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I consider myself a fairly disciplined person; however, I’ve never had a new year’s resolution last longer than a week and I completed about five items on my “30 before 30” list. But I’ve found the sweet spot: 30-day challenges. I’m not suggesting going vegan overnight or giving up the internet, though initially, those were the too challenging challenges that I imagined. I’m not talking that extreme. I’m talking about something less intimidating, something more along the lines of Matt Cutts’ TED Talk, “Try Something New for 30 Days.” It wasn’t until I listened to it that I thought this approach might be doable.
A Sense of Achievement
So, what life-altering challenges have I taken on? That’s just it — they don’t have to be life-altering. So far, my challenges have ranged from personal care to mindfulness to core exercises. Every day for 30 days, I’ve flossed my teeth, meditated for 10 minutes, taken a photo, used my skincare regimen, written down three good things about the day, and did a plank challenge (primarily because my “good things” lists included a surprising amount of food and treats).
With each passing month, I’ve felt a sense of achievement, and more importantly, these habits have stuck. OK, I skip the flossing and the plank occasionally, but I generally keep up with each challenge about 75 percent of the time, even while adopting the next one. And as it did for Cutts, this approach has increased my mindfulness. I’m more aware of each day as it’s happening, noting accomplishments rather than watching the weeks fly by.
Here’s How to Get Started
- Take baby steps: To start, choose something that takes 10 minutes or less to complete.
- Be specific: For example, instead of saying you’ll do yoga every day, commit to 10 sun salutations.
- Nothing is too small: Maybe as time goes on, you’ll be ready to tackle more time-consuming commitments or bucket-list items, but start with achievable, measurable and satisfying challenges.
- Be accountable: Get a paper calendar and mark the days, and set two reminders in your phone, one in the morning and one in the evening. It’s easy to forget a new addition to your routine. And, depending on your challenge, there may be an app to help you.
- Brainstorm: Ask family and friends for ideas, check out blogs and articles online, and keep an ongoing list so you can pick something new each month. Remember, it doesn’t have to be life-changing! Check out some of these resources for ideas: Thought Brick (also inspired by Cutts!), Hackerella and Mindful Productivity.
- Don’t plan ahead: In the last few days of the month, see how you’re feeling and what life looks like in the upcoming month, and then choose your next challenge.
Live the Moment
Give the 30-day challenge a try. At month’s end, instead of wondering where the time went, you’ll have stayed in the present moment, at least for a brief time every day, and can reflect back with a smile: “What an interesting month — and I flossed my teeth every day!”
About Meredith McCurdy
Following a gap-year travel adventure in 2016, Meredith McCurdy is a freelance sports and entertainment marketer, yoga instructor and global wanderer. Previously, McCurdy managed Visa’s FIFA, entertainment and culinary partnerships. Prior to that, she was a sponsorship consultant at IMG (now Endeavor) and GMR Marketing. McCurdy earned an MBA from the University of Oregon, building on her previous experience in active lifestyle marketing. She is now exploring the social responsibility and social enterprise sectors.
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