Why YOU Should Wear a Bowtie For a Year.

Bowtie VoteIt is hard to believe that wearing a thin band of superfluous cloth around your neck could ever change your life. But, I’m here to convince you it will - and probably for the better. So here goes.My bowtie challenge for you is this: choose one thing you’ve always been interested in doing, and then do it, every day for a year. For me, that challenge was wearing a bowtie - and though, I highly recommend anything that involves a cumberbund  - your mission could range from biking to work to simply sitting down with your family every day for dinner.

My Story (in brief)  

A couple weeks before my freshman year in college, I decided to take the “bow-tie” challenge. Everyday for a year, I would wear a bow-tie, a dress-shirt, and a nice pair of pants. My choice  of a challenge came quite easily. I’d grown up wearing gym shorts in elementary school; and though, I’d made a dramatic transitions to khakis in 6th grade, by high school I'd realized my style - much like my facial hair - had remained relatively unchanged. But, I’d always had this itch - somewhere between my collarbone and adams apple - that someday I'd like to dress formally. In particular, I liked a close-collared look, and I enjoyed that bowties brought out words that wouldn’t normally be used in regular conversation (like “dapper” or “asphyxiation”). So, I wrote down the goal in my journal: "try out bowtie wearing for a year”. Then, when the year was over, I'd  look back to see what I learned.

The Reflection:

It’s been 12 months since my challenge began; and though I still struggle explaining why a bowtie might be appropriate sledding-attire, I’ve come out of the year happy - and proud - that I did it.  For one, the year confirmed some things that I suspected.  I do enjoy dressing formally - and my milky-white skin tone does indeed  lend itself to pastel shades. On a deeper level, however, I learned what it takes to make a promise to myself and keep it.  Wearing a bow-tie for 365 days in a row is silly. So, people naturally laughed, criticized, and urged me to “live a little” (as people would with any eccentric habit you might have). But everyday I did the challenge, I grew mentally tougher. It became easier and easier to push past other’s (well-intentioned) suggestions - and believe in a goal I gave to myself. Ultimately, my bowtie challenge taught me to trust myself (and trust the promises I make). And though that is the reason why I am proud of my year, I wanted to give you guys some research based reasons for why you should embark on your own.

Why You Should Take a One Year Challenge 

A couple of studies on goal management have pointed to three overarching reasons why a "timed” challenge can be good for you. 1. You learn about yourself (desires, interests, etc.)            - If you wake up early for a year did your life actually improve? Matt Cutts,an engineer at Google, decided to give himself monthly challenges for a year. His goal was to find out whether he liked the habits he tested out and now he’s done 12 so far. To hear a bit more about his experience, check out his 3 minute TED talk here. 2. You become mentally tougher           - A lot of studies show that self-control can be trained similar to a “muscle” - a challenge like this help develop that “muscle”. 3. You create hilarious memories - Of suffering. Ehem. Research has shown that personal challenges that are split into small, attainable goals (like studying a language everyday) are better then large long-term goals people give themselves (i.e. Learn French). The year challenge makes the habit the goal, not the end result - a powerful way to achieve something that you otherwise couldn’t.

Your challenge could be a year, but it could also be a month, or a week. A challenge is simply a promise to yourself that you are going to add a habit - and then the time period is your tester-run. So, what are you waiting for - go out and take your bowtie challenge. And don’t start tomorrow, start now. There’s no better time to “tie the knot”.