30 Day Challenge List

Try something new for 30 days.

It’s a simple enough concept, but it is just enough to give your life a breath of fresh air, to get you out of a rut, to re-invigorate. I was inspired by Matt Cutt’s TED talk on this topic – it’s worth taking three and a half minutes and watching the video.

With that philosophy in mind, I’m trying to put together a nice list of 30 day challenges to inspire you.

To my mind, there are two ways to approach the 30 day challenge – habits, and achievements:

  1. Habits: Try something new and do it every day for 30 days
  2. Achievements: Aim to have completed something by the end of the 30 days
As a quick example, getting up before 6.30 every day is a habit, while learning French is an achievement. Habits are things you just start doing and stick to, while achievements are things you gradually work towards. Habits help your stamina; making a lifestyle change and sticking to it for a whole month is something to be proud of. Achievements are more like tick-list items; things that you can say you’ve done. It’s a slightly blurry distinction, but one that I feel can be useful.
Now these are just ideas to get you started – the best challenges will come from deep-seated needs inside yourself. Perhaps you just want to sing every day. Perhaps the idea of having your hair different every day appeals to you. A challenge that you personally invent is probably going to be more interesting. Having said that, when I first came across the concept of trying something new for 30 days, I thought “Great idea! Now what can I do?” so these lists are here to give you some ideas.
Add your own in the comments or @user24 on twitter :)
Habits you can pick up in 30 days:
  • Get up early every day
    • Just get a decent alarm clock (not your phone!), ideally without a snooze function, and just set it up on the other side of the room. Then make it a habit to get up, turn the clock off and get a glass of water. By that time you’ll have passed the danger point of “I’ll just rollover and sleep for a few more minutes”.
  • Do a sudoku every morning before work
    • Utterly pointless, but it will help you create a morning routine which will prepare you mentally for work. Our brains love routine and repetition. Plus sudoku is a fun ‘brain training’ exercise.
  • Photograph something unusual every day
    • I love taking pictures. This challenge makes a great excuse to get out with the camera every day. I suggest you print all the pictures out into an album when you’re done. It’s a great feeling to make something, even just a photo album.
  • Cook a new meal every day
    • Just buy a recipe book (charity shops are full of them!) and work through it, you’ll pick up loads of new techniques and ingredients, as well as a new skill. Plus it’s healthy to vary your diet from time to time.
  • Drink 2.5 liters of water a day
    • I never drink enough water, yet it’s a very simple way to improve your health. If you don’t like the taste, buy squash.
  • Eat 5 different fruit and veg portions a day
    • I find this so hard – I like fruit and vegetables – but I never seem to get 5 portions into my daily diet. I think I’d feel a lot healthier if I did.
  • Eat breakfast every day
    • Skipping breakfast is so bad for you. This one ties in nicely with the getting up early and having a morning routine. It’s also nice to have a bit of time to yourself before starting work.
  • Stay off red meat for 30 days
    • I’m such a carnivore, I think this would be the hardest for me. But thinking of the juicy rare steak at the end of the challenge would probably keep me going!
  • Become a vegetarian for 30 days
    • This is extreme, but perfectly achievable.
  • Stop swearing
    • There’s no reason to swear so much, try not doing it for 30 days.
  • Make something every day
    • Whether you’re making lemonade, or bread, or a papier mache bowl, just creating something every day is a great fulfilling challenge. And after 30 days you’ll have a load of new skills.
Things you can achieve in 30 days:
  • Write a novel
    • Every November the folks at NaNoWriMo get together and write an entire novel in 30 days. This is an awesome challenge with a strong community behind it. It’s perfectly possible, so what’s stopping you?
  • Walk 100 miles
    • Go for two 10 mile walks a week for this first 2 weeks, then three a week for the next 2 weeks and you’re done.
  • Learn a language
    • I find the “Teach Yourself” books are very good. It’s really not hard to pick up a language. It does help to have someone to practice conversation with.
  • Learn a really good card trick
    • I mean a proper jaw-dropping card trick. Buy the “Born to Perform” DVD with Oz Perlman and you’ll be performing professional quality magic within the month.
  • Swim a quarter-mile non-stop
    • If you’re a complete non-swimmer right now, this might be a longer-term challenge. If you can swim a few lengths then you can start training towards the mile. Slow your swimming down to preserve energy – the mile is all about stamina, not speed. I wouldn’t advise swimming more than three times a week. Twice a week is probably more like it. In a standard 25 meter pool you’ll be doing 17 lengths for your quarter mile. Ask the lifeguard how long the pool is. No need to do more than you need to – in a 33 meter pool quarter of a mile is only 13 lengths. If you’re swimming three times a week and can currently do 2 lengths non-stop, you only need to swim one extra length each time in a 33m pool. (I swam my first mile last month. If you want any tips hit me up on twitter @user24. If you’re in Northampton, let’s meet up and swim together!)
I’d love to hear your own ideas and experiences with your 30 day challenges!

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  1. #1 by Alex B on August 2, 2011 - 6:46 pm

    As ever, inspirational! Thanks, a kick I needed.

  2. #2 by Nicola on January 1, 2012 - 1:42 pm

    What a great video! I have shared it on facebook and twitter as an inspirational way for starting New Years Resolutions for 2012. Thank you for sharing this, it is very motivational!

  3. #3 by Briggs Straten on January 17, 2012 - 3:54 am

    I’ve tried a few 30 day challenges and loved it. I liked when you suggest, “make something everyday.” I think i’ll try that in an upcoming 30day challenge.

  4. #4 by Sudershan on September 18, 2012 - 8:03 pm

    Very inspiring !!

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