It is the start of a new year and also the start of setting goals to be more organised, healthy and happy. It is been said that it takes about 30 days to form a habit. The ones that are good for you require hard work and determination. The starting phase is the hardest, especially if you want to change an old habit into a new one. This is why giving yourself a challenge for a minimum of 30 days is a great way to improve many areas of your life.

The goal is simple: 12 distinct challenges, one each month—short enough to keep a goal realistic and achievable, yet long enough to give good habits a fighting chance of sticking around. So let’s have a look at some examples you can choose to complete this year:

Jan – Take Lunch To Work

Save money! After the Christmas holidays it is especially important to not only get back into a healthy routine but also to save some money after what is a big couple months of spending (not to mention all your bills coming in all at once, right?!) It will stop you giving into buying that slice of banana bread at the local cafe, which helps the hip pocket and the waist line.

Feb – No Takeaway

Again, staying in spend-savvy mode to celebrate the month of LUURVE… Love yourself by learning to cook dishes that are healthy and fabulous and also love your significant other by not being stingy and making them a home cooked V-Day meal.

March – No Plastic

Be drastic and cull the plastic this month. Take your lunches to work in sustainably sourced containers or glass jars. Skip the plastic water bottles and forgo the plastic bags. Use your own reusable grocery bags and don’t eat any meals that come prepacked* (*meat from the butcher IS an exception, we can cut corners of other plastic items but let’s not end up with food poisoning shall we?) The goal is to be more conscious of your waste and ways to become more environmentally conscious. You also get the added benefit of not exposing yourself to some of the toxic chemicals found in plastic, such as BPA.

April – No Coffee

This one hits right where it hurts. Caffeine should be enjoyed in moderation and not be used as a crutch. If you have found that you cannot function without a cup of caffeinated brew each day, then this month is going to be a struggle for you. There are plenty of substitutes such as dandelion latte and herbal teas (who are we kidding, nothing compares to a good cup of coffee!) but I promise it will be entirely worth it. Reset your adrenals and remind yourself that you do not NEED coffee.

May – No Sugar

Not being too harsh and restricting sugar during Easter, it is now time to kick it for a month! You will still get your carbohydrates needed for energy in fruits and vegetables, but that white granular sweetness that goes into your tea/coffee can be tossed straight in the bin. This does also include skipping high sugar items such as condiments, baked goods and all other refined carbohydrates.

June – No Computer After 7pm

Ok, this one should be a little easier than the no sugar and no coffee months you have just put yourself through. Plus, if you are checking emails at home then you are just not managing your office time well enough. Plot twist! This also includes smart phones. That is right techno-geeks, no Facebook stalking or replying to emails after dinner. Your phone is back to what it was originally intended for, phone calls ONLY. Suggestion: Remove all of your social media apps and check any notifications throughout the day on your computer only. I know, Instagram is a grey area as you can’t post from your computer BUT is it really going to be the end of the world if you miss posting that amazing pic of your Acai bowl or yoga pose?

July – No Alcohol

It is Dry July time. It will be somewhat easier to ditch the booze for the month as it has become a regular yearly event for many others as well. For those of you that do not drink alcohol, great! But you could also try to skip any other forms of calorie increasing liquids such as sodas and shelf-stable fruit juices.

August – Watch a Doco a Day

The internet is one of the greatest resources man has ever invented, but yet we use it to watch videos of cats and update our social media pages! This month your challenge is to watch a new doco every day. Your options are broad and varied and with short docos available at the click of a button, go and enrich your world with more knowledge.

September – New Food Month

Are you someone that incessantly posts picture of every meal onto your social media? Well this month will get you inspired to do so! Trying something new every day can be a slight challenge, but the key is to be prepared. Simply write down 30 NEW foods and/or recipes you would like have a crack at and even combine them over a couple of days. So if for examples, chickpeas are new to you, how about whipping up a bowl of hummus to tantilise the taste buds and also have some leftover for lunch? Bonus points for anyone fermenting their own veggies or trying their hand at kombucha and kefir!

October – No/Low Chemical Month

Do you have a shower and wash your hair with Tresseme, then step out and put on some Rexona before applying your Este Lauder makeup? Well, sorry folks but for this month we are cutting the chemicals. I understand that some things just cannot be compromised. If you are a hairdresser and have your armpits basically hovering over clients noses all day then ok, you can use your aluminium filled deodorant… but you better be using tea tree oil to clean the kitchen and vinegar as fabric softener instead missy!

November – Exercise Daily

I am no triathlete myself, so going for a run every morning would just not cut it for me. What is achievable (and fun!) would be to do a minimum of 30mins everyday of exercise that is not in your normal routine. Think outside the box by hula hooping your way to a bodacious booty or perhaps jumping on the pushbike to get the blood pumping. It isn’t about shedding the kgs’ (although, this is a pretty nice side effect) but to get you into a routine. We sometimes forget that our bodies are meant to be moving, so by doing a minimum of 30mins of exercise a day you are assisting your health and wellbeing.

December – Try Something New Daily

This somewhat ties in with the new food month, but this is also an opportunity to unleash your inner creative or adventurous side. Again, this will need a little more time to prepare for what you will do but I will tell you right now that it is very rewarding. Being over the summer holidays you should have more free time to try out new things, but even by being stuck at your desk doesn’t mean you can’t give it a whirl.

Guest Author - Alex Hills

GradCertEvidCompMed, BMedsMgmentProfHonsCM, BHSci (Comp Med), AdvDipNat, AdvDipWHM

Alex is a qualified naturopath and has been in the natural medicine field for over a decade in Australia. During this time, she has had the opportunity to experience almost every aspect of the industry.

She has been in clinical practice, vitamins manager at a pharmacy, marketing coordinator for an organic skin care company as well as actively involved in natural health practitioner training from within an area manager’s role.

This diverse experience helps her ability to deliver high-quality content and cutting-edge research to consumers in a simple and relatable manner.