Taking on 30-day challenges

Thirty days are “just about the right time to add a new habit or subtract a habit,” Google engineer Matt Cutts said in his TED talk in 2011.

“If you really want something badly enough, you can do anything in 30 days,” he said.

By taking on his 30-day challenges, Cutts said he found that “instead of the months flying by, forgotten, the time was much more memorable.”

He also said that “small, sustainable changes” were more likely to stick.

I am slowly getting back to running and have, according to the app Lift, an 11-day streak in daily runs. RunKeeper logs my mileage this week so far at 26.8 kilometers – a walk on the block compared to the mileage I racked up running ultra-marathons some years back but a veritable ultra compared to the zero mileage of recent months.

One thing I realized after getting back to running was the

My getting-back-to-running goal is to run at least 5 kilometers a day. A tall order but one I’ve managed to keep for a week. To make a habit stick, my favorite productivity site Lifehack says you must do it daily.

“Consistency is critical if you want to make a habit stick. If you want to start exercising, go to the gym every day for your first thirty days. Going a couple times a week will make it harder to form the habit. Activities you do once every few days are trickier to lock in as habits.” – Scott Young.

And with the free tools available in this age of the “quantified self,” tracking progress or regress is so much easier. My phone is a slave driver – it tells me every day to drink more water, run, blog more etc.

Today is the end of the month. Tomorrow, I plan to take on my first 30-day challenges. Apart from the daily 5K, I’m considering other health-, writing- or tech-related challenges. Spend more time with the family, travel more, stay away from fast-food, no more soda, eat less junk food, stop eating rice, blog daily, learn Git and consider moving to it from Subversion, interview people, build a mobile phone app, build an iPad magazine, write using Markdown, write a book, run another Linux distro, live “on the cloud,” learn another language, run another marathon, run another ultra, read my backlog of books, stay away from social networks, take a photo a day, learn a new word a day etc. These are some of the challenges that I want to take on. But which should I tackle first? I have the day to decide.

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