Habit Forming through 30 Day Challenges
Ever heard of Matt Cutts?
Neither had I until I received an automated email from Daniel Scocco of Online Profits the other day.
The subject of Daniel’s email was basically this: what separates successful people from ordinary people? He stated that one of the things that make people successful is that they regularly form habits which they then stick to. This could be anything from regular exercise each day, to daily meditation, to learning a new skill.
The problem for most mortals is actually sticking to an activity long enough for it to become habit. (Tweet this!)
Does this sound like you? It certainly sounds familiar to me (just like the list-making video did!)
Let’s go back to Matt Cutts first.
As my curiosity was whetted by Daniel’s email article, I did a little investigating myself and found out a little more about Matt.
Now, he’s a pretty ordinary sounding sort of guy with an ordinary sounding type of job. He’s an engineer. Except he’s more than just any engineer. He actually works for Google in its anti-spam division, fighting so called ‘link-spam’. (Sounds like a very worthy occupation to me!)
As well as doing this important work at the headquarters of the world’s most popular search engine, it also appears that he – too – is a keen student of the art of self-improvement.
Matt freely admits that he was very much Mr Average in the past. In fact, he used to be a bit of a couch potato by all accounts. That is, until he started changing his way of thinking (following inspiration from Morgan Spurlock of ‘Supersize Me’ fame.) Then, he began cycling to work and got a lot fitter. He then changed some other aspects of his life. Within due course, he was hiking up Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.
How did he do this?
Check this TED video out where Matt himself tells his story:
So the answer is to commit yourself to a 30 day challenge…
This is what Matt does. For thirty days, he challenges himself to create a new habit for 30 days, starting at the beginning of each month. The goal he sets himself could be something positive like writing a novel in thirty days or maybe a new exercise habit (such as cycling to work.) With this, the point is to ensure that he repeats the action each day. So, if he’s writing a novel he could aim to write 1500 words a day. Or in the case of the bike ride, he makes sure that he actually rides to work instead of taking the car.
The other possibility is to actually give something up for 30 days. This could be avoiding watching any TV, avoiding reading the paper, eating chocolate, drinking alcohol etc. etc. – as long as the 30 day rule is adhered to.
The real challenge is to stick with the programme and complete it at the end of thirty days.
In my opinion, it shouldn’t really be too tall an order to do this. Why? Because you are committing yourself to a short-term goal which can be completed within a given time-span.
Unlike New Year resolutions (remember them?), you have a defined timeline in which to complete the goal using a formula which is most definitely SMART (Specific – Measurable – Achievable – Realistic – Timely.) This should make it easier to complete it, because you know it won’t be forever, of course.
However, by then it should be second nature and you’ll have formed a habit. As Matt states, it only takes 30 days to add or subtract a new habit.
So why not give it a try?
I know I will – I’ll be setting myself a new 30 day habit goal at the beginning of next month. I’ll be setting the goal then evaluating my performance at the month’s end, in the same way, Matt does on my blog nicholas-davies.com – click here to find out more (and see how I get on after the 1st June.)
To do the 30 day challenge, select a goal for a habit you wish to add or subtract in your life. If you want, you can use the SMART model to define it (click here for the previous blog post.) Or, if you prefer something simpler, use the table below to define your challenge:
|Date set||30 day habit goal||Date complete||Reflection on progress – did you achieve the goal?|
In the first box, enter the date you’ll be starting the challenge (the most ideal date appears to be the first of the month.) In the second, specify what habit you want to form. Once you have completed the 30 days, enter the date of completion in the third box and then reflect on what you actually achieved. Is it now a regular habit?
The main point is to find something which you can do every day, commit to doing it for thirty days then reflect and move on to the next one.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll be developing some powerful success habits in next to no time!
(What do you think? If you think this is great idea, or know of something even better, enter a comment below. I’d love to hear your opinions, as ever!)