f the New Year is good for anything, it’s challenging yourself. Whether it’s eating cleaner, or finally saving up for that vacation, there are always ways to improve. Unfortunately, it’s no small feat to truly challenge yourself. While 27% of Americans made New Year’s resolutions in 2020, only 35% of those asked actually kept them throughout the year.
One fun and easy way to shake things up this year is to challenge yourself by doing something new. Not only is challenging yourself a way to grow and learn, but you may even find that by challenging yourself to something new—whether that be a new language, new restaurant, or new route for your morning run—you’ll find a new set of interests to take with you into 2022.
Challenge #1: Find a Reading List
A fun and easy way to both open your mind and challenge yourself is by looking up a book list to burn through throughout the year. Sites like GoodReads often put out lists of this year’s anticipated releases as well as a yearly challenge list that you can use to track your reading as well as give you great ideas on what to read.
Not only is picking up a book a great way to challenge yourself to expand your imagination, but it is super accessible. With online stores like Amazon offering book services like Kindle Unlimited, books can be accessed from a cell phone, laptop, kindle, or even an old-fashioned paperback.
With sites like TikTok and Twitter becoming a driving force in how fans interact with the books they read and the authors that write them, there is no better time to get into popular books such as the Court of Thorns and Roses series that have swept through the world of BookTok. With streaming services like Netflix adapting books into movies and shows—like The Witcher and The Kissing Booth—there really is no better time to start reading!
And if you're looking for our two cents, check out our recs for books every 20-something should have on their list.
Challenge #2: Learn a New Language
Today, over half the world speaks at least two languages, according to the BBC. Learning a new language is a great way to stretch those mental muscles that have been out of practice for the last few years. Apps like Duolingo and Rosetta Stone offer hundreds of languages and fun and easy ways to learn French, Spanish, German, or even Klingon!
Take what you learned in college and high school and expand on it. You might not be very good at it at first, but challenges weren’t meant to be easy. This is something that will not only test you, but is something that you will always be able to come back to and learn more of.
Learning a new language will give you a way to challenge yourself, and it also can give you a leg up in your everyday life. Imagine how surprised your friends will be when you can watch Narcos without the subtitles! Learning a new language is a great way to explore a new culture, and is the first step into trying something crazy and new.
Challenge #3: Cook or Eat New Foods
If challenging your brain isn’t something that interests you, you can challenge yourself (and your palette) by exploring new restaurants and different foods. Check out Yelp or Google for a list of new local eateries to patronize. Not only will this help the local economy, but you may even find your new favorite place to eat!
With so many different kinds of foods, the opportunities are endless. Challenge yourself to try something crazy, order your pad thai at the spiciest level, or try the bubble tea from your local mall. Your palette will thank you later.
If you can’t get out to explore your neighborhood, or don’t want to leave your cozy couch, you can try one of these recipes from Yummly, a huge library of recipes that you can access for free. Maybe you want to challenge yourself to eat out less, or just find a new signature recipe for game night. Either way, see how many new foods you can try this year!
Challenge #4: Leave Your Comfort Zone at Home
Challenging yourself doesn’t have to mean hitting the weights every day or making drastic changes over night. It can mean something as simple as picking up a new hobby or taking a hike next weekend. Challenging yourself to go outside your comfort zone can be as easy as watching a movie from a genre you’ve never seen, or as extreme as joining a roller derby team! In addition to finding your next favorite hobby, stepping outside your comfort zone can help you manage change in ways you’ve never considered.
Challenge yourself to try something new once or twice a month. Maybe you decide to run to the gym instead of doing cardio on the treadmill, or maybe stepping outside your comfort zone means finally going out for coffee with that one coworker you’ve been flirting with. Doing something new can be fun, exciting, and challenging. You’d be surprised what you might find yourself enjoying.
Challenge #5: Stop and smell the Roses
One of the easiest ways to challenge yourself is to simply stop and take notice of the world around you. Challenge yourself to see how many different flowers you can name the next time you take your dog for a walk, then challenge yourself to name two more the time after that! Identify the different kinds of birds you hear on your morning run, or if you can name all the different flowers in your local park.
It doesn’t have to be a competition to be a challenge though, you can see how many days throughout the month you spent time outside, or you can use it to improve your skills in basketball, tennis, horse shoes, or even cornhole!
Aside from the fact flowers and birds and parks are all beautiful views, the health benefits that come from being out and about in nature are undeniable. While crowds of people may feel daunting, the peace and quiet of nature can give you an energy boost as well as give you something to think about.
Challenge #6: Get in Touch with your Inner Self
It’s easy to burn out in a world that is constantly rewarding you to go, go, go. Taking time to sit with you and explore your inner self can be something that is very challenging but is also incredibly rewarding. Try taking five minutes as soon as you wake up and do this cool meditation. Meditating can set you up for a successful day and recharge your mental battery.
Another way you can do this is by journaling. Whether it’s sitting down and writing the first thing that pops into your mind—or following a journal prompt—writing, and journaling is a great way to challenge yourself to expand your imagination. You don’t have to be an expert to reap the benefits of a few moments of peace and quiet. There are plenty of apps such as Headspace and Balance that offer guided meditation, and hundreds of videos that are free on YouTube to help guide you while you meditate!
Challenge #7: Get Organized
One way that I personally am challenging myself is by getting organized. Winter often means that there is clutter build up in all the nooks and crannies of your house. Challenge yourself to doing one thing a day until your house is spick and span as spring cleaning! Whether that “one thing” is something as simple as throwing away that stack of junk mail on your counter, or Marie Kondo-ing your entire house, it is a quick and easy way to challenge yourself to be one step tidier than last year.
Challenge #8: Catch Some Z’s
Challenging yourself in 2022 doesn’t just mean experiencing something new. It can also mean finding new ways to take care of yourself. With 32% of adults and almost 73% of kids and teens getting less than the recommended 8 hours of sleep, there’s never been a better time to focus on your sleeping habits.
Challenging yourself to do something as small as putting your phone on the charger across the room from you instead of charging it beside your bed. If you want to really challenge yourself, try staying away from all electronics—your TV included—to avoid the blue light that interrupts your sleep cycle. If you have a FitBit or an Apple watch, you can use the included features to track how long you slept, how deeply you slept, and even if you woke up or talked in your sleep!
And that's it... a few ways you can challenge yourself to be your best in 2022.
It doesn’t take drastic and sudden change to challenge and improve yourself. While at times it may be a little difficult to see where the benefit of the challenge is, in the end working on yourself and challenging yourself to go outside your comfort zone or try new things can be an immensely rewarding experience.
If you were waiting for the new year to see how often you can challenge yourself, this is your sign that it’s time to start!