30-Day Challenges: Self Discoveries on the Journey to Habits

My students are wrapping up their 30-day challenges this weekend. One of my students, who challenged herself to drink more water, wrote in her journal this week that she now can’t go long without drinking water. It has now become a habit. Research states that 40% of our daily actions are habits. They great thing about habits is that they do not require will power – they are programmed actions into our life that we automatically expect to complete. Once you get use to exercising every morning, it is harder not to exercise than it is to exercise.

Before my 30-day blogging challenge, I felt a bit at loose ends as a writer. Last summer, I completed my dissertation, which was the accumulation of years of researching and writing on new media and critical pedagogy. While I enjoyed much of the process, I also felt burnt out on academic writing at the end. Before pursuing my Ph.D., I was a journalist and a creative writer. My blogging challenge allowed me to begin to put the pieces of my many writing selves together.

It also helped me move from drafting to sharing. While I have written for years, I rarely share my words. Writing is immensely personal. I put off exposure through lengthy editing, rewriting the same paragraphs and pages over and over. Blogging does not allow for shyness or perfectionism. As Andrew Sullivan once wrote, “You can’t have blogger’s block. You have to express yourself now, while your emotions roil, while your temper flares, while your humor lasts. You can try to hide yourself from real scrutiny, and the exposure it demands, but it’s hard.”

What I like best about these challenges, though, are the unexpected benefits. For me, it was how blogging shaped my daily life. You cannot blog if you are not thinking, experiencing, and reading. I became more mindful of what I was doing so that I could articulate the purpose, and I pursued more out of my box experiences in order to have something interesting to share.

Now, I am learning more about my relationship with food and my food’s relationship with my body through my gluten-free challenge. Wish me luck!

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