Thirty days is not a long time, it’s true. There are many things you can do in 30 days though to affect positive change in yourself and within your life. We have put a lot of thought and research into creating a 30-day challenge to become a better You.
At the beginning of the 30-day challenge, the first thing to do is decide what you want to change, and whether that goal is possible to achieve realistically in 30 days. Try to keep this list of goals short so as not to overwhelm yourself. This could lead to giving up too soon. With a short list of achievable goals, the next step is to write them down where you will be able to see the list each and every day. This keeps your goals at the forefront of your mind and will influence the decisions you make for the next 30 days. Ultimately you want this 30-day period to be the starting point for more positive lifestyle changes that you continue in the long run.
How to Make Habits Stick
Some research suggests that it takes the human brain 21 days to form a new habit. Biologically it is possible to form a new neural pathway in our brains to incorporate a new habit. This takes consistent repetition daily for at least 21 days. So if your goal is to exercise more, for example, going on a one or two mile walk every day for 21 days will become a prominent feature in your lifestyle. You may not walk one to two miles a day every day for the rest of your life, but starting like this will ultimately lead to a daily habit of doing some form of exercise, which is more than you were doing before – mission accomplished.
Breaking Bad Habits
The 21-day rule works for forming new habits; unfortunately the same does not apply to breaking bad ones. If you are a smoker, for example, there are neural pathways in your brain that dictate your behavior: smoking. These neural pathways take much longer to break down or “re-wire” than they do to form new ones. In fact, the neural pathways that are already there will respond to certain triggers for a much longer period of time and your desire for that bad habit will be reignited. If your goal is to break a bad habit, combine your efforts and add a new habit at the same time. Replacing the object of desire (cigarettes) with a new, more positive habit (drinking hot tea) will make re-wiring your brain much easier and you will notice permanent changes much faster.
The Spiritual Component of Change
There are many people who have made huge lifestyle changes in a short period of time that give all the credit to their “higher power,” or a power greater than themselves. These are people who tried to make a dramatic change in their lives just using their own will power and were not able to do it on their own. Seeking guidance from a power greater than ourselves makes us feel like we are not alone in facing our challenges and we receive strength from this higher power to do things we could not do for ourselves. It is food for thought, and definitely worth considering.
Grab a Buddy
Sometimes it is easier to achieve a goal when you have a partner to do it with. Sharing your goal with another person can also add to your accountability, whereas when you’re doing something on your own you may slack or even quit. With a partner you have someone to call on in times of need and to help keep you motivated to the finish. Running a five or 10k race is a good example. If you have someone to train and run the race with, not only is it more fun, you can keep each other going when you get tired or think of stopping. You will be your partner’s support when they need extra help or motivation, which will in turn help you achieve your own goals. Sharing a goal with a friend not only helps you make a positive change in your life, it also strengthens the bonds of your friendship to have shared a common experience.
As you can see, it is quite possible to make a lot of progress in only 30 days. The primary goal is to use this 30-day timeframe to build sturdy foundations for lifelong habits. Once you have a solid starting point this change becomes a habit and more like second nature, which is a wonderful feeling. Start with one or two goals for a 30-day challenge and every 30 days set another goal. You will start feeling a great sense of accomplishment in the short-term and create lifelong habits that will keep you healthier, happier and more balanced overall.
- Aitchison, Steven. (2014). “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: A New Habit.” http://www.stevenaitchison.co.uk/blog/a-new-habit/. Internet. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
- Capo, Da. (2014). “Birth of a Habit.” http://www.beliefnet.com/Wellness/Articles/Birth-of-a-Habit.aspx#. Internet. 10 January 2015.