February 27, 2016

The 30 Day Challenge

This is one of our favorite layouts!

Why? Because the 30 Day Challenge can change your life. (Yes, really!) So many pages of the planner are devoted to concrete goals and tasks, but this one is all about habits: picking the things you want to either start or stop doing, that will affect how amazing you are every single day.

How to Use the 30 Day Challenge Plan

The 30 Day Challenge page has three main sections. Here’s how to think through each one:

1. Picking a challenge

The first step is picking a habit you want to form a break. (Scroll down for a list of challenge ideas!)

When you’re thinking of challenge ideas, make sure you pick something you can work on consistently. Remember, this is about habits, not goals. What is something you can work on in small doses this month that will improve your life or bring you closer to being the person you want to be?

2. Why you chose this challenge

Having a clear set of reasons why you want to do something is motivating, but it also helps to have them front and center when your willpower starts to wane. Why is this month’s challenge so important to you? What positive impact will this change have on your life? What will it mean?

3. Plan of action

Creating your action plan is the next step. Remember to keep it small and focused on iterative growth, rather than huge leaps. What can you do in a few minutes a day?

Try to identify potential obstacles before you hit them, and plot out what you’ll do when obstacles occur. For example, if you plan to train for a 5k, think through what you’ll do if it’s raining outside. Do you have a gym membership so you can run on a treadmill there? Troubleshoot now, so you don’t have to do it later (when it’s less likely to happen).

Tip: Consistency is the real key to success. Ideally, your challenge is something you’ll work on every day — but it doesn’t have to be. As long as you can make consistent progress throughout the month, you will be on the right track for success.

Need ideas? A few of of our favorite 30 Day Challenges

It is important to pick something that you can do consistently for a month, no matter what. That means you can do it if you are sick, or tired, or if there is a blizzard on your doorstep.

If you need some fodder for inspiration, here are a few of our favorites:

  • Read 10 pages in a book every day. 10 pages may not seem like much, but it can add up to 3520 pages (or about 12 books) in a year! And I have no doubt reading that much will make you smarter and more informed.
  • Use one commute per week. Make one of your commutes each week productive whether it is listening to an audiobook in your car, reading industry-related articles on the bus, or walking a little further to squeeze in some extra exercise. Each of these small things will add up week over week.
  • Improve your weekly planning. Without thoughtful planning, most people just end up working on whatever is in front of them. When you get deliberate about your days and your priorities, you will be amazed at how much more progress you can make on the things that matter.
  • Watch less TV. TV can suck up a lot of your time without you realizing it. Try tracking the time you spend watching it for a month. Anyone I know who has done this started watching a lot less television and hasn’t missed it!
  • Eat breakfast. Even if you just grab something small, put something in your stomach in the morning. There are all kinds of studies that show that people who eat breakfast weigh less than those who don’t, and that your morning meal fuels your productivity for the whole day.
  • Praise the people around you. Most of us don’t say thank you enough. Whether it is people on our team or people in our life, we don’t tell them how much we appreciate the things they do for us. Put an appointment on your calendar to send one praise email each week.
  • Keep a happiness journal. Write down one thing every day that made you happy. It can be a flower you saw on the way to work or the fact you had a good hair day— just write one little thing down each day. I did this for a year and I swear it turned me from a pessimist to an optimist.

Change doesn’t usually happen in big waves; it’s really, really unlikely that one thing you do today will be the difference between success and failure in the long run. Instead, success and failure usually happen little by little, over time, when you consistently do the small things that add up to big results in the long run.

How will you make this month — and the rest of your life — more amazing?