I am a big fan of continual self-improvement. I like to constantly challenge myself in both my personal and professional life. I strive to become smarter, healthier, more mindful, more productive, etc. This self-improvement is undertaken within the context of my larger life goals, but sometimes those goals are just too broad to really impact my day-to-day behavior. This is where 30-day challenges come in.
30-day challenges are a great way to experiment with new lifestyle choices. After all, you can do just about anything for only 30 days. 30 days is long enough to make a habit stick, but short enough to not make you miserable if your experiment just isn’t sustainable.
Tips for a successful 30-day challenge
I’ve been doing a lot of 30-day challenges lately, including daily workouts, drinking more water, decluttering and cooking more vegetarian meals. After experimenting with several 30-day challenges, I’ve realized some strategies that will help make any 30-day challenge more successful.
- Pick your challenge strategically. 30-day challenges should be about working towards meaningful goals. Think carefully about what your goals are, and what steps you might be able to take in a 30-day period to work towards those goals. A challenge that doesn’t relate to your goals will quickly seem frivolous and become difficult to maintain. Picking a challenge that will have a clear, positive impact on your life will help motivate you to stick with it.
- Focus on one thing at a time. To make progress, you need to be dedicated to your challenge, so it is best to focus on one thing at a time and try to build a habit around that one thing over the 30 days. This typically involves challenging yourself to do something every day or every week during the 30 days.
- Determine what you want to get out of the challenge. There are a few schools of thought about what a 30-day challenge should seek to do. Some challenges are designed to create a new habit that will continue indefinitely. Others are meant to foster extreme circumstances for a short period of time that will generate rapid results. Either of these strategies is fine, but be cognizant of what your goals are going into the challenge and design it with those goals in mind.
- Create a system to track your challenge. You’ve probably heard the saying “you manage what you measure” before. This sentiment is essential to a successful 30-day challenge. It is important to find a way to measure your progress through a 30-day challenge. For some challenges, I like to create a calendar and check off each day that I complete the challenge. For others, I’ll create a graph and track progress. The important thing is to find a system that visually displays your progress.
- Find an accountability partner. Recently, I’ve been embarking on 30-day challenges along with a friend, and it has made a huge difference. Being accountable to yourself is one thing, but reporting progress (or lack thereof) to someone else is a different motivator entirely. I would recommend agreeing with a friend or your significant other to try a 30-day challenge together so that you can help keep each other on track and engaged in the challenge.
- Reward yourself appropriately. Of course the reward of self-improvement should be reward enough, but who am I kidding, we’re a society that values instant gratification and we want rewards! I find that creating a reward system that works in line with your challenge is an effective motivator. It is important, though, that the reward not counteract the last 30 days of progress. For example, if you goal is to exercise for 30 days, reward yourself with a new work-out outfit at the end, not a giant meal or a week off of exercising. You want your reward to help encourage you to maintain the new behavior, not completely undermine it.
Do you like to do 30-day challenges? What are your tips for having a successful challenge?