Whether you’ve been stuck in a rut or you’re finally ready to tackle a few items on your bucket list, a 30-day challenge is a great way to do it — and the new year is the perfect time to start. Don’t know what a 30-day challenge is? It’s exactly what it sounds like: you’ll pick one challenge (like, say, walking to lunch rather than driving) and follow through on doing it every day for the next month. It’s a simple yet powerful idea, sure to get you motivated and grow your confidence. As Matt Cutts explains in his TED Talk on the subject, 30 days makes big goals seem much more manageable, and you’ll be amazed at what you discover about yourself along the way. Today we’ll take a look at a few of the best 30-day challenges out there for ideas and inspiration.

  1. Take a Picture Everyday For a Month

If you’ve got a smartphone, you’ve got a camera. Why not try taking a photo a day to see what you discover as you look through the lens? You could take a selfie a day to document your month. You could take a photo of the same spot on the street everyday to document the life of one street day in and day out. Or you could even approach people you meet on the street and have a conversation, like Brandon, the man behind Humans of New York (just imagine the people you would meet in your community!).

Or, you could wait for opportunities arise. Keep your eyes wide open for the perfect shot — or, simply one that you find compelling. No matter what kind of 30-day photo challenge you take, you’re sure to widen your perspective, reorient yourself into the present, and just start thinking about things in a different way.

  1. Set an Ergonomic Challenge

Though the economics of ergonomics may be clear, creating a healthy and comfortable office environment often isn’t a top priority in most companies (unfortunately, preventative work often encounters this problem, as most of us would rather address a problem when it arises rather than preventing it from doing so in the first place). A 30-day ergonomic challenge will be the fire you and your organization need to address your biggest risk factors and start working in a much more comfortable and productive manner. You could, for example, try typing on a split keyboard for a month, or you could hold walking meetings. You could try stretching or deskercizing everyday, or working at a standing desk. Whichever challenge you choose, you just might be surprised at how great it all feels. Not to mention, how much more you get done.

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  1. Bike to Work

Biking to work is just as good for the planet as it is for you, so this particular 30-day challenge is both green and fit. You could try biking only to work and then taking the bus back, or going both ways. You also might want to see if a colleague who lives nearby will join you in the challenge so that you have a buddy. Alternatively, you could pick other sweaty methods of getting to work, like walking or even rollerblading. If your work is too far away to make this feasible, swap this out for any fitness 30-day challenge. Whether that’s doing planks everyday, attending Crossfit sessions, or running 10 miles.

  1. Learn a New Skill

Have you always wanted to learn to knit? How about boat building or bee keeping? Now is a great time to reach out to a local professional to see if you can shadow them, or to enroll in a class. Community colleges are a great place to look, and these days there are often excellent meetups or local classes listed online. Alternatively, why not try listing random skills and hobbies on pieces of paper and choosing them out of a hat? You never know what you’ll enjoy when you look outside of your everyday. Who knows? Your new skill just might change how you think about everything.

child in middle of light bulbs and paper airplanes - image to represent dreams

  1. Tackle a Dream Project

Likewise, if you’ve always had a clear dream project in mind, like writing a book, composing for an opera, or building the neighborhood’s most desirable treehouse, a 30-day challenge is a great way to get yourself going. In fact, it may be the only way to stop you from building up the enormity of the task in your head, and to just dig in, knowing that it doesn’t have to be (and in fact, can’t be) complete perfectly within that time frame. After all, that’s what the next 30 days are for.

  1. Travel Someplace New

Whether you’ve been saving up all of your vacation time and airline miles for years or you’re between jobs, well, why not take a month to travel either someplace you’ve always wanted to go or to a completely random destination that will prove challenging yet illuminating? Alternatively, if you’ve got a less generous amount of time to play with, try “traveling” within your neighborhood — that is, going some place new every day. This can be a big new place, like that recently built opera house in town, or it can be some place small, like that new coffee shop, or a neighborhood you’ve yet to venture into. You never know what new favorites you’ll find on that street you’ve always driven by, be the people, food, or natural formations you didn’t even think existed.

  1. Taste New Cuisines

You don’t have to be a foodie to try out tastes from around the world. In fact, if you’re a picky eater, pushing yourself outside of your regularly scheduled menu will truly be a challenge. And as with all of these suggestions, you might be surprised at what you discover about yourself. Again, while you can certainly try new restaurants, you don’t have to think big to do this right. New snacks would do the trick, or spices or sauces you would have never considered previously. You could go out to eat, or cook these new flavors at home. You could even try out the miraculin protein one day and reverse your taste buds. Who knew lemons and limes could taste so sweet?

salad with fruit on top

  1. Cut Out Sugar

You know you should cut down on your sugar intake, but the thought of never eating anything sweet again? Well, let’s just say it doesn’t exactly have you leaping for joy.  But eating a low-sugar diet for the next 30 days? Anything is possible for that amount of time. A 30 day sugar challenge will give your body enough time to go through withdrawal. Seriously, it’s a real thing. And at the end of that time, you can decide how to proceed. At the very least, it’s a great way to experiment with healthier eating.

  1. Meditate

If your mind is always abuzz and you find yourself constantly worrying about the future, meditation is an excellent way to quiet your mind, anchor yourself in the present, and clear out the noise. But it’s also one of those things that is routinely dismissed by the people who need it most, who think they “don’t have time for that kind of thing.” If you consider yourself to be one of those people, then your 30-day challenge is the perfect time to make meditation a priority and see if it sticks.

  1. Get Some Sleep

Whether we’re staying up late playing video games or lying in bed all night worrying (see: why you should consider meditation), we are a nation of sleep deprived people. Before you begin your sleep 30-day challenge, keep a sleep diary to take note of your trouble areas. Then set a sleep resolution that works for you. A few possibilities might be: getting 8 hours of sleep each night; putting your computer away after 8PM (blue light emitted from screens can interfere with your circadian rhythm), setting a strict bedtime or morning alarm. Even if you technically do these things now, you’ll be more motivated to pay attention to them during your challenge. And, you’re more likely to get your family on board as supporters rather than disruptors.

30 day challenges are a fun and highly effective way to try something new and look at the world in a new way. As Matt Cutts mentions in his TED talk, they’re also a great way to slow down time and make you more present, just by getting you out of your routine.

Are you planning on doing a 30-day challenge this new year? Tell us your best ideas — and let us know how it goes — in the comments below!