Fitness (His Edition)
30 days to a better you...
In this issue you’ll read about 30-day challenges, a growing trend in the field of self-improvement, which is a concept that has captured my attention for a number of reasons (read more about it on page 22). The main appeal, for me at least, is that it simplifies and compartmentalises the process of, at the very least, establishing new habits, or trying something new. There are so many things in life that I still want to do, but seldom find the time to do them, like learn to play an instrument, learn a new language, understand more about the world... the list is endless, actually.
When you consider this infinite to-do list of mini life goals, it can become overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you prioritise? When will you find the time amidst work, family, exercise and sport? Faced with this seemingly insurmountable mountain of challenges, with a perceived lack of suitable solutions, we often end up doing nothing at all.
However, after researching and writing about the 30-day challenge trend, I discovered a simple blueprint for how to break up and tackle each of these goals. It’s not rocket science and it is by no means a revolutionary ground-breaking concept, but it works. At the time of writing this I had completed two 30-day challenges. And you know what? With this approach I was able to learn to play an instrument (very basically at least) – something I have been trying to do for the past 36 years – and still found the time to read two books. I also started learning a new language and began a new prehabilitation programme before the next running season gets into full swing. I’m also back to doing my 15 minutes a day of rolling and mobility work. And I’ve done all of this without neglecting my other commitments.
I have found that, more than the structure that a 30-day challenge provides, it is the change in mindset that this philosophy promotes that has helped me get my sh#t together and start prioritising what is important to me. It is the consistency of doing something every day and the routine that this creates that opens up the possibility of learning and experiencing new or even just different things in life. It is so easy to get stuck in a rut, which is why we need something to shake things up periodically and remind us what we’re capable of. And I have found that a 30-day challenge can be the perfect catalyst for that change. It’s no magic formula and, like you’ll read in the feature, 30 days is not a magic number needed to master a skill or entrench new habits. What it does is modify behaviour and thinking. You don’t have to master anything in that time, just try something new. If it sticks then keep at it. If it doesn’t, well at least you tried and now know what it’s about.
You can therefore put a tick against that item on your list and move on to the next one. The amazing thing is that everything I’ve started, I’ve been able to carry over into consecutive months. Instead of dropping my DIY music lessons from my first 30-day challenge in place of a language learning podcast, I now find the time to do both. Sure, eventually I’ll get to a point where I run out of time to include everything, but hopefully by then I’ll be ready to drop something old and try something new. It has certainly been one of the most enriching periods in my life and I hope that this approach can have the same impact on yours. I can’t think of a better way to start the year.
Wishing you all the best for 2017.
PEDRO VAN GAALEN