The “30 Day Challenge”

Photo by Tomáš Malík from Pexels

“I meditated 1 hour every day for 30 days”, there are tons of these click-bait headlines out there. Why do they work? Matt D’Avella has built a subscriber base of 2.8 million followers on this formula. I am one of the followers – but why?

The question must be broken into two parts – why do people attempt 30 day challenges and why do people love to watch other people do them?

Making a change in one’s life is hard. There are some great books out there devoted to this – my personal favorite is Atomic Habits by James Clear. But the concepts are all the same. We often know the things that we should be doing. Procrastinate less, eat better, wake up earlier, stop binging tv and start working on a side project – but we struggle to act on them.

The reason is straight forward – change is hard. Make change can feel like trying to move a boulder. The 30 day challenge provides a pile of rocks. It’s manageable. And it works. But perhaps not the way it would seem.

Most people don’t make it through the 30 day challenge. Therefore, they think 30 day challenges don’t work. I argue that the challenge succeeds if you fail because it reveals to you what you need to fix. Examine the issues that prevented you from achieving the goal and restart. That is the only way things get done. The ability to fail and fix is the foundation of progress.

The other side of the equation is our love of watching people do things. “Improvement porn”. Some part of the brain gets triggered to release the same chemicals as if we accomplished the thing ourself – without the effort. 
I think watching people strive is beneficial – but only as much as it prompts you to action. If you notice yourself watching many of these videos without making progress – it’s time for a change.

If you are looking for some ideas on 30 day challenges, here’s a great article that features many.

Personally, I am going to try to sell 30 things this month.

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