Perhaps you’ve noticed that I try out quite a few challenges. (Maybe you don’t notice, and it’s just me over-analyzing things, but whatever, I’m going to talk about challenges anyway.) By challenges, I mean new projects or experiments, like the challenge that One is Enough. In the past year or so I’ve tried:
- using no shampoo
- major downsizing (inspired by The 100 Thing Challenge)
- unplugging from technology for one whole day a week
- being vegan
- Engine 2 28-Day Challenge
- Project 333
Some of these are about my diet, or my hygiene, or just my lifestyle. Each has it’s own set of guidelines, with some being more specific than others. Using no shampoo just required replacing shampoo and conditioner with baking soda and apple cider vinegar, while the E2 28-Day Challenge included a detailed meal plan and book.
They all have one thing in common though–they were experiments. They each presented me with something new to try, to measure and observe, and to draw conclusions from my experiences.
When I try a new challenge, I often tell people about it (friends, family, or the internet) and report on my progress. Because of this accountability, I sometimes feel I have failed if I decide not to continue whatever new habit the challenge is encouraging. Especially when I stopped using shampoo. I tried that for months and tried to convince myself and my family that it was working and had great benefits, just like all the other people online who tried it and loved the results.
The truth was that I found it too much work and even after months and months of tweaking the baking soda to water ratio, trying lemon juice vs. vinegar as a rinse, and struggling to look decent on non-wash days, I was unhappy. I mean, yeah, it kinda worked, but it wasn’t the AMAZING results I’d heard about. So ya know what? I use shampoo now. Yes, I’m terrible.
After getting past that feeling of failure at so many of these challenges, I came to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter as long as I learned something.
- I learned that baking soda and vinegar just don’t fit into my personal hygiene regiment –but I do use a more natural shampoo to wash my hair only every few days so the natural oils keep my hair healthy.
- I learned that paring down to just 100 things wasn’t practical for my current life situation–but I am more conscious about the amount of stuff I have and what comes into my home.
- I learned that being unplugged for a whole day once a week hindered my progress on my business–but I do spend less time endlessly checking emails and Facebook and generally being unproductive.
- I learned that I’m not able to maintain a healthy and balanced vegan diet–but I do incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my diet than I did before and have plenty of new recipes in my repertoire.
Challenging yourself to something new helps you grow as a person and expand your horizons. It can change your perspective and help you gain new habits. You will not fail if you learn from the experiment–and that’s a fantastic thing!
So if you’re interested in some new challenge you heard about, try it! You may think “I can’t do that” or “That’ll never work in my house” or “Maybe I’ll wait until next (month, week, season) to start,” but go for it now! The worse that can happen is it doesn’t work out in the long-run, but you may just learn something valuable in the meantime.
P.S. In case you’re wondering, I’m still working on Project 333 and so far it’s going well! Perhaps that’s a post for another time 🙂