My 30-day challenge

I started on new 30-day challenge today. I do this every couple of months. This one is to test the theories around intermittent fasting – and so it means I skip breakfast and limit when I eat to an eight hour “feeding window”. Nothing before noon and nothing but water after 8pm. I’m optimistic, albeit a little bit hungry.

Over the past year I’ve run a number of these sorts of experiments. Frequently around diet, but not always. Here’s a sample:

  • Atkins. Works, but not sustainable.
  • 4-hour body – basically the “no white food” diet. This involved eating a lot of beans and lentils for some reason. It was interesting, could have been sustainable until I read that it became less-effective after the age of 40. So, not sustainable.
  • No wheat. I read the Wheat Belly book and put the theories to test. What I found was pretty amazing and so continued with this even now. Very sustainable and effective.
  • Yoga every day. I enjoyed learning yoga, but it upset my hamstring tendonitis too much and so stopped shortly after the initial challenge.
  • Waking up at 5:30am every day. I am a morning person. I get more done in the morning than any other time in the day. I wanted more time, and so started earlier and never looked back. This may have been one of my first 30-day challenges.. and I’m loving it.

I do this because I read a lot. I read a lot from people who write about better ways to do this, faster ways to do that. It’s easy to either dismiss the advice outright or take it at face value… I prefer to put it to the test. Just because something works for someone, doesn’t mean it will work for me.

I do this because I am goal-oriented and it gives me nice, relatively short projects to focus on. It is satisfying. Take what works, dismiss what doesn’t – after actually trying it and not just based on some possibly inaccurate world view.

Thirty days is not forever. Sometimes, you read something and you think that it makes sense (or doesn’t), but changing your life.. your whole life is too large of a decision. To adopt a change in diet from this point forward and to then stop at some point (for whatever reason) may result in you being marked as a “quitter”. Or perhaps you the enormity of the commitment is so great that you don’t even try it.

But 30-days is easy. It’s the perfect length of time to test something. You are not a yo-yo dieter, you are an experimenter. You are a scientist. If you like something; if it works – keep going. If it doesn’t – who cares. At least you tried it.

The great thing is that this also works for business. True innovation is about lots of small enhancements and not a “big bang” approach. If you have a great idea that you truly believe will have a positive impact to the business, don’t let everyone shoot it down with all the reasons why it won’t work.. run an experiment — a 30-day challenge.

Everyone will be a winner. If it doesn’t work, the person who said it wouldn’t is proved right and you have proved that you care. But if it works, well.. the company wins and you can bask in the glory of triumph.

The more experiments you run as a company, the more innovative you will become.. the more “bottom up” innovation you will encourage – changing your company’s culture forever.

Today, I will battle through a few hunger pangs knowing that I have only 29 days left to go.. and who knows, maybe this will be so amazing that it might change my life for the better. But if not, I have a dozen more queued up and ready to start soon thereafter.