A 7-day challenge is a great way to kick start your motivation in any area of your life that you need to work on. By choosing a small part of your goal and tackling it head-on for seven days, you can start a process of change that can literally snowball in all areas of your life. Let me explain a bit more.
As I’m writing this, we are about 5 weeks into lockdown. It’s starting to bite hard now particularly for some. I’m well aware that there are people who are working harder than they have ever worked in their lives, but there are also a lot of us sitting at home wondering what to do with ourselves, and how to get started with anything in these uncertain times. There’s so much that could be done, but it is hard to focus and get going.
Of course, we are all seeing the great success stories. People have done amazing things for charity. People have produced amazing music videos, recording the separate parts at home and putting them together into an amazing spectacle. People have lost weight, quit sugar, turned vegan and transformed their exercise routines with Joe Wicks and others. People have run the London Marathon on their treadmills when they couldn’t do the real thing. And if you are active on the mum forums you will find endless tales of amazing spring cleaning, garden makeovers, and all kinds of crafty endeavours.
It’s enough to make you feel quite inadequate.
If you are managing a houseful of people you don’t normally have at home all day, whether that is homeschooling toddlers or young children, feeding and picking up after teenagers and young adults , caring for elderly folk or all of the above, you probably feel incredulous that anyone could manage anything so clever.
If you are trying to work from home, with no IT support, no decent ergonomic chair, and one phone line and dodgy internet connection shared between several competing workers, you probably just feel like hitting the wine and Netflix at the end of the day.
If you are sitting home alone right now, talking to yourself and the cat and just trying to keep your sanity intact, it’s very easy to just not be bothered to start anything, especially if you are shielding because of poor health, and worrying yourself silly about it.
Yes, grand projects sound great, but maybe for other people…
How do people find the time for all this stuff?
If you feel like you really should be tackling some project or other while the lockdown is on, but your motivation is waning somewhat, then I may have an answer for you. A 7-day challenge is a very simple way to get you started, but can then snowball into great results.
Here’s the secret: Whatever your goal is – challenge yourself to do one simple thing that will take you towards your goal each day for seven days.
So, for instance, if you want to lose weight, challenge yourself to eat no chocolate for seven days. If you want to clean your home, challenge yourself to do 30 minutes decluttering a day for 7 days, or to fill one bag a day with stuff to dispose of. If you want to exercise more, challenge yourself to do a simple five to ten-minute exercise routine every day for seven days. Or you could meditate each day, read a chapter of a book you want to finish, or even write a certain number of words of your own book. Entirely up to you.
Pick one, just one little thing, commit to it – and then do it for seven days. Sounds easy right?
What’s so special about a 7-day challenge?
The fact that doing something for seven days sounds so easy, is one of the reasons why this method is so effective. After all, anyone can give up chocolate for seven days, right? I could do that, it would be simple. On day 8, I could have chocolate again if I wanted to, and I can content myself with that thought while I am going without.
Even I could do a short exercise regime for seven days. I’m not a couch potato – I could definitely do that if I wanted to. Yes I definitely could – I’ll prove it to you….
Yes I could turn my internet off and go screen free for one hour before bed for seven days. Of course I could if I chose to. I’m not addicted to my screen. I bet you I can do it!
Can you see how setting yourself even this short simple challenge, can fire up your competitive spirit? Imagine one of your very best friends dared you to do this thing for seven days and there was some kind of reward at the end of it, even if it was just bragging rights.
You would do it wouldn’t you. You would show your friend what you are made of. So dare yourself, bet yourself that you can do it.
This is why it is so easy to get started and do the 7-day challenge – because it is deceptively simple.
So what’s the catch?
The second thing that makes the seven-day challenge so effective, is the opposite of number 1. Yes, taking part in a seven-day challenge does sound simple, but you will almost certainly meet resistance on the way while you do it.
Seven days is one full week. That means you have to do the thing on every single day of your regular schedule, no matter what your life looks like. You have to do the thing on the days you get up early to go to work, you have to do the thing on your rest day even if you have a hangover, you have to do the thing on the day you spend rushing around trying to get your chores done, and you have to do the thing, even if you have some social or other additional activities planned in that week (or not, if you are still locked down!).
Somehow, for one week only, you have to find time for the thing that you have committed to, and get it done. If you push through the resistance that comes up, and do your thing every single day, then you will feel an enormous satisfaction at the end of the seven days. Not only that but you will have proved that the thing can fit in with all aspects of your life. If you enjoyed it and are feeling benefits, then maybe you can expand the 7 days into a 28-day challenge, or maybe just make it part of your life.
A series of 7-day challenges executed one after the other, can build into a total lifestyle change, in a very short space of time.
How do I get started?
1: Pick the Challenge
The first thing to do is to pick your first challenge. Ideally the first one should be something quite short and simple, something that takes maybe 10-15 minutes to do each day, and that, in theory anyone could do.
Here are some examples:
- If your ultimate goal is weight loss, challenge yourself to go 7 days without biscuits or chocolate, or maybe to eat a piece of fruit as a snack every day, or prepare and eat a healthy breakfast
- If you want to get fitter, challenge yourself to do a short exercise routine every day for 7 days. I would recommend Lucy Wyndham-Read’s 7-minute workouts for this – they are amazing.
- If you want to tidy up your home, challenge yourself to do 15 minutes decluttering in one room every day. Set a timer and go for it. Or maybe take one carrier bag per day and challenge yourself to fill it with things to get rid of.
- If you want to reduce stress, then do a 10-minute meditation each day, or set yourself a screen-free break each night before bed
- If you are rushing around, then challenge yourself to read a chapter of a book every day, or do something else just for you.
Simple small challenges – just pick one and write it down at the top of a page in this format :
This week I will ____________ every day
The second thing to do is to prepare yourself. What do you need to do in order to make this challenge easier for you?
So for instance, if you picked the decluttering challenge, make sure you have 7 bags ready to go so you can fill one each day. If you are quitting biscuits, make sure there are no biscuits in the house, and leave them off your shopping list for the week. If you are doing an exercise challenge then pick a good time. Do you need to set your alarm 10 minutes earlier? Do you need to lay out your gym gear so you dress in that first?
Take a short amount of time to write down what you need to do in order to get ready for the challenge. And then do that stuff, in preparation for starting the challenge on the following day.
3: Do the thing
Get up on the first morning of the challenge and go for it – just do the thing, on that day and for each of the six days following it. Each time you do it, tick off on a sheet that you have done it and spend a few moments writing how that made you feel, or any observations you have.
If you miss a day, don’t panic. It’s not the end of the world. Get back on it the next day, and write a bit about why you missed it and what you learned from that.
Some people have said – if I’m doing an exercise challenge then maybe its good to have a rest day. And so it is with some sports and exercises, I understand that. If you were planning to run 10 miles a day, then maybe a rest day or two would be a good idea.
But honestly, if you can run ten miles at this point, then you do not really need this method to help you kick start your exercise regime. The type of challenges I am taking about here, 10-15 minute sessions, can easily be done for 7 days without rest, so do not allow yourself this excuse. Once you get to the end of 7 days, if you want to take your thing further, then you can build rest days into a longer programme.
On the other hand, if you miss day 1 of the challenge, then maybe you need to stop and rethink. If you can’t even do 1 day of your thing without your mind rebelling against it, then maybe you need to start with a different thing that you can do. You can retry the other thing once you get into the groove with doing and succeeding at 7-day challenges. Or maybe you shouldn’t do it at all and you should take a different path to your ultimate goal.
When you get to the end of your seven days and you have ticked all the boxes on your sheet, reward yourself! Once you start doing challenges regularly, the seventh tick on a challenge sheet should give you an enormous sense of satisfaction anyway, but feel free to give yourself another reward.
Put some boppy music on and do a victory lap of your living room. Post something on Facebook to announce your victory and bask in the adoration from your friends and family. Buy yourself a bunch of flowers or give yourself a gold star sticker. Whatever you do, announce your victory to yourself and allow yourself to take pleasure in it. Then make sure to follow up – the final step here is the most important one of all.
5: Next steps – taking it further
Once you have done your thing for seven days, and proved to yourself that you can, then you have two more things you need to do.
The first thing, is to decide whether the thing you challenged yourself with is going to become a full time part of your life – and if so you need to make a plan to continue it.
The second thing is to pick another thing for your next 7 day challenge, so you can start building your motivation.
So, let’s look at the original challenge first. Think over the week of the challenge and read your daily observations. Notice how you feel at the end of the week and then decide what you need to do next.
Maybe you did 7 days of something and hated it from start to finish. Maybe you started with enthusiasm, but it soon wore off and by days 5, 6 and 7 you couldn’t wait to get it over with. That’s absolutely fine. That is great feedback. Don’t do that thing any more. You did 7 days but it is done. Pick something else and start again.
If you have succeeded with your 7-day challenge and enjoyed it, the most obvious next step would be a 28-day challenge, which you can devise however you like, with rest days as appropriate. Once you get to the end of the 4 weeks, then you will probably find that your thing has become a habit, and doesn’t need to be tracked any more
Let’s say you challenged yourself to do an exercise video every day and you started non a Wednesday. Wednesday was easy, you bounded out of bed and did it, full of enthusiasm. Thursday was Ok too. Then Friday you forget to do it in the morning (you have to leave for work earlier on that day anyway) but you did it when you got home from work. Saturday, you got up later but still did it, Sunday, you forgot again in the morning but did it before bed. Monday was a disaster – you hate Mondays anyway, rebelled in the morning and couldn’t be bothered either when you came home from work. But somehow on Tuesday you gave yourself a talking to, restarted, and then did it again on Wednesday to complete the seven days.
How do you feel? You overcame your funk and succeeded. The exercise might be starting to have effects now and maybe you feel a bit better in yourself. You definitely want to continue.
But maybe when you devise your next programme you could put in rest days on Mondays and Fridays, do it in the mornings on Tuesday to Thursday, and then do it in the daytime on Saturday and Sunday. Use feedback from your week to devise your programme, then try it out for 28 days and see how you get on.
Once you have decided how to proceed with the thing you have just done and set that up, then it’s time to pick another 7-day challenge. You can pick the same basic area – losing weight, tidying your home, or something completely different, it’s up to you. Challenge yourself, prepare, set up, and off you go again.
And there you can see how powerful this system can become. Just imagine if you could start and develop a new healthy habit every week for the rest of your life. How productive could you be? Even if you discontinued half of them, because they didn’t work for you, or even if you started a new one every couple of weeks instead of every week, you could still have one or two new healthy habits starting to take hold each month, crowding out the unhealthy stuff that you do habitually right now.
The 7-day challenge system builds on itself, every day, every week. Each challenge is tiny and easy to undertake. Even the busiest person can find five or ten minutes a day to do these things. But the more you achieve and the more you reward yourself for your success, the more you want to achieve, and slowly but surely you can change your life.
I’d love to hear about how you have used 7-day challenges in your life. Please leave me a comment or two and tell me what you have challenged yourself to do. Or feel free to post your own successes on here to increase your sense of achievement
Choose the goal that means the most to you right now – losing weight, getting fit, sorting out an area of your life…? then pick a tiny step from that goal that will stsrt you on your way
You could do a 10-day challenge if you prefer. Bt the period you choose should span at least a week, so that you have to do the thing on all types of days that you have, work, play, rest, social or whatever
Only you can answer that question. Is this a real reason to stop doing the thing? If so then stop, rest, and start again when the time is right. Or are you just making an excuse? If so, either get over yourself and do the thing anyway, or maybe ask yourself whether you really want that thing or you should choose something else.
I would recommend you just start with one, and do it from start to finish. But once you are in the habit of doing and completing them, then start as many simultaneous ones as you feel you can handle
Click here for a free challenge worksheet and some ideas for your first challenge https://www.subscribepage.com/mtb7daychallenge