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6 challenges to set yourself this January (that don’t involve joining a gym or going vegan)


By Sarah Finnan
04th Jan 2022
6 challenges to set yourself this January (that don’t involve joining a gym or going vegan)

Whether you buy into the New Year resolutions or not, January is a great time to set yourself some new challenges… and none of these involve joining a gym or going vegan. Phew!

Limit your shopping

Going completely cold-turkey and vowing to never shop fast fashion again is, for the vast majority of us, too unrealistic an end goal. Maybe it’s something we could work up to, but deciding to go from 0 to 100 in one movement, will only set us up for failure. Small steps eventually amount to big ones though and No Buy January is a great way to ease yourself into a more sustainable lifestyle. 

At its core, the campaign encourages people to avoid buying new things during the month. That might sound achievable to some of you, in which case, go for it! For those who don’t think they’d make it the whole month without some retail therapy, try to curb your shopping instead. Maybe you don’t buy five new items, but three, maybe you borrow your sister’s brown coat instead of splurging on one of your own… you catch my drift. Limiting the urge to splash some cash, though hard, will definitely teach you a lot about impulse control and it may even help you rediscover some old gems lost at the back of your wardrobe too. 

#100daysofwalking

Nice as it was to completely relax and switch off over Christmas, most of us are probably feeling a little stir-crazy by now – which is where #100daysofwalking comes in. We all got very into it during lockdown and now that work and routine and other life responsibilities have crept back in, it’s the perfect excuse to take some time to yourself and clear your head. Team up with a friend or go it alone with a podcast for company. Kicking off on New Year’s Day, the challenge will bring you right up to April 9th, but you don’t have to stick to it to the letter of the law and can start anytime you please. 

While the weather doesn’t always cooperate, you only need to manage one mile (minimum) so the rain is bound to let up at some point… and even if it doesn’t, sure isn’t that what brollies are for anyway?! 

Finish a book

Every year I set myself the same goal (read a book a month) and every year I fall short. I start out well – full of enthusiasm, sometimes powering through two, even three books in January alone – but then the motivation dies off and before you know it, it’s December and my total tally is seven (still good, mind). I may not have reached my final end goal, but I enjoyed the challenge all the same and maybe this will be the year that I not only reach the 12 book milestone but even surpass it? 

Join me in my quest to read more and set yourself the goal of finishing just one book this month. It doesn’t have to be long, or difficult, or even very educational. Just pick a title that stands out to you and dedicate some time each day to getting through it. 

Drink more water 

January is a good time to try and up your H2O intake… especially after the festive season when our choice of liquids were either alcoholic, carbonated, or both. Granted, getting back on the drinking water bandwagon can be a struggle – I tend to forget I ever made such a resolution until it’s 10 pm at night and I have to chug 2 litres before bedtime – but it does get better. 

Planning ahead is key here. Fill a bottle with water the night before, pop it in the fridge so it’s nice and cold when you wake up, and then make sure to keep it within sight. This will remind you to keep sipping throughout the day so you can avoid the pre-bed drinkathon. You can also mix things up a bit by adding things like frozen fruit or mint to your bottle too (makes the transition from mulled wine back to basics that bit easier). 

Try a new recipe

The dawning of a new year often brings lots of harmful “health and fitness” rhetoric along with it. For many, January is a time for new beginnings and diet culture uses this as an opportunity to push misleading month-long programmes and quick fixes that play into the “new year, new me” message. “You overindulged during the holidays and now you must pay!”, the advertisements shout. Maybe not in those exact words, but the sentiment is implied and food is suddenly weaponised and portrayed as something you must “earn”. Even Veganuary has taken on a less than healthy spin and the extremism of cutting out several different food groups can encourage people to undereat and punish themselves for enjoying Christmas. 

Ta ra to that mentality I say. Food is to be enjoyed and instead of falling down the “I must not eat” rabbit hole, you should use this month to get back in the kitchen and try out a new recipe. Have a nose through your mum’s old cookbooks and give it a whirl. 

Take up journaling

I’ll be the first to tell you that I find journaling taxing at times. As someone who writes for a living, you’d probably expect me to say otherwise, but it’s usually more of a chore than an enjoyable pastime for me. That said, writing is cathartic and while I usually don’t want to do it at the time, I always feel better for doing it afterwards. Putting your thoughts down on paper is a great way to vent, and, at least from my experience, really helps to release some of the pent-up agitation I may be feeling inside. 

Whether you dedicate two minutes or 20 to the exercise, the most important thing is to just put your phone aside and really focus on the task at hand. Jot down a random thought that’s been worrying you, list out some goals or focus on the positives and note a few things you’re grateful for. The process becomes much easier once you’ve done it a few times and have a good morning or evening routine going. 

Photography via Unsplash