I see articles like the one in Family Circle: “A 31-Day Detox Challenge to Help You Declutter Your Home—and Your Mind” all the time. The problem is, my perfectionism generally gets in my way. If I don’t complete the “challenge,” whatever it might be, I feel like a failure. If I don’t start the challenge on the “right day, ” I’m a failure. But now that my brain is working in a more logical way, I realize I’ve been looking at these challenges all wrong. I am NOT a failure.
Here is a different way to look at these “challenges” so you don’t feel like a failure, either:
- Will this challenge truly make your life better or have you accepted out of a sense of duty or guilt? We all have to do things we don’t want to do. Seriously, I don’t like to wash dishes, but it’s something that has to be done, whether I like it or not. There’s nothing wrong with learning a little discipline, the kind that comes from taking baby steps towards our goals. However, I think our motives are just as important as our actions. What are your goals? Will this “challenge” bring you closer to them?
- Your timetable doesn’t necessarily have to mesh with the timetable the challenger had in mind. For example, if it takes you 62 days to do a 31-day challenge, does that make you a failure? Are you closer to your goal than you were when you started? Think about it. Anyone can invent one of these challenges. ANYONE! You’re not a sheep. Why do you assume that another person, someone you don’t know, has a better handle on YOUR schedule? If this is something that you find helpful, then keep plugging away at it. If you skip a day, who cares? Keep moving forward.
- If you only do one task on a challenge, but you’re closer to your goals, you’ve won!
- If you find that a challenge isn’t working for you, it’s okay to quit. Really. Remember, another imperfect human being decided on these tasks. I can guarantee that they don’t know everything. They don’t know you. And that’s okay.
- Timers are your friend. You might be shocked how much you can accomplish in 5 minutes, or 15 minutes, or whatever. ANY minutes towards your goals are better than ZERO minutes. Baby steps!
Today seemed like a good day to start because…it’s today, not some imaginary day in the future. I set my alarm and cleaned up the junk mail that had accumulated on the table and on various surfaces. It was supposed to take me 15 minutes. It took me 5 minutes. I decided to work on my own tasks for the rest of my time. When the alarm went off, I didn’t feel like stopping. I was filled with a sense of accomplishment, not because I’d completed someone else’s to-do list, but because I’d started a small task with immediate results.
Do you have FIVE minutes to spare towards your goals? I know it doesn’t seem like much, but set an alarm and see what you can accomplish, What do you have to lose?
*Thank you, Jennifer Lifford, for providing the home content and Lynya Floyd, for providing the health content in the Family Circle article mentioned in this post. It’s given me a starting point and that’s good! Thank you also, Grace Lee, for your beautiful magazine illustrations.