Martijn Schirp • • 8 min read
30 Challenges for 30 Days
“The most intelligent men, like the strongest, find their happiness where others would find only disaster: in the labyrinth, in being hard with themselves and with others, in effort; their delight is in self-mastery; in them asceticism becomes second nature, a necessity, an instinct. They regard a difficult task as a privilege; it is to them a recreation to play with burdens that would crush all others.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
Did you know that it takes 30 days to form a new habit? The first few days are similar as to how you would imagine the birth of a new river. Full of enthusiasm it gushes forth, only to be met by strong obstacles. The path is not clear yet, and your surroundings don’t agree. Old habits urge you to stay the same. But you need to stay determined. This starting phase is the hardest. Slowly, however, the path is cleared, resistance erodes a little day by day. And soon after, everything around you is actually helping you to go through the motions of your newfound habit. By giving yourself a challenge, as it certainly won’t be easy, for a minimum of 30 days, you will find that you are able to improve all facets of your life.
So, take a moment to reflect on the question ‘Who do I want to be in 5 years?’
What kind of habits would you like to have? You better start now if you want your new habits to influence your lifestyle and consequently your life!
Check out this short TED talk first to get inspired:
Now pick one or more challenges and stick with them! Create a 30-day calendar, challenge your friends (and get socially accountable) and stay inspired (picture your goal, write down inspiration)!
However, be cautioned, picking too many challenges at the same time can easily result in a failure of all of them.
#1 Write a I-Like-This-About-You note/text/email each day for someone (Easy)
This is the perfect way to let someone else know you care. We are so often focused on the bad stuff that we forget to mention the good. You surely will make people’s day, 30 days in a row!
#2 Talk to one stranger each day (Hard)
This is a great one to cure approaching anxiety. Have you ever resisted the temptation to talk to someone because you were afraid and said to yourself that you actually don’t want to talk to her/him anyway? Not anymore! After 30 strangers you will understand people are just people and there’s nothing weird in speaking to someone you don’t know.
Do the social butterfly challenge!
#3 Take one picture each day (Hard)
This one gets harder nearing the end of the challenge because at one point you will run out of the easy shots. This one is great to combine with other challenges, a great way to make a photo diary!
#4 Re-evaluate one long-held belief each day (Intermediate)
Questioning your own beliefs is a great way to rid yourself of bullshit while continually adapting to new knowledge you’ve taken on since putting old beliefs together.
#5 Take a 30 minute walk each day (Easy)
Walking is healthy, relaxing and inspiring. And it is both easy and free! A great exercise while walking is to observe other people and think about what the differences and similarities are between you and them. This will definitely increase your empathy and your observing skills! A great book on this subject is Manwatching.
Do the Vitality Builder challenge!
#6 Take a moment each day to practice self compassion and self-love (Hard)
Do you love yourself? Do you beat yourself up after you make mistakes? You can test your own level of self compassion here. Chances are you don’t score very high. This is because our society sets standards that are almost impossible to achieve. And so we form a habit of thinking we are not good enough, not worthy enough. There is also a kind of stigma on self-love, it is often confused with either being arrogant or it being a weakness. Both are wrong. It is a skill that can be trained so you will develop the emotional skillset to accept parts of yourself which you might not like very much, you learn to stop fighting against frustration and start accepting it as an integral part of life itself. Self love and self acceptance are also crucial to loving and accepting others around you.
#7 Try a new recipe each day (Intermediate)
If you want to learn how to cook you need to practice, practice, practice. Forcing yourself to try a new recipe each day is a great way to learn of more techniques and ingredients. It also makes it easier to drop bad food habits you might have and turn them into healthy ones!
#8 Refrain from alcohol and other drugs for 30 days in a row! (Depends)
Do you have a social circle where there hasn’t been a sober night out for years? Can you try to have fun without ingesting chemicals to alter your doors of perception? This is a great challenge to learn how to stand up for yourself against peer pressure.
Do the High on Existence challenge!
#9 Write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days (Hard)
Ever wanted to write a book? Do it. Do it in 30 days. Check out the official site here.
Or, do the Proust’s Pupil challenge!
#10 Learn how to draw a human face in 30 days (Intermediate)
There are many ‘how to’ youtube videos on drawing and if you ever wanted to learn how to draw, stop making excuses. Set yourself a challenge and be amazed what you can achieve in 30 days!
Do the Da Vinci’s Apprentice challenge!
#11 Watch a documentary each day (Easy)
Always wanted to know everything about a certain topic? You are in luck, it’s the digital era! There are more documentaries online you can possible watch in a lifetime. YouTube, Google Video, TruthTheory.org and TopDocumentaryFilms.com are some of the great sources. Here is a list of HEthens best documentaries!
#12 Read a book breakdown each day (Easy)
We all know we would like to read more often, but somehow we are glued to the same computer screen you are staring at right now. Just clicking buttons. The solution is to take some time each day to read the key insights from a non-fiction book. Easy right? Do it somewhere cozy or outside. Grab a cup of coffee or tea, turn on some ambient music and pull that blanket over you. Then check out this incredible library of book breakdowns and summaries called the Stairway to Wisdom. Whatever problem you’re facing in your life right now, there’s guaranteed to be a book available that can help you to solve it.
#13 Study a topic you’d like to master each day (Hard)
Always wanted to know everything about Animal Behaviour? Psychology? Physics? Philosophy? Educate yourself without school! Pick a topic, plan at least a lecture or an assignment each day and become a genius on your passion! Click here to find out what is possible and how to do it.
Do the School of Life challenge!
#14 Walk/Drive/Run a new route to work/school each day (Easy)
This is a great challenge to keep alert, discover new places, get a better understanding of your city and to have more fun while doing one of the mundane daily tasks of life.
#15 Read a new article on HighExistence each day (Not as Easy as you Think!)
A great way to keep inspired, to come up with new ideas and to motivate yourself to make the best out of life!
- What I Learned About the Future by Reading 100 Science Fiction Books
- D.H. Lawrence on the Overdeveloped Ego and Our Connection to the Cosmos
- The Real Secret to Making People Like You
#16 Media-fast for 30 days (Intermediate)
Don’t watch any television and stop following the news. Limit yourself to reading a maximum of 5 blogs this whole month. Log out of Facebook, Twitter and StumbleUpon. Stop the information overload and try living simple. You will be amazed how much free time you have left!
#17 Pick one bad habit you already have and ditch it for 30 days (Hard)
Are you a smoker? Do you like to see the negative side of things? Do you practice self-hate? Do you eat fast food? Do you play too many video games? Quit them for 30 days, and pick another challenge instead!
#18 Inspire yourself each day (Easy)
Studies have shown that people who are inspired are happier, nicer, productive and will not stray away from their chosen path if life gets difficult. So print a quote and tape it to the mirror. Have an inspirational video as your starting page. Use an inspirational mantra for meditation. Get a principle to live by. In short, get your dose of inspiration each day!
#19 Take a cold shower each day (Intermediate)
Cold showers are great for uplifting ones mood, cure stress related diseases, to strengthens ones immune system and to make your skin beautiful. You can read the reports of some HEthens that have been trying it for some time over here!
Or, if you want to push the boundaries to the superhuman level, consider immersing yourself in the Wim Hof Method. (Hardest)
Or do the Shaolin Shower challenge!
#20 Think of an accomplishment you’d like to achieve for each year of the next 30 years, a year each day. (Hard)
This is great existential shock therapy. You can’t answer these questions without facing your life as it is right now and how it is likely to unfold. This one also gets harder progressively. It’s a great way to reflect!
#21 Practice a random skill everyday (Easy)
There are many available How To’s on YouTube and other video sites. Pen tricks, hand stands, parkour, dances, cooking tricks. Broaden your arsenal!
#22 Take the stairs every chance you get (Easy)
Somehow escalators seem ridiculous to me, and in some cases elevators too. It always reminds me a bit of all the fat people in Wall-E. Too lazy to do anything. So take the stairs every chance you get for 30 days. It is healthy, it doesn¥t look silly and it will add up over a lifetime :)
#23 Wake up early each day (Intermediate)
It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom. – Aristotle
Check out how to become an early riser.
#24 Keep a journal (Intermediate)
Great for memory, reflection and especially awesome to look back to in the future and remember the good old times when you did these challenges!
We highly recommend the five-minute journal or doing the Proust’s Pupil challenge.
#25 Don’t lie for 30 days (Hard)
This is quite the challenge. Stop deceiving yourself and others, speak from the heart. This one goes great with cultivating right intentions, because if you master that, there won’t be any need for lying!
Do the Veritaserum challenge!
#26 Combine challenges (Easy)
Take a photo of yourself reading a different book at a different location. Take 10,000 steps on a new route to meet a stranger and ask for a recipe to try out. Do all challenges, a different one each day. Wake up early to make time to meditate, practice self-compassion and yoga. Finish it off with a cold shower!
#27 Doing something that scares you every day (Hard)
Fear is the one thing keeping you from being the best version of yourself. The only way to overcome your fears is to face them head on!
#28 Don’t complain for an entire day (Hard)
This one will likely take more than a few days to work up to achieving. Even if you’re a highly positive person, it’s difficult not to utter one negative sentence for a 24-hour span. Don’t be down on yourself if you can’t make it past an hour — as with everything this takes practice! This one is also great practice for becoming conscious of your thoughts.
Do the Self-Ownership challenge!
#29 Meditate each day (Intermediate)
Read this to learn why you should meditate, learn awesome variations on meditation here and discuss this challenge here. The best moments are just after waking up and just before sleep!
Progress in your meditation practice by advancing from Zen Grasshopper, to Zen Monk, to Zen Master.
#30 Practice (at least) one completely selfless act each day (Easy)
Go out of your way to help someone else out who may or may not deserve your kindness. Take out your neighbor’s trash. Give a $5 to a homeless person. Do something that takes real effort on your part while brightening the day of the receiver.