Thirty 30-Day Self-Improvement Challenge Ideas That Will Change Your Life

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Imagine this: You know that you need to make some changes to your life but just can’t seem to get around to doing it.

Except that instead of an imaginary scenario, most of us who are juggling work, our relationships and taking care of ourselves in general are stuck in some form of life progression limbo.

I know I am, and you probably are too.

This is why I like to push myself into the deep end of something new with very litle time spent thinking (or in my case, overthinking) every now and then just to make sure that that new thing that I want to happen, happens.

Enter the 30-Day Self-Improvement Challenge.


A 30-Day Self-Improvement Challenge is a month-long quest of change that’s meant to make your life better by changing you for the better in some way.

It could be something major like getting over your fear of public speaking, or less confronting, like getting more sleep, but really, the only things that matter are that the change you’re after is meaningful to you, and that you’re able to work towards it consistently over the 30 consecutive days.


Research shows that it can take between 18 and 254 days for you to form a habit — a behaviour that you can perform efficiently and with minimal thought.

So while 30 days is by no means the optimal amount of time it takes to make a lasting life change, it’s long enough to get a good headstart with a goal, yet short enough that it won’t intimidate you into not trying at all.


You can take any goal and turn it into a 30-day challenge, but here are some things to consider before you start:

Make sure it’s realistic.

Big, shiny, audacious goals like transforming your introvert self into an extrovert, making a million dollars or losing 100 pounds sound exciting, but are they goals that you can realistically make a dent in over 30 days?

Nothing is impossible, but these are best broken down into smaller goals that you then take on with your month-long challenges.

And yes, you can repeat a challenge or take on a new challenge every month if you want to.

After all, they’re your goals.

Do it only if you’re ready to commit.

Want to challenge yourself but feel like you’re being pulled in a million different directions right now?

It’s probably best to put it off until you’re able to carve out the time you’ll need to commit so you don’t finish off the 30 days feeling disappointed in yourself, and reluctant to give it another go.

Your 30-day challenge will work only if you’re willing and able to put in the work consistently from start to finish.

Pick something you really want to do.

What’s something that’ll get you excited about working hard at, knowing that it’ll probably take you much longer than 30 days to achieve?

Try making a list of goals that make you feel buzzed and raring to go, and pick one that you can commit to right now, then run with it.

And just in case you were wondering: Perfection is not the goal here — your ability to keep trying despite not being perfect, is.


Elisabeth Wales on Unsplash


Having a meal prepared ahead of time is crucial if you want to avoid making food decisions that don’t support your health or weight-loss goals.

The most efficient way to do this is to spend some time planning your meals and cooking them for the coming week.

To get going and organized with your meal planning, use the simple Bloom Magnetic Weekly Meal Planning Pad, which has perforated shopping lists that you can tear off and go.

Want to have your meal planning done for you so you can just focus on the shopping, ingredients preparation and cooking?

You might want to consider giving a meal planning service like $5 Meal Plan a go.

As a member, you’ll get a pre-made meal plan, recipes and shopping list for five dinners and sides, plus one breakfast and lunch emailed to you every week.

If you prefer to have a custom plan for each week, you can pick specific recipes by cooking method, ingredients, dietary preference and meal of the day.

You can sign up for a free, 14-day trial here.


Walking is the simplest and most underrated form of exercise around.

It’s great for your joints, lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and helps to reduce your risk for depression.

To get started, all you need are comfy, breathable exercise clothing like the:

For your feet, go for trainers like the Ryka Women’s Devotion Plus 3 Walking Shoe or Brooks Men’s Glycerin GTS 19 Supportive Running Shoe to help you go the distance in comfort and with the right amount of support.

Want a more challenging walking workout that’ll get your heart rate up?

Try brisk-walking uphill with a pair of weights like these ones from Bala Bangles strapped around your ankles.

Ready, set, get walking!


Sugar is present in just about every type of packaged food product around.

A more exact estimation is two-thirds of food products sold in a major Canadian supermarket retailer, say researchers, suggesting the same for the entire North American food supply chain.

This means that unless you only eat only whole, unprocessed foods, you’re likely consuming more of the sweet stuff than you realize.

The effects of putting too much sugar into your body have been well-documented — they range from fatty-liver disease and inflamed arteries that can damage your heart to kidney-busting type 2 diabetes.

What you can do to minimize your risk for these sugar-induced medical conditions is to eat and drink less of it.

This means deliberately cutting down on packaged food items that contain added sugars like juices, cereals, sauces and meats.

If you’ve got a sweet tooth and the idea of cutting out sugar completely for an entire month sounds depressing, try focusing on just one item that you can stay away from for 30 days, like say, the glass of orange juice or tablespoon of sugar that you have in your breakfast tea every morning.

Determined to go sugar-free but on a more gradual timeline?

Consider swapping sugar for a natural, zero-calorie and gluten-free sweetener that you can add to drinks, soups and sauces like the sugarcane-derived Purecane.


With all that fear-driven chatter about the sun’s ultra-violet rays and skin cancer (which are all valid and should be paid attention to), it’s easy to overlook the fact that some time spent under the sun is actually good for you.

In fact, it’s something that your body needs to function at its best.

You’d be surprised to know that under-exposure to ultra-violet radiation is responsible for a significantly larger number of deaths around the world than over-exposure is.

An important benefit of getting yourself some sunlight: Boosting your body’s ability to make more vitamin D, a lack of which will leave you with weaker bones, making them more fragile and easier to break.

This vitamin is also responsible for regulating at least 1,000 genes in virtually every tissue in your body, including those in your neuromuscular and immune systems.

To get a safe and sufficient dose of sunlight, researchers recommend spending up to 15 minutes under the sun at noon without sunscreen every day, exposing as much of your arms, legs, abdomen and back as you can.

Got skin that’s particularly sensitive to the sun because of medication you’re taking or a medical condition that you have?

Slip, slop and slap on your protection (Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray for your body and Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40+++ for your face are great for this), then linger under the sun a little longer than the recommended 15 minutes, and you’re good to go.


The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommend that healthy women drink 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids daily, and men, 15.5 cups or 3.7 liters.

But with the majority of individuals over the age of two drinking an average of just 3.9 cups of water daily, it’s likely that most folks aren’t getting anywhere close to their proper fill of hydration on any given day.

Make getting your 11.5 to 15.5 cups in, your 30-day challenge by making it easier to do.

A water bottle that reminds you to drink is one way to do it: The HidrateSpark PRO Smart Water Bottle not only tracks your water intake by syncing with the HidrateSpark App on your phone, it also has a colorful base that gently tells you when it’s time to hydrate by glowing.

Not a fan of the blandness of plain water? Try using a bottle that lets you flavor your H2O with hints of cut fruit, like the Zulay Fruit Infuser Water Bottle.

If you’re constantly on the move, and need something flexible and lightweight to carry around, you’ll need something like the collapsible Stojo water bottles, which can be expanded to be filled, and neatly folded when empty.


You probably know the drill: Eat less heavily-processed foods, and more whole foods, including plants.

But you also know that that’s easier said than done when you’re busy juggling life.

An easy way to challenge yourself is to replace one processed food item each week for a month.

For example, swapping out white rice with brown, frozen hash browns with baked potatoes, or bottled salad dressing with a homemade one, gradually widening your ‘scope’ of minimally to non-processed foods from month to month.

No time to figure out which ingredients to swap out?

If you’re an Amazon Prime member (not one yet? You can sign up for a 30-day free trial here), check out Amazon’s Meal Kits, which contain fresh, prepped, one-pan meal ingredients that are delivered to your doorstep for you to whip into a meal in 10 minutes or less.



Working your butt off to get a promotion or a better-paying job?

One of the best ways to get noticed is to learn a new skill that’ll boost your employability and paycheck.

Not sure where to start?

Try figuring out which skills will help get you ahead in the company you currently work for, or land you a job plus a healthy pay bump in the company or industry where you’re hoping to get an offer.

Platforms like Coursera and edX have thousands of affordable or even free online courses that you can take on your own time so you can upgrade your skills at your own pace.

On the other hand, giving yourself a 30-day deadline to finish a course can be a fantastic way to stay motivated to get upskilled regularly.


Feel like you’re stuck in a rut?

Maybe what you need is a personal project that’ll revive that spark you once had, or ignite one you never knew you had.

If you’ve always wanted to start a band, go for it! Or maybe you’ve been daydreaming about starting a food blog.

Whatever’s getting your juices flowing — whether it’s creating more meaning in your life or just having more fun, try using the next 30 days to start turning it into reality, and your fire, burning bright.

But before you start, consider diving into Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness Of Pursuit: Finding The Quest That WIll Bring Purpose To Your Life , and Steven Pressfield’s Do The Work: Overcome Resistance And Get Out Of Your Own Way — one will help you do the work of figuring out your personal mission (or at least find one), and the other, do the work that’ll help you get closer to it.


Got a lot going on but can’t seem to get everything under control no matter how hard you try?

What you need, my friend, is a system, starting with a daily routine and a short list of priorities (I make sure mine has no more than five to-dos on it on any given day) to work through each day.

Putting a system in place will be a major challenge (which is the whole point) if you’re used to taking on too much, so start with these basic productivity steps:

  1. Skip the multitasking: Focus on doing one thing at a time.
  2. Differentiate between the important and urgent: What’s on your list that’ll help you move the needle the most? This is the important stuff, so make them a priority.
  3. Organize your important to-dos: Free tools like Google Calendar and Asana can help you get this done.

Prefer to take the analog organization route?

Check out the Legend Planner PRO, which takes you through the whole planning process, including mapping out your big picture journey, goal setting, daily rituals and monthly reflection to help you stay on track.


Many people spend decades in the wrong jobs before realizing that they would’ve been much better off doing something else.

If you’ve found yourself going through the motions of wake up, work, sleep and repeat, or questioned if your current job is right for you, it’s time to do a career ‘excavation’ challenge.

To help you do this, I recommend spending your 30-day challenge working your way through Richard Nelson Bolles’s What Color Is Your Parachute: Your Guide To A Lifetime Of Meaningful Work And Career Success.

This guide-and-workbook-in-one takes you through a detailed process of discovering work — not just any work, but work that you really want to do, how to deal with the challenges of job hunting, and how to ace interviews, plus what do to if you don’t want to work for someone else.


Let’s be honest: It’s all too easy to get sucked into scrolling through our social media feeds when we need a break (or distraction) from real life.

When that happens, we often end up spending a little too much time (2 hours and 27 minutes per day, to be exact) on it — time that could’ve been spent getting work done or learning a new skill.

Just vowing to spend less time online is easier said than done, considering how addictive social media is, so when it comes to taking on this challenge, going for an extreme measure seems appropriate — a measure like locking yourself out of social media for a pre-determined number of hours each day.

To keep important parts of your day distraction-free, try using an app and website blocker like Freedom, which you can set to block specific apps and websites so that you can focus on what’s most important to you.


Been reading to get that reading habit going again but haven’t gotten around to it?

Make it your next 30-day challenge!

Try easing into your challenge with one book a week for a month, and if you complete this challenge successfully, work your way up to more books from there.

If you’re not much of a reader but still want to dive into books, here’s a cheat tip: Listen to them instead.

Try subscribing to an audio book service like Audible Premium Plus, which gives you access to the entire Audible catalog of audiobooks, podcasts and Audible Originals series, in addition to a free audiobook of your choice each month.

You can take Audible Premium Plus for a free, 30-day test run here.


Alice Pasqual on Unsplash


Getting real about your money can be scary.

But what’s scarier is not knowing what you’re dealing with, and heading into the future financially blind.

This is why your first step to taking control of your cash and reaching for long-term goals like say, financial independence, is to know where you’re spending it.

If you’re up for it, challenge yourself to track every last cent that flows out of your hands, regardless of whether it’s cash, through a credit card or from a digital wallet over the next 30 days.

The more detailed you are, the better the picture you’ll get about your spending habits.

To make this challenge as convenient to do as possible, install an app like EveryDollar or TrueBill on your phone so that you can log your expenses as soon as you make them.


When it comes to making, keeping and growing your wealth, knowing where your money’s coming from, where it’s going, and how much you can safely spend without over-extending yourself financially is key.

So love it or hate it, this challenge is about setting up some kind of budget that’ll work for you — ideally without making you feel deprived.

If you don’t have credit cards and spend only cash, a simple cash envelope system might be best for you. To organize your cash, just stash your allocated budget for monthly essentials like groceries, utilities, transportation, personal care and entertainment in plain paper envelopes.

Or if you’re an organizational freak like me, you’d consider going for these nifty tear- and waterproof- cash envelopes from Clever Fox.

But before you allocate your cash stash, you’ll need to decide how much goes where, and that’s where the Clever Fox Budget Planner & Monthly Bill Organizer With Pockets will come in handy.

Prefer to go digital? Apps like Everydollar, TrueBill and GoodBudget will help you get the job done.


Does the thought of looking over your bank accounts, bills, statements, investments and everything else in-between that’s money-related make your head spin?

That could be a sign that you need to make things less complicated.

For example, instead of four bank accounts, consider consolidating them into just one. Got a bunch of investment accounts that aren’t active? Think about closing those.

What about the 5 credit cards in your wallet? It’ll likely be easier (and a lot less stressful) to keep track of two instead.

Or maybe you’ve been breaking the budget for the past couple of months — where can you trim the fat and save more?

To take on this challenge, start making a list of money-related areas that you can simplify and get going from there.

Two sources of inspiration (and valuable lessons) I recommend you consider before jumping in:


If there’s one money challenge that will get your heart racing (in a good way), it’s this one.

After all, who doesn’t want to create something of their own that becomes another source of income?

Your challenge is figuring out where to start.

“The basics of starting a business are very simple; you don’t need an MBA, venture capital, or even a detailed plan. You just need a product or service, a group of people willing to pay for it, and a way to get paid,” says Chris Guillebeau in his book The $100 Startup: Reinvent The Way You Make A Living, Do What You Love And Create A New Future.

Need some side hustle ideas?

Guillebeau lays plenty of them out in 100 Side Hustles: Unexpected Ideas For Making Extra Money Without Quitting Your Day Job where he features 100 stories of everyday people who’ve started successful part-time businesses that just about anyone can do.


Let’s face it: Most of us hate negotiating for what we want.

It’s confronting, uncomfortable and can be humiliating when things don’t go our way.

But as they say: If you don’t ask, you don’t get, so you might as well ask. The caveat here is that you’ll need to get the asking part right.

“Life is a negotiation”, says Chris Voss, a former FBI international kidnapping negotiator in his book, Never Split The Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It.

“The majority of the interactions we have at work and at home are negotiations that boil down to the expression of a simple, animalistic urge: I want.”

Getting what you want out of life, he says, is all about getting what you want — and with — other people.

If the very thought of laying all your chips on the table for someone else to see and making yourself vulnerable by asking for something you really want makes your skin crawl, join the club.

But to get any good at daily negotiation, you’re going to have to first and foremost, get over your aversion to negotiation, says Voss.

“You don’t need to like it; you just need to understand that’s how the world works. Negotiating does not mean browbeating or grinding someone down. It simply means playing the emotional game that human society is set up for.”


Most of us are so busy grinding it out day to day to earn a living that we barely have time to think about the role money plays in our lives beyond paying our bills.

We never get around to asking ourselves questions like: “How do I feel about money?”

“Am I happy about how I’m making my money?”

“Do I come home from my job feeling lively and fulfilled?”

“How much money would be enough for me?”

These questions seem trivial even, considering how so many people are struggling to make ends meet, but if you’re privileged enough to have the means and bandwidth to entertain them, I encourage you to with this challenge.

Like most folks, you probably have unconsciously-held assumptions about money that you’ve picked up from family and your social circle, and the emotions they come with: Envy, guilt, frustration, resentment, anger, and despair.

The only way to shake these feelings off is to liberate yourself from your pre-existing attitudes about money, says financial independence advocate and author of Your Money Or Your Life: 9 Steps To Transforming Your Relationship With Money And Achieving Financial Independence, Vicki Robin.

Here are more important questions Robins recommends exploring to gain more clarity on your values and mindset around money:

  • What makes you happy?
  • What’s most important to you?
  • What values will you never, ever compromise?
  • If you had $1 million in the bank right now, what would you do with your time?
  • If you could remove one thing from your life to make yourself happier, what would it be (a person doesn’t count)?
  • Will you ever have enough money to retire?
  • If someone erased all your debts, what’s one way that you could get yourself into debt again?



What’s one not-so-great habit that you want to let go of?

It could be smoking, being impatient, impulse shopping, biting your nails or even a phone addiction.

Whatever it is, it’s eating at your wellbeing, time and mental energy.

But chances are, if a habit’s in your life, it’s there for a reason. In fact, it’s probably helping you deal with life in some way, which is why it’s so hard to give up.

So rather than try to give it up cold turkey, a better alternative is to gradually replace it with another habit that’ll actually be good for you.

Worried that it’ll take you forever to see any progress? Don’t underestimate the difference baby steps can make.

“The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding,” says James Clear in his book Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way To Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones.

The math, he adds, is pretty simple: If you can get 1 percent better each day for a year, you’ll end up 37 times better at the end of the year.

This way, what starts out as barely noticeable progress builds into something much more impactful.

Need a little help keeping track of your progress? Consider using the Lamare Habit Tracker, which lets you see how well you’re doing as you move along.


If not now, then when?

Whether it’s public speaking, starting your own business, going on a solo trip, or jumping into the dating pool again, pick a goal that you’ve been putting off because it scares you, but you want to pursue.

Then, make doing it (or at least learning how to) your challenge.

Life is much shorter than you think it is, and you’re better off trying and failing than living your last days filled with regret.


Want to improve your mental health?

Get into an attitude of gratitude, say researchers.

Challenge yourself to make giving thanks a regular practice — daily is ideal, but even a weekly gratitude routine can help shift your attention away from toxic emotions like resentment and envy, making it more difficult for you to dwell on the negatives in your life.

To give your practice some structure, try using a guided journal like the Clever Fox Gratitude Journal, which has daily and weekly prompts that are designed to keep your big picture in view and life, in perspective for you.


Looking for a simple and convenient way to learn something new and widen your perspective just a little bit every day?

Watch a TED Talk a day.

Let inspiring experts and leaders teach you about the power of introverts, why vulnerability is so important, and how it’s possible to prioritize both profit and happiness.

A TED Talk a day could just be what the personal growth doctor ordered to keep that rut away.


Talking to a close friend can make you feel heard and understood when things get rough, and they may be able to offer a healthy perspective you’ve never considered.

But there will be times when they can’t.

This is where starting a conversation with a licensed, experienced therapist can help relieve the emotional pressure that’s been building up so you don’t end up feeling stuck, trapped and lost.

An affordable therapy option to consider is — online therapy provider that starts at just $40 per week, and comes with a live, 45-minute session with your therapist plus unlimited messaging each week.

As a member, you’ll also have access to their online cognitive behavioral therapy program that’ll equip you with the tools you need to navigate difficult emotions, as well as yoga and meditation videos for additional support.


How are you?

And before you automatically answer “fine”, I urge you to be one-hundred percent truthful.

Now I’m going to ask you again: How are you, really?

It’s ok to not be ok, to acknowledge that you’re feeling anxious, depressed, lost or uncertain.

“Anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress are all ways of describing natural human responses to adversity and the experiences of life,” explains Dr. Caroline Leaf in her book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess: 5 Simple, Scientifically-Proven Steps To Reduce Anxiety, Stress And Toxic Thinking.

But rather than be preoccupied with slapping a label on what you’re going through, she advocates focusing your energy on learning how to control your reactions (a program like Panic Away can help) to the events and circumstances around you.

Be warned though: There’s no perfect outcome or success one-hundred percent of the time.

“There’s no secret quick fix or uniform formula to healing and happiness. Let’s face it: Life is messy,” says Dr. Leaf.

One way to deal with this inherent messiness is to simply be kind to yourself when you slip up and keep trying.


Joe Yates on Unsplash


It’s all too easy to jump to harsh conclusions about others when they act in ways that aren’t within our expectations.

We forget that this other person we’re judging is going through life with a completely different set of lenses through which they perceive reality, thanks to their unique upbringing, experiences, traumas and expectations.

When you find yourself tempted to judge someone for something they’ve done or said (or not) challenge yourself to pull back your judgment and consider looking at things from their perspective, whatever they may be.

It’s not easy to give others the benefit of the doubt when you’ve been hurt and betrayed repeatedly in the past, but it’s worth remembering that not everyone’s out to get you.

This one’s not always easy to do (hence the challenge), but putting on a different set of ‘glasses’ may be just what you need to understand this person in your life better, and look at them in a different (and less stressful) light.


Think about your most recent interactions with the people you care about.

What were they like?

Were you honoring their presence with your undivided attention, or were you lost in thought (or your phone) and mentally checked out?

This month-long challenge is your cue to make every coffee, lunch, dinner, walk or even phone call you have with someone who’s important to you, count, by being fully in the moment with them.

The less distracted you are, the deeper and more meaningful your connections will be.


It can be easy to let our relationships slide when life get’s hectic.

Before you know it, you’ve gone an entire week, month or year without truly connecting with your best friend, parents, children or even spouse.

Rather put off keeping in touch or wait till the next lunch or dinner to do it, why not challenge yourself to text a simple “Hi, how are you?” to someone you care about every day?

It won’t even take 30 seconds to do, and you’ll be letting the person at the other end of the line know that you’re thinking of them.


When was the last time you went out of your way to do something nice for someone else, or even yourself?

Yep, I thought so.

Which is why for the next month, I challenge you to consistently do something small yet thoughtful for someone — anyone — including strangers.

From helping your neighbour carry their groceries in and paying for a friend’s lunch to picking up some flowers for yourself on the way home, the whole idea behind this challenge is to make yourself and others feel good about their day.

There’s more than enough bad news to go around, so why not help alleviate some of that suffering by spreading some joy, kindness and beauty?


If you’re a people-pleaser like I am, this one’s a hard one, but very necessary.

It’s often easy to confuse people-pleasing with generosity and kindness simply because they look similar on the outside, but they couldn’t be more different, says Patrick King, a social interaction specialist and the author of Stop People Pleasing: Be Assertive, Stop Caring What Others Think, Beat Your Guilt & Stop Being A Pushover.

“A people-pleaser is kind to a fault. The drive for their kindness is not that it’s just the right way to be or that they want to enrich people’s lives. Instead of coming from a sincere desire to make the world a better place, people-pleasing stems from insecurity, fear and shame,” he explains in his book.

If this sounds familiar, make this challenge about putting your priorities first rather than defaulting to thinking about everyone else…but you.

You’ll probably feel a combination of guilt, shame and awkwardness as you begin making different choices during this challenge, but you’ll also experience a huge wave of relief from acknowledging that your needs are just as important as everyone else’s.


If this challenge seems like it’s a continuation of the one before this, you’re right — it is.

Now that you’ve warmed up to the idea of putting yourself first, it’s time to figure out the when and how to do it.

Part of taking responsibility, or ownership, of our lives is knowing what is our job and what isn’t, say the authors of Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How To Say No To Take Control Of Your Life, Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

“Just as homeowners set physical property lines around their land, we need to set mental, physical, emotional and spiritual boundaries for our lives to help us to help us distinguish what is our responsibility and what isn’t,” they explain in Boundaries.

While drawing lines around you can seem cold and selfish, it’s the only way to keep your quality of life high, and others from walking all over you.


If you’re too busy surviving, chances are, you’re not thriving. You’re feeling tired, unhealthy, unmotivated and just plain worn-out from life. I created my FREE Daily Self-Care Ritual Workbook just for busy folks like you who want to take back their health, peace of mind and happiness. Get your very own copy of the workbook HERE. No spam. Just helpful, good-for-you stuff. Pinky swear.

Feature photo: Mor Shani on Unsplash

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