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Thoughts on Quarters and Lasting Change…

I was really close to saving this post for April’s Encouragement of the Month post.

But after I finished writing it, I realized it might resonate with one of you too so I’m sharing it early in case you want to create your own Q2 quarter challenge or need a little encouragement on creating lasting change…

Earlier this year we celebrated my Mom’s 70th birthday in Savannah. It’s an event I’ve been referencing a lot lately because the experience changed me in so many ways.

It was also an event my Dad, sisters, and I had spent months planning. So, when we finally returned home, I breathed a huge sigh of relief we had actually pulled it off. 

As I was going back through the photos and reliving some of my favorite moments from the trip, there was one picture, in particular, the one with my Mom, sisters, and me below that immediately made me stop scrolling.

The night we went to Elizabeth on 37th to celebrate my Mom’s birthday dinner was positively magical.

Literally like a night straight out of a rom-com.

My Mom had never looked more beautiful.

My sisters and I had surprised her by choosing dresses with sparkles because sparkles are my Mom’s secret love language.

We ate dinner by candlelight off heirloom-quality china, drank champagne that was chilled to perfection, and laughed when people casually dropped by our table to ask if we were famous.

It was truly a dream.

Wanting to capture every minute, we posed in front of the hotel’s water feature and snapped pictures paparazzi style.

We even had several gracious guests take pictures of us so we could all be in the photo together.

What you didn’t see in this photo though is that I’m wearing 2 sets of Spanx, a pair of ill-fitting pantyhose, AND a slip that rode up every time I moved.

I know.

It’s a wonder I could even breathe under all that getup much less laugh out loud.

You also didn’t see the dresses and outfits (12 in all) that sat by the front door while I was away, expertly boxed up and ready to be returned because none of them fit.

Packing for that trip was truly a sobering experience.

When I look back on these photos, I can clearly see how one of the best nights of my life was also one of the most humbling.

But instead of allowing the photos to taint the trip and all the memories we made, I chose to use them as a turning point.

The following weekend, I was on the phone with my accountability partner discussing the book Soundtracks by Jon Acuff.

If you haven’t read it yet, it’s fabulous!

In the book, Jon talks about trying to break the habit of being on his phone in the car. So, he gave himself a simple challenge using coins and a jar.

I don’t want to spoil the details or the outcome if you haven’t read the book yet. I’ll just say we were so inspired by the challenge, my accountability partner and I decided to create a challenge of our own.  

For the “Quarter Challenge,” we chose 5 healthy habits we wanted to consistently make a part of our lives 7 days a week. Then we gave each habit a value of one quarter.

Here’s a look at the habits we started with…

  1. Eat a healthy breakfast.
  2. Eat a healthy lunch.
  3. Eat a healthy dinner.
  4. Move every day for at least 20 minutes, 30 if possible.
  5. Drink at least 64 ounces of water.

Our plan was to do the “Quarter Challenge” until the end of March (the end of the quarter) and then evaluate our findings.

It wasn’t about losing weight or getting to a certain size, our only goal was to create consistent, healthy habits again.

At the end of the challenge, we set a date to cash in our quarters and celebrate at J. Crew.

Looking back, the criteria seemed ridiculously simple.

Yet over the past few years, my accountability partner and I had both gotten into an exhausting cycle of eating our feelings, making other people’s emergencies our priorities, and placing ourselves last on the list. 

Even though we *knew better* we just couldn’t seem to *do better* and we were desperate for change.

Some of you might be able to relate to that sentiment too.

At first the “Quarter Challenge” felt kind of silly, I’ll be honest.

It felt like getting a gold star or a pom-pom for good behavior in exchange for a trip to the treasure box.

Yet we were grown women giddy with excitement every time we tossed another one (yes, our own money) into the jar!

Still, we stayed the course and cheered each other on.

Day after day, week after week, we’ve watched the quarters grow.

There have been days, we’ve gotten all five quarters.

Other days, we’ve had to rally to just get one.

It’s been harder than I thought it would be to stay consistent. In fact, two of the people who started the “Quarter Challenge” with us dropped out halfway.

One of them even said, “These quarters have no real value to me,” which completely caught me off guard at first.

After listening to her explanation though, I realized they had no real value because she never gave them any real value.

A quarter to me could have just as easily been a checkmark to her.

The true value became what the quarter symbolized.

Truth be told, I haven’t lost a lot of weight. I haven’t dropped a dress size or lost a lot of inches either.

That was never really the goal though.

Our only goal was to make consistently healthy choices, which we’ve both excelled at. We’ve even added additional healthy habits to our daily routines!

This week marks 10 weeks since we returned home from Savannah and started the “Quarter Challenge.”

And I can say for absolute certainty I feel better than when we began.

I can’t wait to celebrate with lunch and J. Crew on Friday and I hope we continue to use the “Quarter Challenge” strategy for the rest of the year as well.

I still struggle with intense anxiety and my life is far from perfect, but I know I’m making progress.

Even when it feels like one baby step forward and three baby steps back, I can look at the jar filled with quarters and see a visual reminder of change.

If I’ve learned anything during the “Quarter Challenge,” it’s that life can get in the way quickly if you let it.

Being intentional with your choices is not always easy or convenient.

That’s the beauty of having choices though.

Big or small they have the power to change us, every single day.

Cheering you on as you make healthy choices today and every day,

CoCo

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16 Comments

  1. Thank you! I needed this. I have fallen into some baaaaddddd habits during the pandemic.

    Water–what’s that? Breakfast–huh? Exercise outdoors–um, yeah, when I have time. Maybe.

    I think I’m going to try the quarter challenge as a tangible way to make improvements.

    1. I can totally relate, Corrie! I looked at this list and thought “Well, this is going to be SO easy! I’m going to be racking up quarters left and right!” But then I realized it was 3 pm before I remembered to drink any water or we’d go out to celebrate a special birthday and I would have to intentionally choose a healthy menu item instead of nachos and sangria. I had to wake up early to sneak a 20-minute workout in. It was eye-opening just how many bad habits I was allowing into my life. One thing that helped me from the beginning was laying out all the quarters (it was 5 at the time) each night before I went to bed. That way, the minute I woke up I could immediately see there were 5 reasons to make good choices that day. It also helped to drop the quarter in the jar as soon as I had completed the task. I had a hard time remembering how many quarters I had earned by the end of the day, especially in the beginning. So proud of you for tracking your habits and making healthy choices. If you need anything please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m here for ya! Big hugs, CoCo

    2. Theresa Schneider-Link says:

      That story was very inspirational and beautiful. You can see how many good choices you made…wow!

      1. Thank you so much, Theresa, I really appreciate it! Hope your week was filled with all good things, CoCo

  2. You are such a beautiful writer, CoCo. I so appreciate your ‘life advice’ on the weekly. This is such a cool idea and I’m so glad you’re sticking with it!! You go, girl!!

    1. Thank you so much, Rachel, I really appreciate it. In a million years I never thought I would be so excited over a quarter but every time I throw a new one in the jar I feel so proud I’m sticking with it and making healthy choices. It’s so important! Hope you’re having a happy week, CoCo

  3. I think your quarter challenge sounds so interesting and fun! Congratulations on your wins so far! Sometimes it’s hard to take each day, one by one, but all the small wins will add up in the end! Making healthy choices is so important and I applaud you! Have a wonderful week, Donna

    1. Thank you so much, Donna! We’ve been really surprised at how a simple quarter has helped us to stay on track for 10 weeks now! As you say, it’s definitely hard at times to take it day by day but the small changes have been adding up and making big impacts for us both. I’m hoping we can continue through the rest of the year too! Hope you’re having the best week, CoCo

  4. This was great I loved it
    It’s not silly its purposeful
    I should reread this everyday
    You go! Good 4 U! Keep it up!
    And thankyou

    1. You’re so sweet, Debbie, thank you so much for the encouragement. I really appreciate it! We started our Q2 Quarter Challenge today so I’m really excited about continuing to make healthy choices. It’s not always easy but the effort is always worth it. Sending you hugs for a happy weekend, CoCo

  5. I absolutely LOVE this idea! Some co-workers and I did a similar challenge years ago. Back then we only had one goal for the challenge. To make time to exercise(even if it was just a walk) every single workday. Our hope was for all of us to lose some weight and treat ourselves to something special with the money we dropped in the bucket each week. At the end of the year, I not only was exercising every day I started making healthier choices all around and had lost 50 lbs!!! I kept it off for eight years and then covid happened. UGH! I truly needed this reminder, my friend and I’m so grateful! Thank you.

    1. It’s so awesome that you guys did a similar challenge together, Christine! I tell ya there is nothing like having someone help hold you accountable and to motivate you to make healthy lifestyle changes. There is NO WAY I would have finished a half marathon without my running buddies nor would I have stayed the course through this challenge without my accountability partner. A quarter doesn’t seem like much but over time those choices start adding up and it feels really good! Can’t wait to cheer you on as you make healthy choices and get back on track. I’m proud of you! Big hugs, CoCo

  6. Love the Quarter Challenge. I chose 3 habits to work on this year and have been pretty satisfied with my progress for the 1st quarter of the year. After reading your post I decided to add 2 more habit goals and take the Quarter Challenge
    I look forward to reading your posts; thank you & I hope your back feels better

    1. That is so exciting AJ! You probably can’t hear it but I’m giving you a lot of high fives and whoo hoos over here 🙌 I am really proud of you and proud for you too. I know it takes extra work, dedication, and staying mindful each day to make progress. Keep up the good work and let me know how you’re doing with it. I’ll definitely be cheering you on! Big hugs, CoCo PS: My back gets better and better every day. I need to put “strengthen my core” to the top of my priorities list. Thank you for checking on me. I really appreciate it ❤

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