Don’t Break the Chain!

30-Day Challenge

Day 2 of my 30-Day Challenge

Yesterday I announced my personal 30-day Challenge which is to post to this blog every day during the month of July (which technically makes it a 31-day challenge).  I invited my readers to join the challenge, adapting to their own priorities and goals, of course.  I have been very pleased with the response.  So far, I have friends who are challenging themselves to drink more water, get up earlier, and read the Bible daily.  I’m rooting for all of you!

When I set a goal like this, I like to employ every little tool that I can come up with to help me succeed.  Going public on this blog was a huge tool; it definitely has incentivized me to write.  For instance, this is a typical Monday with lots of responsibilities begging for my attention. I was mentally weighing them an hour ago to see which one to attack next, and just the thought of publicly failing on my second day—well, let’s just say I’ll be posting my second post here within an hour or so.  Accountability is a powerful tool.

I also discovered another tool that you might find helpful, as well.  This tool supposedly originates with comedian Jerry Seinfeld.  You can read the long version about “Don’t Break the Chain”  here, but the short version is simply to use a calendar as a visual reminder—and ultimately, as a visual motivation—to spur you on towards your goal. The beauty of this tool is in its simplicity.  Locate a calendar in an appropriate place, and each day that you achieve your daily goal—as in posting to your blog, drinking X amount of water, reading your Bible, getting up earlier—simply mark an X over that day on the calendar.  The longer-term goal is to keep the “chain” of X’s unbroken (aka, don’t break the chain).

Sound too simple?  Productivity guru, Brian Tracy, says that checking items off  your to-do list releases endorphins, creating a mini-version of the experience known as “runner’s high.”  I believe it.  I have been known to add a completed task to my to-do list just for the satisfaction of marking it off.  But the added value of seeing a chain of goals accomplished is even more rewarding.  And it is especially beneficial when you realize that habits are developed in 21 days or so.  The visual of a chain of X’s that represent your journey towards a new, positive habit is empowering and motivating.  “In just 15 more days, this activity should be somewhat wired into my brain…”  “I am almost halfway to a new habit.”  “Three days down, 18 to go!”  You get the point.

Here are a couple of resources to help track your progress and to motivate you.  At, you can sign up for a digital version of a “Don’t Break the Chain” calendar.  After you’ve signed up, you can search for the Google gadget, Don’t Break the Chain.  In the picture below, you can see that I’ve placed the gadget in a very prominent place on my home page (top left corner).  The days that are red indicate “goal accomplished.”  Underneath the calendar, it says, “You’ve been getting things done for 2 days straight.”  Thank you for noticing!


At Writer’s Store, you can download and print a PDF version of a 365-day calendar.  What a great way to track your progress on a larger scale!

Here’s a few questions for those of you who are joining me in the 30-day challenge.  Do you find visual tools like “Don’t Break the Chain” to be motivating?  Which are you most likely to use: the digital version, the hard copy, or both?  Please give your feedback in the “Comments” section below.

If you haven’t accepted the challenge yet, it’s not too late.  Just comment below and tell us what your 30-day challenge will be.  I look so forward to hearing from you!

Photo courtesy of darwin Bell via Compfight

This entry was posted in 30-Day Challenge, Goals and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Don’t Break the Chain!

  1. Valerie says:

    GREAT stuff Sister.

  2. Jonathan Webster says:

    The idea of not breaking the chain hasn’t been something that I’ve ever thought about, as internal discipline, to remain consistent when I’m the only one who knows, is a major flaw of mine. I’m working on that, though.
    For now, let me follow your public example and mention I’ll be running every single weekday this July. No misses.
    Looking forward to future posts, Diane!

    • Diane says:

      Great, Jonathan! By the way, I noticed that the digital version of Don’t Break the Chain can be configured to show weekdays only. It might be helpful to you to print out the hard copy and put in a place where your roommates can see it too. That might be the equivalent of posting on the worldwide web for you. 🙂 Good luck! I’m rooting for you!

  3. Carla says:

    Ha! I love how you would add already completed tasks to your list just to mark them off!! Me, too! And if my list has especially daunting tasks, I would add some “easy” ones, like “eat lunch” and “take a shower”! It does feel good to mark them off!

    My goal–to get up early and run. This requires that I go to bed at a decent time. 🙂 But I really like the idea about not breaking the chain and the visual aspect of it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Diane says:

      Carla, how you are a woman after my heart! I add those kinds of “chores”, too, just to prove to myself that I have been doing something! Love it! And I love your goal!

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  9. Christine Kamau says:

    “Don’t break the chain” is a brilliant way to ensure that one keeps going……
    I think i will get a hard copy of the calender and i’m really looking forward to ‘marking off’ my accomplishments.

    Thanks Diane

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  12. Joy says:

    Her I find myself just happening to read this on the 1st of the month and thinking, “There are so many things in my life that I truly need to make a habit.” The fact that it’s the first, and tomorrow will essentially be my Saturday(the first day of the weekend where it just seems easier to ignore responsibilities) seems perfect. If I can keep up with this through the weekend, I think it will greatly encourage me, and make it easier to continue. I will start off with something I know will be rewarding to accomplish as soon as I do it everyday, and then move into things that are more and more difficult or that don’t have that “instant gratification” affect. My first challenge to myself: get to bed exactly at 4 and back up exactly at noon(which is my 6am and allwos for only the recomended 8hrs) and have breakfast with my husband. With David constantly in control of what happens when, this will be a wonderful way to ensure that we have a moment to talk to each other everyday.

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  15. Heather says:

    I’m using this 30 day challenge for motivation in finishing a book I started a while ago. I would like to see it completed and published this year.

    • Diane says:

      That’s a great idea, Heather! What exactly is your 30-day challenge? To write every day? How many words or minutes? How much have you already written? Keep me posted as you progress through the 30 days. I’d love to cheer you on!

  16. I followed a link from Lift to this site, but my 30 day challenge is to write a page everyday. Starting today!

  17. Christie Armstrong says:

    I have taken the challenge to write more. I am a graduate student and writing has turned into a chore and I cannot succeed in this manner. Hope to all!

    • Diane says:

      That’s great, Christie. Do you have a specific plan? Number of words or amount of time spent writing daily? Please check in occasionally to report how it’s going. And good luck!

  18. Great post. It’s very usefull for check my challenge. Regards from Argentine

  19. krystanleah says:

    I was referred here by the App I love the App, and I am glad they sent me to your blog. It is encouraging on so many levels!

I love to read your comments!