Thursday, April 24, 2014

What can you accomplish in 30 days?

"We are what we repeatedly do,"  Aristotle proclaimed.
When I found the 30-Day Blog Challenge, I also came upon several other 30-day challenges. These common plans led me on another time-consuming research project to see what other types of 30-Day Challenges there are. Here are some of my favorites:

The idea behind the 30-Day Facebook Coffee Prayer Challenge is simple: pray before you do something that is already a daily habit. For example, if Facebook is a daily habit, commit yourself to praying for a targeted amount of time before you allow yourself to go on Facebook. There are lots more prayer-type challenges encouraging you can pray for your husband/wife/child/boss/government/world. The lazy person in me wishes there were just one prayer to cover all of the problems. Maybe that's the Lord's Prayer. 

For the artistic/creative person, there are numerous challenges for photography, drawing, art, poems, etc. Several of my students use the drawing and photography ones. I think they are attracted to these challenges because they are sick of writing in my class. In their minds, school should be over.  

The 30 Day Full Body KILLER Workout is one of the many programs geared toward fitness. There's a 30-day workout for arms, butt, stomach, wall squats, push ups, and on and on. I started this month doing the push-up challenge. It lasted a week and then I just forgot to do it for several days. When I remembered it, I figured I had already failed this month so I'll start over next month.

All of these 30-day challenges made me wonder why everything is in 30-day intervals. Why not 21, 28, or 40 days? Twenty-one days makes a good, solid three weeks which seems like a long enough time to accomplish something. In teaching, I find that if I have a unit of study that lasts longer than three weeks, my students are bored to death and frankly, so am I. Alcohol rehab programs are 28 days, but that's probably to make for convenient billing -- four, seven-day weeks. 

The Bible uses 40 days frequently -- Moses talked to God, Lent is 40 days before Easter, Noah waited 40 days before opening the Ark, Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness. So why do we use 30 days now? Is it because of the Western Calendar in which our months are mostly 30 days? Is it so that we can check off an accomplishment and build strength to move on to the next 30 days? One researcher said that 21 days is long enough to begin a habit, but not to break one. Another study found that it took 66 days until a habit was formed. 

Personally, I don't think that there's a perfect number of days for starting a program that will make a person better, will teach something, or will creativity to shine. For example, I didn't finish the entire month of push-ups, but I did make the attempt. I started this blog thinking I would write for 30 consecutive days; however, quality is better than quantity. Nevertheless, the challenge did make me start.

Matt Cutts, a computer scientist at Google, tells about the many 30-day challenges he has completed. He makes some really good points that I hope will inspire you to at least make an attempt. Check out his Ted Talks video below. Time will pass anyway, so you might as well start.