If you want the next year to be even better than the last, you need more than just a good resolution — you need a solid plan and way to stay motivated throughout the year. Why not try a weekly challenge with others? Here are several 52-week challenges that can get you to save more money, finally get organised, cook better and more.
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Some of the challenges below offer group support and weekly email reminders. It's probably a good idea to schedule a specific day and time to do your challenge work and post a checklist somewhere you'll see it every day. This way, by the time December rolls around (so far away!), you'll have turned your challenge tasks into a habit.
Money: Easily Save Nearly $1400
The 52-Week Money Challenge is a perfect example of how weekly challenges can help you achieve more. In this challenge, you start with a small deposit, increase the deposit amount by a dollar every week, and watch the savings snowball. Even if you're already saving a percentage of your income automatically, this challenge encourages you to save even more.
Household: Organise Your Home in 52 Weeks
Complete home organisation doesn't happen overnight. Over the course of a year, however, you can not only get your household completely organised, you'll slowly be building the habits and routines that will help keep your home organised beyond that. This plan from Home Storage Solutions will set you off on the right foot, with weekly organising tasks complete with tips and email reminders.
Cooking: 52 Weeks of New Foods
Cooking can become monotonous or feel like a chore. However, if you challenge yourself — with others — to use an ingredient creatively or try a new technique every week, cooking can become downright fun this year. Reddit's 52 Weeks of Cooking offers weekly themes and encourages you to share (and earn flair for your efforts).
If you're not interested in coming up with your own food ideas, you can still avoid making the same meals over and over again. All She Cooks offers 52 weeks of no-repeat meal plans: Every week, you'll be emailed seven dinner ideas, three lunch options, five breakfast choices, and three snack or dessert ideas with recipes and a shopping list. And it's completely free!
Reading: A New Book Every Week
It helps to be organised and have a plan when your goal is to read more. It also helps to have a long list of books to read for the year. The Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks blog offers mini-challenges, such as reading books from Nobel Prize winners, to make the weekly challenges even more interesting. For specific book lists, check out the suggestions on Goodreads.
Health: The Year-Long Exercise Program
Switch up your exercise routine with this year-long program from Men's Fitness. (It's dated 2009, but the workouts can still be followed today). These are full-body workouts that include some serious weight training, but the weekly blocks build on each other throughout the year.
Programming: Learn to Code
If one of your resolutions this year is to learn to code, you have a lot of resources to help you do just that. For a year-long program, it's easy to just join something like Codecademy. The company's Code Year, with free weekly lessons, doesn't seem to be updated for 2014 yet, but the lessons from the last year are still available. Another resource is dream.in.code's 52 Weeks of Code forum; that too is an old challenge, but you'll find all 52 weeks of programming challenges in the threads.
Everything Else: 52 Things to Do in 52 Weeks
Of course, pretty much anything you want to accomplish in the next year can be turned into a weekly challenge. The most important thing is to start with a plan and actually put the time in. It's inspiring to be able to cross things off your list and see how you're progressing all year long. If you're looking for more ideas, Lady Kell shares her list of 52 things in 52 weeks. The last one, fittingly, is to make a new list for 2014.