40 Day Challenge: Why and What?
I did my first 40 day challenge in December of 2015 because I wanted to start a meditation practice.
The stories I told myself prior to beginning this (and throughout the first days) were:
- I don’t ‘get’ meditation (how does it even work!?)
- I am too ‘type-A’ to ‘quiet my thoughts’ or ‘clear my mind’
- I will just fall asleep if I try to meditate first thing in the morning
- I won’t be able to sit still in the morning because I’ll be running mental checklists of all the things I need to do (shower, blow dry my hair, straighten my hair, put on makeup, pick out an outfit <–I mean all really important stuff!)
- I just don’t have time to meditate
But somewhere inside of me a little voice kept telling me I had to do it. Had to figure it out.
I had tried meditation during some isolated incidents (yoga classes and whatnot) and I liked how it felt.
I am also a big Tim Ferriss podcast listener (if you’re unfamiliar with Tim he ‘deconstructs’ habits of the most successful people on the planet) and he found something like 85%+ of these major successes had regular meditation practices. So I thought: Fine. 40 days. I can do anything for 40 days. (You know, because I am ‘type-A’ and am great at mental checklists… see points 2 & 4 above. Wink.)
I started with a Kundalini Meditation called “Making the Impossible Possible” and in 40 days I felt like my life had literally transformed. (I have specifics on this particular meditation b/c while I think any meditation is better than none, this one really rocked my world so I highly recommend it.)
After completing the first 40 days I thought I had cracked the code and would be a daily meditator (word?) for life.
Perhaps this happens to some people — not me.
The open-ended nature of “daily practice” was too flexible for me (go figure). I didn’t feel like it was a ‘mission’ or ‘challenge’ anymore so I let myself off the hook… sometimes for days at a time.
I have since decided that two effective methods for me are:
- Having a finite timeline. If I commit to something for 40 days I know that each individual day is critical and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel (even from the starting line.) In other words I can wrap my head around 40 days – I, personally, cannot yet wrap my head around ‘everyday’ and/or ‘forever’.
- Having an accountability group. I started a simple Facebook page called “Tribe 40” where anyone who wants to take on a 40 day challenge can join and share their experience. At this point it usually ends up being a lot of posts by me and one or two other tribe members – but we’ll continue to build. My hope is that people get what they need from it. I (personally) use the public forum as a way to stay accountable. Maybe some people can use it to see others attempting their own challenges before they’re ready to dive into a challenge themselves. I think every step towards self-development ROCKS so the Tribe 40 page is there to encourage those steps.
I am not going to attempt to explain WHY 40 days — throughout history and religion this 40 day time frame shows up a lot. But I am NOT an expert in either of those fields.
Yogi’s prescribe practices for 40/90/120 or 1000 days. This link will explain a little: https://www.3ho.org/kundalini-yoga/sadhana/40901201000-day-sadhanas
Bottom line? For me, it works. And that’s good enough.
When choosing my OWN 40 day challenges, I try to look at areas I am avoiding in my life or things I am making excuses about. (My list of excuses above about why I ‘could never’ be someone who meditates is a perfect example.)
If there’s something I want to try, a habit I want to develop, a little nagging voice telling me I should really do “X” or “Y”, I try to put it into a 40 day challenge for myself. So far the experience has been incredible and life changing.
I am ALWAYS happy to share exactly what my personal ‘challenge’ consists of (I am super into this so I’ll go so far as to make videos, send links, recommended books, resources, whatever I can!) but more often than not I find that the “right” challenge for you (for example) will be different from the “right” challenge for me.
My purpose in inviting people to join me is not to say “do the exact thing I am doing for 40 days” but more “grow with me by doing what YOU know YOU need to do for 40 days – and we can encourage each other along the way”. We are all in this together!
I believe that there are only two things that impact the way we experience life: OUR HABITS and OUR THOUGHTS. And the coolest part is that we control both!!!
A 40 day practice is an amazing way to exert some power over both your HABITS and THOUGHTS and I highly recommend trying it out!
PEACE & LOVE.