Monday, January 9, 2012

The Complete Step-By-Step Guide On How To Do Successful Thirty Day Challenges And Make Them A Habit

One of the first things that I suggest you master as a student is the ability to change your habits. I put this first because if you want to really accomplish things you have never achieved, you are going to have to change what you are doing. If you can't do that, then those goals will remain out of reach. It's for that reason that I wanted to put to together this complete step-by-step guide on how to do successful thirty day challenges and make them stick. It's the cornerstone of the program.

Here are the steps I would take to master the thirty day challenge.

Step 1: A few days before the beginning of a month, decide on your first thirty day challenge

Five days before the beginning of a month, start thinking about something you could change in your life. Brainstorm a list of possible things you'd like to do differently. Take the time to list a bunch of things. Most of us have lots of things we know we should or shouldn't do but we never really act to fix that. For example, I should brush my teeth three times a day but I usually don't. These are most likely going to be routine habits you'd like to establish in your daily schedule.

Step 2. Only do one challenge at a time

It's easy to get wrapped up in the idea that one change is good that more would be better. This approach usually shocks the system. Pick one thing to focus on at one time.

Step 3: Make your first thirty day challenge something easy that you know that you can complete

Don't make your first several challenges very hard. In fact, make them so easy that others might laugh at your challenge. This is about creating a mindset of success. Success breeds success.  Every success you make creates confidence. Confidence builds mental strength. Mental strength makes change easier. As you get mentally stronger, make your challenges a little more difficult. I suggest starting with things you can subtract out of your day instead of add as well. It's easier to give up a certain food than to walk ten miles every day.

Step 4: It has to be something that is a daily activity and that you can easily measure

Your thirty day challenge should be something that is a daily activity. Things that you don't face every day shouldn't be thirty day challenges. Make them things that you routinely have to do (or not do when it comes to eating for example) every day. Also, make it something easy to measure on a daily basis. For example, I will walk for 10 minutes each day. Be specific on what has to happen each day.

Step 5: At first use challenges that substitute better things you should do or subtract rather than add to your day

I found it's easier to substitute drinking water for diet coke. It was easier to substitute chocolate for fried food. It was harder to get up and walk every day. Things that don't require much effort make great first thirty day challenges. Again start with the easy stuff.

Step 6: Start your thirty day challenge on the first of the month

Just like a new year, each month provides a fresh start. Start all of your thirty day challenges on the first of the month.

Step 7: Complete the first day of your challenge

Get that first completion out of the way on your first day as quickly as possible. But get one done and then allow yourself to do whatever else you want the rest of the day.

Step 8: Create a thirty day challenge forum thread

After you complete your first day, go to the forum and create your own forum thread with a subject line of:

Thirty Day Challenges - Your Name Here

Step 9: Announce your challenge and that you completed the first day

In your forum thread, announce what your thirty day challenge is and that you completed your first day.

Step 10: Complete your challenge each day

Each and every day of the month, complete your thirty day challenge. If a month has more or less than 30 days. It still counts as thirty. Just do it every day of the month. So you should always save your hardest challenge for

Step 11: Report that you completed your challenge in the forum each day in the forum thread you created

Every day that you complete your challenge go to your forum thread dedicated to your thirty day challenges and report that you completed it. It's enough to say: "I completed day X of my thirty day challenge. Did whatever it was you set out to do"

Step 12: Five days before the beginning of the next month start thinking about what you want your next thirty day challenge to be. Make it progressively harder than the first one.

The ideas here is that once you know that you can complete a thirty day challenge, you know you can do another one and then another one. But don't make it so hard you won't be able to complete it. Make it just a little harder than the previous month.

Step 13: Continue to complete your challenge each day until the end of the month you started

Make sure that you make it the whole month. Complete every day.

Step 14: Once you complete your challenge, continue completing it each day after the month is over.

The key to these thirty day challenges is telling yourself that you only have to do it for thirty days. But once the thirty days is over, you will continue doing it after the end of that month. Continued and sustained change is the goal.

Step 15: Start your next thirty day challenge on the first of the next month

At the first of every month, start a new thirty day challenge.

Step 16: Repeat the process each month, again making it progressively harder

Start out with easy changes. After three or four months of easy changes, begin starting challenges that require effort on your part but not a whole lot. Again, progressive resistance builds mental strength. The stronger you get the more you strength you will have to tackle harder challenges. Once that happens, motivation starts to kick in a little more. Even when you never had any to start with.

Step 17: If you fail to complete a challenge, don’t talk about why you failed, just start again on the first of the next month

It's important to build on success and ignore failure. If you don't complete your challenge, don't explain why and don't post in your forum thread. Just start another challenge the first of the next month. Remember as black belts we only talk about what we accomplish not what we don't. If you didn't complete a challenge, it just means that you weren't mentally strong enough that month. Start with something easier and go back to step 1.

So there you have it. My guide to how to complete your thirty day challenges and make them stick. Now go for it.

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Michael Kuhn

Black Belt Project: Build Mental Strength


Wordpress put this comment from Juli on another post so I moved it to this post which is where it was intentded to go:

I think it is important to remember step 3, not to take on something that is too hard or that you might fail doing. Nothing like a failure to set you back! I even went back on day one of this 30 day challenge and changed my " work up to one hour walking a day" and a set 64 ounces of water to simply walking daily and drinking water. I didn't want to set myself up to fail this challenge and will continue my walking beyond the 30 days. I'm sure in time, I will work back up to the hour I used to walk but just making the commitment to do these things is making me feel better already.

I am still wondering about the short and long months that aren't 30 days. Do we stick to the days of the month or the 30 days of the challenge? I think it makes it easier to begin on the first day and end on the last day. What should we do?

The way it works Juli is that we call it a “thirty day challenge” but it means for the month. You’ll find that rule in Step 10.

Great strategy making it easy at first. That’s really important to build on success. When I first started walking, I only did it for 10 minutes just to get started. I slowly worked it up to an hour myself in my thirty days and then went back down to half an hour because that was my mental strength. I did that for several months after. Once I was stronger, I made my challenge three miles which is basically an hour.