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Challenge Yourself: 8 Movements to Explore This Year

“There should always be a healthy tension between the life we have settled for and the desires that still call us.” John O’Donohue

One of the messages that threads this website together is my voice saying, you do enough, you are enough, you don’t need MORE. When I first got it in my head to write this post, I hesitated, because the idea of challenging yourself seem to push against that.

But isn’t that just how life works? We work at accepting our children, our spouses, our friends, and ourselves—all while we feel these gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) tugs to try a little harder or open up our minds in some way.

We never really stay in one place.

I guess that’s the beauty of it.

So if you’re interested in challenging yourself this year, today I’m sharing 8 movements that are well worth exploring. The first six I’ve tried and have found SO beneficial in my life, and the last two are on my radar for 2017. Maybe one or two will fit with your personal WHY, or maybe all of them will! The good news is that you don’t have to try them all at once. 😉 Take note, and enjoy the journey!

Challenge Yourself: 8 Movements to Explore This Year

1. Know your personality type regarding habit formation

Are you more likely to keep a goal when you have someone to be accountable to? Or are you better at being accountable to yourself?

Learning my personality type in relation to how I keep goals and form habits was one of the best things I discovered last year. Read more about Gretchen Rubin’s framework of four tendencies in her excellent book Better Than Before, or take her quiz here.

2. Pin down your values

If someone were to ask you your values right now, you’d likely shrug it off as an easy question. Most of us value our families, faith, health, etc. But it’s so much more than that. Do you value time over money, or vice versa? Do you value the number of your friendships or the quality of them? What would you sacrifice in order to have time for something else?

When you really know what makes you tick, it becomes so much easier to say a big yes to the things that fill you up and a quiet “I’ll pass” to the things that don’t.

“The first thing you have to know is yourself.” Adam Smith

I recommend starting with these 10 questions to discover your WHY, and you might also take some time this year to write a personal or family purpose statement. It’s an irreplaceable exercise for honing in on your values.

3. Experiment with alignment and flow

I’m new to this way of living, but what I’ve tried, I’ve loved. I was introduced to it by podcaster Jess Lively, who has spent the last year transitioning from muscling her way to success (whether personal or professional) to finding alignment and flow and letting what follows follow. I haven’t sold my home and started traveling the world, like she has, but in my own small way, I’ve been right there with her.

There’s relief in doing life this way. Check out episode 163: alignment before action for more.

4. Plan a solo getaway

Yes! Do! This is especially suited for introverts and highly sensitive people, but I think any parent can benefit from a solo getaway every now and then! Years ago I was inspired by a friend who does a yearly getaway on her own, from a hostel near her home to a trip to a Caribbean Island—and everything in between. This year I did my second solo getaway, spending one night in a rustic room by the beach. (Catch my view, via Instagram!)

5. Simplify your life

One of the things I love most about simple living is how much less GUILT I feel now compared to a few years ago. When I’m living in line with my values (see #2), I don’t have to feel guilty for saying no… or for saying yes and then neglecting the things I care most about.

Relevant blog posts: Living Your Why52 Obtainable Ways to Simplify Your Life
Relevant eCourses: Uncluttered by Becoming Minimalist / Design a Simple Life by No Sidebar

6. Use photography to see your life with new eyes

Not going to lie: My life changed when I got my first phone with a camera. I’d just had our third baby, and suddenly I could capture her during late-night nursing sessions and mid-aisle bottle feedings at Target. I could catch our toddler stealing her pacifier or my husband stealing a nap under the window. Life felt more enchanting when I viewed it through a lens. My love for photography and my belief in it’s power, especially for moms, has only grown since then.

Free 30-day challenge: #MomentsMatter2017, by Simple As That
Free one-week class: One-Ingredient Fix, by Beryl Ayn Young

7. Reduce the amount of gluten and sugar you consume

If inflammation causes disease and gluten & sugar cause inflammation, wouldn’t you want to cut back? Neurologist David Perlmutter makes a convincing case in his book, Grain Brain. Whether you choose to focus on an aspect of your diet or a new form of exercise, now is a great time to challenge yourself to take a concrete step toward a healthier lifestyle.

8. Research and try out ethical shopping

Can we collectively use our purchasing power to push back on the fast fashion industry? It’s a door I’m almost afraid to open, but I’d like to learn more about the impact of fast fashion on underdeveloped countries, and I’d like to try out some ethical vendors, like Wildly Co. I heard Hayley Morgan talk about their purpose in this episode of the Happy Hour podcast. Worth a listen… when you’re ready to open that door. 😉

Happy New Year, my friend! Here’s to a stronger, wiser, happier YOU in 2017!

PS. What’s one thing you’re focusing on this year?


  • Reply
    January 2, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    Hey Erica, Grain Brain book actually has a lot of inaccuracies and misinformation. It is heavily biased and misinterprets a lot of data. It’s best to consult a Registered Dietitian or other reputable source before posting any nutrition information. This is a way out of your scope of knowledge and practice. But I love your blog and the positive beauty that you are spreading. Keep up the good work!

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      January 2, 2017 at 9:28 pm

      Thanks so much for reading, Marisa!

    • Reply
      January 4, 2017 at 10:11 am

      Just because someones a Registered Dietician does not make them reputable. RD’s and most others are taught with the “standard US diet mentality” of what people should be eating which changes with the seasons. I know, because that’s exactly what I was trained in. Look how healthy we all are! You need to eat what works with your body and any book that makes people think twice about the grains and sugar they are eating, its a good thing.

  • Reply
    January 8, 2017 at 11:03 pm

    I enjoyed this post a lot, number 4 has been on my radar/someday list for a while. As an introvert, I am in love with the idea of a simple solo trip, but somehow it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe 2017 will be the year! Thanks for all the suggestions!

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      January 8, 2017 at 11:33 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment, Kristal! Solo trips are game-changing! I hope you can pull it off in 2017!

      I have a bunch of material coming for introverts—stay tuned! 😉

  • Reply
    January 16, 2017 at 9:53 am

    I think we read to get ideas from others and affirmations for our lifestyle choices. I dropped animal products six months ago. Grains and sugar pose no inflammatory symptoms for me. I feel healthier and stronger than before. As a single introverted woman, prescribing solo travel is not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea. Sleeping alone in a strange bed far away from home is not fun and expensive when you have pay for a room that is safe and free from any past smoking. Money vs. time is different when you have a spouse instead of flying solo. Thanks for your ideas; they’ve helped me clarify mine.

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