I’ve Done ALL The Challenges… As some one with anxiety, I tend to put too much pressure on myself. For too many years, I ran on adrenaline as I faced one deadline after another. Managing work, my own business and three kids wasn’t about maintaining balance or moving with grace, it was all about trying not to drop any of the balls – and when I did to scoop it up before anyone noticed. When an email landed in my inbox promoting a challenge, I was all in. I signed up for the green smoothie challenge, happiness challenge, the meditation challenge (just think about the irony of that for a minute), the decluttering challenge and the build your business challenge. The thought of conquering all of the problems in my life by committing to a challenge seemed like a great solution. I could vanquish the busyness, the clutter, the lack of vegetables, the business and my busy mind. The thought of conquering all of the problems in my life by committing to a challenge seemed like a great solution. I could vanquish the busyness, the clutter, the lack of vegetables, the business and my busy mind. #nochallenges Click To Tweet But inevitably, my inbox – and then my trash – filled with daily messages instructing me what to do and what not to do to become a better person. Needless to say, work, my business and my family took priority and these messages became reminders of my failure to follow through and to become the happy, green-smoothie-drinking, mindful business owner with a neat house. As I filed each message so I could follow up on it later, when I had time, energy, more vegetables in the house or the kids were at school so I could declutter their stuff, I felt worse about myself. These challenges weren’t helping me achieve my goals; they were highlighting how I must lack the self-discipline and time management skills necessary to be a good mother and business owner. Reconsidering Challenges As I’ve been building Spark Wellness, I’ve committed to no offering challenges. Even though everyone else is offering the sugar-free challenge, the juicing challenge, and the eat organic challenge, I’m choosing another approach because, if your life is anything like mine, it is challenging enough! You don’t need more pressure, more responsibility, more expectations or more guilt. I’d much rather teach you to slow down and be kind and gentle with yourself. Instead of using your time to file emails you know you'll never read, take a few minutes for deep breathing. #nochallenges Click To Tweet Instead of using your time to file emails you know you’ll never read, take a few minutes for deep breathing. Instead of feeling pressured to get up earlier so you can make yourself green smoothie, add another serving of vegetables to which ever of meal of that day works best for you. I would rather that my clients see their relationships with their body as a partnership rather than a conflict. The goals is to understand your body and to feel better, not to beat yourself up for not meeting the challenge. The word challenge suggests that what you are doing is going to be difficult, pushing you beyond your limits and requiring concentrated effort to succeed. While succeeding a challenge implies overcoming obstacles, not succeeding suggests weakness of character or lack of commitment. 10 Reasons I Don’t Offer Challenges 1. I want my clients to succeed in making incremental, sustainable and lifelong changes. You can’t make those kind of changes if your goal is just to finish the next challenge. You need to be looking at a bigger picture. 2. I teach my clients that you need to come back to your goals and what works for you. At some point you will choose to eat a donut instead of a gluten-free seed cracker or to drink a mocha-latte with whipped cream instead of herbal tea. That’s just life. When you realize this choice didn’t help you reach your goal, I want you to accept your choice and continue on your wellness journey. 3. I recognize it isn’t easy to change patterns. Researchers says it can 66 days to create a new habit (source), and during that time you need support and encouragement. 4. There will be tough times and you need to deal with them rather than counting down the days until the end of a challenge. If your goal is to lead a happy, healthy, full life, there is no finish line. You are taking on a lifelong project. #no challenges Click To Tweet 5. Healthy changes comes from developing new patterns which requires commitment and self-discipline. You need to be the one making decisions and you need to motivate yourself. You need to be looking forward to the future, not just to the end of the challenge. 6. Challenges can become an obsession. Like I shared, you can get hooked into all the different challenges offered to fix your life. I’ll let you know a secret: challenges can get you started, but you need to commit if you really want to change. 7. Challenges provide strict rules and don’t leave much space for flexibility. I believe in balance and adjustments because our real lives don’t follow the rules of the challenge. Learning to be flexible and respond to change are essential strategies for wellness. #nochallenges Click To Tweet 8. Rather than following someone else’s rules, learn to be mindful and listen to yourself. This strategy will serve you in all areas of your life. 9. Food and eating should be fun. Experiment, explore and enjoy trying new foods and finding the ones that work for you. 10. I want you to care about yourself at least as much as I care about you. Be gentle with yourself and focus on self-care.