“IF IT DOESN’T CHALLENGE YOU, IT WON’T CHANGE YOU.”
There are a lot of concepts that tout how you can change your habits easier through “challenge programs.” The most common ones I’ve seen are 21-Day Challenges. Flat belly, Reset Your Body, Lose Weight, Cleanse. You name it!
Supposedly it takes just 21 days to change or create a new habit. Is this true? It depends on who you ask. My take is that the verbiage is part of a marketing strategy and 21 days sounds easier than 60 days. People are more likely to take the leap and commit to a shorter time frame.
After several weeks with a challenge, you still might find it difficult to “stick” to a new habit. It isn’t because you don’t have willpower. It’s because the habit hasn’t had enough time to become ingrained in your brain yet. It actually takes 66 days on average to create habit, according to research by the University College London.
To be successful in meeting your goals, it’s important to understand that each person is unique and the outcome for each person will be different. Don’t compare yourself to others either.
How easy or hard it is to form a habit really depends on the “achievability” of the habit and your personality. For those who like to plan ahead or can establish routines easily, creating habits come easier. Implementing habits are harder for those that are impulsive or are not used to having routines.
A new habit is easier to make than to break an old habit because there are signals in your environment that can trigger habits. And those who try to adapt and focus on just one habit at a time (think of it as small steps) will find it to easier to achieve.
Whatever you’re trying to accomplish or change, you have to consciously repeat the action every day. Once a habit is formed, the action will become automatic and second nature. The brain is very adaptive.
Here are 5 reasons why daily challenges are needed:
- As a guide to reach your goals. These daily challenges will encourage you to reach your goal through small, daily steps. It’s best to keep it simple at first and start with smaller goals. Achieving those smaller goals will affect how you handle the longer term goals.
- To help motivate you. Challenging yourself can provide the motivation to break old routines. Routines can become bad habits and bind us to the status quo. The daily challenges are motivation to create changes you want and to make improvements in your life.
- To encourage social connections. Trying something new with your family and friends gets you out of your comfort zone. Challenge and encourage each other, celebrate the small victories each day. Friends can help you succeed.
- To help with overall well-being. The small actions you take each day encourages you to make a lasting change in some aspect of your life. Those actions can be related to health and wellness changes, to include physical exercise, healthier eating, stress reduction, or an overall life evaluation.
- To provide personal growth through empowerment. Personal growth happens when you stretch beyond the limits you have set on yourself. Each time you do something you didn´t think you were capable of is empowering. And that experience adds to your knowledge and skillset.
You won’t realize your potential by not trying new things or being challenged. You will discover a lot about yourself and embrace life easier. Just choose one thing you’d like to try and go for it. Be creative.
Even if you “go it alone”, it’s important to share with others what you’re trying to achieve as this will make you more accountable for the outcome. There are some habits I need to work on too. I got out of the habit of writing every day over the summer and have set a new challenge for myself by working on my second book. I have to write something daily to make this happen.
What change do you want to make?