Over the next few days, everyone is going to be writing down their New Year’s Resolution and most of these lists are going to include 2 things:

  • “I want to eat less ”
  • “I want to exercise more”

Now both of these are great aspirations. But the research shows us that’s all they are, aspirations. They hardly become our reality in our lives.

Here’s what the statistics show us:
About 60 percent of us admit that we make New Year’s resolutions.
Only about 8 percent of us are successful in achieving them.

So over 90% of us are going to fail to reach our resolutions in 2020. Therefore, we need to change the focus or the way we do things.

Over the past 10 years my birthday has always involved the setting of a yearly challenge. Now a challenge is slightly different to a resolution. Resolutions are usually made in order to correct something people are unhappy with. To change something; to improve a weakness or to break a habit. At the heart of a resolution is the idea that you current life is not good enough. You don’t measure up in some area and you have to change.
I need to be fitter.
I need to lose weight.
I need to …

Challenges on the other hand are about personal discipline and organisation. They require you to plan, to organise and adjust your life to accomplish something extraordinarily average. In fact the more ordinary, the better. Yearly challenges won’t improve your life, nor do they offer any great wisdom to the outside world. All they will do give you a small task that you have to achieve each day.

My first challenge started in 2008 with the goal of writing a blog for a year. Following that who could forget the year of 2009 where I shaved everyday of the year with the same razor. Things got a little sketchy around June, but I managed to keep focused and see the year through.

In 2010, I completed one of my proudest achievements, wearing the same pair of underwear for an entire calendar year. Going with the old school silk boxers was inspired genius. I was able to wash them regularly, they were quick drying and yes, to answer your question, they were crotch-less by the 31st December.
The year 2011 marked my first of two failures. A hospital visit in April for suspected appendicitis curtailed my attempt to see if it was possible to eat 3000 Weetbix in a calendar year. At this stage there has been no evidence to suggest that my high fibre diet clogged up my insides. However, the resumption of more balance diet did see the appendicitis subside.

Failure continued in 2012 when my best efforts of completing an elaborate push up challenge ended when I broke my ribs in a bike crash.
My plan had been to start on January 1st with one press up and then add one per day until I was doing 365 on my birthday. Unfortunately, I made it to day 274.

Failing my yearly challenge 3 times in a row was not an option. So I went with the relatively safe option in 2013 of using no pillow when sleeping. Success continued in 2014 when I went an entire calendar year only drinking water.   

The year 2015 saw me revolt against the comforts of our 21st century lifestyle and live like Wim Hof. This involved a year of cold showers, which also resulted in a year of short showers during winter.

On a roll with my yearly challenge 2016 proved to be the easiest with a year away from social media. The first month was hard and then the rest was easy.

Without doubt the hardest challenge year was 2017. The challenge was to run for a minimum of 30 minutes every day. A bad case of planta fasciitis in the final month reduce my running to more of a hobble. But I made it through.

Green vegetables were the order of 2018 as I ate one brussels sprout a day. I did fail this one due to an evening out of town in the middle of winter but made up for it with a couple extra the next day.  

The year 2019, saw one of my son’s friend come up with the idea of the same knife, fork and spoon for a year. Apart from 2 slip ups in the middle off the year I managed this with a lot of organisation. Special thanks to my daughter for colouring my utensils so that they were so easy to find in the dishwasher.

So, what for 2020? Well as you would guess, I have had plenty of advice and ideas from family members and friends. For me the best came from a work colleague – the 5 at 5pm. Five press ups at 5pm. While this sounds good, I wanted to put a little ‘Banbury’ twist on it, after all I failed at the last push-up challenge I attempted. 

So for 2020 my challenge will be known as the 5:11. 

This means I need to be out of bed at 5:11am every morning. My alarm will go off at 5:07am, this will give me 300 seconds of snooze time to rise at 5:10am. 

As we bring in 2020, what does the year hold for you? My advice is to ignore the tired old tradition of a half-baked resolution and instead go for a challenge. As British author Alex Morritt said  “New Year – a new chapter, new verse, or just the same old story ? Ultimately we write it. The choice is ours.”