30 day challenges are about trying something new, different, healthy, fun, or even crazy every day for 30 days which, just happens to be, approximately the number of days it takes to form a new habit.
30 day challenges force you to do something every single day, even if that something is small. What matters is that a consistent action is taken, because it’s the small actions each day that build behaviors and habits that stick.
And once the 30 days are up, you’ll probably have learned something about the world, life or yourself. You might be a little healthier or smarter or saner. And you just might have the courage to try something a little bigger.
So, think about something you’ve always wanted to add to your life and try it for 30 days. Whether you do anything or not, the days are going to pass anyway.
Here are 100 ideas that will help you get started.
1. Drink more water (easy) Whether it’s 8 glasses a day or half your body weight in ounces, water gives us energy, flushes out toxins, promotes weight loss and is one of the easiest, cheapest, and best ways to stay healthy without having to give anything up.
2. Brush your teeth twice a day (easy) It’s so easy and painless but so very hard to do and do well. Dental hygiene is more important than we realize. Food particles in our mouths (especially from processed foods or foods high in sugar) can become a breeding ground for bacteria that impacts not just the health of our teeth, but potentially for the rest of the body as well.
3. Floss every day (easy) Work your way up to flossing (and flossing thoroughly) every day. You can start with just one tooth on the first day, and then work your way up to two, four, one side, then the other. Whatever gets you flossing.
4. Take your vitamins (easy) Because we all have nutritional deficiencies (mine are iron, magnesium and vitamin D), especially if our diets aren’t perfect.
5. Plan all of your meals in advance (easy) Once a week, set aside 15-20 minutes to plan your meals and grocery list for the next seven days. It’s even easier when you have dozens of apps and websites willing to help make meal planning easier such as CookSmarts, Plan to Eat or 100 Days of Real Food.
6. Eat breakfast every morning (easy) Eat a good, healthy breakfast within an hour of waking up every single morning.
7. Practice good posture (easy) Every day, whenever you remember, sit up straight. Stand up taller.
8. Make a green juice or smoothie every morning (medium) Start your day off with a juice or a smoothie. It requires more planning, more chopping, more ingredients and, of course, a juicer or blender, but it’s a great way to pack in some greens and fruits in the morning. I’m partial to smoothies because it incorporates all parts of the fruit and vegetables (where as juicers strip away a lot of the fiber and other vital nutrients).
9. Eat 7-9 cups of veggies every day (medium) When we think about our diet, we focus on giving foods up instead of adding in the things that we should be nourishing ourselves with. Maybe, for a change, hang onto your little indulgences like croissants and pasta, but add in the greens – lots of them. It’s not easy to eat 9 cups of mostly veggies (I’ve done it). You can use these 19 ways to get your 9 servings per day here.
10. Keep a food journal (medium) Write down every single thing you eat and drink. Apps like MyFitnessPal (it has one of the largest food databases out there) are incredibly easy to use, or you can use a trusty pen and paper. Food journaling is said to be a powerful keystone habit, one that has a ripple effect into other areas of your life. Without realizing it, you just might find yourself eating better and exercising more.
11. Bring your lunch to work (medium) Save money and eat healthier by bringing your own lunch to work. There usually are not a lot of healthy options readily available and the ones that are can be insanely expensive, or not that tasty.
12. Do brain training exercises (medium) The point of brain training is to push your brain to the point of frustration so that your neural connections strengthen. And it can be incredibly difficult. But pick an app and commit to doing the exercises for a given amount of time, every day. Lumosity, Elevate, or Rosetta Stone’s FitBrains are all great choices.
13. Detox your house (hard) Our houses are filled with toxic and synthetic chemicals. They’re in our beauty products, household cleaning supplies, plastic toys, plastic cookware, dirty electricity and God knows what else. Over the next 30 days, slowly do a home makeover and replace your regular household items with organic, natural ones. Start with this primer on detoxifying your home, and also check out the extensive list of resources on the Environmental Working Group website and, for cosmetic and personal care products, the Think Dirty App.
14. Cook a new recipe every day (hard) If you love to cook, if the movie Julie and Julia left you inspired, and if you’re up for the planning, the ingredients and the potential for inedible concoctions, then this challenge could be fun for you.
15. Eat vegan or vegetarian for a month (hard) Cut out all animal products for a month – it will be a great way to discover lots of vegetable based recipes. Again, lots of planning (especially if you work outside the house), lots of salads but lots of opportunities to experiment. This Eat Green bootcamp is a good starting point.
16. Sleep for 8-9 hours every night (hard) Make it a priority to either go to bed earlier (or wake up later) every day and give your body the rest it deserves – you just have to find a way to allocate the hours. Need more reasons to take sleep more seriously? Read this.
17. Work on a standing desk (hard) Standing desks aren’t for everyone, but if you find that you’re too sedentary at your place of work, it might be something worthwhile to test.
18. Take a cold shower (hard) That’s right. When you get up in the morning, head for the shower and turn it to cold. It sounds AWFUL, but there are many health benefits of taking cold showers, from improved circulation, energy, sleep and workout recovery. Read this person’s account of his cold shower challenge.
19. Eat local (hard) Eat 100% of your food purchased within 200 miles of your home. It’s certainly the healthiest of food options: fewer pesticides, higher nutritional value, less time spent in transport, but, depending where you live and the time of the year, that can be a bit of a challenge. And much more expensive.
20. Stretch Stretching is like flossing. Easy to do, good for the body, not particularly painful, but something we resist anyway. Whether you want to learn how to do the splits, (it will take longer than 30 days), touch your toes, stretch for running or improve general flexibility, find a series of stretches that works for you and commit to doing them every day.
21. Take a 30 minute walk There are so many benefits to talking a walk, besides cardiovascular health. It helps mood, creativity, and strengthens the brain. It’s easy to do, you can go at your own pace, listen to music, an audiobook or a podcast, be outdoors (or on a treadmill watching television), or with a friend.
22. Walk 10,000 steps every day It’s the equivalent of five miles. The nice thing about this challenge is that you can break up your walks into chunks. Or do it all in one go. Getting up to take a five minute lap around your office counts. So just get a pedometer or use one of the many smartphone apps (like pacer) available and get walking.
23. Go to the gym Just get out the door and into the gym. You don’t even have to work out, but since you’re there, you might as well stay and move right?
24. Bike Again, no guidelines here. Get on your bike and ride. Every day. Bike to work, bike around town or on hills or on trails.
25. Take the stairs For 30 days, refuse to use the elevator.
26. Run Work your way up to a 5k. Run for 30 minutes or an hour.
27. Yoga Take a yoga class every single day.
28. Burpees They are an effective full body strength building and aerobic exercise, and very tiring and hard on the body. Work up to 30, 50 or even 100 every day.
29. Plank Train to hold a 3 minute plank, a 5 minute plank (most common), or you can take the 30 day plank challenge.
31. Situps, Squats, Wall Sits 200 situps? 100 squats? A 2 minute wall sit? Pick a physical challenge that interests you and work up to your goal.
32. Whole body challenges Because focusing on one thing can be boring. Find a 30 day fitness challenge that incorporate lots of exercises.
33. Set priorities for your day (easy)
Each morning, decide on the top 3-5 things you want to accomplish. Write it down and spend a minute or two reflecting on how you want your day to unfold and start your day off with clear intentions.
34. Brainstorm (easy) This is an easy and fun way to train yourself to think more creatively, an idea from James Altucher’s very entertaining blog. Every day for 30 days, write down 10 or 20 or, for the more ambitious, 50 ideas – for anything. A blog you want to start. Books you’d want to write. Things you would buy if you had a billion dollars. It forces you to stretch your brain and strengthen the idea muscle.
35. Clean up your clutter (medium) Because environment plays such an important role in our lives, so much more than we realize. Spend the month making sure everything has a home and a purpose and the things that don’t belong need to get out.
36. Clean up your digital clutter (medium) Every day, work on something to clean up your digital clutter: your email, your photos, your movies, your social media, passwords, documents. Put systems in place to make it easy to stay digitally organized because you’re only going to keep accumulating content and will need to find a safe home for everything.
37. Follow a productivity system (medium) Try out a system or a process for managing your time and build a little more discipline into your work flow. You might just find a little extra time on your day. There are dozens to try, here are some favorites:
Bullet Journal (my productivity system of choice that uses – a notebook and a pen!)
Teux Deux: A beautifully designed, ultra simple digital to do list
The Pomodoro Technique: It’s a simple method: get a timer and set it to 25 minutes. Focus on your work (no distractions) for those 25 minutes, and when the timer goes off, take a short break (5 minutes) and return to your next “pomodoro”. After 3 or 4 rounds, take a longer break.
38. Follow a morning routine (medium) There is a lot to be said about starting your day off on the right foot. Tony Robbins talks about the importance of getting your body and mind in the right state, first thing in the morning in this long but very inspiring audio (specifically at the 1hr 10m mark). Pick a few things that you think could work for you, things that incorporate physiology (cold shower, exercise, stretching, walking, drinking water) and mental priming (meditation, gratitude, affirmations, reading, reviewing goals etc.). With this comes a few things you should not do such as check email, read the news, turn on the television. Also worth a read: Morning Routines of Successful People.
39. Follow a bedtime routine (medium) By the same token, winding down before going to bed not only helps you mentally prepare for the next day, but it puts you in a state that improves sleep. 45 minutes to an hour before bed, consider any one (or more) of the following: turn off all screens and devices, meditation, stretching, prayer, journaling, reflecting on the day’s accomplishments, gratitude, creating tomorrow’s task list, and, of course, reading.
40. Write in a journal (medium) Aim to write 500 or 750 words every day about anything and everything, just for yourself. You’ll find that you can only vent, rant and complain for so long, and pretty soon you’ll become introspective, you’ll ask better questions, you’ll focus on solutions and become more creative.
41. Wake up early (hard) Because sometimes we just have to wake up and do the work. Or go to the gym. But it’s so very hard when that alarm clock goes off and all you want to do is sleep sleep sleep (and they say that sleep is good for you right so maybe you should prioritize your health?) Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has a great guide to early rising.
42. Check email once or twice a day (hard) It’s such a distraction and time suck and email management is difficult enough as it is, but it works wonders for your productivity. So for 30 days, try this. Turn your email off on your phone and mobile devices. Pick one or two 30 minute periods during the day to read and respond to email and set an auto responder to let people know of your new email policy. Recommended reading: How to Check Email Twice a Day from the Four Hour Workweek.
There is nothing easy or even medium about giving things up. Psychologically speaking, the idea of deprivation is depressing. Giving things up is either hard or very hard, and there are no two ways about it.
43. No alcohol (hard) Now I’m not using parenting as an excuse because we all have angels for children who rarely misbehave, so when they do it helps to unwind with a glass of wine. It just so happens that they decide to misbehave at 6pm. Every single night.
44. No complaining (very hard) Your iPhone crashes (again) and you want to throw the useless piece of shit out the window.Sure, it’s therapeutic, but I’ve also come to realize how much complaining and criticizing we do on a daily basis. Negativity is everywhere and that kind of language and self talk affects us much more than we think. So instead of complaining (and using profanity, all of which are counterproductive) simply acknowledge the unfortunate situation and then come up with a solution. Read: The 21 Day No Complaint Experiment
45. No credit cards, pay only with cash (hard) Spend a few hours with a spreadsheet and a calculator because you’ll need to spend some time planning for this challenge. And then go ahead and put your credit cards away. Or in a block of ice in your freezer. That way, you have to pay with cash.
46. No cursing (hard) Because, well shit. Oh shit. I just said shit. Shit.
47. No devices in the bedroom (hard) Because it’s one of the best ways to improve your sleep.
48. No fast food (hard) Some of us rarely eat fast food, making this an easy challenge. But it’s part of the daily routine for many others. Is addicting, cheap, and convenient, requiring a total, potentially very difficult shift in meal planning and preparation.
49. No news (hard) No reading or watching the news. If something newsworthy happens, let someone else tell you about it. The news can be addicting and depressing and just like the things we eat affect our physical health, the information we consume affects us mentally. I would imagine that after the first few days of “news withdrawals”, the process would be quite liberating. And maybe at the end, you’ll have a better process for consuming information in a more healthy and productive way.
50. No social media (hard) I’m a social media junkie. I check it dozens of times a day, not because I care much about what other people or brands are doing. I do it out of habit. Imagine, then, how much I could accomplish if I didn’t waste all those minutes on Buzzfeed wondering what Game of Thrones character I am.
51. No shopping (hard) Also known as the “stay away from Target” challenge. Decide at the beginning of the month what falls into the “acceptable” category and what items fall into the “off limits” category.
52. No sugar (hard) Catherine Shanahan says it best: “We are a nation of sugar addicts, raising sugar addicted kids, with constant access to cheap and powerfully addicting sugar. The addict’s cravings go way beyond wanting the sweet taste. Long-term sugar abuse actually rewires the human brain, until we are all – in a very real sense – cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.”
53. No soda (hard) Soda is a stimulant. It is also addictive. And made up of all sorts of artificial things which means that it has zero nutritional value. Swap the soda for water and you will not only save money, but you just might lose a few pounds too (like these people).
54. No snacking (hard) We snack in the morning, we snack in the afternoon, we pick on food when it’s around even if we’re not hungry. And usually, it’s not the healthiest of foods. If you’re a serial snacker (who favors the quick and easy), this is a challenge for you. Taking out the snacks from our diets forces us to eat more consciously during breakfast, lunch and dinner.
55. No TV (hard) There is so much great television out there and I’m a big fan of unwinding with a show. But an hour or two of television every night is an hour or two of time we could spend doing other, more productive things.
56. No caffeine (very hard) You might get headaches from the caffeine withdrawals, so be prepared for the symptoms. Even better, reduce your caffeine intake slowly in the week preceding your no caffeine month.
57. No gossiping (very hard) Gossip is so much fun and so very tempting. Especially because it bonds us with other people. But gossip, in essence, is to speak “with the intent of eroding another person’s reputation, image, or standing in the recipient’s eyes”. If you find yourself falling into the too much gossip trap, perhaps it’s time to take a break from the negativity.
58. No internet (very hard) I’m actually not sure how this is feasible for most people for an entire month. I would imagine it would be excruciating. Especially since I do virtually everything online – banking, shopping, communicating, working.
59. No smoking (very hard) If you’re going to quit smoking for 30 days, you might as well quit for life. But if, psychologically speaking, you need a manageable time frame, by all means, do the 30 days. At least, then, you know you’re capable.
60. Sex/No sex (very hard) Abstinence is very hard for some. But there are others who are single and can’t get it or are in relationships and could use a little or lot more. Either way, everyone has their reasons for abstaining or going all in (intimacy takes effort!). I’ll let you be the judge of that.
61. No cars (very hard) You basically have to walk, bike or take public transportation everywhere which can be easy or difficult depending on where you live. I live in the suburbs and drive a minivan so a challenge like this for me would be next to impossible. You can read an interesting post about a car free life here.
62. Listen to audiobooks or podcasts instead of music (easy) For 30 days, load up on interesting podcasts and audiobooks and commit to listening to them whenever you’re in the car, in the gym or going for a walk or run. You’ll be amazed at how much you can absorb.
63. Say affirmations (easy) Tony Robbins calls them incantations. The idea is this: whatever you focus your attention on, you’re going to feel, whether it’s true or not because our brains can’t tell the difference. Affirming the things we want for ourselves, out loud, with meaning and with intention feels awkward, but it has some powerful effects on our subconscious minds.
64. Write down a goal and look at it every day (easy) Pick one thing that you would like to accomplish (focus down, don’t try to ), write it down on a piece of paper and keep it with you at all times. Every day for the next 30 days, look at your goal first thing in the morning and last thing before bed, more if you can. There’s a saying that we become what we think about, so let the things we want to become take over our minds.
65. Visualize something you want to achieve (easy) Every day, spend 10 minutes visualizing, in great detail, something that you want to accomplish. Paint the picture in your head, as if you have already achieved it. Engaged all five senses – what you see, hear, feel, taste and smell, and get to that state of accomplishment. It’s a fun exercise, and a powerful one too, one that strengthens your mental processes and trains your brain to think with a more creative, action-oriented mindset.
66. Read a spiritual or inspirational text (easy) Read a passage from the Bible or the Tao Te Ching, or anything spiritual, Zen or even self help.
67. Make your bed (easy) Make your bed, first thing, every single morning. It’s a simple and mundane task, but if you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished something right off the bat, and its an important reminder that little things do matter. I highly recommend this incredible commencement speech by a former Navy Seal commander on why the simple act of making your bed can change your life.
68. Practice gratitude (easy) Every morning or evening, think about 3-5 things (or more) that you are grateful for. Write it down and spend some time appreciating those things, so much that the emotions start to well up. It’s not enough to think about gratitude, you have to get yourself to a state of gratitude.
69. Pray each morning (easy) You don’t have to be religious to pray (studies suggest it has health benefits). Just pray for gratitude, pray for yourself or for other people, for something you wish for, for peace, for health, for an answer or a sign. Whoever you pray to and whatever you pray for, prayer promotes peace, introspection and presence.
70. Watch something funny (easy) Every day, watch a funny video. We don’t laugh or smile nearly as much as we should, but it’s so important – for positivity, for stress relief, and it even boosts the immune system. And it’s the easiest way to feel good, even if it’s temporary. Click here for some funny videos to get you chuckling.
71. Write down three positive things about your day (easy) At the end of each day, write down three things that were positive or successful about your day. It forces you to focus on accomplishments and the good things that happened and hopefully put you in a positive mindset.
72. Draw something (medium) Get a sketchbook and spend 10 or 15 minutes drawing, coloring or painting something each day. Draw something if you want to become a better artist, use the creativity muscle of your brain, or simply because it’s fun and it’s therapeutic.
74. Do something romantic for your partner/spouse (medium) Because it’s important to keep the spark alive and show your partner that you appreciate each other. Here is a great list of 50 ways to be romantic on the cheap. (Consider yourself warned: some are very cheesy like #36: feed each other grapes)
75. Keep a dream journal (medium) The minute you wake up, write down everything you can remember about your dreams. It’s a fascinating and powerful insight into your subconscious that could help you make sense of things going on in your life.
76. Spend time in nature or at least outdoors (medium) Commit to spending a set amount of time outdoors each day, out in nature if possible. We underestimate how much being in nature impacts our mood. It has been said to reduce stress, improve creativity and general happiness.
77. Practice minimalism (hard) This is an exercise in simplicity. Choose 50 or 75 items (clothes and things) to “live off of” for thirty days.
78. Write an old friend / person a letter (hard) Because in the age of social media, smart phones and perpetual business, we keep tabs on people, and not in touch with them. Write 30 people a good old fashioned email (or better yet, give them a call) just to say hello. To catch up. To have a meaningful interaction with the people we care about.
79. Talk to a stranger (hard) It’s an excellent way to get over anxiety and force ourselves to do uncomfortable things, but it can be incredibly nerve-wracking, especially at first. Start with something small like asking for the time, and work your way up to a 5 minute conversation. After approaching 30 strangers, you’ll probably have learned a thing or two about social interaction. You’ll also learn that people aren’t scary, rejection isn’t a huge deal, and you never know who you could end up meeting.
80. Tell someone you love them or what they mean to you (hard) It’s incredibly difficult to be vulnerable to one person. Try reaching out to 30 people every day with a heartfelt note about how much you love, respect, are grateful for and/or appreciate them. It will teach you to learn to say the things you want to say while you still have the chance to say those things.
81. Pay someone a compliment (hard) Say something nice to someone and say it with meaning. It will make you feel better. It will make the other person feel better. Smiles all around!
83. Take a photo every day (easy) Take a photo of something that makes you happy, and something different every day. Pinterest has some excellent lists for a variety of different photography challenges.
84. Take a video clip every day (easy) Record one second of video every day. Or 5 seconds. Or a clip of you dancing or singing or reading a poem, or whatever inspires you.
85. Learn a new word (easy) Take a 30 day vocabulary challenge and learn the definition and etymology of a new word every day.
86. Read 20 pages every day (easy) After 30 days, you’ll have read 600 pages, or two or three books! Where it can be overwhelming to say “I’m going to read three books this month”, 20 pages per day seems so easy. So break it down into bite sized, daily chunks and set some realistic parameters around how much you want to read.
87. Read a poem every day (easy) “Read poetry because of the times you have stopped to look at rain fall through the light of a street lamp and wished you knew the words that made it what it was.” – Dan Chelotti. Read whatever speaks to you: contemporary poetry, classic poems, romantic poems, poems from your favorite writers.
88. Watch a TED talk every day (easy) They’re usually less than 18 minutes long, which means that these speakers must put a lot of time and effort into conveying what’s most important in a short amount of time. And there are some truly fascinating talks. Here are the most popular.
89. Read a Wikipedia entry every day (easy) Set your homepage to Wikipedia’s Random Page and learn something new every time you open your browser window. Or at least commit to reading one article once per day.
90. Learn (or brush up on) an instrument (medium) If you haven’t touched a piano since high school, commit to practicing every day for 30 minutes. Or learn a new instrument. You’ll be surprised at how much you can absorb with as little as 30 minutes of deliberate practice per day. And it’s one of the best things you can do to strengthen your brain.
91. Learn a language (medium) Learning a foreign language is time consuming and incredibly frustrating, but it’s important for brain health and it makes us smarter. And there are lots of websites that have simplified the art of language learning.
92. Learn a skill (medium) There’s got to be something you’ve always wanted to try, like juggling, knitting, sewing, photography, drawing or dancing. Sign up for a local class or online and pick up a new skill.
93. Learn to cook (medium) It’s an important skill to have, especially if nutrition and fitness are important to you and, once you get over the fear of attempting to cook something, it can be quite fun. You don’t need to cook full meals every day, as long as you cook something. Just start small, like boiling water and making pasta. Or you can take an online cooking class to learn the basics.
94. Write a book (hard) Some people write a 50,000 word novel in one month, as part of National November Write a Novel Month (NaNoWriMo). Your novel will likely be quite terrible, but at least you can call yourself a novelist.
95. Write a poem every day (hard) There’s also National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo), where aspiring poets attempt to write one poem every day for 30 days. How do you write poetry every day? Just start writing whatever’s in your head. Spend 40 minutes or an hour and let your words dance.
96. Learn to program (hard) There are so many online programming classes available today. From Codecademy to Coursera to Code.org to Khan Academy, these organizations has made learning to code easy and fun.
97. Memorize a deck of cards (hard) It’s a great party trick and an incredible memory training exercise. The free course at Memrise teaches you how to form associations between the group of cards and common characters to make the science of memorization easier. It’s fascinating.
98. Learn lucid dreaming (hard) How amazing would it be aware that you are dreaming? And then have the ability to control your dreams? Learn about it here, but be warned, it requires a lot of discipline and steps.
99. Start a blog (hard) It can be done with a lot of planning and hard work, one that requires several hours or more of work every day. Prepare to brainstorm, research, write, write some more, design and promote – all in 30 days.
100. Make/build something something (hard) Build an app or a website. Knit a scarf, sew a dress, build a table, refinish a dresser, paint a picture, make a quilt. Find a project and just start making.