Do you function well with a general framework, a structure within which to operate?
Or do you fare better when there is less planning and more organic flow?
I am a structure person.
And I know this because I recently challenged myself to let go of the framework. I have not written blog posts for a while. I stopped my monthly challenges. And I have been intentionally doing less.
Turns out that mostly my life is not working as smoothly as it does when I have a structure. Which is a good dose of useful self-knowledge.
Challenges and Accountability
I regularly set myself challenges and experiments. For as long as I can remember I have done this. It’s simply one of my idiosyncrasies. Only recently however have I become aware that I have done this always, and that for me actually, it works.
Every month in 2020 I wrote a blog post setting myself challenges for the month ahead. It was a way of holding myself accountable for the new habits I was creating. I then reported back on my progress the next month. At the end of the year, I wrote about the whole experience and shared 7 Lessons Learned.
As 2021 kicked off I decided to challenge myself to stop doing some of the regular things I had done in 2020. I felt I needed a refresh. I also felt I wanted to test what worked.
Owing to the fact that I do well with some form of accountability, since having stopped my regular practice, I have experienced less direction, and less personal progress.
In fact, I have been feeling extremely untethered and scattered of late and have feelings of having slipped backwards. Lesson learnt. I need accountability.
Outcomes Achieved from Challenges and Accountability
To counter these feelings of low self-esteem I decided to remind myself of the many things I have achieved using my accountability practice and small habit change. I have successfully developed or stopped the following habits:
- started my own evolving brand A Simple Beautiful Life
- started drinking more water
- started exercising regularly
- started stopping – intentionally incorporating pauses in the day
- started getting outdoors every day
- started a regular meditation practice
- started journaling regularly
- started stretching every day
- started further simplifying our meals
- started practising improved self-care
- stopped nail-biting (since 1 Jan 2021)!
- Recently I took part in a well-timed challenge offered by one of my favourite minimalists, Leo Babauta (of Zen Habits). It was to counteract feeling scattered. It amazes me how often the right thing arrives at the right time. It was about pausing and choosing the most important thing to do at the time, and then doing it, with all focus and attention.
- Again the right thing appeared at the right time – in the form of Gary Keller‘s “The One Thing” – which I am currently reading.
Both authors remind us to focus our time and energy and resources on the one most essential thing at any given time. Both practices support us to make linear progress by narrowing our focus. They offer us a way of containing our lateral spread and replacing it with a system of organising our actions around a single focus.
We can refocus multiple times a day – on the small actions we need to take. We should keep all our small actions in line with the one essential big goal we are working on achieving.
As such this theoretically simple approach to narrowing our focus is well-received by so many of us, even those with a relatively sharper focus because life is so full of distractions.
3 Daily Challenges for 66 days
With this knowledge, I have decided to return to challenges.
Here are 3 new challenges I am setting for myself – to do with my work. As Gary Keller says an average of a new habit takes 66 days to set in motion – I will do both for 66 days. Starting on Monday 15 March 2021.
By writing this blog, I am making myself accountable.
- shoot a video for Instagram reels – every day
- post an uplifting Instagram story – every day
- write a helpful email – every week
Because challenges help us grow.
These specific ones are aimed at helping my business grow. But as important, if not, more importantly, they support my personal growth. This is a result of the challenge pushing us out of our comfort zones. Growth doesn’t happen much within the comfortable bounds of a comfort zone.
I have decided to focus on Instagram as my one social – communication channel. For now. This is how I intend to reach more people with my message of intentional simplicity to create a life of quality. Because I love pictures; visuals.
Because I want to connect with people I could support.
I like to connect with people, and I want to support those who want to, get started with creating their own quality of life, and I intend to use email to share these blog posts and advice and the tools I use.
Because I am creating my future work
I have a vision of my future inviting interested people to join me on challenges, to support habit change, simply, in order to create quality lifestyles. To help people create their own considered simple, beautiful lives.
So please check out my Instagram profile @asimplebeautifullife.
Thanks for reading.