Use Challenges To Reach Your Goals

Use Challenges To Reach Your Goals


In the past, I wrote about the difference between goals and challenges. I have not made Monthly Goals in a long time and, for me, it is not a necessity to track goals in order to complete them. I would rather create habits than reach goals.

Well, goals the way people use them today at least. I try to look at goals differently by using challenges to meet over-arching goals.

For example, let’s say you have a goal to visit one museum a month. Why? What are you getting out of it? To enrich your cultural knowledge? To take advantage of the city you live in? To get out of the house? If you don’t know why you’re doing something, you’ll never do it.

Instead, make that reason your goal. Your goal for the year is to take advantage of the unique things your city has to offer. One way to meet that goal is to challenge yourself to visit one museum a month. This month, your challenge is to visit the National Museum of the American Indian.

If you don’t get to a museum this month then you fail that challenge, however, you might still meet your goal later-on. The point isn’t just to visit a museum to check that off your list, the whole reason you’re going in the first place is to really take advantage of where you live.

With this said, for the first time in a long time, I decided to make a June list of challenges just to keep myself in check.

June Challenges

  • Don’t track my spending, not even a little
  • Get out of nyc one time
  • Go to the transit museum
  • Buy food when I need it
  • Eat 1 fruit/veg a day

Goal: Lead an anxiety-free life by reducing anxiety-causing activities
Challenge: Don’t track my spending, not even a little
Outcome: Success!
I did not track any spending this month. I was still financially conscious of my spending but did not track each expense to the penny. While I kept an eye on my checking account, I never saw exactly how much I was spending in one category. This helped reduce my anxiety by not over-analyzing, however it still made me anxious not knowing my spending. I assume if I continue this practice, that feeling will fade away.

Goal: Take short inexpensive day-trips to clear my head
Challenge: Get out of nyc one time
Outcome: Success!
I took two day-trips this month. One to Long Island and another to Connecticut. Both were $20 each. It was a nice break, the train rides were relatively short, and the cost was little. Neither took up too much of my weekend or caused “vacation” stress.

Goal: Take advantage of all the museums NYC has to offer
Challenge: Go to the Transit Museum
Outcome: Success!
This came in right at the end of the month but I made it. I spent a rainy morning underground at the museum and it was definitely worth the $7 admission. As a bonus, I went to the Museum of Modern Art this month as well.

Goal: Take care of myself
Challenge 1: Buy food when i need it
Challenge 2: Eat 1 fruit/veg a day
Outcome: Success!
As ridiculous as the first challenge sounds, I really needed this reminder. This ties in to why tracking my spending to a T is stressful.

As it was, at the end of June I added up my grocery spending in my head and knew I was over-budget (my grocery budget is an arbitrary number). All I needed was to get through the weekend and I had decided that instead of spending $30 on groceries, I could just eat pasta the whole weekend. Clearly this is also why I need to remind myself to eat fruits & veggies.

I caved and bought groceries, including vegetables for delicious salads, and that $30 did not cause me to go broke.

Challenges to Create Habits

I will continue having a list of challenges for July and see what I think of it at the end of the month. I don’t like having more things to track and possibly feel guilty about. However, the reminders are quite helpful and will hopefully create habits that won’t always need to be tracked.

How do Monthly Goal lists help you?


3 Replies to “Use Challenges To Reach Your Goals”

  1. That’s a good philosophy, especially knowing the “why” part of it. The 300 “life expenses” category I have in my budget takes away the need to track ever penny. Sure I could divide that up a million different ways, but that would make life fairly annoying. Instead it’s just kind of a general budget. I do know some people who seem to eat really healthy on that little amount, but I think it’s hard for a lot of people. Eating pasta would keep you in budget, but it also might make you feel crappy/bloated/lethargic if you eat it days on end. Sometimes it’s worth feeling good to spend a little extra in that category…at least that’s what I tell myself. :)

    1. Do you add up all your expenses at the end of the month? I typically would track as I spent, which attributed to the “anxious” feeling. I like your idea of “life expenses” and actually modified my July budget so Variable Expenses are now a lump sum, instead of broken out into categories. I am hoping this helps.

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