Continued Musings on New Year’s Resolutions: Trying Something New for Thirty Days

Recently a colleague of mine, Sam Lison, posted on Facebook some photos he had taken as part of a project he had undertaken to challenge himself to do something new for thirty days. He explained that he had been inspired by Matt Cutt’s’ 2011 TED talk, “Try Something New for Thirty Days.” and had decided to photograph a different tree each day. The results were beautiful and inspiring. As I continue to muse on our annual exercise in struggling with resolutions that some part of us is reluctant to keep, I found myself liking this idea of a thirty day challenge. Change is hard, growth is hard. Otherwise we would all be slender and fit, well read with clean houses and lots of money in the bank. Or something like that. I know that for myself I could easily come up with a long list of things I’d like to do differently or new skills I would like to learn. And I know that it often feels overwhelming to take on new challenges or projects. That’s where Matt Cutts’ idea is so brilliant. He encourages us to think of something we’ve always wanted to do or try, and then commit to engaging the challenge for just thirty days. He believes that we can do almost anything for thirty days, and in the process we just may change how we experience the world.

check it out:

About the same time as I first listened to Matt Cutts’ TED talk, my son Jacob came home from college. He has been having some health challenges for which the doctor had no explanation so he began wondering if it might be diet related. After doing some research he decided to try something called an elimination diet. What this entails is cutting out all foods except grains, beans, fruit and vegetables for two weeks and gradually adding other foods back in to see if you may be having a negative reaction to any of the foods in your diet. I have to admit, I was in awe, especially since it was the holiday season and he was surrounded by people eating all kinds of goodies. But he stuck with it – and he did so with an upbeat and cheerful attitude. Basically saying, “I’m doing this for myself and it feels right and I don’t want to impose on anyone else and I’ll know when I’m ready to resume my regular diet.”

So I am inspired. What are the things that if I could do them for thirty days (or even two weeks), would enrich my life or change how I experience myself, my family, my world? One choice I’m making is to be more intentional with how I spend my time – setting aside blocks of time to focus on what feels important to me, including taking quiet time with my husband, and calling family and friends on a regular basis. Another choice I am making is to write daily. And a third is to take more time to meditate. Not as resolutions, but as challenges to myself to be more the person I want to be in this world.

And of course this can apply to how we show up in our relationships. We can challenge ourselves to pay more attention to the people we care about. We can challenge ourselves to be more careful with our words. We can challenge ourselves to be more present when we are with the ones we love, or to spend more time with our partners and children. We can challenge ourselves to stretch to do things that our partners ask of us. And we can challenge ourselves to be more generous both physically and emotionally.

Imagine making a thirty day commitment to not make critical statements.

Or to bring your partner a little gift each day.

 Or to take a 15 minute walk together daily.

Or to ask your partner each day how their day was and to listen with your whole heart.

Imagine how you might feel in your relationship and how the relationship itself might change. For thirty days almost anything is possible.

How will you challenge yourself?


Posted by Laura

Laura Marshall, LCSW, is the founder and director of the Sagebrush Center for Relationship Therapy. Her experience spans thirty years of supporting couples and individuals to create healthy and meaningful lives and relationships. She is also adjunct faculty for the New Mexico Highlands School of Social Work. She lives with her husband Steve and five sons in Farmington, New Mexico.

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