Admittingly, 30-day challenges can be long. Nevertheless, 30 days is oftentimes the minimum for a huge amount of challenges to see or feel some effects or get outcomes.
Well - but sometimes 30 days just feel like a bit too long to stick to it.
Let's face it, finding motivation each day is hard. However, it is called a challenge for a reason, right? Not, because it is easy-peasy - no, because it is challenging.
And while you are in the midst of your 30-days challenge, questions like may arise and can be tough to handle such as Why did I start it in the first place? and Who cares if I stop now? . By the way - I am polite here: It is more realistic that those questions are including way more swear words.
Therefore, to survive a 30-days challenge, it is important to have some strategies in place to keep yourself on track - Every Single Day Of The Bloody Challenge.
See - I'm swearing again... 👀
If I do not have a strategy at hand, I am more likely to stop a challenge when it becomes too hard or too boring for me. It even happened that I forgot why I was doing the challenge in the first place. In such a case, my motivation for a challenge fades away just easily.
There is a lot that can happen in 30 days:
Work can be stressful,
You're getting a cold,
Something unexpected happens,
You get into a fight that is taking all your attention.
Sometimes it is not even something extraordinary but simply the fact, that life goes on and your perspectives are changing or the challenge has simply become boring.
And then, a plan to live dairy-free for 30 days seems ridiculous at one point.
Exactly this is what happened to me just recently.
My ridiculous challenge
I was highly motivated to give a dairy-free life a try. I wanted to see how I feel, see whether I experience any improvements or whatever. I was open to letting a surprise happen after reading and hearing a bit from people living like that.
I started and moved on for 14 days. And then, after 14 days of my dairy-free challenge, I stopped because I was wondering what I was doing here.
"I was open to let surprise happen."
What?! Did I actually think that?
Let's be real - what the hell is that? That's nothing - no plan - no idea - no strategy. And I am super kind to myself by saying this. That challenge was deemed to fail.
So, what did I miss?
How to plan a challenge
Obviously, just an enthusiastic "Ok - let's go" won't work over the curse of 30 days.
That being said, I think I had no solid plan or reasoning for the challenge when I started.
And on top of that, I had no backup that kept me going when I got lost on the way.
Don't get me wrong, I want to stick to my challenges. I do not want to get bored by them.
So, to increase the chances that I actually make it to day 30, my challenges need proper planning.
For this, I start with finding answers to these questions:
What is my thesis?
What do I want to achieve?
What do I need to do?
Once I have these questions answered, I am theoretically ready to start 🚀
A solid plan is important - but, I need strategies that support me when the challenge becomes hard. And when it becomes hard, my bored or critical inner-me shows up making it even harder to stick to the challenge.
Then, the initial planning might come to its limits quickly.
💡Pro-tipp: Do not underestimate your inner you. That one might not necessarily want your best and starts asking smart and hard-to-answer questions with the goal to make you fail.
Strategies that I found extremely helpful are
Getting pro-actively info about the topic daily
Document changes I notices
Find others that are interested in the topic too and exchange thoughts
Find a challenge buddy that helps you stay on track
Let's check in on those a bit deeper:
Getting pro-actively info about the topic daily
During my OMAD challenges (when I opted in to only eat once a day for a full month), I enjoyed tuning in to podcasts about fasting or reading books about it every day. I made sure that I was reading and listening to the topic as much as I possibly could.
With this, I ensured to not forget the initial idea and get motivated every day to verify or falsily what they said or wrote. The curious part of me gets excited to explore and prove the finding of the podcasts and books.
Document changes I notice
This is an interesting one as I always think I will never ever forget this and 1 day later, boom - gone.
So, I learned that I need to document what I am experiencing. If I e.g. try to see the effect of fasting on my sleep quality, I better note down when I notice something that has changed.
And then when the time comes, and I am questioning the challenge, I can return back to my documentation and re-activate my interest or get motivated to increase enhancements I noticed even further by simply sticking to my challenge.
Find others that are interested and exchange thoughts
By collaborating with others actively or even passively, I learn from them: Hearing and reading about the obstacles, successes, challenges, and accomplishments gets me the additional motivation to continue my own journey. Including how they struggled and overcame it. This helps me to cope with my own struggles.
Scientific studies that support my thesis can help me become more curious to explore my findings and dive deeper into the topic.
Find a buddy that joins the show
If it is only me I have to explain to why I want to quit, I might meet the compassionate part of me. She always understands why I think a challenge is stupid and useless and way too hard.
This compassionate inner-me will nicely pat on my head and tell me that I did good and that the challenge was anyhow never a good idea. We both agree that I should stop and live happily ever after.
Well - a challenge buddy that is not my compassionate me is most likely never that forgiving and will help me to get back on track.
Especially, as I am pretty competitive, chances are pretty low that I would give in to quitting ever.
One last thought
However - there is no one size fits all and not every 30-day challenge will be successful nor will you be able to stick to it, even with good planning and proper strategies in place.
And that's ok too.