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Resolutions and Challenges

Are you also tired of New Year resolutions? Want something better? Read on!


Around Christmas I was looking back on 2012 and (inevitably) thinking of the new year and what it would bring me professionally. And I remember not really feeling like making any New Year resolutions, because, well, they never seem to work out the way you want. A year is just too long: anything might happen that can change your plans.

Then, just a few days into the new year, I read this blog post of DJ Adams on his personal blog, and that triggered me:

Inspired by Matt Cutts and his 30 Days Challenges, I’ve decided to have a go myself, instead of setting any specific (and year-long-lasting, doomed-to-failure) New Year Resolutions. The challenges I have in mind are similar or the same to some Matt completed: Some of them are about doing something regularly, others are about not doing something, and others still are about using the 30 day period to achieve a specific goal.

So I followed the link, and read a lot of Matt’s blog posts about his challenges and experiences. And the more I read, the more I thought: now that’s something worth trying! Indeed, a month is of course a much better period to set a goal than a full year. Besides, a month might be a good fit if you want to change a habit (though it might be too short…).

Challenges? What challenges?

What challenges to take on is a personal thing of course, but here are some I came up with. I might drop some of them, add others, depending on whatever I feel like. Some of these are challenges I found at Matt’s web site (I never said anything about being original, right?).

General challenges:

  • Read 10 books in 30 days.
  • Meditate 15 minutes at the end of each day.
  • Go to the gym twice a week (currently I go only once a week). Okay, let’s make it 10 times in 30 days.
  • Do abdominal exercises each day: they come with my visits to the gym, but as mentioned above, that’s only once a week. I can always use more of them 🙂 .
  • No news (no watching, no reading, no nothing) for 30 days.

Work related:

  • A week without internet (a month seems too much for this one 🙂 ). This would have to be on a holiday…
  • No twitter for 30 days (am I really writing this??).
  • Watch an educational video each day. I’ve a backlog of several conferences and other stuff, so this could be a good opportunity to reduce that backlog.
  • Learning for my SAP HANA certification. This would include the videos from and playing around with my AWS instance, which I still have to set up.

SCN related:

  • Comment on at least n blog posts each day.
  • Rate at least n blogs discussions each day.
  • Answer to at least n discussions each day.

Lots of things to pursue over the next months as you can see. And I’m sure there are more/others.

But where to start, if at all?

Because January had already started, I decided to wait for a while, meanwhile collecting some challenges that might work for me (see above), and then after a few weeks decide whether to pursue this project or not. And now it’s Feb 2nd, and I’ve decided to give it a go!

The first challenge I’ll take on is to do the abdominal exercises each day. Lucky me: I went to the gym today, so ‘ll start tomorrow 🙂 !

After that, I’ll try something different each month. Next thing is probably the HANA certification.

Join me!

If you decide to join me (with your own challenges of course) I’d like to know about it. So please leave a comment, or even better: write your own blog post about it.

If you have any suggestions for me, for example regarding the SCN related challenges, please add them also in the comment section.

I’ve not decided yet whether I’ll continue blogging about this, but we’ll see how it goes.

Thanks for reading!

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  • Here’s one

    In the next 30 days I will resolve to use Google+ more

    Step one was checking out a book at the library (done)

    Step two is to do something about it 🙂


  • Hi Fred – I agree with the concept of this but, as I said to DJ I don’t see the point in depriving oneself of something just for the sake of it! No Twitter for 30 days, what does this achieve other than you won’t be in touch with the community? I had a rant with DJ about this too and could not understand his “no beer for 30 days” challenge.

    I do agree though, too many people set un achievable new year “resolutions” when simple lifestyle adjustments would obtain better results. Abdominal crunches, gym regularly and being active on SCN are all very commendable but don’t just limit yourself to 30 days as they are worthwhile activities.

    Good luck with it all, and try to continue doing things for longer than 30 days for maximum effect!

    • Hi Tim,

      You raise some very good points, and I really should have said more about it (but I was in a rush to publish the blog on Feb 2nd 🙂 , 1st would’ve been even better, but that was really impossible).

      To address the first objection: of course there’s no point in depriving yourself of something just for the sake of it. But I’m noticing (and if I wasn’t, my wife would even more remind me) that I for instance really hang on to twitter, and it may not be a very healthy addiction.

      So for that reason it could be good to try to cope without it for a while, just to prove it can be done, and that I’m less addicted than I think I am. And then afterwards (or during the 30 days) you should of course reflect on how you feel: are you feeling terrible by missing out? Or do you feel liberated and do you find you’ve got so much more time and focus for other equally important (or more important?!) things?

      There is only one way to find out… And then afterwards you can make a much more informed/better motivated decision to either stay away, or to spend less time, or to go back to your old habit (which is fine of course).

      Beer (and alcohol in general) is not very healthy either, and addictive as well (whether you like it or not). So I’d say the same holds true for that one, although I’ve got no clue why DJ has chosen that particular challenge 🙂 .

      It really is about experiencing something, and then afterwards reflecting and maybe adjusting.

      Which brings me to your second point: the 30 day limitation. Which really isn’t a limitation because when you like what you’re doing during those 30 days (say the meditation for instance), of course you can continue to do so afterwards. Again, for a lot of challenges that’s the whole idea: try it out (but not once or twice, but seriously, hence the 30 days), and if you’re happy with the results, incorporate it into your lifestyle. And pick another one for the next 30 days 🙂 .

      I hope this clarifies the concept and ideas behind it a bit better.

      Cheers, Fred

      • This makes a lot more sense now Fred. Like no coffee for 30 days then realising you don’t NEED it and cutting down as a lifestyle choice after the 30 days.

        I understand now but I really would struggle with no beer but then my wife says I drink too much so maybe it is worth a go!

        • Hi Tim

          Yeah, Fred clarified things in a similar way to how I would have: The “no Twitter” Jan challenge was partly to generate more thinking and reading time (arguably higher ‘quality’ time when compared to staring at columns of updates) and to try out Google+ more. It’s had a good effect, I’m using Google+ more (which I ‘wanted’ to anyway) and I’ve read a whole lot more than I would have otherwise.

          No beer? No reason, but why not? There doesn’t have to be a reason more than “I want to see if I can manage it”. There’s a healthy side-effect too 🙂


  • I hope my last post doesn’t sound too negative! Sorry if it did and all the best with HANA certification and all the other good things on your list 🙂

  • Hi Fred,

    I love your blog, and putting your improvements right out there will help others (myself included!) contemplate what changes we can make – or try out – in our lives.  I also like the ideas posted by Zenhabits (I am sure I have someone on SCN to thank for pointing it out, but for the life of me, I can’t recall who). 

    I started doing 10 minutes a day on the AARP site ( for brain training.  It’s free, they don’t hound you to sign up, and it’s fun. 


    • Hi Sue,

      Thanks for the links. Zenhabits is in my RSS-Reader (found it interesting enough to add Leo), but I must confess, that the very act of adding the blog to my reader has lowered my interest. It’s a bit too touchy-feely (to quote Marilyn Pratt ) to my taste nowadays.

      I don’t know the AARP site, will check them out.

      And you know what? Putting the improvements out here on SCN (or any public site) helps me too 🙂 .

      Cheers, Fred

    • Wow Frank,

      Some great shots you’ve got there on your site. Nice challenge too, and only 11 months to go 😉 .

      Good to see you taking on an additional challenge in the category live healthier (though I don’t want to suggest you’d need it). Good luck!

      Cheers, Fred

      • yep.  Frank is an award winning talented photographer.  Got a beautiful picture of his in one of my feeds (Facebook) and saw it was nominated for the “best of” on a 2012 photo site.

        I agree with those here that focus on “not depriving”.  If we declared the joy in doing something, it is much more enrolling and sustainable than declaring an absence of something (IMHO). 

        On a personal level, I’d like to continue the personal challenge to “try something new” x3.

        That means three new things that I’ve never done before that challenge me in some way.

        At the end of the month I’ll be doing #1 of 3. I’ll be participating in a conservation week of trail improvements in a national park (warning: if I disclose the location it might seem less a challenge and more an exotic fun vacation, but trust me it will be hard work and I’ll be carrying 20-30lbs of equipment into the park)

        On a professional level, I’d like to enroll myself in others in an event to “Celebrate Failure”.  And my goal is to enroll others in sharing their professional failures (not necessarily happy ending stories either but true learning experiences).

        On the health front, I’m thinking planet.  I want to up the quanity of local, organic foods I consume, from small farms and farmers.

        • Oh, stop it Marilyn – it’s just that I bothered to submit some Images there. Martin Lang has started submitting, too, and he’s kicking my youknowwhat 😉

          Love the “try something new” idea, but as I’m already ADD and have a hard time coping with what’s on my plate my focus is focus (that sounds interesting… <pondering>)

        • Hey Marilyn

          Yes, as you say, it’s not all about deprivation. Next month (for me) is 5 mins meditation each morning, for example. And depending on your viewpoint, deprivation is embrace on the other side of the same coin, i.e. this month I’m embracing a healthier lifestyle and also going mentally face to face with temptation. It’s a good feeling.



          • Love the twist DJ of making it an embrace rather than a deprivation!  And meditation.  For me that means sometimes just finding (embracing) breathing space.  The flip side of that is eliminating (depriving myself of ) noise. (which for me also means the cessation of my own making of it 😛 ) .  I’ve gotten a lot quieter, so embracing quiet is a whole lot easier.  And yes Fred, I’m easily pulled in to this conversation because I love hearing all of your resolutions and challenges.  Thanks for initiating and generating this.

        • Hi Marilyn,

          You sure are easily drawn into the conversation 🙂 .

          Though less specific on the time axis, I like your goals, as spread across the three dimensions personal, professional and health. Looking at my own challenges, I find they’re also a mix of those.

          As for the professional one: I’m great at failure, so will certainly attend any “Celebrate Failure” event. Is this an event btw? Thought more of this as a continuous, on going thing 🙂 .

          But seriously, this sounds like a worthy 2013 successor of the Empathy events of 2012. If only to convey the message that failing is okay, as long as you learn something from it. If you’re afraid to make mistakes, you turn into a risk-averse person and you won’t grow IMHO. Which is to be avoided at ‘all’ cost.

          Thanks for sharing your goals!

      • Well, I _do_ need it… 😉

        The downside of quantifying yourself (I use a Withings scale and a Fitbit) is that you see trends going in the wrong direction. Which is to say, there are actually more challenges I’m working on 😀