The "30-Day Challenge" Mandala
Recently I've been doing a "30-Day Challenge" and so this month's free download is a "30-day Mandala". This mandala would be a fun way to keep track of any 30-day streak (broken or unbroken, related to a "challenge" or not.) Just colour in one "petal" each day you do an activity to keep track of your progress. When the flower is fully coloured, your 30 days are done!
If you're interested in learning more about doing your own (low-stress) 30-Day Challenge, read on …
One Small Step Can Change Your Life
Ordinarily I would think of a "challenge" as somewhat of a stressor, but I'm a long-time fan of psychologist Robert Maurer's work, whose first book is called One Small Step Can Change Your Life, The Kaizen Way.* Maurer's premise is that we often don't accomplish large, challenging goals because the steps are too large and too anxiety-provoking. He suggests another way–by starting with a step that is very small, do-able, inviting and NOT stressful. For example, to start an exercise program, he's recommended:
Standing on a treadmill for 15 seconds a day, while reading a newspaper or
Marching in front of the TV for 60 seconds during a commercial break.
He's seen clients start with these very tiny steps and progress over time to full-blown aerobic workouts!
Of course Maurer's not the only one with this kind of advice about a less stressful way to facilitate change. In a future article I'll write more about these, but from entrepreneur Ryan Holiday (The Obstacle is the Way ) to time management guru Mark Forster, (Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management), even to the mental health app Booster Buddy, it's clear others also believe that challenges can be done in a more relaxed way, requiring no teeth-gritting and no white-knuckling. Maurer summarizes this philosophy by saying:
We are built to resist radical change…
So if you’ve tried to change and met with disappointment, there’s no reason to feel guilty–but there is reason to feel optimistic. Most groups can achieve success when they step off the fast track and take an alternative path…
This path is soft underfoot and shaded overhead…
This path starts with the smallest of steps.
It causes no stress, no fear, and you can take it all the way to your goal.
If you'd like to try your own 30 Day Challenge, here is my mini-guide, below.
Quick-Start Guide for a 30-Day Challenge:
There are no rules! Make this your own. For me, if I learn something about myself, then that's a win.
Choose something related to something that really matters to you, that you probably wouldn't do otherwise, or wouldn't do as seriously.
Consider an activity that will reduce the stress in your life (seeing as this is a web site about stress-relief).
Write down the benefits you expect to receive and also what you learn along the way. There's room on the 30 Day Challenge Mandala Tracker Form (see the picture) to add these notes throughout the 30 days.
If you realize mid-way that you need to tweak your challenge or even choose a new one entirely, feel free to do so, and just carry on! The important thing is that you adapted to your new self-knowledge or situation. That's still a win.
A great inspiration and what kicked off my own Challenge is this TED talk by Matt Cutts: Try Something New for 30 Days. View it on YouTube (under 5 minutes)
Other Suggestions that might be Helpful:
Consider an activity between 15 seconds and 5 minutes. (You can always do more at the time if you want to.)
Structure your challenge as a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable/Meaningful, Achievable, Realistic, Time-based).
Decide when you will do your challenge: for example:
Write 50 words when you drink your morning coffee.
Do one push-up before you leave for work.
Do 5 minutes of colouring just before bed.
If you notice you start avoiding your activity, dreading it, or making excuses for not doing it, just think of it as a sign that your challenge needs to be tweaked. Readjust your challenge by cutting back on the size of the step. For example, if your initial goal was to meditate 15 minutes a day, cut it back to as short as 5 seconds. By setting yourself up for success, it will build your confidence to do more, and you will be receiving benefits along the way, no matter how small the initial step.
Do the 30-Day Challenge on your Own, with a Friend or in a Group
The 30-Day Challenge can be fun to do on your own, but it adds a whole layer of excitement to do it with others. If you're interested in doing a 30-Day Challenge with others in your own local community, start by sharing this post with them! Let me know if you'd be interested in a standalone 'kit' for group leaders, including a How-to Guide, Sign-up sheets, Participation/Celebration Certificates, Stickers, etc.
Get Started ...
Feel free to announce your own challenge in the comments section below. (My challenge was to organize something every day for 30 days. So far I'm on Day 20 and I do think having more things organized daily has reduced my overall stress a little!)
Receive a Free "30-Day Challenge" Mandala Package (Note: This offer expired January 31, 2017)
If you fill out the form below before January 31, 2017, I'd be happy to email you the following in exchange for filling out a survey at the end of your 30 days. You'll receive:
the 30-Day Challenge Mandala Tracker Form (pdf) when you start,
Weekly emails of encouragement and inspiration,
A short survey at the end about your experience,
A personalized Certificate of Participation/Celebration (pdf) after you've completed the survey!
NOTE: You'll also receive my regular–usually monthly–site updates. (Unsubscribe anytime.)
I hope your 30-Day Challenge will be very rewarding for you. The next 30 days will pass whether you choose a challenge or not...but imagine what great benefits you could receive by choosing just the right one for yourself!
Your privacy is important to me & your personally identifying information will never be shared.