When it comes to self-improvement, two of the biggest stumbling blocks I see people encounter in my therapy office are a lack of motivation to get started and a fear that a goal will be too overwhelming.
I often prescribe 30 day challenges as a way to help people tackle both of those issues. But I don’t tell them what to do for 30 days. Instead, I help them design their own challenge.
Thirty day challenges feel doable–you can do almost anything for 30 days. You can also use a 30 day challenge as an experiment. If it enhances your life, you’ll create momentum that motivates you to create more positive change.
If, however, you decide your challenge isn’t helpful–perhaps waking up 30 minutes earlier reduces your productivity–you’ll at least know you gave it your best effort for one month.
There are many online groups, courses, and books that tout 30 day challenges for anything from diet changes to cleaning habits. And while many of them can be quite effective, you don’t necessarily need to join a pre-established challenge.
In fact, you may be better off designing your own challenge. Then you can ensure you’re working toward a goal that will really enhance your life.
Whether you want to make a big dent in your debt, or you want to start contributing more to your retirement, the right challenge could give you a big jumpstart toward a brighter financial future. Here are a few examples of ways you might spend less or save more in one month:
Most people own too much stuff. And too much clutter means you’ll be distracted from your work, you’ll spend more time cleaning and looking for misplaced items, and you’ll struggle to stay productive. These 30 day challenges can help you clear the clutter one step at a time:
Whether you want to increase your face-to-face contact with your friends or you want to learn to speak up for yourself, improving your social interactions is important. Here are some challenges that you could do every day for one month to have more positive social interactions:
From changing your diet to increasing your workout habits, to getting more sleep and taking your vitamins, there are many challenges that can address your health. Here are a few challenges that could help you reset your habits:
If you want to feel less stressed, reduce your negative thinking, and regulate your emotions better, create a mental strength challenge for yourself. Here are a few examples of ways you can build mental muscle in 30 days:
Whether you procrastinate too much, or you never have time to do the things you really want to do in life, create a challenge that will help you prioritize your activities and manage your time better. Here are a few ways you might eliminate time wasters or build in time to accomplish more:
Look at each month as an opportunity to start a new 30 day experiment. Whether you eliminate a bad habit or establish a healthier routine, you’ll learn a lot about yourself and the strategies that can help you live your best life.
Sometimes, one simple change is all it takes to make life better. So start experimenting and challenge yourself to try something new each month.
Originally published at www.inc.com.