As part of a bi-monthly investment in our professional development, my manager sends a TED Talk with a message she thinks our team will find interesting or one that teaches us something or one that just makes us think.
Recently, she sent one that did all 3 for me: Matt Cutts: Try Something New for 30 Days (TED Talks – 3:20). Matt talks about how you can change your habits in 30 days by adding or detracting them if you stick to your goals – pretty standard wisdom there. But what I found interesting was Matt’s discussion of the effect of these challenges on his life. He talks about feeling more confident and redefining his self-image based on the activities he began to. He talks about growing your comfort zone and challenge yourself to complete things you never thought you could (he climbed a mountain!).
I took this to heart and made a list of 30 day challenge ideas that I plan to try over the next several months (possibly concurrently if I find I can keep up). While there are the common “get healthy quickly” challenges all over the internet, my selected challenges focus more on mindfulness, self-acceptance, and challenge my comfort zone.
Here are a few of my ideas:
- Self-Love Challenge (womanista.com): Spend 30 days thinking about what makes you uniquely you! You can follow prompts or just jot down something that you appreciate about yourself (physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.). A few examples:
- Write 3 things you love about yourself
- Describe yourself (including physical characteristics)
- Write about a positive memory or experience from the past year and how it made you feel
- Write about a hobby that makes you happy and tell the story of how you found it
- Picture Challenge: Take a picture every day fir 30 days. Subjects can be people, animals/pets, food, locations, nature, and anything else. You can easily find lists of ideas for this type of challenge online as well. My one rule is take a picture that is meaningful to me rather than simply following a checklist of random subjects. Some examples include:
- A new place you are visiting
- A portrait of or with someone you love
- An artistic representation of something important to you
- A representation of something you find joy and value in
- Gratitude Challenge: Write down something that you are grateful for every day to start or end the day on a positive note. I like to couple this exercise with affirmation statements (e.g. “I am capable,” “I am a work in progress and that is okay,” and “I am not perfect and I accept my flaws as a part of who I am.” Gratitude writing prompts abound on the internet, but topics again can range based on your interests and your experiences. Topics to reflect on include:
- People/Personal relationships
- De-Clutter Challenge (LifeAsYouLiveIt.BlogSpot.com): Otherwise known as a great way to clean very slowly when you hate cleaning, this challenge is productive and cleansing, but most importantly DOABLE. Breaking it down into manageable tasks makes the monumental project seem less stressful and overwhelming. Some ideas include:
- Cleaning out the fridge
- Deep-cleaning the bathtub
- Reorganizing your computer files and pictures
- Cleaning out your closet (if you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it)
- Yoga Pose Challenge: Learn a new yoga pose each day for 30 days. If you know yoga poses already, try new combination routines or new variations on the pose. If you do not know yoga poses, you can download apps, cheat sheets, or videos online to help you decide which poses would be beneficial to you and within your ability based on your experience.
- Beginner: Child’s Pose, Downward Dog, Table Top, Mountain, One Legged King Pigeon, Reclined Goddess, Seated Forward Fold, Tree
- Intermediate: Balancing Table, Camel, Eagle, Half Moon, Half Tripod Headstand, King Dancer, Rabbit, Side Plank
- Advanced: Boat, Bow, Crane, Mermaid, One Legged Squat, Pendant, Toe Stand
- Master: Bird of Paradise, Feather Peacock, King Cobra, King Pigeon, Scorpion
- Random Acts of Kindness Challenge: This challenge is more about recognizing opportunities to be kind to others. The opportunities can be simple or complex and they can impact one or many. The sky is the limit. A few examples include:
- Pick a flower for someone special
- Sending a “thank you” card to someone who has helped or inspired you (co-worker, mentor, former teacher, family member, friend, etc.)
- Spending an extra $3 to buy a coffee for someone else (either someone you know like a manager or coworker or someone you don’t like by paying the tab of the person behind you in the drive-thru)
- Leaving spare change on the vending machine for someone else to use
- Volunteer for a nonprofit or school for a few hours
I have found that these types of challenges uplift me – they make me feel more confident in myself, they fulfill me, and they help me learn new things about myself and others. I also relish the competition with myself to stay on top of the challenge to hit my milestones every day. It’s not easy, but it is worth it.
If you’ve tried a 30 Day Challenge, share your experience in the comments.