30-day challenges are everywhere on the web, so I decided to start my 30-day challenge of doing 30-day challenges. Now that’s official and posted I can’t cave into my procrastination.
It’ll be interesting to see how I can incorporate a daily habit of doing something for 30 days. In addition to 30-day challenges, I’ll also challenge myself to see how long it takes me to do them — if ever.
One thing that is constant among these challenges is that they’re small tasks you self-impose to force yourself into positive habits or to improve yourself or your skills in some way; they’re extremely popular online because people like sharing success stories and feel like part of a community doing it together.
Personally, I love them; they allow anyone to challenge themselves and improve, even if it’s just a few minutes a day.
But they’re also popular because people love structure. And that can be good, but it may also lead you to take the easy way out every now and then. In this article, I’ll present some common challenges and how you might tweak them for better results.
Here are my October challenges:
You meditate in a single spot in your home for 30 minutes a day without moving from your spot or speaking with anyone else during this time.
MEDITATION CHALLENGE: For advanced meditators, this is an excellent challenge; you could even try going outside once in a while (not recommended for novices). But if you’re trying to develop a new habit, there’s something more important than focus in meditation: discipline. So instead of sitting down for 30 minutes straight whenever you can spare them, try setting an alarm every day at the same time, then meditate for 5 minutes. If this proves doable, maybe go up to 10 or 15 minutes per session.
SHOWER CHALLENGE: It seems like a good idea, right? Maybe it’ll teach you tough lessons about what really matters in life or something along those lines. That’s probably not the case; most people will struggle to make it through their first few days using cold water before giving up and switching back to hot (my personal record, for now, is 7 days). If you’re willing to try it anyway despite hating the idea, here’s something that might help: start by gradually lowering the temperature.
WATER CHALLENGE: Stop coffee, soda, energy drinks, bubble tea, alcohol, and all the other drink options that probably contribute to your current health problems. Stay hydrated. Cut down on food portions. You can still have a few cups of tea, but only in the morning and with no caffeine!
READING CHALLENGE: That’s going to be very easy for me, as I’m reading all the time. The thing is, I usually read e-books and listen to audiobooks in the car. To make it a real challenge, I committed to finding time to read physical books without any distractions.
No complaining about anything for one month; if something seems wrong or unfair, think positive thoughts to yourself but do not voice them out loud.
NO COMPLAINING CHALLENGE: This can be very difficult in some contexts. I’m going to try it, but I know it’ll be a huge struggle for me. There’s an alternative way of doing it: focus on positive things that went well each day and don’t complain about anything else.
NO SWEARING CHALLENGE: This one’s really dumb and useless because there are plenty of other ways to be rude or aggressive; I’ll probably end up doing it anyway just to prove that you can swear while following this rule. Also, consider keeping a swear jar and giving the money to a charity you love.
Write down your 3 most important goals on any subject for the month and work on them every day.
GOAL SETTING CHALLENGE: This is a good way to set yourself up for failure because it’s easy to overestimate your productivity and end up empty-handed at the end of the month. I’ll try starting out by writing down some easy things I can do every day to make progress, and proceed from there.
Every day, write down 3 things you’re grateful for.
GRATITUDE JOURNALING CHALLENGE: This is a very practical exercise, and it only takes a few minutes to complete! Keep a journal by your bed at all times so you can write down anything that comes to mind as soon as you wake up in the morning or fall asleep at night.
Any kind of physical exercise every day for 30 days.
WORK OUT CHALLENGE: You can continue to do this after the 30 days are over, but you’ll get results much more quickly if you focus your attention on a specific target (like running, weight lifting, or powerlifting). Don’t forget that working out isn’t just about exercise: it’s also a chance to socialize and have fun!
No sugar (or another sweetener) consumption for one month; contrary to what you might think, this is easier than quitting smoking because you don’t have nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
NO SUGAR CHALLENGE: This one’s surprisingly easy if you just say “no” when you order your food at the restaurant. If you really want to make sure you don’t cave in, ask for a lot of veggies when you eat out.
WRITING CHALLENGE: If you’re just starting out, try a “daily journal” or a “daily blog” and see where it takes you. If you’re an experienced writer, try some freewriting exercises to improve your writing skills, or write about what you think are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer.
No fast food (or any other convenient food) for 30 days. Fast food is not just bland but also bad for your health (and if you’re worried about the latter, it’s one of the easiest things to get rid of).
NO FAST FOOD CHALLENGE: This is probably going to be the hardest for me. I’ll try doing this in parallel with the “no sugar” challenge because it can make you crave all kinds of sweet things. I have terrible eating habits, so this will definitely be challenging.
TRACK EVERYTHING YOU SPEND CHALLENGE: This one’s actually fun because it can let you know where most of your money is going and what you can do to save more of it. Also, don’t forget that the best way to track your spending is by keeping all your receipts and doing it at the end of every day. I usually don’t carry money around and pay for everything with a card so I do have a good idea about my spending, but I’m definitely curious where this one will end.
It takes 28 days to build a habit (although some habits can take longer to acquire and others might disappear quickly). A challenge is a great way to get more out of life because it gives us a reason to work on our habits every day. Sometimes though, life gets in the way and we can’t fulfill our commitment to ourselves.
On the first day of my challenges, I got in a car accident and spent 6 hours with the police and the insurance company. On the second, I got horribly sick, and on the third day, my internet got cut off, and I had to pack my stuff and work outside the comfort of my home. Stuff like that continues happening, and I’m not even halfway through.
Yet, I’ve been able to stick to most of the challenges successfully, and that gets me thinking about my future in this way. I still think it’s pure stubbornness that keeps me going.
I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to complete all 30 challenges successfully. I’m still journaling my progress though, so you can follow my blog to check up on me and nag me if I slack off.
I’ll report back here 30 days from now. Let the countdown begin! :))