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30-Day Challenges that Almost Anyone Can Do
Here are some month-long challenges you can try if you want to improve your health, reduce stress, and get organized. It's easier to form new good habits when you set realistic goals. To illustrate how easy it is reach a little higher to achieve your goals, try the following exercise:
Raise your hand as high as you can.
Now raise it one inch higher.
Could you raise your hand one inch higher?
Of course you could! Why? Because, as with most things in life, there’s always room for improvement, especially when those improvements are tackled in bite-sized pieces.
You can achieve just about anything you put your mind to by making small changes to your daily routine, one month at a time. Better health, a more vibrant social life, abundant creativity---all of these things can be achieved by focusing on making small improvements, day in and day out.
Here’s a list of different month-long challenges that you can try in an effort to improve your health, reduce stress, get organized, and live more fully in the present moment. You might choose to tackle one challenge per month, or tackle a few at a time. You might want to modify the actvities to fit your goals. The idea is that by focusing on small activities that can contribute to your overall feelings of joy, satisfaction, and contentment in life. Just a few small changes in your daily habits can open the door to better career opportunities. focus your financial habits on the things that you really want, make time for the people that matter in your life, and develop your creative problem solving skills.
Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.— Benjamin Franklin
Improve your health in 30 days by trying any one, or all, of these month-long challenges.
One of the problems that many people face when trying to tackle New Year's resolutions related to health and physical fitness is that the goals are poorly defined and/or not linked to sustainable habits. For example, resolving to lose 10 pounds a month sounds like a worthwhile goal, but it's rather vague and doesn't say much about how that goal will be achieved.
1. Eat a nutritious breakfast every day for a month and see if you notice any changes in your metabolism.
2. Pick an indulgent food that always trips up your healthy eating goals and consciously avoid that food for 30 days straight. Soda, nacho chips, donuts, ice cream: whatever it is that you are always tempted to eat when you are trying to eat a healthier diet. By picking one item, and one item only, it will be easier to learn how to live without some of the foods that you know aren’t all that good for you. If you survive this challenge, try another food in addition to the food you gave up the previous month. In a year, you’ll have eliminated a dozen unhealthy foods from your diet!
3. Eat two extra servings of fruit every day.
4. Go to bed ½ hour earlier each night.
5. Meditate for 10 minutes every day. If you don’t know how to meditate, find a guided mediation recording on YouTube and use that as your starting point.
6. Drink two more glasses of water each day than you normally do. If you are regularly drinking 8 glasses of water a day, you can probably skip this challenge. It sounds like you are already keeping yourself well hydrated.
7. Find a healthy dessert recipe on Pinterest and try making it!
8. Park the car and bike, walk, or take transit to work every day for a month.
9. Try a new superfood everyday: quinoa, chia seeds, pomegranate juice.
10. Work while standing up for 30 minutes a day. Break up your sitting routine in 5 minute increments. Take a phone call while standing up. Find a high counter in your office and write notes, review your to-do list, proofread a hardcopy document. Scientists have been warning us for months now that sitting too much each day will have dire consequences on our health and wellness as we age. The long and short of it is sit less, move more. Note: If you have mobility issues, a strained back, or any other health condition that makes standing difficult (or impossible), this suggestion may not be suitable. Take to your doctor, physiotherapist or other mobility specialist about safe and effective options to support healthy movement and exercise.
11. Unplug from your electronic devices an hour before you go to bed. No TV, no e-readers, no tablets, nothing that emits artificial light. Scientists believe that the light generated from modern tech gadgets is having a negative effect on our ability to fall asleep comfortably. The sooner you start sleeping more soundly, the sooner you'll start to notice changes in your mental and physical health.
12. Do laughter yoga every day. Laughter yoga is good for your health and you don’t need any special skills to get started.
Video: The Power of Laughter Yoga
Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.— Henry David Thoreau
Don't despair if you can't pay off your debt all at once. Although it is ideal to pay your credit card off every month, sometimes things happen to prevent that (i.e.; emergency expenses). But if you make a commitment to paying off your debt in regular, manageable amounts, it is possible to reach your financial goals.
13. Each day, research a different charity doing good work in your community. Then write a short blog post, Facebook note, or other social media platform to tell other people about what the organization does, who they serve, and why you think the charity is worth supporting.
14. Spend 20 minutes each day cleaning or de-cluttering one thing in your home.The more organized you are, the easier it will be to appreciate the things you have, get rid of the things you don't need, and make more space in your life for the things you want.
15. Buy nothing but absolute essentials for 30 days. Need something to read? Go to the library and borrow a book. Have a party to go to and you need a birthday present? Make a batch of gourmet cookies and attach the recipe to your parcel of cookies with a pretty ribbon. Go online for tips on wrapping treats and goodies with everyday household items (i.e.: paper bags, parchment paper, ribbons, up-cycled cardboard canisters, glass jars, etc).
16. Listen to an educational podcast or watch a TedTalk video on YouTube each day. Be inspired by innovative ideas. Deepen your knowledge about current affairs. Get familiar with what today's thought leaders have to say about creativity and innovation. When you enrich your mind and you enrich your life!
These exercises in this next section can help to awaken your creative spirit and promote feelings of happiness, joy, and appreciation.
17. Use the good china and fancy table linens every night. Taking the time to set the table each night with your best tableware will help you eat more mindfully. And mindful eating---also known as slow eating---can help you feel more satisfied at the end of the meal.
18. Each day, look up a clever quote, aphorism, proverb, or other piece of timeless wisdom and memorize it. Then try to your chosen quote in a conversation (written and oral) at least once that day.
19. Cuddle with your significant other for at least 10 minutes every day. Cuddling can be as simple as taking a walk together with your arms entwined, falling asleep at the end of the day, or looping your legs together while you watch TV.
20. Learn one funny (all audiences appropriate) joke each day. Practice it and then deliver it at least once before the end of the day.
21. Try not to swear or curse for 30 days, even when no one is around. At the end of 30 days, you’ll see that eliminating swear words from your vocabulary, you’ll force yourself to find more creative and intelligent ways to express yourself, even when you are mad or frustrated.
22. Read 10 pages of paper print each day. No e-readers, computer screens, or smart phones.
23. Write and mail a handwritten letter, card, or thank you note to a different person each day. No matter how inane you think your thoughts are, people love getting real mail, with real stamps. Choose colored envelopes in different shapes and sizes, anything that is the opposite look and feel of the envelope that a bill comes in. Hand write the recipients name and address by hand.
24. Learn a new word, phrase or greeting in another language. At the end of 30 days, you’ll know how to say something in 30 different languages. You could learn 30 different versions of one phrase, such as “I love you!” or you could learn 30 different words or phrases in 30 different languages (i.e.; one word/phrase per new language).
25. Learn how to fold one origami animal per day and create your own little paper zoo!
26. Watch an interesting DIY or How-To on Youtube each day.
27. Watch a classic movie each night. Check out the AFI top 100 movies of all time list and then pick a movie that you have never seen before. You’d be amazed at how quickly your cultural references vocabulary will improve. You’ll no longer be out of the loop when your friends and family drop character names, catchphrases and plot lines into their conversations.
28. Write in a gratitude journal for 20 minutes every day. List all the good things that happened to you that day and give thanks for all the small blessings in your life.
29. Make an effort to smile while doing something that you normally don’t like to do. Folding laundry, standing in a long line at the supermarket checkout, anything that you dread doing. Putting a smile on your face even when you’re doing something that you normally dread might have a surprising effect. You’ve got nothing to lose by trying. And think of all the people you’ll end up smiling! Even if smiling doesn’t improve your mood, it might mean the world to a lonely stranger having a bad day.
30. Pick a random object off any shelf in your home or office and do a sketch of it. Be as detailed or abstract as you like. Don’t aim for perfection. Just aim to improve your ability to notice the object’s shape, color, texture, and size. This daily exercise can help you to improve your observational skills.
31. Try your hand at food art. Jazz up your kids' school lunches by creating miniature works of art with fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses, bread and so on. Search online for food art videos and how-to guides. You could also dress up your own or your spouse's lunch each day with fun food shapes and colors. Nutritionists recommend that we eat the rainbow eat day. That is we should choose a variety of colorful fruits and veggies for our meals and snacks. So get creative because the more naturally colorful your foodscapes are, the healthier they will be! (Don't forget to take a picture of your edible masterpiece each day! Share it on social media and you've got the makings of an interest blog!
Try Making 30 Days Worth of Funny Lunches!
Fill up your kid's lunch boxes and decorate their snack plates with these cute food art ideas. You could come up with a whole month's worth of fun meals!
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.— Albert Schweitzer
Even if doing some of these 30-day challenges doesn’t actually result in a new habit, you're still challenging yourself to try new things. Every time you break out of a routine, you open yourself to new possibilities. You increase your odds of finding something that works for you.
What areas do you want to change in your life right now?
Tips for Successfully Completing a 30-Day Challenge
• Choose activities that focus on doing something rather than not doing something. For example, instead of trying to not eat junk food each day, focus on eating more healthier food each day. Soon you'll be too busy working adding positive habits to your life that there will be less and less room for bad habits.
• Set aside a certain amount of time each day to devote specifically to your selected activity challenge. But be flexible if you have to. If an appointment that you can't miss pops up during your scheduled activity time, move it to another time of the same day if you can.
• Variety is the key to keeping yourself engaged and interested in the challenge. Don't choose challenges that involve doing the exact same thing over and over again each day.(Boring!) Instead, group related activities together in your month-long challenge to help you stay focused and inspired. For example instead of doing 20 minutes of the same three exercises each day, mix it up. Do some walking, stretching, biking, dancing, gardening and so on.
• Keep a daily record or diary of what you did each day and spent some time reflecting on how each activity made you feel.
© 2015 Sadie Holloway