year of challenges

I had an epiphany in February.

I was sitting on this comfy couch, in the coffee shop of a resort in a tropical location, listening to Brooke McAlary’s new book Slow, after starting to read Shelley Brunskill-Matson’s What are you waiting for, both  via a handy app from my local Brisbane City Council library*. For me, in this moment of my life, the key messages of Slow were:

  • pay attention to what you are doing on the days you are enthused
  • allow yourself to live the life you want now, not the one you wanted years ago
  • the process should not add stress, you are simplifying
  • start small, one drawer, one step at a time
  • small, consistent effort creates more change than one big “thing”.

Now, during the last few years I have read all sorts of decluttering blogs and books and magazine articles and more on simple living, eating locally, saving, investing, gardening and more. I’ve applied some of the tips and suggestions in little ways but I’ve not truly committed to long-term changes (except for tracking my spending, having an oh f*ck fund and a Mojo). I’ve not eliminated food waste from my life, stopped impulse purchases or saying yes to dinners or concerts, been more mindful in my spending or any of a hundred other things that would help on the path to my end goal: retiring well.

So, as Brunskill-Matson urged, I decided it was time to commit to something, but the epiphany was that I didn’t need to do it all at once! Instead, I could choose an approach that wouldn’t overwhelm me with all of the “you should do this right now” messages.

I realised it’s possible to do a challenge – a week/month/year – to test out all the things I want to be/do/try without attempting to be/do/try them all at once!

And if it turns out I’m not, despite my best efforts, someone who spends mindfully, eats locally, has a boosted bank account and is healthier, well, I’ll just have to deal with that too.

To battle overwhelm, I’ll start one new challenge each month (with exceptions to be decided before the start date):

  • books and magazines
  • clothes
  • shoes & accessories
  • being more mindful about my food
  • decluttering
  • being more creative
  • improving my health.

That’s my initial list and it’s possible I’ll add more as I go but that’s definitely enough to be starting with.


* You can find the Brisbane City Library’s ebook and audiobook collections here on their website. These services are available via libraries in a host of places, check out your local library’s website. For those outside of Australia, it’s worth checking into as well. My morning commute is so much more enjoyable with a good book, or a snappy podcast or some music, depending on my mood.

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