Try as I might, I have not been able to find a good history of or even “we were there first” claim for the idea of 30 day challenges.
What I have found, however, is literally thousands of options for what kind of 30 day challenge you might personally take on.
Those challenges vary from the ultra-popular Whole30 food challenge to just about anything you could imagine doing for 30 days.
What else I found was a lot of theories as to why 30 day challenges are a great idea… and lots of claims of research with no citations to back them up.
For example, from VeryWell Mind:
Several studies have been conducted to track how people change and how long these changes last. One study found that a new habit takes anywhere from two weeks to two months to take root, meaning that if you go through the effort to incorporate it into your life for this amount of time and practice on a regular basis, you become used to including this as part of your life and, rather than having to work past inertia to begin the habit, it would actually require more effort to change the habit and stop doing it. Another set of studies has found that we make changes in steps and that once we get past the point of thinking about making a change, it’s far easier to continue to live with a new habit.
Or there’s this statement from the blog Agile Lean Life:
If you’ve never done any 30 Day Challenge, you absolutely have to try one. There is no completely fulfilled life without at least one successfully performed 30 Day Challenge. You have to know the extraordinary feeling of being proud of yourself on the last day, right after you complete the 30th repetition; and then you might even stick to the new behavioral pattern, who knows.
The challenge (no pun intended) here is that none of the research cited by these challenges is actually cited. And as we’ve talked about several times before, habits are more than just repetition. Habits rely on more than doing something special over and over again. So if you want to set a month goal, great. Just don’t assume doing something 30 days in a row makes it a habit.