10 Personal Challenges to Make the Most of 2020

10 Personal Challenges to Make the Most of 2020

Written by: Alicia Curtis
Alicia Curtis


Want to carve out time and space for thinking and reflection in 2020? Join me once a month online for 90 minutes for reflection, inspiration and connection. Our next gathering is on the 28 January and you can use the coupon bemyguest to try it for free for the first time. Or better yet, commit to growing your reflection muscle by registering for all the 2020 Alyceum Live gatherings here.


So it’s at this time of the year, we are pondering how to make the most of the year ahead. What habits can stay and which ones need to go! As James Clear says in his book, Atomic Habits, “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.”

The fascinating realisation is you choose who you want to be. Every action you take is a step forward in a direction. Which path do you want to take? In today’s blog post we are exploring small actions, habits and mindsets to make the most of 2020! Here’s my top ten personal challenges!

1. GOALS – Make a bucket list of 100 goals you’d like to achieve in your lifetime

So first – let’s get clear on what we want to do with our lives. Can you list 100 goals that you’d like to achieve in your lifetime? This is often called a bucket list. Think about life as experiences – what experiences would you like to have?

Salsa dancing? African adventure? Learn french? Be part of a book club?

How often do you step back and think about this? We are creatures of comfort, and our operating mode would rather just do things similar to last time then explore something new. So we have to continually push ourselves to explore new things!

If you struggle with creating your 100 – think about certain themes in your life, for example, what’s 10 travel goals, what’s 10 hobbies you would like to try, what’s 10 goals you could do with friends, what’s 10 things you like to learn more about?

2. ATTENTION – Reclaim your attention

In the world we live in – this is a HUGE one. Make 2020 the year you reclaim your attention.

Social media, app notifications, emails – these modern day conveniences erode your attention and willpower. How much time do you spend on your phone? How many times are you distracted with a notification? What do you do when you first wake up in the morning or straight before you go to bed at night?

Some of the biggest technology companies in the world are becoming world experts in developing addictions! This is not good for us for many reasons, it trains our brains to look for distract instead of concentrating, and we avoid every moment to be bored.

Why is that such a bad thing, you ask?

Bored can actually be useful. In Manoosh Zomorodi’s book, Bored and Brilliant, she explores the benefits of bored, saying that it can be an incubator lab for brilliance!

In the book, she explores 7 challenges, here are a couple of you.

First challenge is just to observe yourself. Count how many times you reach for your phone, head to instagram or get distracted by a notification. Often your phones can now record this information too. The results might be surprising.

Another challenge is to keep your devices while in motion. If you’re walking, in the car, or meeting with someone, keep your phone out of reach.

Better yet, another challenge is to delete the app that you’re most addicted to off your phone!

The point is, you set intentions and boundaries about how you want to live your life. How you spend your days, are how you spend your life. Just 25 minutes a day can equal to 2 years of your life!

Think of the time you could regain in your life and put it towards achieving one of your 100 goals instead!

3. RESILIENCE – Take a cold shower

Hate the cold? That’s the whole point! If you want to build your sense of resilience, you need to do the things you hate. You can start with the act of taking a cold shower.

Cold exposure has been shown to have numerous health benefits such as improving your immune system, decreasing depression or help with weight loss – which is really great, but not the reason why we are doing it.

The simple act of having a cold shower helps develop our ability to deal with discomfort. The more we practice dealing with discomfort, the more everyday annoyances won’t bother us anymore. We practice with cold showers so we can build our courage for the important moments in life that are uncomfortable.

4. COURAGE – Be Bold and push your comfort zones every day

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

So the cold showers are building our courage – now it’s time to push out of those comfort zones and be bold.

Make a list of the boldest moves you could make this year. Think about the things that really scare you. Reaching out to that person who you admire, attending a conference, speaking in front of an audience, taking on a physical challenge, trying a new hobby.

Dr Stan Beechman, author of Elite Teams writes that fear is keeping you from reaching your potential. Conquering fear should be your primary goal in life.

What fears do you have?

What courageous acts will move you forward? Saying yes. Saying no. Making that phone call. Speaking up at that meeting. Taking that new class. Setting that goal.

Make that bravery list and pick them off each month! Fortune favours the bold!

5. RELATIONSHIPS – Find people who inspire you

Crowd your life with people who inspire you.

You can start easily with books and podcasts. Then find meet ups, events or communities. Invest time in developing the relationships in your life.

Friendships take time and effort. In the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Jeffrey Hall, professor of Communication Studies, suggested that it’s all about time we invest. His results showed that it takes 40 to 60 hours to form a casual friendship, 80 to 100 hours to be upgraded to being a friend, and about 200 hours to become “good friends”

Let’s start clocking up the time who bring out the best in us!

6. GIVING – Find ways to give back

There are so many ways we can play our part in creating a better world – we can give our money, time, expertise or resources. Stand up for something. Recognise the challenges in our world and do something about it. Get informed. Get together with others and get doing something different because of it.

Our world needs change makers. You can be that change maker.

What’s a cause that is truly meaningful to you? Perhaps it get that fire in your belly – gets you angry or annoyed. Dedicate some time in 2020 supporting this cause, either through your time, money, expertise or resources.

Perhaps 2020 is the year, you find your first community board position?

7. SELF AWARENESS – Create a list of journalling questions

Michael Gelb in his book, Think like Da Vinci explores the habits and rituals of the great Leonardo Da Vinci. In his one short life time, Leonardo Da Vinci was a creative, a scientist, a town planner and an inventor to name a few. Da Vinci journaled about everything – his ideas, his learning, his findings and more.

A list of 100 questions is like your curiosity list. Start by writing down a question that you can ponder in your journal.

  • Am I in the right job or career?
  • How can I use my strengths more everyday?
  • What does love look like to me?
  • How can I be fearless?

Just keep brainstorming questions until you get to 100 – try to do this in one sitting! Then review your list and group them into patterns or similarities. Once you’ve done that, see if you can choose 10 power questions to keep handy when you are journalling.

You can never again have the excuse….but I don’t know what to journal about!

8. STRENGTHS – Spend time honing your superpowers

Do you truly understand, foster and utilise your strengths?

Your innate talents combined with your knowledge and skills, creates your strengths. These are your superpowers.

Focus on building mastery in your areas of strength. Are you a technical expert, a connector, an entrepreneur, a pace setter? Whatever you are, double down on your areas of strength.

“We fail to realize that mastery is not about perfection. It’s about a process, a journey. The master is the one who stays on the path day after day, year after year. The master is the one who is willing to try, and fail, and try again, for as long as he or she lives.”
~ George Leonard from Mastery

In what ways, can you keep on the path of mastery in 2020?

9. FOCUS – Break up with complaining

Why not make 2020 the year that you stop complaining!

Do you enjoy a good complain? I think everyone does. But how much do you do it everyday? It can be quite surprising how easily we can fall into complaining all the time!

Time to break the habit.

Will Bowen, author of A Complaint Free World came up with a simple challenge….

“Begin to wear the bracelet on either wrist. When you catch yourself complaining, gossiping, or criticizing, move the bracelet to the other wrist.

If you hear someone else who is wearing a purple bracelet complain, it’s okay to point out their need to switch the bracelet to the other arm; BUT if you’re going to do this, you must move your bracelet first! Because you’re complaining about their complaining.

Stay with it. It may take many months to reach 21 consecutive days. The average is 4 to 8 months.”
What a challenge!

Why should we kick the complaining habit? There are many reasons:

  • Complaining induces our stress response which is not good for our brains.
  • Complaining makes it hard to see the possibilities and open our minds.
  • Pessimists report worse physical and mental health than optimists.

This is a great challenge to first be aware of how much you complain and then complete the challenge to erase it from your conversation.

10. VISION – Don’t just thinking about 2020, let’s think about the whole decade ahead!

Instead of thinking about where you want to be and do in 2020, why not think about where you want to be in 2030? What age will you be? What will you be doing?

Commit to the long term. We are a very short term-focused society, we like things instantly. Have you noticed?

Peter Diamandis, author of Bold, bucks the trend here with his challenge – what’s your 25-year commitment? He says, imagine publicly making a 25 year commitment to something you’re passionate about?

There is great power in this type of long term thinking to make a greater impact in our lives and in society. So what’s your 25 year commitment?

Well that’s it – my top 10 challenges to help you improve your 2020 and beyond. What do you think?

If you want to improve your ability to reflect and engage with a good dose of monthly inspiration and connection, then I invite you to join my Alyceum Live online gatherings. Join us here for a free taster (FIRST TIME GUESTS ONLY) on the 28 January using the coupon bemyguest. Or better yet, commit to growing your reflection muscle by registering for all the 2020 Alyceum Live gatherings here.

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