Make A Change in 30 Days! I Did It... Can You?

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Can you really make any change you want in your life in only 30 days? Science says yes. Research has consistently shown that it takes 30 days to create (or break) a habit. So what are you going to do this month?

For the past two years, in November, I have participated in NaNoWriMo. It's a 30-day challenge (that Matt mentions in his talk) to write a 50,000 word novel from scratch. That's 1,667 words per day, for 30 days. It wouldn't be called a challenge if it was easy, but it's not impossible. Like the best challenges, it's surmountable, if you have the appropriate drive and desire to achieve your goal. Well, I did, and I now have two half-finished 50,ooo-word novels to my name.

Well, that's great for me, right, but you have no interest in writing at all, let alone writing a whole novel in a month. So where does this apply to your life?

Even with having done this crazy thing, not once but twice, it never occurred to me that I could apply the same logic to make any other change I want to!

Maybe I want to cut sugar out of my diet, or read more, or learn to race stock cars. Maybe I just want to be more active by taking a walk around my neighborhood every evening. Maybe it's something more existential, and I want to meditate for 10 minutes every day. It doesn't matter what the thing is that I want to do, or stop doing... it's the mindset that matters.

Let's use that walk around my neighborhood as an example. It's the middle of February, right? Even if it isn't frigidly cold for you like it is for me right now in Ohio, making the decision to work out every day seems like such a HUGE life change, right? So don't look at it like that. Make the decision to take that walk every day, but just for the next 30 days. Don't even give yourself permission to think beyond that time period. Then everyday when you wake up, or get home from work, or whenever you've decided you're going to walk, all you have to think about is that month, and that experience. If you're bundling up like I would be, you don't have to consider the lifetime of cold days ahead to walk through, just the next 30. I'm convinced that just that simple change in how you perceive what you're doing will make all the difference in your success rate.

It's not just all about having a goal. We all have a million goals floating around in our heads right now, all with varying rates of achieve-ability. I'd love to go hiking in the rainforest (probably all the way up until I saw my first huge bug and went screaming back home), I'd love to learn to speak Italian, I'd love to finally learn how to make perfect buttercream icing. All of these are great goals, but without the addition of a plan and a deadline, all they'll ever be are goals. We see this at work every single day. Deadlines, project implementation plans, management meetings... they're all about deadlines, planning, and meeting our goals.

So, pick something new that you want to try, a habit that you want to make or break, or a new skill that you want to learn, and commit to engaging with it, for the next thirty days. Over the course of a year, that's potentially 12 new habits, skills, or experiences. It's engaging with life... and it can be incredibly fulfilling, and hopefully make you a lot happier!

About the Author

Lindsay Brunner


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