Don’t Say Don’t.

New Year Resolutions are doomed to fail. The inclusion of the word ‘don’t,’ kills all hope of success. It is accepted in educational psychology, that people fail to register words such as don’t and stop, when used in the imperative. Why isn’t clear. Apparently, we hate negatives. The Charge of the Light Brigade was probably caused by the order, ‘Don’t charge the heights where the artillery is!’ The cross-channel ferry I use admonishes travellers in the event of an emergency, ‘Don’t panic – don’t run.’ If the ferry begins to sink, we will remember the words ‘Panic – Run!’

Clare Hudson has picked a winner with her alternative to New Year Resolutions. Instead of unattainable targets, with admonishments to stop doing things, set on January 1st – forgotten January 3rd, she suggests in her new book, positive actions to change your life. Instead of ‘DON’T,’ she says ‘DO!’ And to make sure we forget the mealy-mouthed hung-over excuses, she has produced a list of 500  things to begin trying, instead of a few things to cease doing.

How many hundred? It isn’t that bad, because Clare has broken them down into topics. Health, food and fitness, home, professional and finance, intellectual, social, etc. And she expects us to choose challenges for 30 days, not 500!

Her background as an artist means that the art-related suggestions grab the attention of a non-artist such as I am. ‘Don’t throw the ugly furniture away. Wallpaper it with music scores, or magazine covers. Maybe it won’t be so ugly after all, and if it is still that bad, you can throw it away having spent a couple of hours in creative play.’

The doubters shout, ‘I don’t have a couple of hours, every day!’ Then choose a challenge that involves no time commitment, e.g. change your newspaper, check emails only twice a day, no work-related conversations after work hours, and so on. That will save precious time, and changing to a newspaper that challenges your comfort zone, instead of one that reinforces your opinions, could be invigorating. Imagine the relief when you change back again!

Where to next? Clare keeps her 500 ideas brief and to the point. I would enjoy more instruction, so she could produce a book for each section, but with suggestions and detail on how to get started and develop creative ideas. She provides links to other websites or books for further information, but she could use her lightweight chatty style to inform us about techniques that will help us rediscover our lives, rather than redirecting.

She has made a start! My challenge for 2017 is to network with 30 Indie authors with a view to promoting their and my work. Clare is number one.

The underlying message I took from the 30 Day Challenge, reinforces my belief that the successful are the ones who keep knocking on the wall of impossibility, until they find the way through. 30 days is long enough for the knocking process to become habit forming. That means we will forget how to give up, which assures us of success in the coming year. Easy isn’t it? Maybe you know someone housebound, injured, ill, who finds it difficult to take on a challenge. From the 500 Clare highlights, that person will definitely find a slack handful of achievable challenges. They may become occupational therapy. Rubbish at art at school? Start with the art challenges. They are delightful! I’m ready to turn an old Scrabble set into a sculpture.


The 30 Day Challenge Book: 500 ideas to inspire your life, by Clare Hudson. Available as Ebook. ISBN 978-0-9957050-2-9

Order on Amazon

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