30 Day Challenge Ideas for Building Good Habits

There is a reason 30 day challenges are so popular. 30 days is the minimum amount of time required to start building a brand new habit into your routine (however, it can take longer too). Habit building requires consistency. Yet, consistency can be hard to maintain without starting on the right foot. This guide is meant to make sure you optimize your 30 day challenge with the right preparation, choosing the right goals, and celebrating as you move along.

what's your why 30 day challenge
First, figure out what brings your life purpose.

What’s your why

Before you even start thinking about 30 day challenge ideas, you first have to do some good base work. By this, I mean you need to reflect and really get your priorities in line. As we’ve talked about before, if your health goals aren’t in alignment with what you truly want then no amount of motivation or grit will get you to stay on track. (See the full post on: What’s Your Why?).

Here’s a quick review for figuring out your why through reflection and asking yourself these questions:

  • Create your “why” statement(s):  I WANT TO ______, SO THAT I CAN ______. 
  • Identify cultural expectations (and other expectations) that are influencing that way you make choices and live life.
  • What deep beliefs or negative self-talk are you not even aware of? (See my video in the Facebook group about myths we tell ourselves.)
  • Figure out what your true needs are- what really brings you joy, purpose, health when you get rid of the expectations?
  • What behaviors are driving your reality? 
  • Does your schedule reflect your priorities or is there a major disconnect? Is it filled with activities out of necessity and expectations or what you truly love?
  • Are you spending your time doing what you want and being who you want to be, or is it out of sync?

These are all great reflection and journal prompts. For an example, read about my client Mary’s story.

bad habits
What bad habits are holding you back?

Anticipate road blocks

Figuring out the unrealistic expectations you may have related to your health is a great first step. Then, it’s time to identify bad habits that you keep defaulting to that are derailing your progress. These are usually an issue after you’ve starting gaining some momentum. All of a sudden something, like stress or a change to your routine, throws you off and leaves you back at square and frustrated. And it is all due to the triggering of a bad habit you were trying to avoid.

Willpower has been found to be a finite resource, so muscling your way around a bad habit will only work for so long. That’s why you need to:

  1. Identify the bad habit.
  2. Reflect on the triggers that cause it.
  3. Modify, replace, or avoid triggers.
  4. Be consistent for 30+ days!
  5. De-program your bad habit.

This is exactly why so many of us struggle with goals that involve our nutrition and other bad habits. For me, I would always tell myself that this time will be different. Then, force myself to cut out certain foods before inevitably crashing and burning when I decide I’d rather eat a whole tray of cookies.

I’ve learned to be in much better control of my eating habits by recognizing my hunger cues, keeping alternative snacks in sight, and avoiding certain shelves on the pantry. Plus, I’ve focused on what I CAN have over what I’m restricting. And you can do the same with any bad habit.

For a deeper dive into bad habits, see last week’s article.

SMART goals
Set goals that align with your purpose.

Setting SMART goals.

Once you’ve done the back work with figuring out what you want and facing your bad habits head on, it’s finally time to get to the spot where we usually try to start: Goal setting and starting some form of challenge. A challenge is a great way to track consistency and build a long term habit (which is ideally what we want).

Now, when you write your goals, they should easily align with your vision for your life and the person you want to be. Additionally, the goals should be as detailed as possible so that there is no ambiguity in how you will reach them. This is why a SMART goal is the way to go.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

For more details on, go to our goal setting article. The more detailed the better! And this should be done for both long term and short term goals.

Vague vs SMART goal.

I want to eat better.

I will eat 2 servings of vegetable with my lunch everyday for the next 30 days to increase my energy levels for my daily routine.

The life changing step.

Once you have your goals set, next is the most important step for gaining momentum. Break down those goals into actual steps you can do each day and then choose the one that’s most important to get started. That’s what you will focus on for the next 30 days!

What’s the one thing I can do today to work toward my goals?

Once you have clarity for this one step, the rest of your month will feel significantly easier. Time block your schedule so that you can consistently follow this one step and suddenly you know exactly what you need to do. The key is picking something so small to start with that it’s nearly impossible to fail at. So if the step seems to ambitious to start with, break it down even further.

Here is an example:

I wanted to share an example straight from my new guide that came out this week (check it out here, I’m so excited it is now out!):

fitness goal for 30 day challenge
Example of a sustainable fitness goal

My favorite example of a small sustainable commitment that should be celebrated came from a conference I attended in 2019.  The speaker, Geoff Woods, was reviewing the principles of the book, The ONE Thing (highly recommended).  There was a woman in the audience that bravely asked for help breaking down her goals.  Teary eyed and taking short panicked breaths, she explained she was dealing with a lot of anxiety, walking with a cane, and ultimately has wanted to start exercising and losing weight for the last several years.  She hadn’t been able to make any measureable progress due to paralyzing fear and self-doubt. 

She had realized her initial goal of losing weight just wasn’t going to cut it.  Geoff started helping her break it down.   He asked her how she was going to lose weight:  exercise at least 3 times per week.   Okay, that’s a good start but she was nowhere near done.  What did she need to exercise 3 times per week?  Breaking it down further, she needed a gym membership, workout clothes, and a car to drive herself there after work.  Perfect, now it was getting more specific.  Of these needs, what was her biggest barrier to staying consistent with exercise? Well, she already had a gym membership and car.  However, she admitted that if she forgot to bring her gym bag and had to go home first to change there was more than a 50% chance that she’d lose motivation and end up staying at home.  BINGO.    

With Geoff coaching her, she figured out that her one thing would be to pack a gym bag and put it in her car on her way to work every day.  That was her SINGLE step to work toward her ultimate goal of losing weight and gaining strength for walking without a cane.  The simplicity of this daily step is beautiful.   It ensures that even on the days when she doesn’t manage to make it to the gym, she can still celebrate a win and work on gaining even more momentum the next day. 

With this perspective for her goal, she was able to trade guilt and fear for confidence and consistency.  While I don’t know the rest of her story, I can imagine this moment of clarity for her was empowering enough to give her the tools to make this time different!

Every small step counts
Every step in the right direction is something to be proud of!

Celebrating all the small wins.

Success does not happen overnight (despite the societal expectation). Life is won by slowly chipping away at what makes us thrive. Don’t get caught up in the big picture (only use it for inspiration) and don’t forget the small choices that make a big difference in the long term.

The danger of striving for perfection

On social media this week I saw a lady promoting her meal planning program (something many of us could use). I scrolled through her program to see what it was about and what other’s had to say about it. I noticed she had a few negative comments people made on her ad about the use of plastic containers and shaming for her clear “lack of awareness.”

While on some level I agree that switching to glass containers is better for her own health and the environment, that was not at all what crossed my mind when looking at her empowering program. And her response was amazing. She pointed out the fact that she isn’t perfect and it’s totally okay. That we should all do the best for our own lives. But here was her biggest issue with the negativity: our tendency to focus on what’s missing to make us “healthy” instead of focusing on each small positive step in the right direction. It’s a recipe for failure.

Her example was having a client that had been addicted to diet coke and had recently make the switch to coffee with a splash of cream. Yet, sadly she was being judged by her co-workers for the non-organic cow’s milk she was using. In other instances, she’s had clients that felt if they couldn’t go all in with a plant based organic diet, they might as well not even try to reach their weight loss goals.


Something is always better than nothing. And it’s the stepping stone to greater things when you are ready for it! Remember that and celebrate all those small changes you make along the way, because they’re the true recipe for success.

30 Day Challenge Ideas:

So with the idea that your first step in a 30 day challenge should be small, here are some ideas for that one item you can start with:

  1. Make the bed every morning.
  2. Meditate for 1 minute.
  3. Say 1 affirmation out loud when you wake up.
  4. Workout for 5 minutes before breakfast.
  5. Connect with one friend each evening.
  6. Read one paragraph of a book.
  7. Journal for 3 minutes (I recommend a gratitude journal!).
  8. Take 5 deep breaths when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
  9. Go for a 10 minute walk at lunch.
  10. Eat one extra serving of produce per day.
  11. Try a smoothie each morning for breakfast.
  12. Have at least one vegetable with dinner each night.
  13. Go to bed at 10:30 every night.
  14. Turn of electronics every night at 9 pm to limit screen time.
  15. Cook at home at least 5 times per week.
  16. Enjoy a cup of tea or snack without any distractions (try an herbal tea for digestion, detox, or relaxing!).
  17. Get 5 minutes of sunshine.
  18. Put your bare feet in the grass everyday.
  19. Lay out your workout clothes each night.
  20. Only allow one snooze on your alarm.
  21. Way up 5 minutes earlier for “me time” each morning.
  22. Participate in random acts of kindness.
  23. No activities but sleep or intimacy in the bedroom.
  24. Swap one processed snack with a natural (organic if feasible) alternative.
  25. Learn something new- spend 5 minutes on it daily.
  26. Celebrate a small win everyday.
  27. Give one compliment per day.
  28. Tell one person you love them.
  29. Devote 1 minute to your mental health (be more specific of course)
  30. Do something each day for your self care routine.
  31. And on and on…!! Keep it small and the possibilities are endless for your one month challenge. Give yourself the upper hand by starting small.
  32. For more ideas, see our articles specifically about nutrition challenges and fitness challenges.
30 day challenge start small
Starting small helps you gain the traction you need for success.

Start small and keep moving forward.

NO matter where you are in your health journey, always start with gaining clarity through reflection. From there, begin small and before you know it the momentum you gain will be a force you can’t stop (in a good way!).

What small step could you start taking today for the next 30 days?

The sooner you get started the sooner you will benefit from the results. This month during our self care challenge, I’ve been focusing on swapping my late morning junk food habit for a smoothie. I’m on day 20 and it’s going great! It’s by no means perfect but it’s definitely becoming a habit and something I look forward to each day.

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