Challenge: Give Up One Thing

Give Up One Thing

As you probably know by now, I’m into simplifying our lives so that we can enjoy life more for less, specifically so we can make space for the most important things in our lives.

In fact, what I really believe we should give up is excess, to enjoy the things that are truly important.

I’ve written about this lots.

I also believe that we all have things somewhere that we’d either like to give up or be better off giving up (even if we don’t realize it yet).

Just trust me on this one – it’s liberating – you’ll see. Or your money back.

So my challenge to you is to give up one thing.

Just one thing.

Don’t worry, I’m even going to help you with some suggestions if you’re stuck.

What I Have Given Up

The reason I’m recommending this is because I’ve given up lots of things and seen the benefits.

However there’s more to it than that which I intend to explain in the next few articles.

Here are some of the things I’ve given up: Fancy Car, Job, Alcohol, Busy Time, Our House and life in London, Lots of Possessions (i.e. de-cluttering), Worrying about things I can’t change, Job Hunting, Wasting Time, Wasting Money, Wasting Food, Fancy Restaurants, Frequent Cinema Visits… (I could go on but you get the idea).

P.S. In case you were wondering why it’s not on the list, I’ve never smoked (nope, never even tried it) but if I did, I would probably have given that up by now too.

Everybody Has Things They Can Give Up

Despite all of that above, I still have plenty more I could give up.


… and I believe everyone does have. Whether beliefs, habits, possessions or relationships, we all have something somewhere we’d be better off giving up. That’s the theory anyway. If you say no you don’t, then perhaps you’re perfect. I thought nobody was perfect.

De-cluttering isn’t just cutting down the number of hangers in your wardrobe.

What I’m Going To Give Up

Yes, I’m playing too.

I’m going to take this little (well as little or big as you want it to be actually) challenge with you. So what am I going to give up?

I nearly chose chocolate. I do love chocolate and it’s been quite difficult to resist when the rest of my family continues to eat chocolate and I’ve been on the slow-carb diet, but I have just stock piled for my cheat day every time I got any urges.

I’m going to leave chocolate for another day. What’s more important to me right now is to get a good habit going around my dental hygiene. I do have a good toothbrush and brush every morning and every night, but even though I know flossing is very important, I find it boring and I don’t do it, I don’t regularly use mouthwash either. So my give up is going to be:

What: Give up having an average dental routine.

How: At the moment I’m traveling, but that’s no excuse, I’m off to the pharmacy here in Auron first thing in the morning and I’m going to buy some floss, inter-dental sticks and mouthwash and begin a top rate dental routine which I will follow at least every morning and every evening until it becomes a habit – I’m going to get obsessive about it (and I don’t care what it costs for these products – my health is more important and it will probably save on dental bills anyway).

My Suggestions In Case You’re Stuck

I bet you’re not stuck at all if you read everything above, but just in case you are here is a totally random list of suggestions to get you thinking:

You could give up…

…worrying for one whole day
…one pair of shoes
…one limiting belief
…your fancy car (completely or by replacing it with a much less fancy one)
…drinking for one month
…sugar for one week

the times I chose here are random, it could be for 1 hour or for ever, I don’t care, choose what you think will work best for you.

Some things are harder than others


Obviously some things are harder than others to give up.

So it’s up to you.

How much do you want to challenge yourself?

If you do pick something hard, tell me about it in the comments, also tell me about how you intend to give it up. If it’s a habit you want to change, make sure you read about how habits work first and let me know what you intend to do.

Final Thoughts

This article is an invitation, it’s actually not the article I intended to write today (which is about the power of small changes) but that is coming soon and if you are happy enough to take my challenge here, when I do write the article on small changes, chances are that article will make a lot more sense to you.

So please leave a short comment just letting me know the one thing you’re going to give up. It can be tiny weeny or huge, that’s completely up to you and you don’t get more points either way 😉 If it is something that you think you might find difficult and you want to let me know how you’re going to go about it, that would be cool too.


Challenge: Give Up One Thing — 30 Comments

  1. I will give up being self-centered. And place other peoples needs/feelings before mine. How does one measure self-centeredness? I thought I would test myself. Example, when someone cuts me off in traffic and I get mad, I will imagine why? Perhaps a love one is in the hospital, or a wife is in labor….. I will also use the word me less and you and I more often….. This will be a challenge…I will need practice and time to succeed.

  2. Alan,

    First, do you have a life? You seem to have given up so much. Did you really need to? Or do you just feel like it? I only give up stuff that is detrimental to my health. I have, like you, given up worrying about things I cannot change. Not that I won’t try to change things like relationships or situations, I just don’t worry if they don’t change. I stop trying to control.

    I also gave up complaining long ago. I realize it gets me nowhere. The only time I complain is if really need to alleviate a problem. For instance, bad service at a restaurant. I will put in my complaint that the food or service was horrid then move on. No more “beating a dead horse” and relentlessly talking about it.

    OK, so what to give up?

    Bread. In particular-sandwiches.

    I was once a cereal addict (I say it that way because I had to have it twice each day-breakfast and snack) and then I learned to eat yogurt, eggs, toast, etc for breakfast. And I found other snacks like cheeses, fruits and veggies. So I really did give up cereal. Every so often I will grab a bowl but it if very infrequent.

    I told you that because I am also in love with sandwiches. Really. Any kind. Just the thought makes my mouth water. I eat them almost everyday for lunch. If I gave up sandwiches I would indeed be giving up carbs because I don’t eat them much for breakfast, dinner or snacks. Some here and there but it is lunch that always gets me with the sandwiches. And with my sandwich I need chips. If I eat no sandwich, I don’t crave chips.

    There is it. I will give up sandwiches for a week and see where that takes me.


    • Hey Allie,

      I think I have a pretty awesome life. I love to challenge myself and experiment (as I’ve written about) so giving things up doesn’t make my life more boring – quite the opposite, it gives me lots of new experiences.

      Perhaps the one thing that might seem a bit prudish to some is giving up alcohol, but believe me I have plenty of fun and I’m not at all against alcohol, I just wanted to challenge myself to see if I could give up for 6 months and that 6 months became 12 years (and counting…) – I did like a nice drink but it’s awesome not drinking at all and there are plenty of other things I like instead.

      Is there something else I said I’d given up that you think I shouldn’t have?

      As Richard said perhaps ‘giving up’ is the wrong expression as it perhaps sounds a little negative but it is often good to give up or ‘let go’ of things when it comes to simplifying our lives and making more room for what’s really important.

      Personally I have found this (on many occasions and with many different things, whether material or not) very liberating.

      • Alan,

        I was just kidding with you. My dad doesn’t drink because it is simply not his thing. I like to blow off steam sometimes at night with friends and dinner with a beer or 2. That’s it. I imagine life without beer or those cute fruity drinks and I don’t like it. Ha ha! But if it just isn’t available or the time doesn’t call for it, it is no big deal.

        There wasn’t anything else that came to mind, just the alcohol. (You are making me sound like a lush for talking about it so much. LOL.)

        You are right, I hate calling it “give up” because it makes it sound like we are missing out on something. When actually we are gaining a better lifestyle.


        • Sandwiches eh?

          Well, I have given up sandwiches too actually as part of my slow-carb diet (except on Saturdays which is my ‘cheat’ day).

          Anyways, don’t worry about me – I can still blow off steam without any alcohol at all – believe me!


  3. Hi Alan,
    what a nice blog which i like most.i think it is not hard for you to Give up one things.In many occasions i have Give up many things in my life till now such as potato for 10 days and in reality i like potato most .i Give up potato not only once but also many times.
    thanks for joining this post…………

        • Awesome.

          I’m assuming when you say potato you mean in all of it’s forms – crisps, chips etc.

          Please do let me know how you are doing with that – ideally in the comments of the follow up article (see the link below)

  4. Giving up one thing to transform your life – I’m lovin this concept right now, Alan. I have decided to ‘give up’ 2 things:
    – Speaking in English constantly
    – Eating sugar

    The first point has a 90 day plan, which includes learning 30 new words a day, working with a French language tutor and speaking in French with friends.
    The second has an 8 week plan which also includes a non-gym work out 6 days a week.

    Now that I’ve declared it online, it HAS to be done 🙂

    Have you noticed any patterns in your behaviour when you gave up one thing, Alan?

    – Razwana

    • Hey Razwana,

      so how are you doing so far?

      I really like your choices. Out of interest when you say sugar that you add to things (e.g. in tea, on cereals) or all forms of sugar?

      How will you define if you have spoken too much English?

      I’m always giving things up, changing things and experimenting, so it’s difficult to answer your question – e.g. when I changed my diet I found I had more energy and woke up earlier, consequently I started my day earlier… when I gave up my fancy car for the one I have now, I gave up driving too fast (at least when I’m driving my car because it doesn’t go very fast)… when I gave up my job I had about a year of behavior change which included some stress, some enlightenment, some guilt and various other emotions and behavior changes (because that one was a biggie)…

      Mostly when I give something up, I have good reason to so I’m excited about it, so the main behavior change is being psyched 😉

      • The general gist is – if I can say it in French, and I’m saying it in English, then I have spoken too much English 🙂

        I am going for all forms of sugar – carbs, fruit juices, cereals, etc. Full on Paleo, baby !

        Today is day 1. Well, technically, the first of my ‘learn French’ sessions started last night so I am doing ok.

        I tell you what though – this fear of success thing has been made completely clear to me now. ‘In 8 weeks I could lose the extra pounds I’ve been carrying around for months. GHASP! Do I really want this…..?????’


        • OK that makes sense.

          I’d be very interested to see how the Paleo diet works for you – I am due to be interviewing someone about that diet shortly so watch out for that.

          fear of success?

          • Really looking forward to the interview on Paleo. It’s working well for me so far. A few weeks ago, I, foolishly, bought a dress that didn’t fit me well but thought it would give me the inspiration to lose the extra pounds. After 2 weeks on Paleo, it fits me perfectly.

            I thought it would be difficult to sustain when out eating or drinking, but I’m doing fine. I find I have to ask myself how I would feel after eating something non-Paleo, and the decision making process is easier.

            Fear of success – for me it’s when the reality dawns that I could actually achieve something. There is a mix of ‘go for it!’ adrenalin and ‘stay in comfort zone’ anxiety.

            Does this make sense?

  5. Hi Alan,
    First comment here :). I thought about giving up some sleep in the morning. But that is hard and I could just waste time on the laptop. So something that is bugging me is the mess of my bedroom and ensuite. So I give up having a messy bedroom and ensuite. So this translates to put clothes away immediately, vacuum and dust regularly etc, make the bed daily. Etc… For ever.
    I accept there will be times it is not perfect – when sick, when packing for a holiday – but these will be exceptions.

    • Hey Vicki,

      awesome & welcome – not sure how long you’ve been reading LTG but thanks for deciding to leave this comment – I hope it’s not your last!

      Did you read the previous article on habits? If not please go and do so now as this will help you – you are basically trying to form a new habit of a tidy room, which is perfect for this little challenge.

      Your cue could simply be seeing anything out of place, your routine tidy it and your reward maintaining a tidy room. You have to insist though and be obsessive about it and I’d also advise a few other ‘catch-all’ triggers/cues or times of day that you have a set routine to make sure you keep on top of it. Work on your reward to make it really compelling and give yourself extra rewards if you need to to keep your motivation up e.g. for each week your room is tidy reward yourself, so then you have a reward to look forward to as well as the satisfaction of a tidy room. Anyways, here is the article if you want more details as to how and why this works: Understanding How We Form Habits (part 2)

      • Hi Alan, Thanks I have read the habits articles and also have your free download. 🙂 thanks! i have cleaned the room and it looks pretty good. i think triggers will be in the morning – no leaving the house without making the bed and at night put clothes away straight away..not on a chair, not at the end of the bed. i will have to find a trigger for the weekly vacuum and dust. And some rewards……hmmm, I think just having a clean room is reward enough. BTW, I have also cleaned the rest of the house! Once you get started the motivation really kicks in.

        • Exactly – and in fact you’ve already touched on the point I want to cover in the next article (or perhaps the one after next depending upon if any follow-up is needed from the comments on this one).

          That’s why I said your example was a perfect one.

          I intend to give some concrete real-world examples, but sometimes the thing that really starts a ‘movement’ or massive change is something quite small. Habits in particular, once we start forming them can have a kind of snowball effect like this.

          e.g. instead of going for running the marathon right away, you may start with something seemingly un-related, yet before you know it, you’re running a marathon. Anyways, I’ll explain a bit more about this later 😉

          take care, good luck and thanks again for the comment!

  6. Giving up, huh?

    Great, good luck with that 😉 It is indeed hard to give up something from our life – I doubt whether I have given up anything – I believe that we need everything, like a balance. A pint of procrastination, along with smart work, right? 😉

    Hmmm, let me see – what I can really give up now.

    I am kind of overweight now (Well, not really over weight, but I need to “get fit”). I guess I could give up eating too much (Yeah, I kind of have that habit; so basically reduce my calorie intake and work more and exercise more).

    Will let you know how it goes, Alan 😉

    • Hey Jeevan,

      I’m not really sure we got your commitment there – so are you going to give up eating too much then?

      Even for just a month?

      How will you measure it? What’s too much?

      p.s. did you know that there’s a delay? By the time your brain has told you that you’re full, it’s quite some minutes after you were actually full – so slowing down your eating considerably is something you can easily change for painless and easy results (and smaller plate sizes works as an easy trick too),

      anyways, what’s it gonna be? Eating less or getting fit? & How?

      • Well, I have already started eating less – especially with Dinner.

        And I have been focusing on eating the right material (Lot of junk food in college – trying to avoid all that, and just eating the right materials – the proteins and other good things for my body).

        And of course, I have been spending more time walking and exercising to burn more calories 🙂

        Oh, didn’t know that 😉 Thanks for letting me know 🙂 I used to eat slowly when I was young (I used to be the last one to get up from the dining table), but now I am pretty fast, guess I need to slow it down 😉

        • Awesome Jeevan,

          Please do keep me posted as to how it’s going (ideally in the comments for the next article which is a follow-up to this one – see the link below),

          take care & best wishes,

  7. New Year’s Resolutions were always about giving things up. I had one success with this when I was a teenager. In a desperate attempt to shed the zits, I gave up chocolate for a year (just before christmas in fact) and followed this by giving up sugar in tea and coffee as my NY resolution. To this day, I only ever add sugar to tea when I’m hungover. (NB no plans to give up alcohol, inspite of Rich Roll’s book which I thought was meant to be about running, but that’s another story).

    But since then, I’ve never been able to either identify something that I really wanted to give up, or pursue any such lofty ambitions.

    My revelation a couple of years ago was to turn things around and look at them the other way. “Giving up” is a negative approach, even if the outcome is positive. Aiming for a positive target is more motivational, and hence, more likely to succeed.

    My target last year was to cycle 2 miles for every unit of alcohol consumed. I followed this for 3 months, but the measuring became too much of a chore (Have you spotted the SMART aspect to this yet?). So this year I made an assumption based on 21 units a week (broadly accurate), and set myself a target of 2196 miles, or 6 miles a day, every day, for 366 days. It doesn’t sound much, but you only need to miss a few days, then realise that your away on holiday for a week or so, and suddenly I was racking up the miles to stay ahead rather than face the prospect of having to catch up. Before I knew it I was putting in about 300 miles a month. And with the extra exercise I was doing, the alcohol consumption dropped too.

    I’ve taken a few months off from chasing the cycling target while I’ve trained for a 48-mile walk around our island (completed in 11hrs 33min), and now focused on my first marathon in October. But I’m still on target with the bike anyway, so it’s turning into quite a fit year. All by starting with something positive to aim for.

    • I like the idea, but get your point, that could be hard to calculate/remember, especially if you drank lots 😉

      You’re right about the negative sound of ‘giving up’ and I thought twice about calling it that but then deliberately left it as is. Simplifying your life actually is often about ‘giving up’ things and that’s OK. It often feels like it will be a wrench to give certain things up but it turns out not to be so.

      In any case, I get your point and did think about that but the next article (which will be a follow up to this one) hopefully if I get a few more comments and ideas to play with will be about when giving up is a good idea / when it’s OK to give up something like that.

      p.s. you should give up alcohol, it’s a brilliant thing to do. I gave up 12 years ago and even though I have nothing against it per se (I had some great times and great memories attached to being slightly over the limit) it feels great not drinking at all for lots of reasons. In fact today I had a little sip of rosé wine as it was one which was a local speciality I’d never tasted, and even that tiny sip gave me stomach ache (which I think is quite a good thing).

      Is your little island quite flat then?

      • One of my holiday reads was a book by Rich Roll, “Finding Ultra”, that you might find interesting. But I have zero motivation do give up the booze.

        And no, it’s not flat:

        • Cool – I’ll check out the book, thanks for the recommendation, I’ll add it to my long list of books to get round to. The good news is I’m devouring books these days – I do a LOT of reading.

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