How To Finally Take Action: The 30 Day Challenge

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 06/14/23 •  10 min read

The hardest thing a freelancer can do is take action.

I’m talking about real action. Not doing research, not reading your emails, or checking TikTok.

With rare exceptions, none of that adds up to anything.

In fact, it’s a great way to procrastinate while convincing yourself that you are taking action.

Nope, what I mean is action that results in making money — creating stuff, networking, getting referrals, sending pitches and LOIs, applying to jobs — all that good stuff.

Most people don’t want to do it because it’s hard. It’s a lot more fun watching YouTube and hoping you’ll learn something.

Let’s change that. Enter: the 30 day challenge.

But first, let’s dive into something called compounding.

The Compound Effect

There’s a book by Darren Hardy, the publisher of Success Magazine, called The Compound Effect

In it, Hardy tries to move away from the conventional wisdom that you need to make sudden big changes to improve your life. Instead, he advocates for taking tiny steps every day that compound on each other over time — it’s all about playing the long game.

So rather than going on an unsustainable crash diet to lose 20 pounds, try making small smart choices over time that become habits. Add steps to your daily walk, eat one less after-dinner snack a week, add more veggies to your plate instead of carbs, and so on.

I want you to know in your bones that your only path to success is through a continuum of mundane, unsexy, unectiting, and sometimes difficult daily disclines compounding over time.

How terrible (and true).

In my own experience of years of freelancing, this is true. The decidedly unsexy stuff in the trenches is where the magic does happen.

Let’s face it; freelancing is hard. There are a lot of ups and downs. The downs can feel low and can sometimes take over, especially when you’re overwhelmed or not hitting those big-picture goals you’ve set for yourself.

When that happens, it can be a hit to your confidence. It’s super easy to get discouraged, think it’s never going to work, and give up.

Now, before you do that. Hold up a second. This is where compounding can make a huge difference.

Making Choices or Doing Nothing

A key component of compounding is actively making the choice to make smart decisions.

On a day-to-day basis, for virtually everything you do, there are three choices. Being a freelance writer, here’s an example:

  1. I decided I’d like to see my writing in a magazine, so every day, I send one pitch.
  2. I decided I’d like to see my writing in a magazine, so I read a million how to send a pitch to magazine articles and call it a day. I’ll send a pitch tomorrow (probably).
  3. I’m watching Netflix and eating Cheetos because no one can tell me what to do!

It seems like this doesn’t really matter over the course of one day, right? That’s kind of the point. The actions you want to get into the habit of taking are so small they might not seem like they matter for the first day or week, or even months.

You’re playing the long game, remember. You want to focus on continuously improving a tiny bit every single day.

Here’s a chart to show you how the choices on day one can have an impact on the outcomes down the road:

Let’s use my examples from above.

As you can see, the tiny choices made on day 1 seemed like nothing. But on day 365, the outcome after taking consist action were dramatically different from the other choices. And sort of doing something inconsistently and doing nothing can land you in pretty much the same place.

Choices and action. What it all adds up to is consistency, getting a little bit better every single day.

Learn How to Make Your First $1,000 Freelance Writing (in 30 Days or Less)

Join over 40,000 people who have taken our 6 part freelance writing course. Sign up below and let’s do this together.

By entering your email address you agree to receive emails from Location Rebel. We'll respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Why Being Consistent Matters

Being consistent ruins the notion that everyone is an overnight success.

It’s also hard because too many people spend their time looking at people who have spent 5 years working and comparing themselves. They get disappointed after a month because they don’t have 500 subscribers and 5 new clients.

What I tell them is they are looking at step 100 when they are on step 2. And, beyond some luck, the only way you’re going to hit step 100 is by being consistent with your daily and weekly actions, starting right now.

Easier said than done, right?

But, here’s the thing, you’ve got to do it. You want to see success, it’s not going to come overnight, and you’re not going to stumble on a bag of magic beans. You’ve got to put in a little bit of sweat equity over and over (and over) again.

Don’t take my word for it.

There are people all over the internet who have shared their stories of going from zero to [insert cool thing here] because they took action consistently every day or every week for long periods of time.

Tom Kuegler shares how he went from 0 to 14,000 (now over 62k) followers on Medium. How? He wrote 500 posts, 5 a day, for over a year.

Andrew Chen is a Silicon Valley VC for one of the biggest names in the business. He’s been blogging for 15 years and years back shared his biggest lessons. One of them was all about consistency:

Focus on writing freq over anything else. Schedule it. Don’t worry about building an immediate audience. Focus on the intrinsic.

If there’s one thing beyond taking consistent action that unites these guys is they are focused on what’s ahead of them right now and the small affirmative positive choices they can make to keep moving forward.

Start Your Own 30 Day Challenge

The 30 day challenge is the perfect way to learn how to take action and be consistent. We run these every few months inside LRA forums, and they are always pretty popular.

So here’s how to start.

1. Pick something small but impactful

The ultimate goal is that these tiny 30 day challenges form into long-term habits, so don’t go nuts. Pick something you know you can do most days.

Want to build a writing habit so you can finish that book you’ve been dreaming about? Then start with 50 or 100 words a day. Or set a time and write for 1 minute.

It sounds so small, but that’s what you need to start.

It’s always ok to move up your habit, but start with the smallest one you know you can do. Too many people start with something too big, like 1,000 words a day, and it easily becomes overwhelming.

Build up to 1,000 words. But right now? Start with a fraction of that.

You’re probably thinking; all this stuff is so small that would be easy to bang out. That’s the point.

Now do it.

2. Tell People

Don’t ignore this part. Tell one person you are doing this 30 day challenge. It helps to add accountability.

Tell your partner, your kid, your sibling, your parents, your coworker, your college roommate, or the person sitting next to you at happy hour, or shout it on social media.

Most of these people are going to have some combination of not caring or a ‘good for you!’ reaction. But the big thing is you’ve put it out there.

If you want to go a step further, get an accountability buddy.

Set up a schedule where you email (or text) each other with your habit and when you’re going to do it all week. And then let them know how you did daily or weekly.

It should take less than 5 minutes all in. But if you are someone who benefits from accountability, then it’s a great way to motivate you.

3. Schedule a time

You can do stuff whenever it floats into your head or schedule a time.

I prefer to schedule a time because it helps me take this thing seriously, and it forces me to get this on my to-do list. Just the simple act of taking the steps to take action (if that makes any sense) helped get it in my head that these were things that I had to do, not think about doing.

It also helps to schedule this time when it works best for you. Don’t make things harder than they need to be. If you’re a morning person, bang out those 100 words right after you wake up. If you hit your stride at 2 pm, do it then.

Remove the barriers that are going to stop you from moving forward.

4. Do it

Yea, this one should be obvious at this point, but I figure it can’t hurt to make it really clear.

You’ve got your challenge set. You told people, and you scheduled a time.

There’s only one thing left to do: the work.

There are going to be days where you feel great about doing this (probably the first 3-4) and then you’ll hit a wall and not want to do it at all.

If you’ve made your goal small enough, you should be able to push past this.

Set a timer. Tell a friend. Suck it up and do it.

If you skip a day, don’t beat yourself up that you’re a failure — life happens. But try to never skip two days in a row. If a bad day happens, tomorrow is a new day, and you can start fresh.

5. Rinse and repeat

After 30 days, take a minute and pat yourself on the back. You did it!

Most people won’t last 30 days. They give up. But you know about consistency and compounding, right? That means you’re ready to do it again.

Here’s where the unsexy part comes in. You did one rep. It’s time for more. Add a new small task to the mix (if you want) but keep doing that main goal.

I promise it will add up.

What’s Your Challenge?

So are you ready to tackle your own 30 day challenge?

This post was updated in June 2023 for accuracy.

Sean Ogle

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.
Learn How to Make Your First $1,000 Freelance Writing (in 30 Days or Less)

Join over 40,000 people who have taken our 6 part freelance writing course. Sign up below and let’s do this together.

By entering your email address you agree to receive emails from Location Rebel. We'll respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.

3 comments on "How To Finally Take Action: The 30 Day Challenge"

  1. theczechguy says:

    My challenge is to
    – write 300 words a day
    – do at least 10 reps of something (pushups, pullups, squats, whatever)
    That’s it for now…see how it goes and then i’ll add up

  2. MarkCartner says:

    My 30-day challenge will be to write a 300 word blog post for Medium every morning before I go to my job.

  3. Clinton White says:

    Love this post!! I’ve been sitting in the fence for way too long and always worried that my copy would be terrible..and yes it may just be that when starting out, however I am going to get started!!!! Thanks for the inspiration!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *