A Look Forward: 12 Months Of Challenge And Grind

Please Explain:

This is no, “bla bla this year will be different, here’s my important life-changing  New Year’s resolutions,” post.

This is a, “how challenging can I make this year for myself,” post. Fun!

I decided to find a bunch of 30-day, or 1 month challenges. I assigned a different challenge to each month. That’s 12 challenges in 12 months, for all you liberal arts majors out there.

I’ll be tracking my progress in real-time on twitter, major milestones on Instagram, and full summaries at the end of the month as a post on the blog.

Feel free to join me.

Picking the challenges:

Each challenge will come from a different category, to add variety and spice up the project. Fitness, health, spirituality, education, etc.

It has to be a real challenge. 10,000 steps a day may be a challenge for an employee with an office job who drives to-and-from work. But it’s something I already achieve during my commute to work, and with the active-style job I have right now.

It needs to have quantifiable/measurable data. I cannot prove that I’m more positive one day than the next. But I can measure how many books I read in month, how my body weight changes, or other things of that nature.

12 months of challenge:


January – Get rid of one thing a day.

An extreme, colder version of spring cleaning. Also, to help fit everything into the two suitcases I travel with on tour. I’ve attained a few extra goodies in this city, so i’ll need to make space in my bags.

To check what is important, what I really need, and what is just taking up space. Like I said, for day-to-day updates, follow me on Twitter.

Measured by: taking a photo/video of what I’m getting rid of. 


February – Spend no money (except on food)

No new clothes, no bags, no shoes. No taxis. No notebooks. Spend cash only on food (a girl’s gotta eat).

Why? To appreciate the things I have. To remind myself that I can live and prosper with very, very little.

Measured by: text updates. Things I wanted to buy (but didn’t). How I got by without buying it if that was the case.


March – A photo a day

A photo of something that stood out to me that day. Maybe a line of text or two to go with it.

To remember that each day is a gift. To live in the present. To be thankful that I’m alive.

It’ll be a nice story by the end.

Measured by: posting the photo on Twitter.


April – No added sugar. No processed sugar.

I’ll even take it one step further and say no fruit. A form of spring-cleaning for the body?

I’ll track this by weight, and by cravings. Expect pictures of food.

Goodbye dark chocolate 🙁

Measured by: sharing what I ate, cravings I have.


May – Draw/Paint one post-card sized thing a day

If you didn’t know, I like to make things. I like to make, “art.” Paint, draw, sculpt, anything. But I don’t make time for it.

This month i’ll force myself to make time for it. The postcards are 148 x 100 mm (Japan).

Measured by: posting a picture of the piece.


June – No lying

We all lie a lot more than we realize. Mostly small lies. To keep someone’s feelings from getting hurt. To avoid confrontation. To avoid conflict. Whatever the reason, we all lie.

I lie a lot about my feelings and opinions. This might be the hardest month.

Measured by: text of any lies I told, wanted to tell. Difficult moments throughout the day or what happened when I told the truth.


July – A blog post a day

This is a real challenge. I pride myself on quality content. It will be a lesson of accepting things that are good enough as is. That things will work out even if they are not completely perfect. The practice of letting things go.

This month may take some planning.

Measured by: posts on my blog. I’ll link to it on Twitter as well.


August – (edited) Meditate for 10 minutes a day

I changed my mind.

Measured by: updates on progress via Twitter @maikaisogawa


September – One minute handstand a day

One of my coworkers told me that holding a minute-long handstand a day, just one, and just a single minute, is good for not only the body, but for the brain as well. I’m all about those benefits.

October – Chance and Luck

Do you ever find yourself unable to make a decision? Whether you’re really torn, or if its a case of decision fatigue, sometimes even choosing what to order at a restaurant can be a challenge. This month, I attempt to reduce that challenge by leaving it to chance. I have a pair of gold dice, purchased from the Modern Art Museum in Chicago.

I’ll associate certain outcomes accordingly (one through 6, odds and evens, etc.) and roll for a decision. I will try this technique any time I have a choice to make, and neither result will seriously negatively alter my life.

November – Vegan for a month.

I love meat. I confidently said for many years, “I will NEVER be a vegetarian/vegan.” That was a lie. I’ve learned a lot about health and nutrition the past few years. Seen a lot of documentaries, read a lot of books, and talked to a lot of people. 30 days is not a long time. I’d like to see what it’s all about.

I had wanted to try this many months before, but found it troubling when it came to having a consistent performance at work. So now, It’s time to try it.

Measured by: tracking weight, meals, energy levels, etc.

December – Have a conversation with a new person every day

It’s the holiday season, and I have a tendency around this time to cuddle up and avoid strangers. Here’s a shove out of my comfort zone to end 2017.

Measured by: sharing who I met and what we talked about.


That’s It.

Bring On 2017.


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    • Francis ze publicist
    • December 31, 2016

    Proud of you, it’s a pretty legit list!

      • Maika
      • January 2, 2017

      😉 hope to see you soon!

    • Flo
    • December 31, 2016

    Looking forward to see the achievements! Good luck and happy new year from Tokyo ?

      • Maika
      • January 2, 2017

      Thank you! あけましておめでとう!

    • carol grady
    • January 2, 2017

    Hey Maika,
    In my work we’re continually looking for monthly challenges to put before our SPPS employees. You’ve got an impressive list here. I’m reading it and thinking, ‘I’m going to try doing that!’ — not necessarily something that I’ve done with the challenges we’ve come up with in-house. Can I say how much I’ve enjoyed reading your blog? You are 100% correct when you say you put out a quality product — keep it up!

      • Maika
      • January 2, 2017

      Hi Carol,

      Thank you! I thought it would be a fun way to stay fresh and disciplined all year. But I do have to say, it’s going to be quite a challenge! Have a great year!


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