Challenges make best motivation

18:54, Jul 17 2014

"That Cecile girl is trouble. You should unfriend her."

I was aghast.

"Your boyfriend said that?! About me?!"

"Well," said my friend, "Remember the time you quit drinking for 40 days? The constant whining about it and the fact we couldn't go to bars? And that fruit-cleanse nonsense? You nearly passed out. And now THIS."

THIS refers to the latest challenge I have set myself - go the whole week without buying anything except groceries.

I love a good challenge. It doesn't mean I only pick good ones. Some of them are silly. It also doesn't mean I am good at completing them.


My challenge history is littered with half-wins.

There's an over-arching motivation behind them - to have something to write about.

I started blogging in 2011 and quickly ran out of things to talk about.

"So?" said Andrew, my English friend, "Just do something and write about it."

He then told me to tell a lame joke to various people and assess their reaction.

His theory was that men would laugh more than women. Six blog posts later, it was clear everyone was laughing at my lame joke. Maybe they were laughing at me not with me.

Other tribulations included going jogging every day for 21 days or baking Nick's favourite cake for his 30th birthday.

Since I started writing this column, I've done yoga and meditation for 40 days, attempted to eat only fruit for three days and quit drinking alcohol for six weeks.

I did all this to create content, but the real payoff was they made my life more interesting and colourful.

Another reason to take on a challenge is that I am terribly lazy.

I've been trying to cook more often for a while but the resolution has not really caught on yet.

But if I came up with a challenge that had a deadline, like cooking every day for 20 days, I would be looking up recipes already. A good challenge can make anything sound like fun. And knowing I'll have to write about it at the end motivates me to do my best.

Of course it does not always work. I failed at the fruit-cleanse and did not really go jogging every day for 21 days. Sometimes I was lazy and cold, but I still ran a lot more than I would have otherwise - I didn't want my final challenge report to be too shameful.

So if you find yourself stuck in a rut, why not try a cool challenge? A couple of ideas to get you started: Run a mile each day: people all over the world are running a mile each day for a year.

A good one to keep you fit and healthy.

100 happy days: Every day take a photo of something that made you happy and post it online on

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