People seem to love these short-term challenges where you give up sugar for a week, do 25 push-ups every day for a month, or give up alcohol for SoberOctober. While these can be fun, and an interesting challenge, do they ever actually result in permanent change? In this episode, we will give you a recipe to make the most of them.
Resources mentioned: The 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade
- Habits aren’t made or broken because we did something (or avoided doing something) through willpower alone, for a set amount of time.
- Doing short term challenges can actually delay the process of making more meaningful changes.
- If you want to use a short-term challenge as a springboard for longer-term change, make sure you’re not just counting down the days, but using that time to gain a better understanding of the role that a particular behaviour plays in your life.
- Be sure to think past the end of the challenge: what happens at the end? What do you want to carry forward into the future?
Lab Experiment: When you find yourself considering joining in the latest 7 day, 21 day, or month-long fad, take some time to ask yourself some questions:
- Why is this attractive to me?
- What do I hope to learn from this temporary challenge?
- What plan can I put in place to ensure I don’t just return to my previous behaviour as soon as it is done?
- Am I using this as a delay or distraction from the deeper changes that I know I want to make? (see episode 6: the hidden cost of unmet goals)
Thinking carefully about these questions before you embark on a short-term challenge can make it about more just a temporary exercise in willpower.