52 Week Challenge
July 1, 2007 4:45 AM   Subscribe

I've decided to write down 52 challenges for myself and to give myself one week for each of them, making up a year. Right now, I'm at 31. Help me think of more!

Okay, I know I didn't invent this idea. I actually got to it through YouTube. A young man by the name of Owen decided to make a documentary called "An Alternative to Slitting Your Wrists". (my computer is being stupid and not letting me link, so: www.analternativetoslittingyourwrist.com)
I decided that I wanted to make a similar list, but I found one thing wrong with his: I, at 16 years old, could not do all of them, nor did I want to (things like bungee jumping or holding a scorpion.)

So far, this coming year for one week I will:

1. Wake up early every morning (think 6 or 7am) and go for a walk.
2. Be at tzofim every day. (my Israeli scouts!)
3. write only in lowercase letters.
4. Read either two short books or one long book.
5. Tell at lease one person each day how much I appreciate them.
6. Learn a new song a day on guitar.
7. Learn one new piece on the piano.
8. Write in a journal every day.
9. Not eat sugar all week.
10. Go someplace different each day to take pictures.
11. Draw every day.
12. Finally perfect my juggling skills.
13. Make a half-hour each day for "Alona time" to just sit and think. And the ten minutes before I fall asleep don't count!
14. Not turn on the computer all week!!!
15. Read an article a day on Wikipedia.
16. Do yoga every day.
17. Surprise someone each day with something that will make them happy.
18. Drink just water.
19. Make dinner for everyone in the house each evening.
20. Volunteer - even though I don't have to anymore =D
21. Run for 20 minutes each day.
22. Make someone's wish come true.
23. Write all my regrets on notes and burn them.
24. Knit a scarf.
25. Organize my room (this one will be hard to finish in a week).
26. Grow food (or at least, start growing food).
27. Build something electrically-powered.
28. Go to a protest.
29. Catch up on my cinematic education. Meaning: watch movies such as the Godfather, Minority Report, Pulp Fiction, etc.
30. Forgive someone I am mad at.
31. Make a video and post it on YouTube.

I hope to complete the list soon so that I can start working on it. I am already working on number 2 and if tomorrow I am at tzofim it will be complete!
When I finish my list I plan to start a blog so that I can write about my challenges and so that I can post pictures of them as well.
If you have any idea, please post!
posted by alon to Grab Bag (49 answers total) 182 users marked this as a favorite
* give up tv for a week
* vow of silence (I did this for a day at a religious retreat and HATED it!)
* eat vegan
* climb a tree
* pick up litter in your favorite outdoor area (park, stream, forest)
* learn to tie a different kind of knot each day

Good luck. :)
posted by happyturtle at 4:53 AM on July 1, 2007

Check out 43 Things for ideas. It's a website where people post and share their personal goals.
posted by junesix at 4:54 AM on July 1, 2007

- Bake something everyday and bring it to someone else
- Throw out/recycle/donate all your old clothes aside from the ones you actually wear
- Take the first day of the week and plan a daytrip somewhere you've never been, spend the next five days excited, and then take the trip the last day of the week
- Send a week's worth of interesting mail to divabat
- Barbecue something everyday
- Set your mobile phone to a language you'd like to learn/you're supposed to know
- Wash, clean, detail, and otherwise pimp out your car
- Album/frame/scan all your photos
- Go vegan
- Buy a different paper newspaper every day of the week
posted by mdonley at 4:59 AM on July 1, 2007

Keep your own counsel.
posted by rob511 at 5:00 AM on July 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

BTW I think what you're doing is great! You've inspired me to make a similiar 52-week list.

25. Organize my room (this one will be hard to finish in a week).
26. Grow food (or at least, start growing food).
29. Catch up on my cinematic education. Meaning: watch movies such as the Godfather, Minority Report, Pulp Fiction, etc.

For some of these complex/multi-step tasks, you may want to break it down into parts. For example, for organizing your room, you might want to break it down into separate days for closet, bed, desk, general area, etc.
posted by junesix at 5:02 AM on July 1, 2007

- If you're not already, get properly trained for CPR.
- If it's legal, go busking.
- Collect stories from your older relatives.
- Teach yourself to make fortune cookies.
posted by Martin E. at 5:34 AM on July 1, 2007

Stay completely sober (no caffeine either!).
posted by milarepa at 5:42 AM on July 1, 2007

- reduce your carbon footprint
posted by nazca at 5:45 AM on July 1, 2007

-Start a fight
-Grow a mustache (don't know if you can grow a good one yet)
-Floss your teeth
-Throw a party
-Order something different at Subway (this is hard for me)
-Learn to do stuff with a yoyo
posted by thelongcon at 5:47 AM on July 1, 2007

-find out the minimum to buy into a mutual fund, earn/save it, and begin your retirement account.

-learn how to cook at least a week's worth of meals

-learn spanish

-clean out your closet and give your old stuff to charity

-learn how to drive a stick shift, if you don't already

-read the entire sunday paper, even the boring sections.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:01 AM on July 1, 2007

If you search for "101 goals in 1001 days" you'll find a whole bunch of people (including me!) doing this over a slightly longer time frame ... how about:

* save $20 (or $50 or $100) a day
* make lunch for a friend at work every day for a week
* quit (non-work) internet use for a week
* write a letter of gratitude for good service
* read one Booker prize winner every week
* floss every day hard!)
* make a family tree as far back as you can
* spend one day ONLY with your mum/dad/whoever
* take a tourist bus tour of your own city
posted by jamesonandwater at 6:03 AM on July 1, 2007

In Dream with the Fishes, some guys go nude bowling with prostitutes, rob a bank, and drop LSD in the last few weeks of their lives. Some legal alternatives would be clothed bowling with escorts, working at a bank, and smoking salvia- it could be fun.
posted by book at 6:12 AM on July 1, 2007

Give up your usual drink.
posted by Pigpen at 6:19 AM on July 1, 2007

(Grow a mustache is funny, but probably not something she would like to do)...
posted by growabrain at 6:34 AM on July 1, 2007

#32. Think up more challenges.
posted by commander_cool at 6:46 AM on July 1, 2007

Oops...but maybe consider the mustache an even bigger challenge...
posted by thelongcon at 6:49 AM on July 1, 2007

I admire the lists. Must add that Number 9 is a very bad idea. Your brain needs the sugar in fruits and grains to exist. Your body can "create" sugar from other energy sources, but it is very wasteful and toxic to your body. That's why very strict Atkins diet followers have terrible breath and pee a lot. They're poisoning themselves.

So, for my sake, please amend Number 9 to be "Not add sugar or artificial sweeteners to my food all week, while avoiding high fructose corn syrups."
posted by bilabial at 6:54 AM on July 1, 2007

Do something to help or cheer up seriously ill people.
Strike up a conversation with someone new each day, maybe you'll make new friends.
posted by Soliloquy at 7:13 AM on July 1, 2007

Nthing vegan for a week. Or, at least, no meat/fish. This is as good a disciplinary challenge as any if you've never tried it. And your health and weight will likely improve if you eat a healthy diet as you do it.
posted by docpops at 7:15 AM on July 1, 2007

Write a letter to your folks thanking them for raising such an insightful young lady. Seriously, this has been something I only now appreciate the value of having done when I was younger.
posted by docpops at 7:17 AM on July 1, 2007

You might want to check out This Book Will Change Your Life, which has a similar list theme and is really funny too.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:22 AM on July 1, 2007

Buy nothing.
Don't drive.
Only eat home-cooked food, nothing containing preservatives.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 7:29 AM on July 1, 2007

Learn the other side of an argument.
posted by By The Grace of God at 7:39 AM on July 1, 2007

mdonley: - Send a week's worth of interesting mail to divabat

Haha, hello. I should really post an update to that thing.

* Send a postcard to a different person each day
* Give some money to a different charity every day (if you set a regular amount, like $5 or so, this could get interesting)
* Try something of a different culture (different food? different clothes? songs? stories?)
* Write poetry in different styles
posted by divabat at 7:39 AM on July 1, 2007

Do 50 pushups and 100 situps.
Start, and maintain, an extended conversation with a random stranger on a topic that's not the weather.
Enter all your money at where's george. It will take a while before the hits start coming back but it'd be an interesting experiment to see what you can get out of just one week of bills.
Don't bathe.
Don't use any kind of motor vehicle.
Get drunk in the morning.
Speak only in whatever language you learned in high school.
Eat only food grown within 25 miles.
Consume absolutely nothing that was made in China.
Take classes in something you've never been interested in.
Have lunch with an old friend and dinner with a different one.
Go through your regular routine without speaking a word to anyone.

(bilabial: gluconeogenesis is not at all wasteful or toxic to the body.)
posted by bink at 7:49 AM on July 1, 2007

Go for long, but relaxing bike rides. You will see parts of your city you never knew about. (Don't make these rides about speed, just have fun and take in the sights, sounds, and smells.)

Go to the library and browse. Read books and magazines at the tables. If you don't have a library card, get one and check out some books. They might also have those movies you want to watch.

Open your eyes to opportunities to help people in simple ways. An older person with their groceries; someone with a flat tire; someone who needs a ride, etc. Be sure to introduce yourself.

Go to an art opening at a gallery or a museum.

Go to an educational seminar or travel slide show. Colleges and libraries have these all the time, on a variety of subjects. ("Mr. Oliver Schnozzblatt will be presenting slides of his trip to Outer Mongolia.")
posted by The Deej at 8:09 AM on July 1, 2007

Things to do each day:

Try a new food or make a meal from a new recipe
Meditate (or just sit still and observe your breathing)
Write an essay
Practise listening
posted by MetaMonkey at 8:35 AM on July 1, 2007

1. floss twice a day
2. write letters
3. call an old friend
4. go to a stores/restaurants/etc. in your city that you've never been to
5. practice good posture
6. give up caffeine
7. take a fun class (wine tasting, ballroom dancing)
8. paint (a room or a masterpiece- your choice)
9. use a bike as your only mode of transportation
10. visit people in an old folks home
11. volunteer to babysit for friends' children
12. give up the internet (gasp!)

I love this idea- have fun with it!
posted by emd3737 at 8:59 AM on July 1, 2007

How about things you can do with your body? Teach yourself to raise one eyebrow, to roll your tongue, to roll your r's, to flip a pen through each of your fingers, that sort of thing? Each of those could easily take a week.
posted by joannemerriam at 9:40 AM on July 1, 2007

Learn enough basic HTML so you're not dependent upon your browser to insert live links.

Build a box out of wood, using power tools. Build another one, this time only using hand tools.

Learn how to maintain a car, familiarize yourself with the parts of the engine and systems as well as perform basic roadside repairs such as change a tire, jump start a battery, and patch a leaking hose. (I would suggest learning how to tune up your car's engine, but only if your car is pre-electronic ignition).

Write a well-researched letter to your elected officials about an issue that concerns you.
posted by jamaro at 9:59 AM on July 1, 2007

- Eat only meat for a week.
- Go to a meeting of the political party that opposes your views, and be completely open-minded in communicating and trying to see things from their point of view.
- Start a fight and let the other person beat you up.
- Go a week without bathing.
- Floss.
- Attend a civil trial, from jury selection until verdict. Doesn't have to be a long one. There are plenty of 2 day trials.
- Attend a criminal trial from jury selection until verdict.
- Spend an entire evening in the waiting room of an urban hospital's ER. Take notes.
- Find a relatively secluded spot in nature and sit there quietly and alone for four hours. Take notes.
- No MetaFilter for a week.
- Train yourself to use a different exclamatory word than the one you currently use. (This would be simply capital!)
posted by The World Famous at 10:13 AM on July 1, 2007

These sound morbid, but they're those /important/ things that grownups do.

- update your will
- plan your funeral arrangements and pre-pay for them if you can.
posted by Wild_Eep at 10:14 AM on July 1, 2007

-Grow a mustache (don't know if you can grow a good one yet)
I'm a girl, but if I were a guy I would probably do that. Thanks for all the ideas everyone! I will keep you posted.
posted by alon at 10:28 AM on July 1, 2007

Well then, grow a virtual mustache. (Warning... audio and viral advertising.)
posted by The Deej at 10:37 AM on July 1, 2007

-Stay strictly within the FDA recommended dietary allowances.
-Fly a kite.
-(Assuming you're attending some school)Chat up a fellow student whom you've never met.
-Learn five new words a day (perhaps from this list.
posted by solotoro at 11:01 AM on July 1, 2007

Get acquainted with classical music. There are lots of public domain mp3s out there. Some starting points:
- Wikipedia's list
- Some Mozart MP3s
- Classical Piano
- Open Directory list of resources
posted by spiderskull at 11:05 AM on July 1, 2007

Attempt to go a whole day without breaking any federal, state, or local laws or organizational instructions. That means no speeding, jaywalking, being a minute late to class, walking when it says don't walk, etc. Use your turn signal, or the silly arm signals on your bike. That kind of thing.

I find it amazing how many rules everyone breaks every day. Imagine each one carried the death penalty. You have seven lives, can you do it?
posted by ctmf at 11:27 AM on July 1, 2007

Whoa, lots of completely off-base answers here! Getting drunk every morning for a week? Taking a wine tasting class? Writing a will? Attending a criminal trial from beginning to end? Read the question and sample list, people! It's about positive challenges for a 16-year-old girl to accomplish in one week each.

You mentioned learning songs on guitar and piano. How about composing music yourself? Back when I was a guitarist in a band in high school, I would give myself a challenge such as: "Today, I'm going to write 10 hard rock guitar riffs." Adjust number and genre to taste. Allow yourself to make them as simple/weird/whatever as you feel like--just focus on reaching your target number. If you keep some kind of record of these (written down in a tab book, taped on a dictaphone, etc.), you might enjoy storing them away immediately and then letting yourself "rediscover" them at some point in the future...

I also recommend keeping a journal with one very short entry for each week to sum up your thoughts on the challenge, even if some of them are just something mundane entries like, "I tried ___ but got tired of it after a couple days." Alternately, challenge #52 could be writing an essay about which challenges made the biggest impression on you.

Good luck!
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:29 AM on July 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Visit houses of worship for various religions. (A good anthropological study, whether you have any interest in religion or not.) Chat with some of the people and ask them why they attend. (Services are held on various days/nights depending on the organization. You should be able to do at least 3 or 4 in a week.)

Volunteer at your local soup kitchen.

Collect donations of used items to take to your local charity shop.

Offer to walk a neighbor's dog.
posted by The Deej at 11:38 AM on July 1, 2007

If you can drive, go to a nearby town you normally don't visit, and have lunch somewhere there, by yourself.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 12:11 PM on July 1, 2007

A finance blog The Simple Dollar has a post about doing 101 Goals in 1001 days. Many of these are financial, or aimed at a little bit of an older person than 16, but I'm sure you'll be able to find some good ones in there.
posted by cschneid at 12:59 PM on July 1, 2007

I'm nearing the end of my 101/1001 list. Feel free to steal!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:23 PM on July 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

-Buy/Beg/Borrow a tape recorder and microphone, and record your Granfather, Grandmother, Father, Mother, Any Siblings', and Strangers' "Best Stories".
Let them decide what their "Best Story" is.
One a day for a week.
Once you run out of nuclear family, start interviewing strangers (normal safety precautions apply).
Send a copy of the tapes to the Story Corps, and another to This American Life.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 2:00 PM on July 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have made my list and set up my simple yet effective blog. For any of you interested in seeing how things turn out, or for anyone wanting to make a similar list, the link is:

posted by alon at 4:43 PM on July 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Instead of reading wikipedia articles, why not write them? Or perhaps give yourself a week to research a topic well which is currently a stub, and do a good write up of it?
posted by Margalo Epps at 7:17 PM on July 1, 2007

A lot of criminal trials are extremely short -- like 2 days total, including jury selection, and they're not even really full days.
posted by The World Famous at 7:54 PM on July 1, 2007

I'd just like to add that I think this is incredibly cool and I wish I'd done something like this when I was your age -- or even had the abilities (knit, play piano, juggle) that you have now! My suggestion:
  • Spend a few hours each day of that week with a person who is close to you and you love. Just them, no one else, maybe watch a movie together or talk or go outside into nature. You'd be amazed how different your interaction is with someone when you combine one on one interaction spread out over time.
Oh, and while I was also thinking along the lines of a different language, I think most people take more than a week to learn Spanish. Just sayin'.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:23 AM on July 2, 2007

Well, one of my challenges is in fact to have basic command of another language other than the ones I currently speak (English, Hebrew, French). Meaning for example, being able to order food or ask for directions in German.
posted by alon at 8:01 AM on July 2, 2007

I'm also doing the 101 in 1001, and I've found that it's much easier to have things that can be *done* as goals (i.e. "go to the grand canyon" or "build a chair" or "cook a 5 course meal) than something that has to be done over time (i.e. "write a letter a week" or "save $5/day") since the over-time goals can't really be accomplished until the last day of your cycle.

Here's my list.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:00 PM on July 2, 2007

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