The Benefits of the 30-Day Challenge

Image by Philip Chapman-Bell, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Image by Philip Chapman-Bell, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

A 30-Day Challenge is a highly-effective method for personal growth that involves trying something new or developing a new habit. The concept is fairly simple: choose something that you would like to do every day (or another specified frequency) for 30 days, commit to that action, and stick to it!

The first time I heard about the concept of a 30-Day Challenge was from Steve Pavlina, one of my favorite personal development bloggers who has been a huge inspiration for my continued personal development. I have attempted several types of 30-Day Challenges which have resulted in newly-formed positive habits, the stoppage of detrimental habits, and a range of new worldviews and perspectives.

Some of my favorite 30-Day Challenges that I have experimented with include trying vegetarianism (which eventually led to a 30-Day Vegan Challenge as well), committing to a daily meditation practice, writing every day, giving up coffee, flossing my teeth every day, waking up at 5AM every morning, and studying a foreign language, Not all of my 30-Day Challenges have been completely successful, but they have all taught me about myself and allowed me to experience something new for a short period of time. This can be a helpful tool that allows the participant to gauge whether or not he or she benefits from the new behavior.

We all know the challenges of starting a healthy habit or breaking a bad routine. Most of us have had this experience with New Years Resolutions, for better or for worse. Before the resolution starts, we are excited and motivated, but that positive energy can wear off before the habit itself is established.

One benefit of the 30-Day Challenge is that it is a (relatively short) medium-term commitment. It isn't difficult to try something for 30 days, because there is no need to commit to a lifelong change (which can be overwhelming and stop you before you even get started!). It's possible that the new habit will stick for longer than 30 days, but that will not happen in every case.

30 days is enough time to get past the beginning stage when the habit feels unusual and is not fully ingrained. There is less of a chance that you will prematurely stop the habit when you commit upfront to the new behavior for a minimum of 30 days. Getting past those few initial weeks when the habit feels strange can be difficult, but after about three weeks many habits begin to feel routine.

If you are interested in attempting a 30-Day Challenge of your own, here are some ideas:

  1. Go vegetarian for 30 days. If you don't feel comfortable with that, how about trying to participate in Meatless Mondays for a full month?
  2. Start a daily yoga or meditation practice.
  3. Read or write an hour per day.
  4. Unplug the TV or shut off Internet access for 30 days.
  5. Give up caffeine or alcohol for 30 days.
  6. Wake up early every morning. 
  7. Write in a journal every day.
  8. Do a 30-day fitness challenge.
  9. Turn off your cell phone for 30 days.
  10. Go out every night to a new place. This is a great way to explore a new city or reconnect with a familiar one, and will definitely make for a lot of fresh memories!

These are just some ideas to help you get started. I have found 30-Day Challenges to be extremely beneficial for me and will continue using them to better myself and experience things that I wouldn't normally have the courage to try. I hope that this post encourages you to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. The new you could be right around the corner, just waiting for your current self to come around the bend!