by Jason Jaquays-Tarbox
I recently stumbled upon a Ted Talk that promotes the idea of giving yourself 30 Day Challenges. (This is a short 3-minute-ish video, and it’s entertaining – do yourself a favor and watch it!)
As a user of the Panda Planning systems, I’m a big fan of setting challenges for myself, however, my planner has a spot for a weekly challenge – no monthly challenges. My planner DOES, however, have a spot for monthly goals. Well, now I got to thinking about the differences between challenges and goals.
I did what I always do when something intrigues me: a Google search. According to this post on SparkPeople, “a GOAL is the purpose towards which an endeavor is directed; an objective the terminal point of a journey or race, and a CHALLENGE is to engage in a contest, fight or competition to take part in something”.
Of everything I found online regarding the difference between challenges and goals, I liked this explanation the best because it seemed to articulate what my initial thoughts were relative to the subject. So where a goal might be to complete a 5K, a challenge would be to run three times a week for a month. A goal might be to lose 10 pounds whereas a challenge might be to avoid sugar for a month.
This, of course, gave life to another line of thinking: setting a series of challenges for yourself might, in fact, be the easiest way to reach your goals. Running several times a week (the challenge) is certainly a good way to ensure you can complete a 5K (the goal). And certainly giving up sugar for a month (the challenge) would be a good step to take when attempting to lose ten pounds (the goal), right?
Now, you should know, I am obsessive about closing the activity rings on my Apple Watch at least five times a week. And I love an app called Done that I used to track my water consumption. Both of these are challenges that I’m able to track for myself. Is the goal to drink more water or be active? No, the goals are to be hydrated and healthy. I’m already using challenges to meet my goals!
So maybe you have a health or fitness related goal, I mean, you are reading this blog, after all. And maybe you’ve struggled with figuring out how to reach that goal. My advice is simple: set the goal, but then focus on challenges to get you there. It’s easier, after all, to rise to a simple challenge than it is to reach a complex goal. Try my favorite challenge advice for new participants in a fitness program:
FOR 30 DAYS, EXERCISE EVERY DAY. DON’T THINK, DON’T RATIONALIZE, DON’T DECIDE – JUST DO. FOR 30 DAYS GET SOME FORM OF EXERCISE ACCOMPLISHED EVERY SINGLE DAY WITH NO EXCEPTION.
I can hear the questions already.
Isn’t that unhealthy? Doesn’t my body need time to recover? Won’t that be too strenuous for a beginner? What if I don’t have the time?
Well, this post isn’t about excuses. And I don’t want to dwell on them, because I think that’s another great challenge: no excuses for 30 days.
Will you rise to the challenge? Maybe. Will you reach your goals? Maybe. Will you simply close this browser window and forget all about what could literally be life-changing advice within the hour? Maybe.
What determines the answer to these questions isn’t fate, circumstance, your schedule, your body mass index, your diet or anything else. What determines the answer to these questions is YOU.
BONUS: Elevate Fitness offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on its full memberships, which means you can even join a gym while participating in your own 30-day exercise challenge with no financial risk involved. Fill out the form below to get more information about how we can help you start your own 30-day challenge.