I have never understood the mentality of waiting for a certain time, a specific date or even a planned event to change that which we don’t like in our lives. For example, why wait for a new year to start exercising? Why not do it on a Tuesday in November?

Instead, I like to give myself mini-challenges throughout the year. These mini-challenges fit into the SMART goal formula (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) For example, I once gave myself a challenge of eating no processed sugar for 90 days, and if I failed at the challenge I committed to donating $500 to the NRA. You can bet I completed that challenge and happily kept my money out of their coffers.

I’ve also challenged myself to a 30 day no TV challenge, eating Vegan for 30 days, exercising at least 5 days every week for 90 days, 3 months of sending a physical thank you card to at least one person everyday, reading at least one book a month, writing morning pages every morning for 90 days and so many more.

In part, I do these mini-challenges because I feel that if I get better at dealing with challenges of my own creation, I’ll get better at handling the challenges that life throws at me.

A bigger reason is that for much of my life I would walk away from a challenge, tap myself out if things got too hard. When I was young things came pretty easily for me; I learned quickly: I never had to study much and I could cram an awful lot into my head in a short amount of time, I didn’t learn the skill of working through a challenge, in part because I was too ashamed to ask for help, I was recognized for reading, speaking, and writing ability. It was hard to admit I wasn’t good at something so instead, I just didn’t try.

And that continued on for me as an adult in many areas of my life. I’d go for the jobs and the experiences that I knew I could do well in. Not the ones that would test me, or I could possibly fail in. NO WAY!!

But you know what I found? If I’m NOT being challenged, I’m also not learning. If I’m NOT failing, it’s infinitely harder to get better. I was becoming stagnant and my belief in myself was waning.

That’s where the idea of mini-challenges came in. I needed to build up my ability and belief in my own persistence strategically. I did that by setting short small goals to go after, having a plan, and if I fell off for a day or two getting back up, dusting myself off and getting back on the plan.

Everything I desire in life is on the other side of a challenge. That is the foundation of every hero’s journey told. And if I’m not practicing my ability to face a challenge, get up when I stumble, learn from it, continue moving forward and complete the challenge. How will I ever be able to achieve the big lofty goals I have in my life?

I wonder as you take inventory of your life if there’s room for you to create your own mini-challenges. Remembering the SMART formula, so not “I’d like to exercise more”, but “I’m going to do 10 push-ups every morning for the next five days before I brush my teeth.” Short, small attainable goals that will build your own persistence and ability to meet a goal.

Why wait? You can start changing your life right now.