2015: The Year of StickK Challenges

Last year for my 30th birthday, I did a month-long yoga challenge as a fundraiser for one of my favorite young adult cancer organizations: First Descents (FD). My first FD experience in 2013–kayaking the Alberton Gorge in Montana–was life changing. Inspired by the FD experience, I spent much of the rest of my 30th year pushing myself outside my comfort zone through yoga challenges, travel to new places, and exciting new experiences. In August, I had an opportunity to get back in my kayak and spent a week churning whitewater on the Rogue River in Oregon with new and dear FD friends through the FD2 Program. The week on the Rogue cemented my admiration and love for this incredible organization and the experiences it provides to young adult cancer survivors. So, of course, I wanted to find a way to send EVEN MORE survivors to camp!

2015 Challenge

2015 is a bit different. As of today, I am 416 days away from graduation (but who’s counting?) from Hopkins, where I have been studying for the past 3 years to get my MBA & MA in Health Communication while working full time. It’s time to buckle down and giterdone, which means no semester breaks for me until December (gulp)! In keeping with the FD spirit to regularly challenge myself to step outside my comfort zone, I have decided to make 2015 a year of monthly challenges. My 2014 #30×30 challenge for FD was so rewarding for many reasons, so I wanted to give myself something to work for as I count down the months to graduation next May. Added bonus: I’ve discovered that challenges help my sanity during the semesters!

Why StickK?

In an effort to test out the behavioral economics principles I’ve learned in school on myself, I have been tracking my progress on a website called StickK. StickK helps users make public commitment contracts, using incentives or disincentives, to encourage people to stick to their personal goals. I started the monthly challenge back in January, and you can track my past monthly challenges following the links below. I will also post links to future month challenges, and you can follow along, call me out, or otherwise support me on that site, on my FD donation page, or on this blog.

My Goal

To send 2 more survivors to camp. It costs FD approximately $1000 to send a survivor out into the wilderness to learn to kayak, rock climb, or surf. The benefits to survivors are limitless. You don’t have to take my word for it; there is even an official study to prove it! As it’s 2015, I’d like to raise $2,015 between now and December 31 (consider it an early graduation gift…) which will send 2 survivors to camp, plus a little extra for good measure. Donations are tax deductible, and all that good stuff.

What You Missed

January & February Challenge: No buying coffee drinks. This was actually a 2-month challenge (which I enjoyed so much that I’m extending it for 6 more months). My goal was to save money. My disincentive was that if I failed, my StickK page was set up to make a donation to a Republican Super PAC. The results: The Republicans did not get a dime from me, I learned to use my coffee maker every day, and saved a ton of money in the process.

March Challenge: Daily Plank. I read an article that one of my yoga teachers posted that doing a plank every day is good for you. So I decided to test the theory in March. My planks varied between 1 and 2 minutes every morning. My incentive was also to save money: If I failed, my StickK page was set up to make a donation to a random charity.

April Challenge: 30-Day Fitness Challenge. I crowdsourced ideas from friends on Facebook, and my friend Katie suggested this 30-Day Fitness Challenge. My disincentive is $200 on the line to go to the NRA if I fail.

The next 8 months: Additional ideas (of my own or crowdsourced from friends) for future months include:

  • 30 (or 31) day yoga challenge (repeat of last year)
  • Walk to or from work every day
  • Swim 31,000 yards in a month
  • No takeout for a month
  • No Uber for a month
  • Fitbit 10,000 steps per day
  • Go vegan for a month
  • #Payitforward – Do something nice for / reach out to a different friend/family member/colleague every day.
  • Draw or write for 15 minutes a day every month.
  • Zumba for 30 days (I have never done zumba a single day in my life)
  • Your ideas? Comment below!

Feeling inspired? Donate to FD! Join me in one of the monthly challenges! Encourage me to keep going (or threaten me not to mess up).  Share your challenge ideas!