30 day checklist

Instead of Resolutions, Why Not Create New Habits?

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?

If so, you’re not alone. Lots of people hope to improve their business or make personal changes in the upcoming year. But saying you want to increase income, bring in new clients, read more books, lose weight, or start a fitness regime isn’t necessarily enough to make those changes happen.

What if there was a better way to build your business—not through ambitious resolutions that set you up to fail? And what if this alternative could also help you become a healthier and happier all-around person?

As we embark on a new year, let’s look at how you can change your habits through a 30 Day Challenge, and why that might be just the ticket for your business.

Why 30 Day Challenges Might Beat Resolutions

With resolutions, you hope to make immediate changes to your lifestyle or habits. However, are resolutions realistic?

According to a 2017 survey by Statistic Brain, 58% of Americans make resolutions, but only 9.2% consider themselves successful in achieving them. A full 42% say they routinely fail to meet their goals. As noted by Psychology Today, this low success rate could be due to the fact that it’s difficult to change your habits at the drop of a hat.

In his article “How to Change Your Life in 30 Days,” behavioral psychology researcher Benjamin P. Hardy suggests that our behavior shapes our identities. By performing certain actions regularly, we signal to our brain what kind of person we are. But it goes further than that—we change how we think by how we behave. When you create new behaviors and perform them regularly, these behaviors can become habits, and therefore change how we view ourselves.

Hardy points out that anything you do every day for 30 days will change your identity, ideally in a positive way. You may face resistance and struggle to complete the challenge, and you might discover it’s harder than you expected. This is entirely normal, but it’s overcoming that resistance and completing the challenge that leads to profound change.

Challenges that Can Help Your Business

There are many 30 day challenges that help with a wide variety of personal goals. Some of the more well-known ones include Whole 30, which helps you change what you eat, and NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which puts you on the path to becoming a novel writer. There are also a ton of fitness challenges out there.

But let’s focus on challenges that can help you strengthen your business, learn new professional skills, and improve your performance.

Blog for 30 Days

By writing a new blog post each day for a month, you’ll gain lots of new, rich content for your website that will help boost your search engine traffic. You’ll also have material you can post on your social media channels. (Check out our previous article  to find out how a blog can help your business.)

You could also do a daily Facebook Live video, post a video to your blog, run a brief podcast, or post a photo. The choice of format is up to you. The real goal is to create new content every day.

To make it a little easier, before you start, make a list of the subjects you’d like to tackle or advice you can offer. And it’s a good idea to keep each piece reasonably short so you don’t wear yourself out over the month!

Keep a Business Journal

Journaling can be a great way to brainstorm business ideas, keep track of to-do lists, reflect on successes and challenges, and record suggestions from mentors, colleagues, and business blogs.

Some people use journaling as a way to start the day, or as a way to review the day’s accomplishments. You can make checklists for the next day, reflect on your progress, or spend time brainstorming new creative concepts.  

An efficient and fun way to do this is to set up a Bullet Journal, a customizable notebook which allows you to organize different tasks and projects. Some people even decorate their bullet journals or use different colored pens for different projects. You choose how creative you get—it’s all about establishing your personal space, so make it work for you.

Try a New Morning Routine

Current research suggests that most people do their best, most creative work in the morning before the day has taken its toll on our mental and physical energy. Consider getting up a bit earlier every morning to get a jump on your day—you might find yourself becoming more productive and efficient.

man stretching at his desk

Here are a few ideas for how you can change up your mornings:

  • Try writing “morning pages each day first thing. These are typically three pages written longhand on anything that comes to mind. Think of them as a “brain dump” that clears distracting or troubling thoughts from your consciousness before you start work. There’s also the Miracle Morning, a modification of this idea.
  • Exercise before work. Getting the heart pumping will flood your body with endorphins and will also help counteract a day of sitting at your desk.
  • Get up an hour earlier to pursue your favorite hobby. Authors and other creatives find the quiet pre-dawn hours can be the perfect time for focusing on artistic endeavors before their daily distractions intrude.

Learn to Code

While you won’t be able to change careers after just 30 days of training, you can learn the basics of a new programming language. From here you can decide if it’s something you’d like to pursue further, or maybe learn just enough to make some overdue changes on your website or in your business processes. As Alex Kehaya notes on Medium, this is a great skill for startup owners who need to keep costs lean.

Here are a few options for short-term programming lessons:

Quiet your Monkey Brain

Are you stuck thinking about an angry client, an upcoming project, marketing tasks, or looming deadlines? Or has your personal life intruded in a negative way? You might benefit from a meditation break to quiet things down, or try the morning pages exercise noted above.

stack of rocks reflecting meditation

There are a number of meditation apps available in the Android and Apple app stores. Try one for a 5-10 minute meditation break in the middle of your busy day.

Stick With It

Once you’ve decided on a 30 Day Challenge, it’s important to commit to it for a full month. That’s it—you can mark the calendar for the last day you need to do whatever challenge you’ve set for yourself.But when you jump in, commit fully to the project. Don’t allow yourself weekends off, or let things slide when business picks up. Skipping just one day sets you on a slippery slope to failure because as soon as you’ve justified one day off, it will be easier to keep making excuses.

But it’s hard to write/exercise/read/get up early every single day. That’s the point. At some point along the way, whether it’s Day 15 or even Day 2, you’ll almost certainly meet resistance. You’ll be tired, you’ll run out of ideas, you’ll get frustrated. That’s actually the whole point. You need to push past the difficulty and keep going. Some days you might not give it your all, but you have to do something.

So when you want to take a break, don’t give in. Keep pushing forward.

Tips for Making it Through the Month:

  • Find a buddy to join you. The comradery and bit of competition can keep you going.
  • Get  someone to hold you accountable, and report in every day. This can be a spouse or friend, a colleague or even your Facebook friends.
  • Promise yourself a reward at the end of a successful 30-day run. Maybe you can treat yourself to a favorite meal or the pair of boots you’ve been eyeing? Or perhaps it’s enough to promise yourself a full day off to curl up with a book or your favorite TV show.
  • Keep a calendar you can check off every day as you do your daily task. Seeing your progress can be rewarding in itself.

Looking for Even More Ideas?

In this article, we’ve just barely scratched the surface for ideas for 30-day challenges.

The websitesHackerella and Thought Brick both have lists of different things you can try. Some are official programs, but most are just little life hacks you can try out to impact different areas of your life.

And when you’re ready to begin, Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist, has a great little PDF you can download to track your 30-day progress.

Good luck! And be sure to comment below if you decide to give it a try.

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