Does Size Matter (for Challenges)?

I’m just 1 person who joins a lot of challenges. And thanks to my blog, I’m setting even more for myself every month. But challenges come in all sorts of sizes. Earlier this month, I discussed small, specific, well-chosen daily goals. I also covered larger, broader dreams turned into goals for bucket lists. What about the sort of challenges that fall in the middle? Some challenges can last a year, a season, a month, a week, or even a day. What are the benefits of large vs. small challenges? Which should you go after?

Of course, the answer is that you should pursue the challenges that are right for you at this time in your life. Let your enthusiasm guide you, but also be realistic about what you can accomplish in the time you have. If you hope to complete a challenge, make sure to not over-commit. Or you can put something else in your life on pause for a little while. For example, all that housekeeping might be able to wait while you participate in an intense 24-hour readathon. 

Big Challenges

Examples: These could be your 101 Things in 1001 Days goals, your new year’s resolutions, or your bucket list items. If you’ve been saving up for a mortgage down payment for a while, maybe this is the year you finally buy your dream home. Or maybe you want to write a novel, fill a sketchbook, learn a new style of dance, or take up a new sport. 

Pros: There’s the possibility of achieving an enormous goal. The satisfaction for completing something large and difficult is wonderful. 

Cons: With a challenge lasting a while (like a new year’s resolution), it is easier to procrastinate and either leave it to the last minute or not complete it at all. Big challenges can also feel daunting, overwhelming, and unattainable. 

Verdict: These are great when your goal is immense but realistic. Choose to go big when you have a goal that would take multiple months to complete, but they are doable if you’re willing to put in a consistent amount of effort for a long period of time. 

Medium Challenges

Examples: These could last for a season (several months) or a month. Giving up something for Lent (40-46 days), writing a novel in a month, or doing an IJ1P challenge (1 month) allows you to focus enough on a goal to have something substantial at the end. You might be hoping to run a 5K or take a photo a day for a month’s photo diary. 

Pros: Not too long a time that you will forget about your goal while still having wiggle room if you have some bad days or weeks where you make little progress. You’d be surprised how much you can get done in just a month or two if you focus and make your goal a priority.

Cons: It does require more self-discipline, planning, routine-forming, and/or habit-making to come out with a win. Depending on the challenge, there might be just enough wiggle room to get lazy. 

Verdict: These can be great for trying new things. After a month or two, you’ll know whether you want to keep going or abandon the effort. 

Small Challenges

Examples: These might be week-long progress challenges or daily challenge events like readathons, gaming marathons, or binging weekends. 

Pros: No need to devote a ton of time to something; completing one of these challenges is almost like instant gratification. If  you’re just dropping in to give it a try, you might not complete the challenge, but you’ll learn something along the way. 

Cons: The short time limit means high intensity and concentration if you want to succeed and complete the challenge. If you’ve already got a lot going on in that day, you might not be able to succeed.   

Verdict: These are great if you’re in a position to devote yourself fully to them or if you want to just casually try something out without a stronger commitment. 

I participate in all three types, depending on the goal I want to reach and my other commitments. The best feeling for me, however, is when I can challenge stack. Sometimes, my challenges overlap each other, and then I can make progress on both all at once. For example, sometimes I’ll come upon a book that works for a week-long reading challenge but also qualifies for a separate month-long reading challenge. And I can also count it in my overall books read in my Goodreads year-long challenge. One book. Three challenges. That makes me feel powerful and accomplished! 

What are your favorite sort of challenges to undertake?

Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.