why set a challenge?
We all need a challenge and to set ourselves some goals. It gives us something to aim for and achieve. A challenge will take us out of our comfort zone. Setting a challenge can benefit our fitness, our mental or emotional health, it can create and develop new behaviours and can stretch us beyond our everyday routines.
Resolutions – any time of year
I wonder how many of you had a New Year’s Resolution? And I wonder how many of you are still sticking to that resolution?? Hopefully lots of you! But we all know how easy a New Year’s Resolution is to make and stick to for a few days or weeks and then life can get in the way. Best laid plans are abandoned, motivation has a tendency to wane. Good intentions falter and before you know it you are back at square one. Feeling like a failure – again!
The problem is we often fall into the trap of setting ourselves too much to do, being a bit unrealistic and trying to run before we can walk. How often have we said “I’m going to go to the gym 5 times a week” or “I’m cutting out all sugar” or “I’ll start running after work” – such great intentions but it becomes too hard to maintain and we quickly give in.
I often say why wait until the New Year to make a change, you can make a resolution, set a challenge or create a new habit at any time. And let’s be honest, going for a run in the middle of winter when it’s dark at 4.30pm is not exactly the most enticing thing to do, so it’s no surprise that this particular habit might not stick. However if you decided to do this in the spring, as the nights get lighter and warmer, when you naturally feel more energised – it will be much more likely to become a consistent habit.
Another massive reason for failure is that we are our own worst enemy. We can give ourselves a million and one excuses and reasons to have a day off, why it’s not that important, why it’s too hard and to eventually give up. Because it’s only ourselves we are letting down – it doesn’t seem to matter that much.
My personal challenge this february
I have really developed a love of walking during lockdown. Before this virus came along, going for a walk was something I did with my neighbour every now and then, joining her on a dog walk on a Sunday. But only if the weather was nice. And I would never go on my own!
BUT I have developed the walking bug. I even have waterproof trousers, proper boots and a brightly coloured gortex jacket – so no excuse for the wrong weather. I aim to do 10k steps every day, and since the Christmas holidays I go out every day. I have a long term goal this year to walk a marathon with my two friends, when the weather improves and the days are long. And in February we have decided to give ourselves a challenge of walking 1 million steps between us, that’s roughly 9k steps a day.
It all started because a friend of mine did this challenge in January to raise money for a charity near her in Bradford called ‘One in a Million’ which supports disadvantaged children and young adults through sport, arts and enterprise. It seemed like a great idea, a goal that would really focus us and give us something tangible to aim for before our marathon walk later this year. I have also joined my friend’s team in Yorkshire as well, and we will be walking 1.5million steps between 6 of us this February – all donations are very welcome https://www.justgiving.com/team/PvanB.
the benefits of having a buddy
I know I would not have been as consistent or keen to continue if I had not done this with my two friends. We have supported, encouraged and kept each other going even on those wet and miserable days. And that is why having an accountability buddy is so important if you want to keep focused and on track with your goal.
1. YOU WILL SEE IT THROUGH
When you have someone doing the challenge with you, you are much more likely to see it through. You will feel more accountable and won’t want to let your buddy down and vice versa. It will be harder to make excuses why you don’t want to do it.
2. YOU WILL SEE FASTER RESULTS
You are more likely to work harder, do more and be more consistent because you won’t want to let each other down, and therefore the results or your goal will be reached a lot more quickly.
3. YOU WILL INSPIRE EACH OTHER
When the going gets tough or you are finding it hard, your buddy will push you through. You will want to keep up with them. You can bounce ideas off each other to keep you going and keep things fresh and exciting. There’s the element of a competitive spirit and you will feel more inclined to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
4. IT CREATES A BETTER MINDSET
When you surround yourself with positive people it rubs off on you too, so it stands to reason that if you are both cheering each other on and supporting each other it will create a great mindset. It will also remind you of your WHY when times get a bit tough, rather than listening to all your inner / self doubting critics you will have someone keeping you on track.
5. CELEBRATE SUCCESSES TOGETHER
It’s great to have someone who appreciates the hard work, dedication and commitment that you have made. Celebrating and sharing even the smallest goals with each other will produce the ‘feel good’ factor, which creates a dopamine hit – and you will want to repeat that experience again.
AND FINALLY …
It’s a great excuse to be more connected with other people especially in the current climate of feeling isolated and alone. Even if you can’t meet up in person, you can be accountable in a WhatsApp group, or create a FaceBook page or an Instagram account to record and track your progress. This alone is a great accountability tool to keep you on track with your challenge.