10 Creative Ways to Challenge Yourself in 2018

10 Creative Ways to Challenge Yourself in 2018

New year, new you: How to truly challenge yourself and overcome negative thought patterns.

Lately my life feels like an endless chain of new beginnings. Moving to Bali, welcoming wonderful new people in my life, and saying good bye to others who I met traveling or come to visit me on this island.

2017 was a big year in every way…

Leaving New York after two incredible years and setting off on a journey of self-exploration, I am revising the plans I made for myself and my work. I am rebranding my business Nomad Studio, am making plans for further entrepreneurial adventures and start exploring a more holistic approach to life. I am writing in present tense, as all of this a work in progress that will continue to occupy my mind in 2018.


I might make this sound really easy, and although you wouldn’t suspect it, as I rarely talk about this on social media, I had a few restless nights before I got to this point. During the summer months I felt as if I was adrift in the world. I was working hard, but didn’t seem to get anywhere.

What changed? I recognized that the key reason why I felt this way was that I hadn’t spent enough time thinking about what I actually wanted from life, and how I could achieve this.

I hadn’t set formal goals. But after all, would you set out on a major journey with no real idea of your destination? Probably not!

As if that wasn’t enough, I had to acknowledge the fact that I often got stuck in certain thinking patterns, that effected the way I saw the world, relationships with family and friends, as well as my (so thought) abilities and limitations.

And what did I do about it? I decided to not only change my home base and emerge in a new environment and culture, but also take a whole new approach on life. Listening to my guts, so to say!

I learned that I can slowly train myself how to think by implementing simple techniques. Breaking through negative thought patterns helped me to get my mind unstuck and generate new ideas. Challenging these assumptions gave me a whole new spin on possibilities.

Learn to express yourself in different ways

Writing, meditating and exploring new places helped me to spark off different thought patterns. And these new thought patterns yield new ideas.

Are you feeling stuck in a rut? Well, if you want to give yourself a fresh start in 2018, then here are 10 ideas on how to go about it!

1. Buy a notebook.

Keeping a notebook doesn’t seem handy at first. Most of us have been conditioned to keep track of our “notes to self” on our phones or other devices. There’s nothing wrong with all of the apps out there built for writing and doodling, but they can’t quite compete with the satisfaction of putting real pen to paper.

There are many ways in which a notebook can spark your creativity and help you organize your thoughts. You may want to write down your goals for the week, month and year. Write down a list of your future hopes, dreams, and goals, no matter how ridiculous or crazy they seem.

Start drawing. Next time you find yourself with nothing to do, grab a pencil and start doodling in your new notebook. Sketch something you see around you, or create a unique logo for yourself. Drawing encourages the lesser-used right side of the brain, keeping things balanced in your noggin.


2. Learn something new.

Stretch your brain by researching a new topic or practicing a new skill. Try browsing the web for facts about something that’s always fascinated you, or watch a documentary that feels out of your comfort zone. Sign up for a diy class or practice calligraphy and hand lettering. Both are fun, stress-relieving creative outlets.

3. Try out a new podcast.

Instead of listening to music during your commute, workout or while you are walking the dog, tune into a podcast! There are options out there for everyone, so whether you’re interested in science, culture, or simply listening to cool real-life stories, you should easily be able to find a show that will have you totally hooked and give you new ideas!

These are a couple of my favorite podcasts:

The Dollop: Every week, Anthony reads a story from American history to Reynolds who has no idea what the topic is going to be about. The hosts make The Dollop genuinely funny, whilst successfully teaching you about some seriously interesting topics, from the Radium Girls who rotted away, the history of Opium in the US and a shrewd look at Uber.
TED Radio Hour: Don’t have the time to watch all those TEDx talks your friends keep sending you? Listen to them instead with the TED Radio Hour from NPR, presented by Guy Raz. Recent episodes include exploring how Big Data will reshape the world and why we lie.
No Meat Athlete Radio: Matt Frazier talks vegan fitness on No Meat Athlete with plant-based celebrities such as Rich Roll, Brendan Brazier and others, giving loads of tips on vegan & vegetarian nutrition, fitness, running, and ultra running.
Party In My Plants: The show that makes healthy living not suck. With weekly episodes about eating, moving and thinking healthfully, Party In My Plants is one of the podcasts I listen to weekly.


4. Start meditating.

I began meditating regularly a couple weeks ago and only regret not starting earlier.
There is a great free 10-day meditation class on Headspace, an app that can help you to get in the grove. Meditate for five minutes or ten minutes daily and you will notice the difference after only a couple days.

5. Follow a new Instagram or Twitter feed.

There are tons of interesting and talented people sharing their creative process, stories and products on social media. Follow someone that challenges your own ideas and might have a different world view to expand your own ideas.

6. Learn a new word in another language (every day).

Creativity is increased with the study of foreign languages. You don’t have to flip a dictionary to a random page and point. The app Word of the Day by Unity can help. Check out a word you didn’t know before, every day, by picking up your iPhone, iPad, or just glancing at your Apple Watch. Commit the chosen definition to memory.

My tip: Instead of watching your regular news, turn to a foreign channel to find out what’s breaking. Your brain will be stimulated while listening to something different.

7. Experience a different culture.

Dealing with another culture enables people to gain a more profound understanding of their own culture. No worries if you don’t have the time or means to travel the world. Even your own culture can incite inspiration. Commit to doing something culturally enriching a few weeks down the line. Buy tickets to a concert even if they cost more than you’d like, go to the theater or plan a museum visit with a friend.


8. Keep a gratitude journal.

Spend a few moments before you go to sleep each evening jotting down the things you most appreciated about your day. Keeping up with a standard diary isn’t for everyone, and starting with a prompt like “What am I grateful for today?” can make journaling a more approachable part of your routine.

You could use your new notebook or post a gratitude journal online, if you dare to share these thoughts on social media or a blog.

9. Workout for 30 minutes every day.

Have you been trying to make exercise a regular habit for years now? Use this challenge as your muse to finally get on board with that habit! Try adding in just 30 minutes of exercise to your day. But make sure you enjoy what you are doing! Even if it’s going for a walk or playing with your kids, just being active in any way is sure to give you more energy and make you feel better about yourself.

I aim at moving daily, which means walking 30 min or more, doing half an our of yoga or pilates and if possible, I hit the gym or join a bootcamp 2-3 times a week, to get my dose of HIIT and weight lifting.

Should you are just starting your fitness journey or have been dying to try yoga, then I can highly recommend Yoga with Adriene and her 30 days of Yoga You Tube challenge. A wonderful way to ease in and start your yoga journey.


10. Declutter your life.

Anyone with an overflowing closet or totally stuffed basement can attest to the stress brought on by piles of junk. That’s because not only is it annoying to look at, but it can dredge up so many different emotions.

Downsizing your wardrobe by purging it of all the items you haven’t actually worn in the last two months, will bring a feeling of lightness to your life.

Getting rid of clutter is quite the chore, but it can have profound effects on other areas of your life. Donate those extra clothes to charity, give them away to friends, or consign them.


I hope these 10 creative ways to challenge yourself in 2018 truly inspire you to take your life in your own hands and step up your game as the new year is giving you the chance to start fresh.

Let me know what you think of my suggestions. Have you faced similar challenges in 2017 and have helpful tips or insights? Let us know and comment below or send us an email!

All the best,

Jen May


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