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How to Maintain Momentum After a 30 Day Challenge

by Sean Ogle | Last Updated: October 11, 2018

Last fall my wife Tate and I took a 2 month Sabbatical around the world.

We did all sorts of bucket list things (like hike in the Dolomites, attend Oktoberfest in Munich, and volunteer at a panda reserve.

Yes, really. A panda reserve. Out in the middle of nowhere, in mainland China.

Insert, a ridiculously cute photo of Tate and panda here:

Tate at the Wolong Panda Reserve outide Chendu, China

Tate at the Wolong Panda Reserve outside Chengdu, China

On this trip, we also visited over 30 cocktail bars across 3 continents, 7 countries, and a couple dozen cities.

You see, we have this weird goal of trying to go to the Top 100 bars in the world, and in two weeks we’re flying to Singapore almost entirely to visit bars.

Hopefully, we’ll be smarter than last time we visited Singapore:

I swear we’re not alcoholics, we’re just, I don’t know, fun?

I’ve got a point coming. No really, I do.

You see, after our two month sabbatical of traveling, eating and drinking our way around the world, all we wanted was to do something healthy for our bodies.

So two days after getting back, we decided to do the Whole30 diet.

No drinking, and a month full of veggies and healthy eating.

While challenging at times, overall the experience was great. I found a cure for my jetlag, had more energy, and was incredibly productive during that time.

But here’s where the problem set in.

Neither Tate or I had a plan for what to do after the 30 days was up.

I ended the diet by going to a mastermind retreat with a bunch of entrepreneurial friends, then immediately took a golf trip to Bermuda.

Sweet office, right?

Mid Ocean Club Bermuda

Outside my room at the Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda. Not a bad spot to host an annual event 🙂

And then we rolled right into Christmas and New Years.

In a span of less than 3 weeks, all of that positive stuff I did for my body was thrown out the window, because I didn’t put a plan in place for what would happen after the challenge.

This isn’t the first time this has happened during a 30 day challenge either.

Remember my daily vlog challenge back in 2016? I did a daily vlog for a month, and then even though I thought I might continue posting videos regularly?  I didn’t post again for months.

The same thing has happened recently with my 30 day, daily blog challenge.

I wrote every day for 30 days and since then?

Nothing.

(See all of those posts here)

The challenge with 30 day sprints is that you can wear yourself out during that time, so when it comes to easing into positive long-term habits and routines, you’ve got no brainpower left to devote to it.

Essentially, you burn out.

My good friend James Clear has a book coming out next week called Atomic Habits. He’s seriously the man when it comes to helping people establish and keep healthy habits and routines.

And in reading my advance copy of the book, it’s had me thinking about ways I could have more successfully leveraged my 30 day sprints into longer term, positive changes.

Note: We’ll have a more proper post about his book next week when it launches, but I highly recommend you go pre-order it on Amazon here. It’s honestly one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in years – and I’m not just saying that because he’s a friend!

How to Turn 30 Day Challenges into Long Term Success

Next time I decide to do a 30 day challenge here are three important things I’m going to do, in order to ensure success over the long term, not just over the span of 30 days.

1) Don’t Make Your Challenge Quite So Intense

In the case of each of the three challenges I mentioned above, I was happy that I was able to prove to myself that I could rise to the challenge.

However, because they were each so intense and time-consuming, once they were over, I didn’t have any energy left to keep the positive momentum going.

Next time I’d do something less intense and more sustainable, to hopefully create more positive change over the long term as it develops into a habit and not just a challenge.

2) Create a Plan for After the 30 Days, Before You Start

The last thing most people do when starting a diet, exercise plan, challenge etc. is think about what they’re going to do after.

That’s a huge mistake. By knowing what long term success looks like and creating a manageable and sustainable plan before you even start, you’ll know exactly what to do after your set time period ends, and will hopefully avoid the crash that so often hits.

3) Add Accountability on the Backend

For each of my challenges, I’ve had accountability of some kind. For the content creation stuff, this blog was my accountability partner.

By publicly stating my intentions, it became much harder to fail, than if I’d done it quietly.

With Whole30, Tate was my accountability, because we were doing it together.

But after these end, there’s no accountability. By finding someone (or something) to hold you accountable for those longer term goals you’re putting yourself in a position to succeed.

It All Seems Like Common Sense…

I get it, all this advice seems like common sense – yet when it comes to these types of challenges no one I know thinks about the aftermath – and frankly, if you are actually trying to cultivate meaningful change, it’s the after that’s the most important part.

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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