Challenge Yourself to Success

4 thoughts on “Challenge Yourself to Success”

  1. Good article Kit and I hope readers do undertake a 66-day challenge of their own. One point you left out is that research has clearly shown that if something new to you is adopted as faithfully as possible for 66 days, after that time it’s actually harder to stop doing it than it is to continue. So you want to make healthier choices with food, it’s comforting to know that once you do it for 66 days in a row, you’ll just naturally keep doing it. The emotional rollercoaster of ups and downs when you try something for a short while and then go back to your old ways will cease. 66 days and you’ve got something new in your life you want for yourself!

    • Ah, yes. The Magic of 66 days in creating a new habit is to smooth the way to a better way and to show you how good things can be. The Magic of 66 days in learning or polishing a skill is that you push yourself to new heights and successes.

      I see the 66-day challenge having a 2-fold purpose: to learn a new skill and to learn/cement a new habit. Sometimes the two purposes are the same, and sometimes they are different. I can quit sugar, an eating habit, for 66 days. I can practice my Origin Story, a new skill, for 66 days — and solidify the habit of improving my speaking skills.

      Thanks for your note, Pat. Happy challenge to you!

  2. My take on the Challenge is that it’s more about setting good habits. The 66 days is based on psychological studies, but it’s simplified, perhaps overly so.

    Researchers from University College London researched how long it took to establish a new habit (and in their study, it related to eating, drinking, or some other specific activity). The range of time it took to achieve “automaticity” was very wide: 18 to >200 days. But the average time was …66 days. Some of the gurus have simplified it to “it takes 66 days to create a new habit,” which isn’t really the point of the study. My take on that point is, you have to understand what it takes for you to establish a new habit (“automaticity”) so you don’t give up too soon.

    Stanford University human behavior researcher B.J. Fogg’s studies gives more guidance, which echoes advice I’ve heard you give: “baby steps” (as you put it). That is, shoot for changes that are “too big” (and what’s too big depends on the person) and it’s highly likely you’ll fail. The more you fail, the more discouraged you get. Thus: take on a small new challenge that you’re very likely to achieve. That gives you success that you then build on by taking on another, slightly greater challenge. And then another, and another, and….

    So the real question comes down to, what’s the magic formula to both push yourself and have a good chance at success to build yourself up the fastest? Well, as it happens I talked about just that on my podcast a few weeks ago, Failure is Not Optional: “the late Harvard researcher David McClelland found that when you set stretch goals for yourself that have a 50-70 percent chance of success, you’re more likely than not to achieve the goal, which gives you confidence to stretch even further.”

    And then repeat!

    • I like the idea that the magic formula is to create the one-two punch of (1) good habits that (2) push/stretch you toward your success.

      I had a client several years ago who knew she couldn’t add exercise to her health regime because she’d failed with an exercise program so many times before. I challenged her to walk to her mailbox daily — a 2-minute round-trip walk; she accepted. The following week I asked how that two minutes went. Her response at first startled then pleased me: “Two minutes was a stupid amount of time to walk. So I walked five minutes instead. I’m loving it!” She quickly extended her five-minute walks to 10 then 20-minute walks. She started losing weight, her joints hurt less, and she was proud of her improving health. She went from not exercising at all to pushing herself beyond my 2-minute challenge walk — and won.

      That’s one way to use a 66-Day Challenge.


Leave a Comment