The 2021 Challenge – Learn to Become a New You

Now that you have taken the 2020 Simple Life Challenge, and have an idea of where you have been, it’s time to get serious. The 2021 Challenge is designed to help you take what you have learned, and apply it to where you are headed on your journey.

(Note: This may have been written for the 2020/2021 season, but it is still just as applicable today!)

Think of it like this: You are designing two tee shirts. On the first one, you create it to say:

2021 Challenge - A 2020 Tee Shirt with a Ramen Noodle Slogan

Your second shirt will be:

2021 Challenge - I Ain't Scared Tee Shirt

Okay. Well, you may want to choose your own words for your 2021 Challenge Tee shirt. But I think you get the point.

You don’t need to feel scared or confused with a new year. You don’t need to hide under the bed or remake a battle plan for War with the Dust Bunnies. And you can toss all those Ramen recipes and cook up something new and a bit tastier and healthier.

To help you prepare for a new year, take the 2021 Challenge. Find out where you shine and where you need to learn new skills, or brush up on the ones you have.

2021 Challenge

for the 2021 Challenge, think of ways to serve your family fresh food

Challenge Question #1

The first question for your 2021 Challenge is also one of the first requirements of a healthy home. Food. What steps have you taken to provide as much of your own food as possible?

1)  Started a container garden   

                a) Purchased plants from a local nursery

                b) Ordered seed catalogs in order to grow heirloom seeds

                c) Using seeds I saved from prior years

2)  Planted an in-ground garden

                a) Created one or more raised beds

                b) Plowed up a small section of my yard (what size?)

                c) Incorporated herbs and vegetables in my flower beds

3)  Started a culinary and medicinal herb garden

4)  Have researched and am planning the use of companion plants

Finding ways to Maintain an income is part of the 2021 Challenge

Challenge Question #2

One of the biggest challenges to 2020 (not counting health issues) was employment. If your employment situation changed or was altered, how did you handle it?

1)  Lived on savings or the salary of a spouse or significant other

2)  Applied for unemployment and kept my eyes open for other opportunities

3)  Researched/created a home-based business

4)  Worked odd jobs as much as possible

4)  Tightened our belts, cut expenses, and integrated ways to make it through

2021 Challenge Question covers homeschooling and faith

Challenge Question #3

With schools and churches closing for a period of time, did you:

1)  Stay in the education system with remote learning?

2)  Implement a homeschooling program?

3)  Combine remote learning with homeschooling?

3)  Worship as a family?

4)  Worship through online attendance (if offered?)

5)  Lose your faith altogether?

Challenge Question #4

Maintaining a safe home is imperative, no matter the social situation. For your 2021 Challenge, think of ways you can keep your home clean and safe?

1)  Do a thorough cleaning, using purchased cleaning supplies

2)  Do a thorough cleaning using homemade cleaning products

3)  Wear masks each time you are in public and use hand sanitizer

4)  Stay home and order the necessities online

5)  Research suitable ideas for protection for your family & home (alarm systems, etc.)

FInd down time with a backyard tea party

Challenge Question #5

What ways did you find to prevent depression / entertain your family?

 1. Took up Yoga or Meditation

 2. Learned a new craft

 3. Reinstated a favorite hobby

 4. Played games (Lawn, board, cards, etc.)

 5. Read for pleasure or research

 6. Took care of neighbors in need

learn to bake bread and rolls as part of your personal 2021 Challenge

Challenge Question #6

How many old-time skills did you incorporate into your ‘new’ lifestyle?

 1. Canning and food preservation

 2. Dehydrating food

 3. Baking / Cooking

 4. Sewing & other crafts

 5. Bought chickens to raise for eggs / meat

 6. Joined a CSA

 7. Built or made items I needed (cold frames, un-paper towels, etc.)

Always have a first aid kit with up-to-date supplies handy

Challenge Question #7

What ‘Survival’ and Prepping skills did you research or implement?

 1. Water

 2. Water

 3. Supplies

 4. Bug out Bag

 5. First Aid – including herbal/natural home remedies

 6. Trapping / Hunting /Fishing

An owl with one eye open towards overcoming the 2021 Challenges

Challenge Question #8

Did 2020 open your eyes to shifting towards a different Lifestyle? What changes do you want to make? Are you considering a different form of employment, such as a home-based business? Share your thoughts, fears, questions, ideas, and frustrations.

Time to Reverse the 2021 Challenge

Now that you have given thought to, and answered all of the Challenge Questions, it is time to Challenge 2021. Make this the year that you make changes in your lifestyle, gain control, and take deep strides to making your world a better place to live.

Throughout 2021, I will be focused on ‘Creative’ ways to help you live a Simple Life. There will be information, how-tos, tips, and ideas that will help you each step of the way. I will be right here, beside you, applauding your successes, answering questions, and encouraging you along the journey.

To help you out a bit, be sure to download this free 2021 Challenge Worksheet. Use it as a reminder of what did or didn’t work in 2020, and to help you set goals for your Personal 2021 Challenge.

And if you happen to find yourself swimming in a mud puddle, all you have to do is look to your right. I will probably be right there beside you. We will agree to just call it a ‘spa day’, laugh about it, and then help each other up.

And stick around. I may even find a great homemade laundry detergent and bath products to get both our clothes and ourselves clean and ready for the next leg in our Simple Life journey!

two feet with a happy face by one and a sad face by the other

Keep Reading! The next post in your 2021 Challenge

– Make a Choice!

FAQ’s (just so you don’t think I was exempt from the homework…)

Julie – Did you take your own 2020 Challenge?

Yes, I did. And I learned a lot in the process!

How did you Answer the Questions?

Here are my answers:
1. e & f. We are pretty much set up, as I strive daily to live a Simple Life in every aspect of life. I did order a wider variety of seeds, and checked my craft room for supplies to make ‘personal’ toilet paper if it ever became necessary. (I got lucky – I found some wild-colored terry cloth. Not be most beautiful, but definitely useful!)
2. We already have an established garden, but I have to confess on being tempted by being able to answer ‘d’. In fact, that may end up being a community project for me in 2021!
3. a, c, & e (and if I am completely honest, a bit of f, too!) I already know how to can. I am one of ‘those’ who does not care for Ramen (although I do confess to finding one recipe that looked enticing), and Caramel M&M’s are my ‘super food’. I did buy a couple of extra bags of them – just in case. But I promise I limit myself to no more than 5 a day (10 if it is a very stressful one!)
4. d & e. One of my crafting passions is weaving, so my goal is to share that passion with you in 2021. That means digging deeper and learning frugal ways to do it! The Country Boy and I also made a Bean Bag Toss Game, and we are both improving our skills!
5. Skills that served me well – gardening, raising chickens for meat & eggs, crafting (home, farm & gifts), and dancing. Oh. That one was just because I had to dodge getting stepped on while feeding and putting out hay…
6. I really want to improve my skills in saving seeds, homemade cleaning products and growing/preserving/using herbs for culinary, and craft purposes.
7. Definitely the herbs – with a particular focus on the medicinal aspect. I have a selection of seeds I have collected, and now want to study more about using them appropriately for a more natural approach to our health care.

Did you also take your own 2021 Challenge?

Hey! You know I did! I wouldn’t dare make you do it if I wasn’t willing!

So spill it. What were your answers?

Okay. Here they are:
1. 1 – b&c. I have been on a quest for several years to grow as many of my own vegetables, herbs & fruit as possible. As a secondary goal, I am mainly growing heirlooms, so I can save the seeds. As for #2 under Question 1, I am in the planning/working stage of adding at least one raised bed and incorporating a flower bed into an herb garden. I also have a goal to plant more fruit trees this year.
2. 1 & 4. The Country Boy has a good off-farm job, so we lived off of that, and supplemented through what would be considered ‘home-based employment’ – my blog and the sale of farm products.
3. 4. Since the Country Boy works around other people, and our church is comprised mainly of older (wonderful, beautiful) people, we opted to stay home. We ‘attended’ church on line, and worked devotional time into our days.
4. All of the above. I am beginning to think I need to buy stock in a bleach company!
5. Crafting, reading and family game nights are always my best stress relief. If it gets really bad, I usually end up walking the property, crying on the shoulders of my cows, squawking my frustrations to my chickens, and ending up at the prayer bench down at the pond.
6. All but #6. We don’t have any CSAs in our area. But as for the rest? I work everyday trying to improve my skills in ‘all of the above’.
7. 5. We already had a fairly large first aid kit – for both us and the animals. But I did take inventory and research other items we might need. Most of that research included medicinal herbs.
8. As for ‘opening my eyes’, I honestly felt fairly well prepared, but still a bit stunned that this actually happened. My glasses may not have been rose-colored, but I confess they still had a pink tint. As far as fear comes into play, it was more about the health of my family and friends, and how to help them while still staying safe.

Did you actually make those t-shirts????

Um, no. But I did seriously consider it…..

If you have anymore questions, or want more detailed information on anything you are looking to add, change or consider for a better 2021, just stop by for a visit at If I can’t answer your questions, I know quite a few people who can!

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.


  1. I am so happy I found your blog!! I am taking both of the challenge “pop tests” and am going to have my husband take them too. We had some major changes happen during 2020 and might have more in 2021; so the simpler our life can get the better we will be when change comes. I look forward to following you along and reading your posts!

    1. Rebecca – I am SO glad you found me! Once you take the challenge, please let me know how you scored. I am always on standby for a good visit, and to help in anyway I can. Especially when it comes to living simply and more frugally. Which, if you enjoy making your own bread, be sure to keep up with the Baking as a Relationship series – the finale will have some easy things to do with all that bread!

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