Converting 30-Day Challenges Into Good Habits

Constructing

First the Skeleton (framework)

There are a couple of obvious purposes for taking on a 30-day challenge.  First, it is an excellent means of getting over the hump of just getting started; and it is really effective at that.  But there is another, perhaps more important, purpose to a challenge—and that is to build a good habit.  As I have written on more than one occasion, our habits are the building blocks of our destiny.  So for good reason, we want to make sure our habits are quality, dense with substance and will aid us on our journey towards our ultimate, long-term and life-long goals. 

This may sound like a tall order—maybe even unrealistic. You might be reading this and thinking, “Hey, I just wanted to get in the habit exercising.  I need to lose a little weight, that’s all.  I hardly think exercising is going to affect my destiny!”  Actually, exercising (and being a healthy weight) could very much affect your destiny and your long-term goals.  I know it affects mine.  In fact, earlier this year I was thinking through the things that are very important to me.  I ended up writing them down; one of the things that made my “very important” list was:

I want to be fit and strong and grow old with grace.  Exercise, right eating, activity must be a part of my daily to-do list.

I consider physical fitness a personal value.  Why?  For one thing, I am more productive when I am healthy and fit.  For another, I am much less self-centered when healthy.  When I have even the tiniest of pains or physical malfunctions in my body, it distracts me from far more important things, including my service to God and to others.  So for me, fitness is about so much more than just looking good or being in vogue.  It’s about being fruitful and being others-centered.  Thus, it fits very nicely into the  building blocks of who I want to be (my destiny).

The same thing could be said for the 30-day challenges that commenters have declared on this blog.  Most of their challenges revolve around physical and mental fitness in one way or another. That being the case, let me give you some good news about making your 30-day challenge into a habit that will truly enrich your life and become a building block for the destiny that you desire.

First of all, you’re already on your way.  If you have declared a meaningful 30-day challenge and you are serious about it, then you are going to make wonderful progress towards a habit this month (remember, “meaningful” means that it aligns with your long-term goals—even if in only a small way).  Research bears out that it takes about 21 days to create a new habit (I’ve read both 21 days and 28 days; either way, within the 30-day challenge, you’ll meet the time criteria).

Does that mean that after the 30-day challenge you’re all set; the habit is part of your very nature, your character?  Not quite.  After 30 days, you’ve got the rough skeleton of a new habit in place; it will take about five more months to “entrench” it into your character.  After six months, the habit should be about as much a part of your routine as brushing your teeth is (assuming that you brush your teeth on a regular basis).  So after you complete the 30-day challenge, DON’T QUIT!  The hardest, most difficult part is behind you.  The next five months is adding to the “skeleton” you build during the first month.

I’ve shared this video on more than one occasion, and I’ll share it many more times, I’m sure. It is such an effective visual for what it takes to build a habit.  Please watch; it’s only 3 minutes long.

As I conclude, I will share something I wrote in my journal a year or so ago in regards to my goals.

I realize that I did not put exercise on my list [of goals]. Why? I have been consistent with exercise for over a year now, and it is not a battle any longer to work it into my schedule; it is a genuine, bona fide habit—a rigid one. So much so, that I work my schedule around exercise rather than the other way around.

Are you encouraged that after this month you will have built the skeleton of a new habit and that that habit could enrich the rest of your life, aiding you in your journey to who you want to become?  Please leave a comment and let me know how you are doing.

Photo compliments of H Aoki via Compfight

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6 Responses to Converting 30-Day Challenges Into Good Habits

  1. Cindy Lofton says:

    This was a very encouraging post, Diane. I remember that video from the women’s conference- it was really good to watch again- it is so well made and gets the point across. (those guys do not seem to be bothered by heights AT ALL, by the way) I have floundered this week w/ my challenge of getting up at 5a, and I’ve been tempted to think I just can’t do it. But I’m encouraged after reading this to start fresh tomorrow and trust the process of building these new habits. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Diane says:

      Remember, Cindy, when you’re aiming for a goal of any sort, you’re usually accomplishing more than if you aimed for nothing at all. So even if you’re not getting up till 5:30 (instead of 5:00), you’re getting up earlier than you were prior to your challenge. The point is: FORWARD MOVEMENT!

  2. Christine Kamau says:

    Diane, this is my first time to read your blog and i must say it is great! I like the idea of a 30-day challenge and the importance of overcoming the ‘getting-started’ huddle.
    Indeed nothing can ever get accomplished without discipline.
    Thanks for sharing this……. i want to try out a 30-day challenge!
    I’m really looking forward to seeing what will come out of my commitment!

    • Diane says:

      Christine, I’m so glad you are enjoying the blog. And you will enjoy the 30-day challenge, too. What will your challenge be? The power in it is the “public” declaration (just making a comment on the blog will do). You can start one right now for the rest of August and continue until September 11, and I will be starting another one in September. I look forward to hearing from you now and then on the blog!

      • Christine Kamau says:

        My 30-day challenge is exercising (specifically skipping the rope and some sit-ups) for 10 minutes every morning.
        For the last few months, I had not been able to do any exercises due to some health issue and i think i kind of relaxed even after i got better and i would only exercise ‘when i felt ok’.

        After reading your blog, something got stirred in me and i am so glad!! I started yesterday (13th August) so this is Day 2. This has produced such a great sense of order and ‘in-control’ feeling! Consistency , consistency, and more consistency is now a joyful proclamation!!!!

        • Diane says:

          Wonderful, Christine! I bet you’ll find that your health issues improve due to getting active again. Jumping rope is a very aerobic exercise! That ought to get the blood pumping!

I love to read your comments!