As my children go back to school—one to college and the other entering high school—I realize that as adults, we do not have many events that signify an ending of one thing (like summer) and the beginning of something else (like calculus). As WBI’s 30-day challenge comes to completion, it’s the perfect time to acknowledge and celebrate an ending.
The purpose of the 30-day challenge is to consciously cultivate those positive habits and rituals that support you in building a life on purpose—the type of life that is fulfilling and enjoyable, made specifically for the exceptional you.
You can put a period at the end of this 30-day challenge by doing three things:
First and foremost, use your wonderful mind to remember the good things this challenge gave you. For example, remember the good days of summer (not the boring ones when none of your friends could come out and play), you can highlight what worked in order to build that positive memory in your mind’s eye.
Some of the those good things could include the fact that you paid more attention, successfully completed the ritual, noticed how you felt after you did it, or just the vivid memory of one particular time doing the ritual that is foremost in your mind.
In other words, spend time reliving a positive aspect of the experience. There’s no need to break down why something worked or why it was positive. Just relive the good experience within your imagination. Heighten and elevate the memory.
If you’re like me, what will first come to mind are the times you fell down or did less than you intended or wanted. Let those thoughts move to the side. Allow yourself to focus on what worked—a positive outcome—no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. This first step is very important; you are practicing focusing your mind on the positive.
After you completely explore the good stuff, you can then move to the second step, which is to consider ways in which your habit or ritual could be slightly tweaked so it could be further supported. If exercise was your goal, would doing it in the evening with your partner be more supportive than trying to fit it in the morning before work? If you wanted to cultivate gratitude and found that writing in your journal in the evening was easily forgotten, consider a technology solution such as the one at happier.com. If your challenge was to notice the strengths in others and your mental habits took control more often than you would have liked, put a post-it note on your mirror so it’s the first thing your see in the morning. What are the ways in which you could further support, strengthen and reinforce your positive, constructive action?
The last and final step in bringing completion the to 30-day challenge is to continue! This sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Bring it to completion by starting again? Yes, that’s the way of it.
Life goes on, at least for this very moment as you read these words. So what will you continue to do to serve your best intention and your highest vision of self?
Habits are like breathing … they happen with or without your attention. The question is, are you paying attention to what you’re cultivating in life? When this article ends, take three deep breaths, and in that silence, give yourself the gift of your next 30-day challenge.
Megan McDonough is CEO of Wholebeing Institute, an educational organization co-founded with Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar. WBI is committed to spreading ideas and practices that can help individuals and groups live life to its fullest. Click here for a course listing.
Megan, thanks so much for this thoughtful and inspiring post, and the reminder about habits!
Megan, Thanks for this post. It made me think of my realization some time ago — Not to worry if you feel like you are always starting over. It’s just because you are.