record the final recitation on November 30!  Pressure is on!
December:  Donate every day – we work hard to ensure that our children have what they need and some of what they want, but also to remind them of how very lucky they are to be as fortunate as they are, and to remember those who aren’t.  Throughout the year we donate time, money, and used items to different organizations.  During the holidays, we double down to do our part to ensure that the holiday season is as warm and bright for others as it is for us.  So to finish off my year of 30 Day Challenges, I’m going to identify a different organization to donate my time, my money, or my items to each day.  Who’s in?

So now you all know what I’ll be up to in 2016.  I’ll keep you posted.  What will you be up to?  I’d love to know!
Happy 2016 to all of you!

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Lauren Laitin