Most “30-day challenges,” whether they’re for writing, diet, meditation, or whatever, focus on consistency. Your goal is to do the same thing every day for the duration or, put another way, to stick with Plan A. Theoretically, the 30 days gives you time to see the benefits of a certain behavior and build a habit that will stick with you. But in reality, challenges aren’t usually constructed in ways that are sustainable in the long term—and often they’re not even sustainable for 30 days.
We’re solving this problem by making OUR challenge 28 days.
While it’s certainly possible to succeed at this type of exercise, it’s a lot easier to fall off the wagon, miss days, or outright quit. You go in all hopeful, but there’s a real risk that you’ll come out of the process feeling worse rather than better, wondering why it’s such a struggle for you to follow through on doing something over 30 days.
The reality is that life doesn’t go in a straight line. It’s full of blind turns—so you can get momentum, but then if you’re not careful, you’ll eat dirt on the curve. When you drive somewhere, you (obviously) don’t just go in a straight, as-the-crow-flies line; you know that the fastest way to get there is to follow the road. Along the way you make a multitude of micro-adjustments to keep the car on the road and handle those turns. And not only are you not driving off the road, you’ve internalized those micro-adjustments to the point where you’re not even aware you’re doing them. You just “know how to drive” where the road’s taking you.
But most—maybe all—of us could benefit from paying some attention to building up similar reflexes when it comes to our scholarship, our work–life balance, and even our “work–work balance.”
“Plan B” as it relates to this challenge begins from the idea that life is variable. It recognizes that the real lesson here isn’t to check the box that you wrote for an hour each day (not that it’s not fantastic if you do that!) It’s that you grew your skills in thinking dynamically and realistically about your destination, recalibrating how everything fits together, recognizing opportunities for moving forward and what counts as doing so, and forgiving yourself when things don’t work out just so.
To that end, we encourage you to spend some time in a seeming paradox: what if you start by assuming that you’ll “fail” in the sense that you won’t accomplish the goal that you started out with in exactly the way you imagined it? That is, what does it mean to start by being ready for and welcoming of Plan B? What does succeeding in a month-long challenge look like when you leave the precise nature of the challenge open to change?