30-day challenges are one of the hot trends sweeping society today right alongside drinking La Croix sparkling water and posting photos of your food on social media. It seems like there’s a 30-day challenge for everything you can think of from losing weight to de-cluttering your space.
The idea behind the 30-day challenge was sparked with the belief that it takes 30 days to make or break a habit (a notion, by the way, that’s actually hotly contested, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about today). Theoretically, if you could engage in a challenge, either on your own or with a group of like-minded enthusiasts, at the end of 30 days you should have developed a habit that you would be able to stick with for life – with some minimal maintenance, of course.
A theory with quite a few holes, eh? I agree. Here are some of the biggest ones I have identified:
- One cannot live on lemon water alone. Or at least, you really truly shouldn’t. Many 30-day challenges encourage participants to stick to an absurdly strict diet of something like cabbage soup and hopes and dreams, and it’s simply not sustainable. Studies show that more people “fall off the wagon” well before the challenge is complete than those who actually complete a challenge that requires you to make a drastic change suddenly. And those who complete the challenge? They dive straight into the proverbial cookie jar on day 31.
- I’m not buying what you’re selling. Many 30-day challenges are only centered around selling supplements or memberships or the latest gimmick. They are often not actually tied to improving health or well-being. How’s that for false advertising?
- Results not typical. Like I mentioned before because most of these challenges are so rigid and impractical, most people don’t even complete the initial 30 days, much less keep it going. While the makers of the challenge may tout amazing long-term results, those results certainly aren’t what the average bear can expect to see, and old habits come quickly back into play.
At the Academy, we’re trying a new type of 30-day challenge for the month of July, and we have
roped in invited the Members of our Point Peeps program to join us – and it’s working! Here are the details and the reasons why I believe this alternative 30-day challenge has a little more stick-to-itiveness:
- We are interested in long-lasting changes. The challenge we are in the midst of focuses on developing habits over time rather than ramming them down our throats on day one. We want to build some open-mindedness and a safe place to try on some things we’ve never done before (such as trying out meditation for the first time, cooking a vegan meal, or trying a social media free day) so we can try them on and see how they fit. When we recognize what it feels like to be open to something new rather than forcing ourselves to make a drastic change, we are more likely to stick to them!
- Build on what you’ve learned. Instead of trying to make one big change, our 30-day challenge focuses on building on what we experienced the day before. So while one day we practiced meditation, the next day we added on to the idea of opening space in your mind and worked on de-cluttering one room. See what we did there? We take a principle people might not be familiar with and ask that they be open to it on one day, and then expand that openness on the following day. Can you imagine the compound effect after 30 days?
- Don’t go overboard. You might think, “well, if I can take new ideas and build in them gradually, then I should be able to take several new ideas and gradually build them all at the same time, right?!” Slow down, overachievers. The point of a strategic 30-day challenge should be to implement change in a manageable way that encourages long-term growth and maintenance. Guess what? There is an opportunity for a new 30-day challenge 12 times every year. Make a list, get them going, and implement each of those great new ideas one month at a time 😉
30-day challenges can sometimes really suck. There, I said it. But they don’t have to. At the Academy this month, we are learning to take strategic incremental steps toward big change so we can take a look back in 30 days and look how far we’ve come and celebrate that rather than celebrating the fact that our 30 days are finally over.
What does the next 30 days look like for you?
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American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
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San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128