Weeks Five through Eight did not vary enough from the previous four weeks for me to have much to say worth sharing. In this final report I will focus on what I learned through setting out this personal challenge.
Again, a reminder of my goals:
- eat more nutritious food with fewer empty calories,
- walk at least 5,000 steps per day,
- spend one day a week reading the backlog of magazines sitting on the end table, and
- write at least 500 words per day for at least five days each week.
Lesson One: It’s good to be humble.
I set out this challenge with the hope I could repeat my success with joining Queen of Blank’s (real name, Danielle) Eight-Week Challenge almost a year ago. My goals were the same. Why would my success level be any different?
That’s where a bit of humility comes in. Last year I joined a challenge set out by someone else. I wasn’t the only person to join her challenge, so I thought I would see similar success with others joining my challenge. But that didn’t happen.
Last year the challenge followed shortly after I took part in the April A to Z challenge. I discovered Danielle and a number of other talented writers through that challenge. I followed many of them and many of them followed me.
But then I didn’t do much posting to my blog once I completed Danielle’s Eight-Week Challenge. By the time I set out my own challenge, I suspect many of those blogging friends I met the previous year were no longer looking for information from me. I had been silent for too long. I should have taken part in the A to Z challenge again this year.
Lesson Two: Without peer pressure, I don’t follow through very well.
I managed to meet my first goal–eating nutrient rich food–throughout the eight weeks. My success with the other goals was not so good.
I managed to increase the number of days I walked at least 500 steps over the course of the eight weeks, but overall I walked less during this eight-week period than I did last year.
As for goal three–getting rid of the magazine backlog–it looks like I did well if you focus on the green cells on the chart. But the truth is that I read all the short, easy ones first. I got ahead of the goal very early. But those longer magazines, filled with meatier articles that I want to savor and not just flip through, those magazines are still on the end table, waiting for me to pick them up.
Goal four–writing at least 500 words a day at least five days a week. That’s where I really slipped up. This is the one I hoped I could jump start by having others comment on the challenge, boosting my motivation. My posts only garnered one true comment (thank you, Dana Ellington) and three correctly spelled and punctuated comments that I identified as likely spammers–clever ones indeed to get past the spam filter.
Lesson Three: Quality is not improved by greater quantity
Another challenge I have taken part in for the past two years is the Goodreads Reading Challenge. Last year I set my goal to read 50 books. I finished that number of books with months to spare, so this year I set my goal at 75 books. And I found I sometimes picked up thin books just to be sure I would reach my goal. I went for quantity instead of quality. I finished reading 75 books this year by the middle of July. But some of those books represent wasted time.
The one success I can take from my failure to produce at least 500 words each day, my fourth goal, is that I didn’t just put something together to turn the white space with a 0 in it green. I knew I wasn’t in the right frame of mind every day to produce something, even as a first draft, worth putting on paper or screen. So I didn’t settle for quantity.
This lesson makes me wonder if, in the end, setting up the challenge may have been a negative influence instead of a motivating one. I’ll have to try keeping my goals to myself for awhile.