The 30-Day Habit Challenge

Updated December 2022

What is a habit challenge?

It's a commitment to a new personal routine.  I've chosen 30 days because it's a well-defined period of time, not too long, yet allowing opportunity to settle into a new behavior.  Thirty days provides enough experience to make an honest evaluation.

The purpose of the challenge is to find out if a new practice is something that works well and improves your life.  Maybe it: 
  • saves you money or time
  • helps you get rid of clutter
  • motivates you to get more exercise
  • encourages you to eat more healthfully
  • causes you to streamline your wardrobe
  • inspires you to be more mindful and grateful

It may or may not become a permanent part of your life.  It's an experiment, meant to be enlightening and fun.

15 challenges with potential to change your habits (and your life)

1.  For 30 days, eat 20 meals per week at home (eat out only once per week).

2.  For 30 days, spend 5 minutes moving every hour (except when you're asleep).  You could stretch, do leg lifts, jog in place, take a quick walk around the block – anything that gets you up and moving.

3.  For 30 days, drink coffee or tea at home and stay away from the coffee shop.

4.  For 30 days, ban sweets and junky snacks (chips, cookies, pastries, ice cream, etc.).

5.  For 30 days, add an extra fruit or vegetable to every meal.

6.  For 30 days, skip alcohol.  Drink water, tea, coffee, or sparkling water. Questions to consider:  How hard is it to stop drinking?  What does this say about my dependence on alcohol?  What benefits did I experience from going dry?  (Brighter skin, mental clarity, better sleep, weight loss, and improved finances are common results.)

Sparkling water options:  
  • Add mint and slices of lemon or lime.
  • Pour over 3 ripe strawberries muddled with 4 basil leaves and a drizzle of honey.
  • Mix three parts sparkling water to one part orange, grapefruit, or pomegranate juice.

7.  For 30 days, refuse to browse or shop online.  Don't even visit your usual shopping websites.  If you need something, you'll have to get dressed and leave your house to locate and purchase it.

8.  For 30 days, buy nothing except essentials (food, gas, toilet paper, etc.).  If you think of something else you need or want, or encounter it online or in a store, write it on a list, along with the date and the price.  After 30 days, evaluate the list.  Do you still want or need any items on it?  Do you still think those items are worth the price?  If you answer yes for any item, purchase it without guilt.

9.  For 30 days, choose 10 pieces of clothing to wear for work, and 10 pieces of clothing to wear for leisure.  Don't count accessories (jewelry, scarves, belts, shoes), underclothes, nightwear, or cold or wet weather gear, such as snow boots or a rain coat.  Questions to ask yourself:  How hard is it to limit myself to these pieces?  How does this impact my laundry situation?  Does anyone notice what I wear?

10.  For 30 days, declutter at least one item every day and keep one area (such as a kitchen or bathroom counter, your dresser top or bedside table, the coffee or dining table, or your desk) completely clutter-free.  Whenever you use this area, return it to its "naked" state.

11.  For 30 days, accept no "freebies" (promotional brochures, pens, magnets, tee shirts, Happy Meal toys, etc.).

12.  For 30 days, remove all retail notifications from your phone and computer.  Remove all email and social media notifications, and only check those things at two specific times during the day.  Do you feel more focused and peaceful without constant interruptions?  Do you find it easier to refrain from unnecessary shopping without constant ads and other enticements?  Are you satisfied with your ability to engage socially when you limit the time you spend doing it?

13.  For 30 days, enjoy a screen-free period of time before bed (30 to 60 minutes).

14.  (For women) For 30 days, use no more than five makeup products (perhaps foundation, blush, mascara, brow pencil, and lipstick).  Questions to ask yourself:  How does this impact my morning routine?  Is there a product I really need or miss?  Does anyone notice my makeup?

15.  For 30 days, take a minute or so each morning and evening to write a list of 3-5 things for which you are grateful.  Read the list aloud to yourself as you write.  Challenge yourself to notice new blessings each time you engage in this practice.

Why not choose one of these challenges, or another that seems valuable to you, and try it for yourself?  You might find that a focused plan, for a specific length of time, is a more useful way to attempt change than the traditional New Year's resolution.

Interested in even more explorations?  My book, The Minimalist Challenge,* details 27 thirty-minute activities and 9 try-it-for-a-day experiments that let you examine behaviors that can simplify your life.

* This blog is reader-supported.  If you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission.


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