I like to do weird things because being a little bit weird means you aren’t afraid to step out of the current of conformity. Weirdness sets you a little bit to the outside. The nice thing about being on the outside is that it gives you a new perspective. Most of us take for granted that what’s “normal” makes sense when actually a lot of what we unquestioningly accept isn’t necessarily the best course of action for a good life. Most people I know spend several hours a day watching T.V. If I followed that normal course of action I definitely wouldn't have ever started this blog or coaching business. Normal does not equal good.
THE POWER OF THE THIRTY DAY CHALLENGE
The Thirty Day Challenge is pretty simple - you commit to doing something for thirty days. For instance, I recently concluded a Thirty Day Challenge where I only wore one outfit (hat tip to Kristy Powell at One Dress Protest) for an entire month (a white t-shirt and khaki shorts). That’s pretty weird, right? I wanted to see what it was like to not worry about what I was going to wear every day. I wondered what it was like to diminish the messages my clothes were sending through branding. It wasn’t a permanent change (although, coincidentally, I am wearing khaki shorts and a white t-shirt right now). It was just a challenge to see if something that seems really hard and weird is actually difficult.
DEVELOPING HABITS VS. CHALLENGING YOURSELF TO GROW
Thirty Day Challenges are also used to develop habits. Many people think that it takes about thirty days to develop a new habit so forcing yourself to do something every day for about a month is a potentially good way to develop a new behavior. I’ve done that before, but that’s not necessarily what I’m talking about today. I’m talking about thirty-day challenges where you test the limits of what you think you’re capable of. You aren’t necessarily changing any habits because you’re free to go back to the way things were before the challenge. I like to think of it as stretching a rubber band. For thirty days I’m stretching myself and once I stop stretching, chances are I’ll be a little bit larger and different than I was before.
EMBRACE THE EXIT PLAN
Thirty Day Challenges work because of their experimental nature. You aren’t committing to a lifetime change. It’s just thirty days. Piece of cake. However, you might find that some of your thirty-day challenges make you feel so good that you continue them indefinitely. That’s what happened with my vegetarianism challenge in April 2011. What started as a month-long experiment into vegetarianism just to see what it was like turned into a permanent lifestyle change. If I had gone into it knowing that I “couldn’t” change my mind after thirty days I probably never would have made the change to begin with. The option to quit without guilt after thirty days was there. I just didn't need to use it. You might be surprised by the changes you make that become a permanent part of your lifestyle.
Let your exit plan allow you try some crazy things for your thirty-day challenge. Do something you think is a little weird or difficult. Stretch your capabilities and even if you decide not to stick with it, chances are you will have grown as a person as a result.
If you need some ideas to get started, here’s a list of things I have done or am planning on doing in a thirty-day challenge soon:
- Only water to drink (no juice, soda, etc.)
- No caffeine
- No artificial sweeteners
- Only whole foods (eat nothing in a wrapper)
- Write 1,000 words every day
- Run at least 1 mile every day
SHARE YOUR CHALLENGES
I’m sure you can come up with your own challenges and I’d love to hear about what you think you’d like to do in the comments. Have you already done a thirty-day challenge? Share your experiences in the comments as well.