Life is a lot more interesting when you intentionally decide to mix things up and do something new. If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut lately, one of these 30-day challenge ideas might be the perfect fit for you to awaken a new passion, improve your health, or sharpen a skillset.
15 Favorite 30-Day Challenge Ideas
Some of the ideas below are traditionally associated with a specific month, but you don’t have to think inside the box! You can decide to do any of these 30-day challenge ideas on any month you choose—or even longer than a month. 30-day challenge ideas are great to use as a jumping-off point or a low-stress way to experiment with a lifestyle change.
#1: No-Spend November
No-spend November is a great name for the alliteration, but feel free to pick a different month if you think Christmas shopping will throw a wrench in the works. On the other hand, if you do choose November, you’ll be going into the holidays with a little extra padding in the savings account…so there are pros and cons! (An alternative is “Frugal February,” which is easy because it’s a short month with nothing much going on.)
Either way, the idea of a no-spend month is simple: you don’t spend any money besides the bare-bones essentials. (Obviously, your landlord or mortgage company won’t be happy if you tell them “hey, I’m doing a no-spend challenge so I’ll pay you next month…”)
Acceptable expenses during your no-spend challenge include:
- Groceries (but probably nothing too luxurious!)
- Hygiene items
The main things you’ll be cutting out:
- Non-essential shopping (clothes, technology)
- Recreational expenses
- Non-essential grooming (haircuts, manicures)
Doing a no-spend month is a fantastic idea for many reasons. It gives you practice and discipline to live simply, lets you save as much money as possible, and gives you a reason to use up things that may have just been sitting in your house for a while. (Time to audit your pantry and eat everything close to the expiration date!)
This is one of my personal favorites, although for me it’s an all-year thing! Veganuary is a British initiative that has inspired almost 1 million people around the globe to try a plant-based diet for the month of January.
Signing up for Veganuary is a great way to try a planet-friendly diet to reduce your carbon footprint (livestock account for almost 15% of global emissions). Plus, you’ll be opting out of paying for animal factory farming, where cruelty is commonplace.
On a personal improvement level, a vegan diet is associated with lower risk of diseases including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. A 30-day challenge idea like Veganuary gives you the chance to experiment with more healthy, veggie-forward recipes. It’s also something you can do very frugally, since veganism relies on ultra-cheap staples like rice, beans, lentils, pasta, frozen or fresh veggies and fruits, whole grains, tofu, etc. (Most of us aren’t buying $8 vegan cheeses and Impossible burgers every day!)
If it’s not January and you’d like to try a plant-based diet now, you can sign up for Challenge22 any time of year for 22 days of recipe ideas and support.
During all that No-Spend November time when you’re not shopping or spending money on hobbies, here’s a great free activity alternative: writing a novel! NaNoWriMo stands for “National Novel Writing Month,” and the goal is to complete 50,000 words during the month of November. It’s a great reason to finally sit down and write that story you’ve had in the back of your mind for years, with support and advice from a community of people on the same journey.
This one’s for the artists (or aspiring artists) out there. Inktober is a 30-day challenge idea that encourages you to draw something new every day in October, based on a list of prompts for the month. If you don’t like the list of prompts on the official website, you can easily modify the challenge by choosing another list of art prompts that appeals to you more. If you don’t need prompts just draw whatever you feel like every day—the goal is to get your creative and artistic juices flowing!
#5: Technology/Social Media Detox
Many of us have a love/hate relationship with technology. It brings so much information to our fingertips and helps us easily stay in touch with connections from afar, but it can also be addictive and suck away time on useless activities. Spend a month taking a break from your addiction of choice (it could be social media, obsessively reading news sites, checking emails every 10 minutes…I personally had to scale back on Reddit), and replace it with something more fulfilling. This makes a great one to combine with other 30-day challenge ideas, since it frees up time!
#6: Go Green for Earth Month
We’ve all heard of Earth Day, but it actually extends to the entire month of April. That makes it a perfect reason to take a planet-friendly challenge. Here’s a list of 30 “green” activities you can adopt during Earth Month, including:
- Minimizing electricity waste by using power strips (and turning them off when not in use)
- Using cloth instead of paper towels
- Eating whole plant foods instead of meat
- Biking, carpooling, and maximizing your car’s fuel efficiency
- Bring reusable bags and limit plastic purchases
- Hang up your laundry
- Live low-waste
- Grow plants
#7. A Month of Kindness
“Random acts of kindness” has been a movement for a while, but you can also unrandomize it and commit to daily acts of kindness for 30 days. It could be buying coffee for the person behind you in the drive-thru, picking up trash on a nature trail, giving a genuine compliment to a friend or loved one, leaving an extra-large tip, leaving quarters in a parking meter or vending machine, helping an elderly neighbor, or many more ideas. Doing good feels good for everyone involved.
#8. 30 Days of Exercise
There are a number of fun 30-day challenge ideas involving exercise. For instance, you can do the 30-day plank challenge, where you gradually increase your core strength by doing a different type of plank exercise every day. Then you have the classic 30-day pushup challenge, where you add about two pushups per day over the course of a month. This running challenge has you running about 1 extra minute per day, with walking mixed in as a warmup. Or, set yourself a step goal every day and walk to reach it!
#9. December Declutter
A lot of people do a traditional spring cleaning, but I think there’s something to be said for a December decluttering session. For one, you’re probably spending more time indoors during the colder weather, so you have the time and you’ll enjoy having a cleaner living space for yourself and holiday company. Also, if you’re expecting to receive physical Christmas gifts, you won’t have to play Tetris to fit them in your closets.
I like this 30-day decluttering challenge that focuses on a different area of the house each day (but maybe combine some of the smaller tasks so you can take the actual holidays off).
#10. Read 1+ Book Chapters Per Night
Do you have a bookshelf full of novels that you’ll “get around to reading someday”? Get intentional about reading for one month, and it might become your favorite new habit! (My biggest problem is focusing on one book at a time—I frequently find myself rotating between 5-6 books at once because my list is too long.) This is a perfect 30-day challenge idea to combine with a technology detox, because experts recommend you limit screen time before bed for better sleep, and reading is a perfect relaxing replacement.
#11. Quit a Bad Habit
We all have our vices, whether it’s smoking, eating too much sugar, drinking too much alcohol, binge-watching too much TV, etc. Whatever yours is, dedicate a month to breaking it. Try these science-based steps for quitting a bad habit and see where the month takes you.
#12. One-Month Journal Challenge
Journaling is like creating a little time capsule for your future self to look back and reminisce about your memories and the person you used to be. It can also provide a healthy outlet to work through thoughts or focus on practicing gratitude. If you like more structured challenges, you can use a list of 30 journal prompts to get your thoughts flowing.
#13. A Month of Deep Breathing/Meditation
Literally just remembering to breathe enough can make an enormous difference to your health and wellbeing. Practicing deep breathing exercises is associated with lower stress (and consequently a better immune system), lower blood pressure, and better mental health. You can do deep breathing on its own, or combine it with a meditation or yoga routine. For instance, commit to a month of watching sunrise or sunset while you play relaxing music, clear your mind, and breathe.
#14. 30 Days of Coding
Coding is a great modern skill to add to your arsenal, and there are a wealth of options to learn programming languages through online courses. In fact, there’s even a platform called One Month that focuses on teaching you various coding skills in 30 days, so that might be perfect for your challenge. You can also find 30-day code challenges on HackerRank and Codecademy.
#15. Daily Photography Challenge
Much like journaling, this 30-day challenge idea lets you create a record of your favorite moments in a day. It can also inspire you to look closer at the beauty around you and focus on the small details as you search for a perfect composition. You can try a structured 30-day photography challenge that focuses on a different aspect of the craft every day, or invent your own theme.
Have you ever tried one of these 30-day challenge ideas, or a different one? What was your experience like? Leave a comment below.
Kate is a writer and editor who runs her content and editorial businesses remotely while globetrotting as a digital nomad. So far, her laptop has accompanied her to New Zealand, Asia, and around the U.S. (mostly thanks to credit card points). Years of research and ghostwriting on personal finance led her to the FI community and co-founding DollarSanity. In addition to traveling and outdoor adventure, Kate is passionate about financial literacy, compound interest, and pristine grammar.