Pondering a 365-Day Challenge for 2021

Are you thinking about doing a 365-day challenge for 2021?

I’m already thinking about doing another one.

I still have 4 weeks left on my 2020 daily blogging challenge, which actually started on December 24, 2019. It feels like an easy coast to the finish line after blogging for 345 days in a row.

Doing something every day for a year can be transformational, even if you stop after that year, because it creates an empowering reference experience. You gain a memory of achievement that you’ll have for the rest of your life.

Knowing that you can do something every day for a year helps you nuke any future excuses about not feeling motivated or capable. It permanently changes your self-image. It will make you ask: If I can do this, what else could I do?

You also get the benefits and results of whatever you achieved with that habit. This year I’ve published hundreds of new articles and some new videos. I also created and published the 65-lesson Stature course and wrote a rough first draft of a new novel (55K words). It’s been a great year creatively as well as a great year income-wise. Timing-wise it was somehow perfect as well.

The daily blogging challenge was always meant to be for just one year, so I’m not going to continue with everyday posting in 2021. I’m looking forward to a year of less frequent blogging in 2021.

The Early Game

This is a good time to start pondering whether you’ll do a 365-day challenge for 2021, especially if you need time to work on the early game of preparation. It can take a while for the mind to warm up to the idea. Sometimes it’s a slow build to get to the point of commitment.

I often feel that these challenges choose me rather than the other way around. I catch myself pondering a crazy idea, and it keeps bouncing around in my mind week after week. First I feel inclined to reject it as too extreme or burdensome. But then it slowly seduces me. The many benefits eventually tempt me to go for it, especially when I consider how such a challenge will still be paying dividends 20+ years later.

You win such challenges before Day 1. If you have any doubt that you’ll successfully complete the full year before Day 1 starts (other than not being able to account for surprise risks like unexpected health problems), you haven’t done the early game well enough.

It is possible to fail at such a challenge, but if you’re still harboring significant self-doubt at the start, then you’ve already lost the challenge in your mind. You win these challenges mentally before you win them physically.

A 365-day challenge is a commitment test. Can you follow through on some specific behavior every day for a year? Knowing that you can commit and follow through on a daily activity for a full year is powerful. It grants you access to bigger and more interesting goals that require consistent investment over a long stretch. It helps you move beyond the limitations of instant gratification.

You can always quit along the way. Maybe the challenge won’t create the benefits you expected, and you may find it wise to reassess your commitment. But even in such cases, you may decide that it’s best to press on and finish. It’s a special achievement to complete the full year without missing a single day, even if it doesn’t go as planned.

It’s predictable that some days you will think about quitting. So you can decide in advance how you’ll handle those days when they occur. How will you get yourself to continue even when you don’t feel like continuing? How will you access the will to keep going?

Some days this year I didn’t feel like blogging. That was no surprise. I could predict in advance that I wouldn’t always motivated to follow through. Surely there will be some difficult days over an entire year. But I also knew that I could still create and publish on those days. I could frame those days as invitations to lean deeper into trust, to listen more closely to inspiration, to train up my self-discipline, to focus on helping people, etc. I have plenty of inner resources to leverage when the going gets tough.

That’s one of the key benefits of a 365-day challenge. It deepens your connection to your best inner resources. It makes you a stronger and more capable human being.

The 2021 Challenge I’m Pondering

For 2021 I’m considering eating raw for the whole year.

I’ve eaten fully raw for as much 6 months in a row before but never a whole year straight. The last time I was really into raw foods as a lifestyle was back in 2008-2009, so it’s been more than a decade.

Since then I’ve done some 30-day raw food challenges now and then, along with various other health-related challenges, including a 17-day and a 40-day water fast and lots of detoxing experiments.

In fact, if not for all the health-related experimentation over so many years, I think this year of daily blogging would have been a lot harder. It’s easier to produce an abundance of creative work when the mind feels calm, clear, and focused. Reducing the toxic load on our bodies pays huge mental dividends.

The benefits of eating raw are stellar, even compared to my baseline of eating fully vegan for almost 24 years (mostly whole foods). So I’m curious what it would be like to experience that for a whole year.

At the very least, I intend to go raw for January. But I’m thinking of a bigger step up to a full year. That seems more intimidating but also more exciting.

I think 2021 would also be a good year to do this. I don’t expect to do much, if any, traveling for the first 6 months of the year. It’s relatively easy for me to eat raw at home, but it’s harder to maintain while traveling (depending on where I go).

I have a lot of experience with this diet already, so I’m sure I could do it physically. It really is a different mode of living though, not just diet-wise, so I’m pondering whether I really want to invest in that lifestyle for a year.

What I’m curious about it what it would be like to establish eat raw as my new baseline. I think it would be interesting to establish that as my default way of eating and then to experiment around it to see what effect certain tweaks and changes would have, such as:

  • Including occasional steamed water-rich veggies like zucchini or broccoli
  • Including occasional cooked starches like potatoes, sweet potatoes, or squash
  • Including occasional roasted nuts like pistachios
  • Olive and/or coconut oil vs no oil
  • Different % of calories from fat (10%, 20%, 30%, 40%)
  • Smoothies with added powders vs no powders (maca, carob, acai, maqui berry, etc)
  • Taking detox supplements vs none
  • Cacao vs no cacao
  • Caffeinated tea vs herbal tea vs none
  • Juicing daily vs not juicing (16-32 oz)
  • Including green smoothies vs eating only solid foods
  • Olives vs no olives
  • Avocado vs no avocado
  • Salt vs no salt
  • Fermented foods like tamari or sauerkraut vs no fermented foods
  • Dehydrated foods vs no dehydrated foods

When I try to do these kinds of experiments on a cooked vegan diet, I usually don’t notice any differences. The baseline is too complex and obscures such subtle changes. I have to make much bigger changes to notice a meaningful difference.

So I’m considering this as a self-study experiment. I’d love to learn more about how my body reacts to certain foods. But to do the kind of experimentation I’d really like, I need a more sensitive baseline.

I might also weave in a juice feast along the way for 30, 60, or 90 days. This means having only fresh juice (no food or smoothies) but still consuming plenty of calories. I did a 30-day juice feast in 2008, and it was a rough experience, but I loved the mental and emotional gains after I was done. I felt a bit unprepared for that experience last time, but now I have a better understanding of what it’s really like. It was actually harder than water fasting.

I’m still incubating this idea, so it may change form within the next few weeks. This includes exploring the why for doing it versus not doing it. There are a lot of angles to eating raw, so if I do this as a one-year challenge, I’ll want to give myself some flexibility in how I define it. Since I’ve already eaten raw for an extended period before, I’m less interested in doing this for discipline reasons, and I’m more interested in long-term self-understanding and health benefits. So if I do this one, I’ll want to frame it as a dynamic and adaptive experience. I expect that this kind of experiment could take on a life of its own after a few months.

I do feel like raw foods are calling to me once again though. I’m starting to lose interest in cooked foods, even as I continue to eat them this month. The energy signature of raw foods is feeling more aligned.

If you start feeling tempted by the idea of doing a one-year challenge, let the idea incubate for a while. You don’t have to commit this early. Let it roll around in your mind first. Give it a chance to seduce you. See if you start noticing synchronicities about it. Does it feel like the challenge is choosing you?