February 27, 2016

The 30 Day Challenge

This is one of my favorite layouts. When it comes to the things I want to do, they typically fall into two buckets: concrete goals (like projects), and habits I want to stop or start (like working out, eating healthy, and being present).

Objective:

While the Monthly Goals and Weekly Goals work great for those tangible, specific things I want to do, they don’t fit well for the habits. This is where the 30 day challenge comes into play.

How to Use the 30 Day Challenge

It is important to pick something that you can do every day no matter what. That means you can do it if you are sick, or tired, or if there is a blizzard on your doorstep. Think small—something that can fit into 10-15 minutes.

There are lots of great examples of small habits that can help you lead a better life. If you need some fodder for inspiration, I have included a few of my favorites:

Read 10 pages in a good book.

Ten pages may not seem like much, but it can add up to 3520 pages or about 12 books over the course of a year! And I have no doubt reading that much information will make you smarter and more capable in your line of work.

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.

Figure out your to-do list ahead of time.

Without thoughtful planning, most people end up working on whatever is in front of them (like email or social media). 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.

Write down all your TV time.

You probably don’t want to stop watching TV cold turkey, but it can suck up a lot of your time. Try tracking your TV time. Write down the amount of time you spend in front of the TV every day. Anyone I know who has done this started watching a lot less television and (most importantly) hasn’t missed it!

Eat breakfast.

Even if you just grab string cheese, a hard boiled egg, or a lara bar, put something in your stomach. There are all kinds of studies that show that people who eat breakfast weigh less than those who don’t. Plus your brain burns up a lot of energy, so if you want to tackle your important tasks in the morning, make sure it has fuel to burn.

Send one praise email a week.

Most of us don’t say thank you enough. Whether it is people on our team or people in our life (like our spouse and parents), 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.

I’ve listed a few healthy habits. However, the number of habit-forming challenges is endless, and I am sure you can come up with lots of ideas on your own.

How to Use the 30 Day Challenge Plan

Once you come up with a challenge, the next step is putting it into practice. There are two parts to this – the why and the how.

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.

Creating your action plan is the next step. Remember to keep it small. It can also help to identify potential obstacles before you hit them.

*Challenge Tip: The 30 days don’t have to be consecutive. Sure, if you can do something everyday that is great, but don’t let that deter you. Do something for 30 days and be proud of what you accomplished! Consistency is the real key to success.