It’s the first week back and the question of New Year's resolutions inevitably arises. Our office had the full spectrum of pledges, from dry January to Veganuary to giving-up-on-giving-up.

Can anything really be gained from all this giving-upping? Surely the January blues are bad enough without having to add abstinence and purging. How about life being too short to deny yourself small pleasures? After all, well-intended resolutions can end in failure when the well of willpower and enthusiasm wanes or the rebound effect means you gorge the opposite way when the time is over.

Despite this, a growing number of people are jumping on the personal challenge wagon – particularly taking to popular month long campaigns. This New Year will see a whopping 50,000 people explore what it means to have a more varied diet by taking part in Veganuary. Who knows, perhaps wordplay wizards will soon pun every single month into an alternative campaign calendar.

How have these challenges become so popular? It’s surely not just the power of the pun. Perhaps people are seeing personal pledges as an opportunity to start afresh, have fun, save money and do good to themselves, others and the planet.

I love personal challenges for the opportunity they provide to get creative. There can be something slightly unsatisfying about how access to things we want can be so unrestricted and at our finger tips. It’s easy to binge or forget to be resourceful. Putting up our own barriers and restricting our choice means that we have to think outside the box. We’re taken out of our normal habits, easy routines and go-to’s, and instead journey down under-explored paths.  

A Veganuary-er can try new ingredients and recipes, having to think of new and different ways to make dishes flavoursome and interesting, taking away the reliance on grated cheddar. With added win wins towards a healthier you and a healthier planet. Someone pledging to buy #SecondHandFirst or make-do-and-mend may find they learn new skills whilst saving money. 

Perhaps the secret to New Years resolution success is a mindset change - thinking of it as a  journey of discovering alternatives and having fun along the way.