This page is intended to be a compilation of all the slow living challenges I’ve seen out there to date. Bookmark this page to come back and find your next challenge. And, please let me know in the comments if you have tried any or have more you’d like me to add.
- Ask “why” 5 times
- Asking “Why?” five times is a technique to help you get to the root cause of a problem (or goal, or decision, or purpose, etc)
- Ask “then what” 5 times
- Taking some inspiration from the story of the tourist and the fisherman
- 90 Percent Rule (Essentialism)
- “As you evaluate an option, think about the single most important criterion for that decision, and then simply give the option a score between 0 and 100. If you rate it any lower than 90 percent, then automatically change the rating to 0 and simply reject it.”
- Spend 4,000 hours planning for your career
- If you spend 6 minutes planning for a 2 hour dinner out, that’s the equivalent of spending 4,000 hours (2 working years) planning for an 80,000 hour career. This is just another way of saying be intentional with your life and think long and hard about what you really want to do.
- Live like the Ikarians
- Quite possibly the holy grail of slow living: Long healthy life, minimal impact on the planet, meaningful relationships (“us” vs. “me”), 95% plant-based diets, drink wine and tea with family and friends, clear purpose based on satisfying low-level needs, no care about time, walkable communities, gardening, enjoy physical work and find joy in everyday chores, enjoy being outside, etc.
- Sleep and drink with the dogs 1x/month (Stoicism)
- “Stoics would sleep in the dog basket once a month and drink the dog’s water. For a few days, you live like a dog. And you realize that it’s possible and it’s fine. And that removes fear. Often what stops us from realizing our ambitions is fear. If we make ourselves totally at home with failure and utter disgrace we will feel a curious lightness and sense of possibility because we won’t be held back by the constant thought, ‘What happens if…?’ We will have fully explored the question.” – Alain de Botton
- 21-Day Busy Boycott Challenge (BeMoreWithLess)
- “If you are overwhelmed with busyness, try this free 21-day challenge and trade your busy life for a full one. Sign up and you’ll receive 4 emails (one per week). Each week for 3 weeks, you’ll receive a new Busy Boycott challenge action to practice for 7 days. Next we’ll send you a PDF will all three weeks of content so you can revisit the challenge anytime.”
- Meditation Retreat
- Silent meditations, eyes closed, no speaking, and slow-walking meditations in nature. “The only words I heard or read for ten days were in three counseling sessions, two guided meditations, and nightly talks on mindfulness.” Check out “I Used to be a Human Being.”
- 1 Time Use Rule
- “I told myself I wouldn’t buy it if I could only use it one time (coffee, fast food, shots at the bar).”
- 3 Day Rule
- “If I really wanted it three days later, then I could go back and buy it.”
- 10/10 Material Possessions Theory (The Minimalists)
- “Here’s an exercise for you. Take a moment and write down your ten most expensive material possessions from the last decade. Things like your car, your house, your jewelry, your furniture, and any other material possessions you own or have owned in the last ten years. The big ticket items. Next to that list, make another top ten list: ten things that add the most value to your life. This list might include experiences like catching a sunset with a loved one, watching your kid play baseball, eating dinner with your parents, etc. Be honest with yourself when you’re making these lists: it’s likely that both lists share zero things in common.”
- Join the FIRE community and start saving 50%+ of your income
- This is what you need to do for financial independence and to retire early (FIRE).
- No-Spend Year, Buy-Nothing Year
- Pretty much what it sounds like, but there are lots of takes on this one. Just Google it. The challenge is to eliminate all unnecessary spending.
- Use It Up Challenge (Our Next Life)
- “Rather than simply tossing things into the blue bin, or putting them in the thrift store donation box, we’re going to start asking ourselves: If we knew this thing was going straight to the landfill when it leaves our hands, would we treat it differently? Would we try harder to get more use out of it?”
Minimalism (Getting Rid of Stuff):
- 20/20 Rule (or Just-in-Case Rule) (The Minimalists)
- “Anything we get rid of that we truly need, we can replace for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes from our current location. Thus far, this hypothesis has become a theory that has held true 100% of the time. Although we’ve rarely had to replace a just-in-case item (fewer than five times for the two of us combined), we’ve never had to pay more than $20 or go more than 20 minutes out of our way to replace the item.”
- 40 bags in 40 days
- “40 bags in 40 days is a forty day period where you declutter one area a day. The goal is one bag a day, however you can have more or less.”
- 90/90 Rule (The Minimalists)
- “Here’s one that has worked for us: Look at a possession. Pick something. Anything. Have you used that item in the last 90 days? If you haven’t, will you use it in the next 90? If not, then it’s okay to let go.
- Project 333 (Be More With Less)
- “Project 333 is the minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months.”
- 30-Day Minimalism Game (The Minimalists)
- “Find a friend or family member: someone who’s willing to get rid of their excess stuff. This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. Whatever you do, each material possession must be out of your house—and out of your life—by midnight each day.”
- The 100 Thing Challenge
- “A grassroots movement to whittle down personal possessions to one hundred items, with the aim of decluttering and simplifying life.”
- Packing Party (The Minimalists)
- “(Everything is more fun when you put ‘party’ at the end.) We decided to pack all my belongings as if I were moving. And then I would unpack only the items I needed over the next three weeks.”
- Digital Declutter Experiment (1 month)
- “Its purpose is to help you reset your digital life to something more intentional and meaningful. You can think of the digital declutter as a process to transition toward digital minimalism…During this break, you’ll confront life directly, without the dulling mediation of a screen, allowing you to rediscover which activities and behaviors really provide value in your life, and which are mindless distraction.”
- 3-Step Process:
- Take a Break from Optional Technologies (for the entire month of January)
- Identify What Really Matters (and what you really want to be doing with your time)
- Reintroduce Technology (in an intentional manner)
- National Day of Unplugging
- Literally, a pledge to unplug for 24 hours.
- Social Media Sabbatical (30 days, 60 days, 3 months, 6 months, etc)