Written by Sébastien Duperron
Friday, July 5th, 2019
At the end of last year, like many other people, I assessed the past year and thought about what I intended to accomplish in the coming year.
I never make New Year's resolutions. Instead, I set specific goals for myself, which is what works best for me.
At the time, I came across an article by a British writer who had set herself a challenge every month for an entire year. In January, for example, she had decided to challenge herself to avoid buying anything for the whole month, except for food and essential household supplies (toilet paper, soap, etc.).
I love challenges. I hate to think that there's something I'm unable to do. And I hate losing.
My Challenge: Save More, Avoid Buying
Surprisingly, the challenge was fairly easy to take up. All I had to do was stay away from brick-and-mortar stores and avoid surfing online stores. That simple!
The only time my willpower was put to the test was when my children asked me to take them to the bookstore so they could spend the gift cards they had received as Christmas gifts. I must admit that bookstores are my nemesis: I tend to lose control very quickly when it comes to buying books.
Nevertheless, I managed to leave unscathed.
During the month, whenever I felt like buying something, I would think of how disappointed I would be if I lost my challenge, which would then lead me to postpone that purchase.
I stopped wasting hours shopping online or going to the mall. I stayed home and used the time I gained to work on more rewarding personal projects.
What Did My Kids Think of My Challenge?
You might think that they asked for things, that they wanted me to buy them books, toys or other such goodies.
Well, they didn't!
I'm lucky: my children are not in the habit of nagging me until I cave in to their requests for new stuff. They understand the value of money and they know that I always spend carefully. They can see that I don't buy many things for myself. They also know that I shop around to find the best price.
When they ask me to buy something for them, I suggest that they take some time to think about it first. Impulsive purchases are frowned upon in our house.
After thinking about it for a few hours, the craving (usually) subsides. In January, they didn't have many cravings. Did I not tell you I was lucky?
In the end, I was so happy with this challenge that I decided to keep it going in February.
A New Challenge for Me
Of course, this challenge had a positive impact on my wallet. When you don't buy anything, you keep more cash in your account.
But that's not all. What began as a fun challenge—to see if I could do it—turned into a sort of training for a much bigger challenge I was about to face.
In late January, I learned I had Type 2 diabetes. I was prescribed medication and told to lose weight. Fortunately, the situation turned out to be reversible. With a lot of work and effort, I can hope to get healthier again.
With this objective in mind, I added an extra challenge for February: to watch what I ate and exercise more.
It wasn't an easy challenge for me because it's hard for me to say no to a bag of chips or chocolate. That said, it's a challenge I must absolutely meet head-on, to prove to myself that I can do it, of course, but also to improve my health.
Since I had succeeded in meeting my January challenge, I was confident that I could tackle this new challenge.
And I succeeded again. In February, I lost some weight and my waist size went down. I'm heading in the right direction.
Day after day, I'll continue to take up the most important challenge of my life.