There are so many reasons to try a 30-day challenge when you want to improve your physical or mental health. Challenges allow you to take the first steps towards changing your life while having fun. As you move through the 30 days, you build momentum, which makes it easier and easier to continue.
Unfortunately, there are always potential downsides to any attempt to significantly change your life. It’s important to match your strategy to your personality and unique needs. Is it possible that a 30-day challenge could hurt some people more than it helps? Let’s turn to research to see.
How 30-Day Challenges Can Help
Many universities, medical centers, and other professional health organizations are now offering 30-day challenges. The goal is to motivate people to take simple actions every day that can improve their health or even save their lives. Considering the motivations behind the establishment of these programs can illuminate how 30-day challenges help.
For instance, consider the 30-day exercise challenge promoted by the Wexner Medical Center at the Ohio State University. The center decided to launch the challenge because their medical professionals believe a 30-day challenge can do all of the following:
- Make healthy activities a daily priority
- Provide guidance on effective ways to make positive changes
- Make healthy changes seem less overwhelming or daunting
- Show how healthy changes can fit into even the busiest lifestyles
- Help create new behaviors that can turn into lasting habits
- Offer a starting point for people who don’t know how to get started
There are clearly some big benefits to trying a wellness challenge, even if it only lasts for a month. You’ll have a better chance at succeeding if you go into it aware of one big potential disadvantage, which we’ll discuss in just a moment.
Can You Really Succeed in 30 Days?
One of the biggest arguments against 30-day challenges is the fact that you can’t transform your entire life in a single month. If you need to lose 80 pounds, you need far longer than one month. You may gain 30 days of sobriety while working through a short wellness challenge, but that doesn’t mean you won’t binge eat or have a drink on day 31.
While this is true, it’s also true that you can make significant progress in just 30 days. If you just need a little motivation to get started, then a wellness challenge is an excellent approach. The trick is to focus on continued improvement after the 30 days rather than going right back to old habits.
Think of the 30-day challenge as an opportunity to take the next step toward success. It’s a resource that you can use to go from where you are now to one or two steps closer to your goal.
Where a Wellness Challenge Can Go Wrong
The biggest downfall to a 30-day wellness challenge is the focus on just one month. That’s like going on a diet for two weeks because you want to look great at a big event. If you consider it done with after two weeks and go back to old behaviors, you’ll undo any progress you achieved.
Health and wellness challenges can go wrong if you think of it as something you need to push yourself through for just 30 days. You’re setting yourself up for failure when you reach day 31 and go right back to old habits.
How Do You Succeed On a 30-Day Challenge?
If you decide to try a 30-day challenge, adjust your expectations and mindset before you start. Use the following guidelines to set yourself up for long-term success even beyond the challenge:
- Think of the challenge as a fun way to improve your physical and/or mental health.
- Select a challenge that reflects goals you want to achieve or changes you want to make in your life. If you genuinely want to see results in the targeted area or do the activity featured in the challenge, you’re more likely to stick with it long term.
- Consider the challenge your first or next step towards a bigger goal. You’re not pushing through for 30 days and then quitting. This is just one step on a longer journey.
- Commit to maintaining your results when the challenge is over or even going a step further for more gains within another challenge. Make a plan now for continuing the progress or maintaining long term.
Get Technology on Your Side
It’s true that writing a goal down on paper and keeping it within easy view daily can help anyone working through a 30-day health or wellness challenge. Try typing your goal over a motivating background image and saving the image as the background on your phone. Canva is a free program that will help you do that quickly.
Another way to use technology to improve your motivation is to work with a wellness challenge app that allows you to choose goals that matter to you. It gives you a healthy focal point that encourages you to make it to the end of every challenge, and then set another one to continue improving your life.