I bought this book because I am always looking for magic. Check out that cover. “Be More Interesting.” “Kick your Bad Habits.” All the potential improvements marketed on that book cover are exactly what I want for myself in 30 days or less.
I started with drinking water. I bought an unreasonably large jar, filled it up with water at the beginning of each day, and drank. And drank. And drank some more. 30 days of drinking a bunch of ounces of water is really hard…or I imagine it would be. I only made it 8 days.
Although this book supposedly contains 60 challenges (is “listen to podcasts” really a challenge? How about “Give up Meat”?), I made up one of my own for July:
Don’t Spend Money
That’s not exactly what it was, but “Don’t spend unnecessary money…only buy gas and groceries except for 3 reasonable exceptions” does not have a nice ring to it.
I did a lot better with my made up July challenge than I did with drinking water, and there were some surprising benefits, other than the obvious saving money. New awareness, for instance. I learned a lot about myself.
1-I didn’t know I constantly want to buy things. The 1st thing I wanted to buy was coffee at McDonald’s. Nothing extravagant, but I imagine those small things could add up. I had a new mantra…”I was thinking about buying this certain thing, but then I remembered: July.”
2-Sometimes I forgot. I walked into Trader Joe’s for groceries, a permitted expenditure. Two steps in and I see the cutest lavender plant for $5.99. Perfect – I certainly need that, probably for my desk at work. I put it in my cart and started down the aisle until I remembered: July. So I put it back.
3-Other things I wanted in July: A tall dark roast from Starbucks several times…more days than not…almost everyday. Also, new pillowcases, pillows, towels and a comforter. A rug from Ikea. Several things from Etsy that popped up on my Facebook page. A cabinet from Costco. A knit gray skirt, perfect for summer, that I designed in my head and that may or may not exist in real life. If it exists, I can imagine it existing at Whole Foods.
4-Speaking of clothing at the grocery store, Kowalski’s sure has a beautiful section of non-grocery items at the front that you can’t miss, especially in July.
5. You can find free things with little effort. I used a free 2-week pass for Pilates classes at Twin Cities Orthopedics to take Wednesday morning classes before work. I love Denise, the instructor, and I believe I will be back soon after July is over. Also free, the library, and walks with my dog.
6-I often have dinner at Café Latte on Monday evenings with a friend and she knew about my challenge. The 1st Monday, I contentedly watched her eat while I drank water. But the 2nd time, she invited me to her deck instead where she served me egg salad sandwiches, bruschetta and peach tea. This absolutely would not have happened if July was status quo.
7-Another surprise – a friend who didn’t know about the challenge sent me two dresses in the mail that didn’t work for her (because she is tall) but work perfectly for me (because I am short). I always love hand-me-downs, but getting these adorable dresses in July was extra lovely.
8-The three exceptions I allowed myself were: coffee with a spiritual mentor I can never afford to pass on, breakfast with my friend Kris from Rochester I had not seen for almost 2 years, and coffee with my friend Bob. (If you knew Bob, you would also throw out any self-made rules in order to see him.) I spent a total of $18.69 in exceptions.
The best part of the challenge was it slowed July down, which means summer hasn’t flown by quite a fast. Of all the months I want to last longer, I pick July.
The July challenge was a success. Now that it is ending, I won’t have to bring my lunch to work everyday, but making my lunch wasn’t hard. Plus I feel better after homemade lunch, even if it’s a tuna sandwich (like today), than I do after Chipotle or Noodles. I will be getting a pedicure in August, perhaps August 1st or 2nd. But I don’t think I’ll get everything else I wanted in July – probably nothing from Etsy, and I’m definitely not going to Ikea anytime soon. If I find that gray skirt, I’m buying it. And I’ll be at Starbucks on a regular basis again.
There will be no August challenge, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I did this July challenge again next July, and maybe a few new ones in between.