This article is part of a series of articles which the goals are to help you be more successful in your personal challenges. These tips come from my personal experience as well as from the feedback from participants of Challengers (30 day challenges).
Challenges stated in this article can be of many sorts, but in any case are targeting long lasting challenges (i.e. habit creation or new skill learning) which require daily action or near daily action.
Tip 2: Make a planning
When learning a new skill or habit, we are often tempted to set ourselves a fix daily target or fix progression, i.e. “I will do 10 pushups for 30 days”, or the linear increase i.e. “ 1 pushup on day one, 2 pushups on day two, 3 pushups on day three…”. While these plans have the advantage to be simple to setup, they are not always the best strategy for the long term or for your progression.
With a fixed daily goal (10 pushups for 30 days), you will most likely start with having difficulties to start at the beginning, whereas at the end it will be too easy, not challenging (or fun), and will not allow you to progress much.
The linear increase (one additional pushup every day) sound a bit better in this perspective, as you will have a fixed progression along your challenge, but it raises another problem. How fast can you improve and how far can you go?
Unless you’ve already done it, which you haven’t when you set your goals, you can’t be sure. A good starting point is then to do a bit of research. It is very likely that someone has already done a similar challenge and shared about it on Internet. So take your favorite search engine and type in your challenge (i.e. 30 days pushups).
However, it is worth taking a couple limits in this process, 1) 1hour is usually enough to find the interesting information. In any case, don’t spend more than 2 hours searching. 2) Avoid YouTube. This might be a bit polemical, but YouTube’s goal (unlike its partner search engine) is to make you spend time, not give you the information you are looking for. And an info you would be able to get in 1 minute elsewhere may take you 10 minutes on YouTube.
Let’s take some example of a few training plans, starting with running. Most personal trainer and gadgets for running will have a similar for your training. It is usually based on a weekly schedule and looks a bit like this:
Monday: easy run
Tuesday: easy run
Wednesday: speed run
Thursday: easy run
Friday: acceleration run
Saturday: easy run
Sunday: Long run
Looking at it more closely, you see that most of the days is actually an easy run. You don’t actually push yourself, but you get comfortable with running. Only 3 days are planned for more intensive workout, including only one day for long distance (yes, even for marathon training). The reason is you need to let your body recover, and if you push yourself every day you may even injure yourself while training.
You find similar patterns for other training: push one day, take it easy the next one, with a harder push at the end of the week to see how much you have progressed.
This way of doing has lots of advantages. First of all, you vary your task every day and are less likely to get bored. Also, the alternation of hard work out/easy work out allows you to have a better progression. And finally, you are able to understand better how your body and mind is reacting to different loads of work and allows you to learn to adjust along the way.
One final word will be to keep open and flexible in your planning. It helps to have a good planning, but it should not be written in stone. Some days you will feel like doing more than others and you should adapt accordingly.
Next tip tomorrow: Keep track.
Interested in Challengers? Next round start January 14th. Scan the QR codes in the posters bellow to register.