We all love a challenge. But, occasionally, we aim too high. Some goals or targets can take years to achieve, and they end up weighing heavy on our minds and taking a toll on our confidence.
Then, of course, there’s the other end of the spectrum — the torrents of tragic New Year’s resolutions that flood our feeds throughout January. (Nobody cares if you’re going to give up crisps for two weeks, Greg).
Instead, when you set yourself a challenge, it should be something worthwhile; an objective that will better you as a person. So, now that January is almost past, and most resolutions will have fallen resolutely by the wayside, we’ve jotted down the 20 best challenges to set yourself before 2020 ends. Get on it.
1. Run a 10K
We know, we know. Most New Year’s resolutions have something to do with fitness. But this one’s a good’un.
Either you already run, so a 10K won’t even have you breaking a sweat. Or — and it’s a big or — the thought of lacing up your running shoes has you coming out in a cold one. Whichever it is, running over that finish line will give you a real sense of achievement (and/or palpitations).
2. Read at least 10 books this year
For someone who’s been flicking absent-mindedly through the same airport paperback for the last seven months, this number might seem optimistically high.
But we’ve all got spare time — be it on our commutes or before bed — that we could better use between the covers of a book. Struggling to start? Try something you’ve never considered before — such as non-fiction or a wanderlust-stoking travelogue – and don’t forget to consult our list of the best books coming out in 2020.
3. Secure a raise at work
Now this is a tricky one. Feeling valued at work is one of the most important things in life. After all, you spend almost as many hours behind your desk as you do at home.
A raise is the perfect way to validate your professional performance — so this year pull up your socks, compile a watertight case to argue your raise, and storm into your boss’ office. You’ll thank us later (or be fired for arguing too hard…)
4. Declutter your wardrobe
Don’t kid yourself — there are shirts hanging in that wardrobe of yours that haven’t been buttoned up for at least a year. There are trousers that haven’t been pulled on for months — not to mention jumpers you don’t even know why you bought in the first place. So it’s time for a style purge. Get rid, give to charity or pass on to friends. 2020 is your year of capsule fashion.
5. Learn a new word every single day
First, get yourself a dictionary. Next, every morning — over a cup of coffee — flick to a random page and find a word. Then, no matter how odd or out-there your chosen word may be, try to use it in conversation during the day.
And, despite the days you end up having to shoehorn ‘crump’, ‘apanthropy’ and ‘scurryfunge’ into chats with co-workers, you’ll have a super-sized vocabulary before you know it.
6. Cook a three-course meal from scratch
You don’t have to be a gastronomic genius, either. Just find a trio of tasty-sounding recipes, go and buy all the ingredients you need — and dive in.
Invite some friends around for a Nigella-style dinner party and you’ll even have an extra incentive to give it your culinary all. And, even if the food turns out terribly, they’ll probably be nice to you…
7. Bake your own bread
Another challenge for the kitchen, this might seem even simpler than the three course meal. And it might be — but we promise it will smell so much better.
Prove your baking mettle by proving, kneading and shaping your bread with a level of unashamed gusto that would make Paul Hollywood blush. And then, when you cut into your loaf, or tear off a hunk and dunk it into some soup, you can feel quietly proud.
8. See all the Best Picture Oscar nominees
It can be difficult to check off every film you say you’ll see in a year. So, if you don’t think you’ll have time to watch our most anticipated titles of 2020, make a note to follow in the Academy’s footsteps and watch the official shortlist of the best releases.
It’s like a cinematic highlight reel — even if the period styling of Little Women doesn’t initially pique your interest…
9. Keep a diary for the rest of the year
You may not have kept a journal since you were forced to for homework during early schooldays, but this form of diary-keeping has been proven to improve memory and our ability to rationalise situations.
So what’s stopping you? Even if it’s just a couple of brief thoughts every day — bullet points will do — it’s a great way to organise your life and give yourself a well-documented year to look back on in the future.
10. Get yourself invited to a black tie event
When’s the last time you fully tuxxed up, honestly? There’s no cooler, smarter and more sophisticated look. So, this year, it should be your mission to get yourself invited to at least one black tie soiree. Invest in a great tuxedo, have the time of your life and do your best Bond. Trust us, there’s fewer things funner.
11. Plant a tree to help the environment
In a world of environmentalism and eco-mindedness, most of us do little to actually help past recycling our household rubbish. So why not pledge to improve your green credentials this year and actually head out into nature to plant a tree? It may seem like a small step towards saving the world, but at least it’s a start.
12. Try out a new haircut
Shaking up your style every now and again is a great way to reinvent yourself, heave yourself out of a rut in your life or just experiment with something outside your comfort zone. A haircut is a bold — but easy — way to start. And, even if you’re not keen on your new floppy mohawk, it’ll always grow back.
13. Win a pub quiz (without cheating)
And that caveat is important. We all love winning an unlimited bar tab/four bottles of wine/bag of pork scratchings or whatever your local is offering to the top scorers — but that means nothing if you spend half the evening hastily Googling answers by the urinals.
But assemble a great team, try your hardest, be honest, and eventually you’ll take the top prize.
14. Pay more than £20 for a bottle of wine
This may seem like an easy one. All you have to do is stump up over twenty notes for a bottle of wine, right?
Wrong. Not only are we challenging you to part with £20 for a bottle, but we actually want the wine you choose to be worth it. Don’t just grab the first bottle of marked-up, jumped-up plonk you see. Instead, we’d maybe go for something rarer — like a British wine…
15. Start saving money for a rainy day
Again, this doesn’t have to be a life-changing amount. But if you start putting a little something aside from every paycheck, you’ll soon have enough money for an unexpected treat — be that a new suit, a city break, or even just dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant.
16. Buy a plant for every room in your house
With January fading, you should definitely have got rid of your Christmas tree by now — if not, then what are you doing? But with a distinct lack of greenery in your house, it’s time to fill that foliage void with houseplants. They’ll oxygenate your space, perk up the place and turn your house into a home.
17. Go to at least one live music gig
Especially if you live in a city. There’s really no excuse not to get more cultured this year. And, even if something along the lines of theatre or the opera chills you to your low-brow bones, a gig at a local bar or pub never hurt anybody.
18. Go on a (genuinely) blind date
You thought we weren’t going to intrude on your love life, huh? Well look how wrong you were. Either you are single, in which case hound your friends until they set you up on a real, good old fashioned blind date.
Or, if you’re already spoken for, hound a single friend to go on a date you’ve set up for them…
19. Become more politically engaged
Now we’re not saying you should head straight to Speaker’s Corner and start shouting you ill-informed views at every passerby. Instead, simply turn those ill-informed views into something more considered and educated. Brexit is here and it’s going to impact on everyone – so it pays to know what’s going on. If you’re strapped for time, we’re here to help. Every Friday the Week in Westminster from Gentleman’s Journal will debrief you on all the week’s political must-knows is less than 10 minutes. We’ll also have regular dispatches from across the pond by Our Man In The Swamp, Josh Glancy.
20. Subscribe to a quality magazine
And, not that we’re biased, but we think we know just the one…
Checked these off? How about another challenge: 30 things to do before you turn 30…