December 6, 2017

Make Your Month Count with the 31-Day Challenge (Beginner Series Part 5)

My favorite suggestions for making the most of your new planner!

If you haven’t read the rest of this series yet, head over to Part 1Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

This is the final post in our 5-part series from real Ink+Volt Planner user, photographer, and creative consultant Amelia Bartlett on getting acquainted with your planner and how she gets things done all year long.


What was once reserved for the self-starting and vigorously motivated individual is now in your planner, giving you tremendous FOMO (fear of missing out) if you fail to give it a try. A 31-day challenge can be difficult, yes, but when you commit to it, the value that you get from it will far outweigh the struggles of committing to a new habit. It’s more than that.

It’s beyond your comfort zone; it’s doing something even if you don’t want to do it, even if the circumstances don’t allow for it.

It isn’t willpower, a now commonly recognized limited resource, that gets us through a 31-day challenge. It’s commitment; it’s dedication.

I don’t set my 31-day challenge because I want to add one more time and intellect-consuming activity to my already full plate. I do it because I’m committed to becoming a better version of myself.

Don’t worry – this article isn’t about my opinion of what new things you should try. It’s about making a commitment to establishing a habit that’s going to positively impact your life. Like anything, this is a process and will require some tools.

How to get started with your 31-Day Challenge

Before we get started, especially if you find yourself at a loss for what you could commit to giving a 31-day attempt, ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • What’s currently missing from my life, day-to-day or overall, that I could have if I just put my mind to it?
  • What do I see in others’ lives, like those on social media or on TV, that I wish I had or did?
  • What did I do as a child or young adult that I wish I still did today?

If you haven’t already, you can take this as an opportunity to practice brainstorming. A 5-minute timer should do the trick! *If you are totally confused, check out Part 4: The Art of Brainstorming.

The results of my brainstorming on this topic for the month of October 2017 were that I wanted to write more, and to become a more confident and vulnerable communicator. So I decided that my 31 Day Challenge would be to write every single day, at least 500 words a day, for a whole month.

Use the prompts provided in the Ink+Volt Planner to get you started

The most powerful thing you can do in the pursuit of something you want is to declare it.

For the next 31 days, I want to… [DECLARATION!]

I want to walk 5,000 steps every day! I want to say ‘I love you’ to someone every day! I want to learn to cook! I want to read! For your first time, keep it simple with something where the action is the same every day.

For me, I chose to write at least 500 words daily. Straightforward, easy to know if I did or didn’t do it, and an accessible starting point for someone who doesn’t currently write every day.

I want to make this happen because…

Don’t skip this part. It’s tempting to skip this and go to the next box because it’s obvious to you why you’re doing this. Of course it is, it’s your idea. But, it might only be obvious right now. In two weeks when you’re onto the next idea, chasing the minute hand, wondering whether to order out for dinner again, it’s going to be less obvious and much easier to skip a day here, a day there.

We’ve all lost steam on projects and commitments before. These prompts want you to be successful, so give a little bit of your soul to the challenge and commit to making it something you stick with. Even if you hate it, it’s only 31 days. You never know what positive results you could get from simply sticking with it.

Think about what your life would be like if this challenge resulted in a real new habit, something that came naturally. Think about the impact this would have on the things that matter most to you.

Plans are the backbone to accomplishing what you’re committed to, but it’s the why that gives you strength to continue, no matter what stands in your way.

My plan of action is…

What are the specifics of the habit that you want to try for the next 31 days? Is there a quota you must reach each day (like me with my 500 words), or is there a daily activity that takes a certain amount of time, ritual, or steps?

Write the specifics in this box, clearly defining what your life is going to look like for the next 31 days as you endeavor to complete this challenge.

There is no limit to how clearly you can define what you’re committed to, but the better defined and more measurable your goal is, the more likely you are to stick to it and achieve it.

Before we get too excited and start signing the page and buzzing onto the next tasks, we must solidify that these activities are going to happen every single day – not by the grace of our memories or the strength of our willpower – but by the law of the schedule. How do we make sure that this daily activity is implemented?

Put it in the calendar

Establish your daily activity and make it part of your protected time in your daily planning. You can even set a reminder in your phone to alert you at a specific time or location to ensure you’re staying on top of this daily challenge.

Make no mistake, committing to do something every single day is not for the faint of heart. There will be days when it seems impossible, when it may be uncomfortable, when people might mock you for it, and when you completely blank and don’t do it. Be gentle with yourself.

If you miss a day, know that it isn’t the end of the month or the end of your chance. It doesn’t mean you have to start over or that the effect won’t work.

In fact, it’s a perfect opportunity to reflect on that middle section that says, “I want to make this happen because…”

What do you want to accomplish this month?

Share your ideas and experience with the 31-day challenge with us on Facebook. Each of us is on a journey and benefit from the inspiration and contributions of others.


Amelia Bartlett is a photographer and creative consultant living and working in Tennessee, where she is converting a retired school bus into her home.

She is a new Ink+Volt Planner user, and has created a 5-part series sharing her journey of goal-setting and learning to use her planner. Follow along for inspiration, whether you’re a beginner or seasoned planner user! You can learn more about her work at amelia-bartlett.com.

 

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The Art of Brainstorming in Your Planner (Beginner Series Part 4)

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