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 www.dontbreakthechain.com, 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!