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.
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…
- Eat a healthy breakfast.
- Eat a healthy lunch.
- Eat a healthy dinner.
- Move every day for at least 20 minutes, 30 if possible.
- 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,