30 Day Challenges

10 08 2011

I recently watched this TED talk that introduced me to the idea of taking on 30-day challenges.  The concept may not seem revolutionary, but it is quite effective in its simplicity.

Think about this:  There are tons of things that people want to try or personality traits that people want to improve, but most of these things just seem too daunting to attempt.  However, by limiting the challenge to 30 days, the difficult item becomes very possible and the challenge seems within reach.

Just under three weeks ago, I decided to start my own 30-day challenge with the following parameters: No blaming, no complaining and no chocolate for 30 days.

For those who know me, the third challenge has been the hardest.  I lasted about a week, at which point I was ready to retire the challenge and take it up another month.  (For me, a week is definite success!  Especially when it meant turning down hot fudgy brownies at camp…)

I Still Dream of This S'more from Reno...  How Could Anyone Resist?

I Still Dream of This S'more from Reno... How Could Anyone Resist?

I thought that the “no blaming and no complaining” challenge would be a breeze.  I’m a positive person, so this challenge wouldn’t mean any real change to my personality, right?

Wrong!  Until I took on this challenge, I never realized how much I did both of those things – even on a small scale. I would accidentally hurt myself and mention it to Yair at least a couple of times.  I would wake up in crazy heat if Yair had forgotten to turn on the A/C as promised, and feel the need to tell him that he forgot.  These are small examples, but they totally add up.  By forgoing blaming and complaining, my entire day and all of my interactions became so much more positive.

It’s been about twenty days and I unfortunately had a slip-up in the blaming department last week (darn!), but the challenge is more about the process than about achieving perfection.  The self control gained from these small exercises is incredible and – even with a few slip ups – the challenge item or “better behavior practices” often seep into your daily life and persona by the end of the month.  Kind of like the Jewish idea of mitoch lo lishma, ba lishma – that doing good deeds for personal interest or gain will ultimately bring you to do good deeds for the right reason and incorporate these positive actions into your being.

Tamp Down Your Inner Devil...

Tamp Down Your Inner Devil...

...And Embrace Your Inner Happy!

...And Embrace Your Inner Happy!

My short list of potential (no promises yet!) current and future 30-day challenges includes:

  1. Physical Fitness: Getting heart rate up and stretching every day
  2. Food Related:  Forgo chocolate, vegetarian, only eat when hungry
  3. Skill Related:  Handstand and juggling practice
  4. Behavior Related:  No complaining, no blaming, no stress, wake up for sunrise, be an active listener

If you were to take on a 30-day challenge, what would make it to your list?  (Try it!)

posted by ayo

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6 responses

10 08 2011
Brenda Auch

I saw that same TED Talk recently and have been excited to try it. I think I’m drawn to it because it can be used as a way to introduce and incorporate long term habits OR to simply try out some things that you’ve always wanted to do but don’t necessarily want to do forever. And I’m kind of a “scanner” type person. I love to explore new things but rarely want to dedicate myself to them long term. There’s too many other things out there that I want to give a try as well! So this is a cool way to break things down into do-able chunks for me.

First on my list is meditation, which I’ve been wanting to give a try for like, forever, but have always felt intimidated by for some reason. A few other things I can see adding would be; tai chi, get back into yoga, read only books I *already* have, get rid of one unnecessary thing every day, preparing/eating new foods regularly, making a point of making eye contact, doing breathing exercises, etc. And I love your “no complaining” idea. 🙂

10 08 2011
Bernie

I love this post. Clearly the concept makes it sound easier than it will prove to be in actuality. But having the conscious thought to do something worthwhile is of great value. And even when you slip up you’ll probably be aware of it immediately.

10 08 2011
Glenn

How about 30 days of no 30 day challenges?

11 08 2011
Yair

No way man. That’s like wishing for more wishes.

12 08 2011
Glenn

Actually, it’s more like wishing for no wishes.

11 08 2011
wanderingairstream

love this… i do something very similar, but for 21 days (although i am trying to string 21 days into forever..not perfectly mind you, but just consistent trying and conscious effort) i did a fun post about it.. here’s the link:
http://wanderingairstream.com/me/backtalk-flibbertigibbets

it’s something i started doing about a year and a half ago and if you read the post you’ll see, i think it is one of the single most valuable things you can do, it is very!!! eye-opening. (; look forward to your updates on this one…

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