The 30-Day Challenge
You may have seen a lot of 30-Day Challenges floating around on the internet, in gyms, on food blogs, etc. I sure know a lot of people that tackled the Whole30 diet, took a “dry” January, or attempted to start a new behavior over the course of 30 days in the hopes that they would magically form a new lifelong habit.
Well I’m here to tell you that the magical 30-days-to-a-new-habit idea is, in fact, a myth. I don’t say this to dishearten you, but to encourage you! Keep tackling those 30-day challenges, find a friend to keep you accountable, and then don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t feel like habit after 30 days. Science has shown that on average it takes 66 days, more than two months, for a new behavior to become a habit. Depending on the person, the behavior, and the circumstances, it can really take anywhere from 18 days to 254 days.
Use your 30-Day challenge as the first phase of creating new habits and making big lifestyle changes that you’ll want to keep up forever. Starting with forever is daunting. Starting with 30-Days and periodically reevaluating as you meet the smaller goals is manageable and fun!
5 Tips for Tackling Your Own 30-Day Challenge
1. Nominate an Accountability Buddy. Having someone who holds you accountable really helps keep you on track. They give you reinforcement on the difficult days and celebrate with you when things are going great. Your accountability buddy can be someone doing the challenge with you, a fitness instructor, a partner, or a friend halfway around the world. Just be sure to check in with them regularly, daily if possible.
2. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others. Habits aren’t always formed in 30-days so don’t get discouraged if someone else claims they did it in 30 days. Keep working, keep moving on, keep your accountability buddy, and don’t get discouraged! Adopting new habits and new lifestyles is a different process for everyone.
3. Don’t Wait Until the Beginning of the Month. Start when you feel inspired. Start now. Just because its 30 days doesn’t mean it has to be dictated by the beginning and ending of our calendar months.
4. Practice Self-Forgiveness and Self-Love. No one is perfect and the likelihood that you’ll have an off day is pretty great. Go ahead and forgive yourself. The science shows that “missing one opportunity to perform the behavior [does] not materially affect the habit formation process.” It’s not an all-or-nothing process! Remember, you’re going for longevity. This isn’t a 30-day race to the finish so you can get back to your old lifestyle.
5. Reevaluate After 30 Days. Are things starting to change for the better? What works and what doesn’t work? Reevaluate your goals, set new ones, and tackle another 30 days!
I hope you’ll join me in tackling a 30-Day Challenge. Whether it’s fitness, food, or lifestyle, let us know and let us help you!
Lally, Philippa and Cornelia H.M. van Jaarsveld, Henry W.W. Potts, Jane Wardle. “How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world.” European Journal of Social Psychology. 40: October 2010.
James Clear, HuffPost Healthy Living, “How Long Does It Actually Take To Form A New Habit?” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-clear/forming-new-habits_b_5104807.html