As the new year takes off and you start to look for ways to improve upon your success (or failures) from 2016, you might not have any ideas for what steps to take.
If that’s you, keep reading because I’m going to give you seven ideas to get you started.
As I’ve discussed in previous posts, I’m not a big fan of the typical new year’s resolutions. I believe in constant improvement throughout the year, every year.
If you feel compelled to have a new year’s resolution, read this — The Last New Year’s Resolution You’ll Ever Need.
Otherwise, keep reading.
People love 30-day challenges. I get it — just enough time to be challenging, but not enough time to require a long-term commitment.
I also like to take on challenges in 30, 60, and 90-day increments.
Below are seven lifestyle challenges to improve your life in 2017 — all of which I’ve done (or still do) and enjoyed great benefit from.
Pick out one or many that look appealing to you and get your new year started off right!
1. Wake Up Early
Ok, this is a classic new year’s resolution, I know.
But it’s also a damn good habit to have.
Plus, it’s a great lifestyle challenge because it gives you a jumpstart on the day to do other things that will benefit your life, such as:
- Exercise before work
- Meditation or journaling
- Work on your side business
- Prepare healthy meals in advance
- Start working before your competition
- Handle errands/chores to have more free time in the evening
Read this post to learn more: How to Wake Up Early
2. Track Your Macros (Caloric Intake)
Have you ever tracked everything you ate for a day, week or month?
If not, you might be shocked when you see how many calories you actually eat.
Are you skinny and struggle to gain weight?
You don’t eat enough calories. Yeah, yeah, I know, you eat soo much, but you need to see the actual numbers to know if you’re really eating that much. Most “hardgainers” don’t eat a fraction of the calories they think they do.
Are you overweight and struggle to lose weight?
You eat too many calories. Yeah, yeah, I know, you don’t eat as much as your skinnier friends, but until you track EVERYTHING (including condiments), you really don’t know how much you’re actually eating.
Tracking your calories keeps you honest about how much you’re eating. The numbers don’t lie.
You’ll never take control of your body composition if you don’t understand the basics of caloric intake — and more importantly, macronutrients.
Fortunately, there are tons of free apps for calorie tracking. I use MyFitnessPal, but there are others.
If you want to understand calories and macronutrients, read this: How to Track Your Macros
I break it down and explain it as simply as possible. You can read that article and start tracking your macros for today in less than 10 minutes.
If you decide to get serious about it, you might want to learn how to prepare meals in advance the easy way. Don’t worry, I have a solution for that as well: How to Meal Prep for the Week (Without the Hassle)
3. Drink a Gallon of Water Per Day
This is one of my favorite habits that I see people do as a lifestyle challenge or “Gallon of Water 30-Day Challenge”.
Very few habits have made as much of a positive impact on my health as drinking a gallon of water each day has.
Most people are chronically dehydrated and don’t even realize it until they feel what it’s like to be properly hydrated for a few weeks. The difference is night and day, but you have to experience being fully hydrated and then dehydrated again to realize it.
Drinking a gallon of water per day has:
- Given me more energy
- Made my skin look better
- Reduced dark circles under my eyes
- Prevented chapped lips and dry skin in the winter
As usual, I provide a more convenient way to do things. Rather than dragging a gallon jug around all day, I show you how to drink a gallon of water per day the easy way.
Check it out: How to Drink a Gallon of Water Per Day
4. Take Cold Showers
Taking cold showers is a fun lifestyle challenge because it’s very uncomfortable, which means it’s more challenging that the other things on this list.
But it also has a ton of great health benefits.
Do you think you can handle it?
Well, let’s take a look at what you gain from cold showers first:
- Improved blood circulation
- Increased immune function
- Increased metabolic rate (fat loss)
- Boost in testosterone levels
- Healthier skin and hair
- Decrease in inflammation
- Increase in stress tolerance
The truth is cold showers aren’t that bad. The first time is the hardest, but you get used to it.
I like to shower with warm (not hot) water until I’ve gotten clean, then I’ll taper the temperature down until I’ve exposed my entire body to the coldest temperature possible for about five minutes at the end.
I recommend trying a full cold shower if you really want to challenge yourself — even if you don’t stick with it, at least try it once.
You can learn more here: The Health Benefits of Cold Showers
5. Try a Plant-Based Diet
Perhaps you’ve heard all the hype about vegetarian and vegan diets. Sure, you can read what others say about it — but why not just try it out for yourself?
I switched to a plant-based diet for several months in 2016 and it was definitely a worthwhile experience. Although I no longer eat a plant-based diet, I will admit that I felt great on a fully vegan diet and it was a fun experiment.
The more of a diehard carnivore you are, the more interesting this lifestyle challenge is. Now is a good time to do it before it warms back up and you want to spend more time outside grilling.
Learn more here:
6. Use the Pomodoro Technique
Do you want to send your productivity into overdrive?
I recommend trying out the Pomodoro Technique for 30 days. It’s not really a lifestyle challenge, but it will certainly improve your life by helping you get more done in less time.
The Pomodoro Technique is a method where you work for 25 minutes straight, followed by a five-minute rest. Each set of 25-5 is one Pomodoro. Then after four Pomodoros, you take a longer break.
The key is that you’re working obsessively with zero distractions during those 25 minutes. No checking your social media, no answering phone calls, no reading text messages — nothing!
I like to challenge myself to see how much I can get done in those 25 minutes because it’s easy to go all out for a short period of time.
Read about my experience: How I Doubled My Productivity (and Income) with the Pomodoro Technique
7. Hack Your Habits
The best lifestyle challenge you could possibly do is challenging yourself to take control of your habits.
In fact, it’s the only challenge on this list that makes it incredibly easy to do all of the other challenges — because you can make any of them a habit!
If you think about it, every new year’s resolution comes down to changing a particular habit.
Either you want to add a new habit that improves your life or you want to drop an old habit that’s holding you back.
You are what you do.
Our lives are a result of our habits — it’s that simple.
Take the ultimate challenge and change your habits forever.
Learn more: Hacking Your Habits
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What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or have any thoughts to add? Let me know in the comments below.
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