“If it is important, do it every day, if it isn’t, don’t do it at all.” – Dan Gable
I completed a few different 30-day challenges since the beginning of the year and found them to be rewarding and a lot of fun to do. I am a big fan of building habits through small changes. You can see more on mini habits in this article. I do however see the power of a 30 day challenge for pushing you to your limit and seeing dramatic improvements over a short period of time.
Here are six of the most beneficial challenges I have completed in the past year.
1. 30/30 squat challenge
For 30 days you hold a third world squat for a total time of 30 minutes throughout the day. Ido Portal set this challenge and 1,000s of people have completed it. The Facebook group provides daily motivation and accountability. Some people post their daily progress while others post their before and afters. Some of the pictures are hilarious with people squatting in random locations, at the office, on the street and so on.
The best thing about this challenge is how much it improves your squat. For years I worked on my squat doing various mobility drills. Nothing has come close to this for improving my depth, opening my hips and ankles. It is also a great habit to practice anytime you are waiting. Instead of standing or sitting…squat!
Along with improved squat technique I have found improvements in digestion and bowel movements.
What does NOBNOM stand for?
No booze, no masturbating and no porn for 30 days. Tim Ferriss set this hilarious challenge and it went viral. Over 5,000 people signed up for the challenge in August using Lift.do. Tim posted it after completing the challenge himself and found a huge increase in productivity.
“Less obvious, perhaps, is how dramatically your life can change if you quit porn and masturbation for a short period. I did this for 30 days recently, and — oddly enough — I found it much easier and more impactful to quit booze for the same 30 days.”
I found the daily check ins on Lift helpful as they kept me on track throughout this very challenging month. Going 30 days without alcohol was easy for me but abstaining from masturbating was a different story.
The first 10 days were the most challenging but as the days went on I found that my energy levels increased dramatically. Free time alone and yoga class were the most difficult times during the month. When the urge came up I would try and meet people or do some sort of exercise. Long walks worked well also.
This challenge was the most difficult of the six. I think with the easy access to porn it can very quickly become an unhealthy habit. It also acts as an interesting conversation when people ask why your aren’t drinking!
- No Facebook
I found myself spending more and more time on Facebook so in October I decided to go 30 days without it. I used hootsuite to post any blogs or updates but never actually logged in.
Facebook is awesome I just didn’t like the control it was taking over me. My daily routine started and finished with Facebook and it took preference over everything else. I also did a 10 day Vipassana retreat so the fact that I had no internet access for the first 11 days made this challenge much easier.
Productivity went up as a result of this and I enjoyed the break. After the month finished I set some rules to keep Facebook from taking over again.
On Saturday at 6pm I turn off the internet and don’t use it until Sunday at 6pm. I use this time to read, write or socialize. This 24 hour break is a sustainable break that I feel is beneficial to creative thinking. I got this idea from Chris Guillabeau.
Daily I no longer check facebook or email first thing. After 10 a.m. I will check and spend less than 30 minutes updating and replying. I use an app called stayfocusd which blocks any sites you want after a certain time period.
4. 30 blogs in 30 days
I made a habit of writing 50 words a day when I first started this blog back in March. This mini habit got me writing everyday no matter what. It was great building a habit of daily writing but I felt it was taking much too long to write a single post.
For 30 days I wrote a blog 600 words or more in length. It got me more comfortable writing without worrying about the quality of the content. My writing improved and I also had a some good ideas after the month.
A few things I noticed. Out of 30 posts about 10 were decent ideas. I found the more I wrote the more ideas I would generate. But I also found this schedule to suck a lot of the enjoyment out of writing. I would wake up and realize I have no idea what to write and find it difficult to start. After the challenge I didn’t wrote consistently for a few weeks until I implemented the mini habit of 50 words a day again. It reduced my resistance to writing and I started writing at least 50 words each day again.
5. 20 minutes of meditation
The time you use is up to you. I think working up to 20 minutes is a good goal. If you can start with 20 minutes then great! As little as 5 minutes is fine as long as you can do it everyday for the 30 days.The vipassana retreat recommends two 60 minute sessions a day for the first year (I’m currently doing 30 minutes twice daily).
Meditation doesn’t have to involve sitting cross legged like a monk. As long as you give yourself at least 5 minutes of quiet time a day you will experience huge benefits from this challenge.
I have written a detailed post on the benefits of meditation here.
6. 30 pushups/day for 30 days
The amount of pushups you do is based on your own strength levels. How do you check the amount of pushups you should do?
Do as many pushups as you can in 60 seconds.
That’s your daily amount of push ups.
I did 60 so I do 30 a day for 30 days. If you can only do 5 then your daily amount is 3.
I saw a huge improvement in my upper body strength and my definition around my arms, shoulders and abs. My bench-press improved along with asanas that require upper body strength.
Each of these challenges will improve your life. They may even change it! Good habits form a positive foundation to build other good habits. Only choose one challenge at a time. If it is a short challenge (meditation, pushups, writing) complete it first thing in the morning. If the challenge is eliminating a distraction (no Facebook, NOBNOM) make it as easy on yourself as you can. Reduce the triggers that cause you to think about the habit. Use apps that block websites from your laptop and focus on other activities.
If you have completed any 30 day challenged that you have found beneficial please let me know in the comments.