Do you have one of those friends that you look to as a constant source of inspiration? Where you get off the phone or finish a beer with them and leave completely jacked to go out and take on the whole entire world? I have one of those friends: Calvin Johanssen. The dude has the superpower of encouragement and the ability to push anyone to become their best selves. His mantra is MASH (Make Awesome Shit Happen) and we always joke that he should go on tour to spread “Calspirations” (the made-up nickname for his quotes).
One aspect to emulate is his monthly challenges. These are usually health-oriented and are intended to incorporate a healthy habit into his life. For instance, you could have a month where you run for 30 minutes a day, a month of avoiding sugar, a month of 200 body weight squats, a month of waking up early, a month of meditation etc.
Most people find it extremely hard to develop a habit (a healthy one that is…a habit of eating a container of ice cream before bed is super easy to create, unfortunately). You know what needs to happen to improve yourself and you can usually generate list after list after list of “things I want to be able to do” or “Goals” or the dreaded “New Year’s Resolutions”. Actually manifesting action and momentum is where you find the resistance. This is where most people fall off their diet or workout routine – where they fail to accomplish their goals. And it sucks. You get that completely shitty feeling in the pit of your stomach: the feeling of failure. That’s when some people stop trying to improve all together, “Why would I want to start the journey of improving myself when it always results in me feeling like a screw-up?”
The problem is the classic “Talk the talk but can’t walk the walk” conundrum. Saying you are going to do something is easy. Watch this: “I’m going to fly a rocket ship.”
Actually doing something is extremely hard: “I don’t know the first thing about rocket ships. I quit.”
This is where the genius of Calvin comes in. Stop setting goals, instead create challenges that you can incorporate into habits.
(Goals should be your overarching mission like a mission statement, such as “Get Healthy” or “Become more adventurous”, habits are small specific changes you can make to begin the journey of reaching those goals.)
Research shows that people who succeed at habit transformation focus on only ONE HABIT AT A TIME. The problem with resolutions like “eat healthy” is that they are too vague. There are too many ways to “eat healthy” which makes it nearly impossible to figure out the best way to start. Instead a better habit would be “give up Doritos” if you eat Doritos every day or “drink a kale shake in the morning” if you want to incorporate more vegetables.
The beauty of the monthly challenge is that it allows your attention to be focused on one habit at a time. That does not mean that after the month has ended you should stop the previous challenge to complete the new challenge. Instead, after a month of “100 push-ups a day” maybe you want to add “200 squats a day”. Now you got yourself a killer little workout.
To maintain my focus I use the iPhone App “Lift”. It is a tool to record progress. Essentially, you enter the habits you want to complete and you check them off every day you accomplish these. It sounds silly, but clicking the electronic check mark brings an amazing feeling of pride and the joy of success.
Once you complete a month you witness the amazing feeling of accomplishment. You feel good about your triumph and this feeling will inspire you to try another challenge. This positive feedback cycle can start the ball rolling on your progress to optimize your life.
Every month I will share my monthly challenge on this site.
For the month of February I am practicing yoga every single day. My long term goals are to remove stress in my life, increase my leg and core strength, and meditate more frequently.
Good luck! Become the absolute best human possible in this world! You can do it!