30-day challenges are in vogue right now.
There’s everything from decluttering to eating paleo to attempting a spending freeze being wrapped up in a 30-day challenge. You can focus on your mental health, weight loss, your health, or mindfulness. Aim for that six-pack with a bodyweight workout challenge or read every day.
It makes sense.
30 days is short enough to get a real taste of the change you’d like to make or the goal you’ve set, but not so long it becomes a Herculean feat to accomplish. And it’s a great way to start the new year off right!
I’ve set myself little challenges before, like the no-spend-month or really small ones like the $20 for ten days challenge.
But, I’ve never considered setting myself a new challenge every 30 days. That is, until I watched the short (3 minutes) Ted talk shown below.
The question then becomes; if I’m going to set myself a new 30 day challenge each month, what would I do?
It’s not quite the same as being told you’ve got a carte blanche to go do whatever you want for a month, but, strangely, there’s definitely an element of excitement surrounding that question.
What would I do?
What could I do?
30 Day Challenge Ideas
If you’re curious about trying some 30-day challenges yourself, here are some ideas you might like to try.
For your body:
Drink more water
Few of us drink enough plain water every day. I’m certainly guilty of choosing coffee over a glass of water.
Proper hydration can make a huge difference to our general health and well-being, from clearer skin to a healthy digestive system.
Brush your teeth twice a day
Oral health plays a massive role in overall health.
Make sure you’re doing your best to keep your teeth and gums healthy. That means using a soft toothbrush and brushing twice a day.
And, flossing daily, too.
Eat an extra serve of vegetables each day
No matter how well you’re currently eating, an additional serve of colorful vegetables is a good thing. Remember, a serving is a cup of salad greens or half a cup of cooked vegetables.
Ban added sugar
This can be a tough one as sugar seems to be added to everything!
If you’re new to the sugar challenge, start with the most obvious things like cakes, cookies, and chocolate bars.
If you’re already avoiding the obvious ones, start looking for the hidden sugars. Even in savory foods?
Eat home-cooked meals
Eating a home-cooked meal every day will probably require some forward planning and meal prep, but you won’t regret the effort.
You’ll eat better and spend less money. Win/win!
10,000 steps every day
Many of us spend most of our days sitting at a desk. That’s not great for your body.
Grab an apple watch, pedometer, or dust off that Fitbit and start tracking your steps.
Achieving 10,000 steps a day will require effort. So, try adding in a lunchtime walk or doing a lap around the office every hour. Since many of us are working from home these days, consider grabbing a family member and take a break or two throughout the day.
Get 8 hours sleep
Getting sufficient sleep is the foundation of good health. Most of us don’t get anywhere near enough sleep.
Aim to be in bed for at least 8 hours, longer if you can manage it.
And, if you’re not convinced about the importance of sleep, watch this TED talk by Arianna Huffington.
Take the stairs (up and down)
Taking the stairs is a great way to add extra steps to your day, but it’s also an excellent way to tone your lower body – legs and butt. It’ll also give your cardiovascular system a workout and should help improve your resting heart rate over time.
For your mind:
Read every day
Reading can be a wonderful way to expand your mind and reduce stress.
You can choose whatever books strike your fancy: fiction or non-fiction.
Reading before you turn the lights out at the end of the day is an excellent way to unwind and disconnect from technology. Make sure you’re either reading a book or a device like a Kindle rather than your phone, laptop, or tablet. This will ensure you’re not exposed to blue light which can interfere with your circadian rhythm.
Follow a productivity system
Challenge your productivity by taking whatever method you use to the next level.
If your productivity currently sucks (like mine does most days), choose a system to use for 30 days to see how much more you can achieve.
Set 3 priorities each day and achieve them
A large part of being productive is self-discipline. So, each evening, set three priorities for the following day and make sure you achieve them.
To paraphrase Brian Tracey, self-disciple is knowing what you need to do and doing it. This is a great one to use as you focus on your personal development.
Imagine what you could accomplish in 30 days?!
Learn to meditate
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes, simply sitting comfortably with your eyes closed, allowing thoughts to waft through your mind, and breathing deeply can help quiet your anxiety and stress.
There are a myriad of different meditation techniques you can try. A great place to find them is YouTube.
Be an idea machine
James Altucher is a proponent of being an idea machine. Every day, write down at least 10 ideas.
They can be ideas for anything; a business, a garden design, a better can-opener. Whatever it is, write it down in either a journal, notebook or even a scrap of paper (just make sure you put it into a designated jar or box so it doesn’t get lost).
Revisit your ideas when you’ve got a quiet moment to see if there’s anything you want to pursue.
Creativity is a muscle that needs constant exercise. Generating ideas is a great way to keep your creative thinking in tip-top shape.
Practice a hobby
Do you have a hobby you’ve let slide lately? Knitting? Playing the guitar? Photography? DIY anything?
Whatever it is, spend some time each day practicing your hobby. Do something you love. It’s a wonderful way to manage your stress.
Learn a language
Learning a new language can entail learning to speak a different language or learning to write computer code.
Either one will challenge your mind and could benefit you in other ways, too, like your employment options.
For your soul:
These are challenges that will make you feel great about yourself and the world.
Random acts of kindness
Do one small thing every day for someone else.
Help carry groceries. Hold the door for someone. Buy a sandwich for a homeless person.
It doesn’t have to be a monumental event for you, but it might be for the recipient.
Each day, write down a minimum of three things for which you’re grateful. It can be about people, things, experiences. Whatever is happening in your life that sparks gratitude, big or small.
Smiles are contagious. Smile and say hello to your workmates, the barista, the bus driver.
At the end of 30 days, see how your relationship with the people you see regularly but aren’t friends or family have changed. You might be surprised.
Say “thank you” – actively
Most of us, I hope, say thank you all the time. But, do you do it actively?
For 30 days, make sure you look the person in the eye and say thank you. Notice how different it feels. Notice its impact.
Retrain your mindset to focus on the positive. The hardest part of that is not complaining, as it seems to have become a national pastime.
As my Grandma always said, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
There’s always a better way to deal with a situation that’s not to your liking. Take a deep breath and choose it.
Create a vision board and use it morning and night
Creating a vision board can be a fun process, but, you need to use it to get the real benefit. Once you’ve put your board together, put it somewhere you’ll see it morning and night.
Look at the images and feel the emotion achieving your goals will create. Don’t just think about it. Let the feelings wash over you, too.
An affirmation or two can be part of your vision board, or you can write them on post-it notes and put them in prominent places so you’ll see them throughout your day.
When you repeat your affirmations, say them out loud and make it part of your morning routine. Don’t believe me? Try it now.
Say an affirmation in your head, then speak the words out loud. Feel the difference?
This is especially useful if you’re feeling a bit stressed or generally overwhelmed by the world.
Have a good laugh every day. It’s good for the soul.
Take a break from social media
You might want to warn those people who expect to see you on Facebook that you’re taking a break. Then sign out of Facebook (or whatever your preferred social media platform might be) and don’t sign in again for 30 days.
That includes things like Tiktok, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, etc.
Your friends and family can still call you, so it’s not like you’re completely isolating yourself. You’ll just be removing yourself from all the emotional clutter for 30 days. Consider it part of a digital detox.
Speaking of clutter… Take a 30-day challenge to reduce both the physical and digital clutter in your life.
Unsubscribe from newsletters you don’t read. Unsubscribe from retail sites if you’re on a budget. Put a “No Junk Mail” sticker on your mailbox.
Pick a category or area of your home or office to work on each day. Scaling down your belongings and your wardrobe can make a huge difference to your stress levels, too.
Share a meal with family/loved ones
If your family is a bit like mine and we tend to eat on the run and/or at different times because of our schedules, try to find one meal a day you can sit at the table and enjoy a meal together. (Even if it’s on Zoom or Google Meets!)
Breaking bread together is an important bonding exercise whether you’re with family, friends, colleagues, or roommates.
Spend some time outside
Get some fresh air and sunshine every day. Depending on where you live, this one might be a bit challenging in winter. But, if the sun is shining, even if snow is on the ground, get outside and soak it up.
Fresh air is equally important, especially if you’re cooped up in an office all day.
For your finances:
Use cash only
If your financial discipline has evaporated lately, try going “cash only” for 30 days.
You can use a cash envelope system if you like or just take out the cash you’ll need for all your usual expenses for the week. The key here: once it’s gone, it’s gone.
No more withdrawals at the ATM or whipping out the credit card.
Track your spending
If using cash seems like too harsh a challenge, try tracking your spending for 30 days.
This is also a great foundation for organizing a new budget, too. (Check out our free printable budget sheet!)
Expenses change; fuel prices go up, food costs go up. Actually, pretty much everything goes up in price and rarely ever goes back down. That means you need to regularly revise your budget.
Take your lunch to work
If you’ve developed some bad habits around buying lunch every day, which can put a sizeable dent in your budget, try making lunch and taking it with you.
Yes, it?ll take a bit of planning, but it’ll be worth the effort. Keep a note of how much you save during this 30-day challenge and use some of it to reward yourself.
Take your breakfast to work
The same goes for breakfast as it does for lunch. If you’re guilty of hitting the drive-thru on the way to work, try taking breakfast with you instead.
When I worked in an office, lots of my workmates had oatmeal sachets or cereal in a desk drawer that they’d eat at their desk when they got to the office.
No spend month
Want to really stretch those frugal muscles? Try a no spend month!
Start a side hustle
Expand your means and, live your dreams!
There are lots of excellent reasons for starting a side hustle. Extra income is just one of them.
Have you thought about starting a side hustle? Use a 30-day challenge to either research potential hustles you can work on the side or use it to start your side hustle.
A side hustle can include everything from selling stuff on eBay to starting a blog or taking on a side gig as a personal trainer. Only you know what sort of side hustle will suit you.
Daily Challenges & Goals
Some of these 30-day challenges require you to learn new skills, some focus on developing new habits.
Whatever type of 30-day challenge you set yourself, even if your discipline wanes in places, you’ll have achieved something.
And, the more you challenge yourself, the better you’ll get at maintaining discipline and achieving your goals.
Now that’s something worth celebrating, right?
Change Your Life in a Small Amount of Time
Over time, I’ve learned that when I made small, sustainable changes, things I could keep doing, they were more likely to stick.
There’s nothing wrong with big, crazy challenges. In fact, they’re a ton of fun. But they’re less likely to stick.
Even if only two or three of these challenges create lasting change, it’s definitely going to be a change for the better. And, building a better life is worth a little extra effort, don’t you think?
Do you regularly set yourself 30 day challenges? What are some of the ones you’ve completed?