Creating energy and enthusiasm after a challenging few months is hard. I've noticed on Twitter that people are getting their energy back and now looking for ways to refocus and reframe their pre-Covid improvement projects. It crossed my mind that a 30 Day challenge could be one of a number of answers: here's how to get started...

Thirty day challenges are about trying something new over 30 days. Evidence suggests that's how long it takes to form a new habit - or to stop a bad one! Thirty days is long enough to see results, increase your commitment and focus your passion - they can be the push you need to create sustainable change. 

Framing a challenge over 30 days encourages you to do something every single day, even if that something is small. What matters is that a consistent action is taken, because it’s the small actions each day that build behaviours and habits that stick.

Once the 30 days are up, you’ll probably have learned something about the world, life or yourself. You might be a little healthier, had some fun, more connected or have the courage to try something even bigger.

Joining forces with your allies

Working with people who have the same passions and energy for change is a recipe for success. You don't necessarily have to be like-minded; it's more about having a shared purpose. 

Every August, the We Communities host the #WeActiveChallenge which is a Twitter campaign to help us all get a little more active throughout the summer. It's also an opportunity for us to unite across organisational and professional boundaries and to build our network of connections. Every day we share our activities as a community but also as allies using the hashtag for our own professional group (eg nurses, midwives, allied health professionals, doctors, et al) too. 

Using #NursesActive I started a Twitter thread, linking each post together to share my individual activities as well as the cumulative story. From increasing the daily dog walks to completely decorating a room, I find this month to be a focus of energy and "me time".

Designing your own 30 Day Challenge

Here are some quick top tips for running your own 30 Day Challenge:

1. Make it actionable - get people doing things. Encourage someone to be a key lead for each department or team

2. Make it connect - bring people together. Spread the word by including staff engagement and  comms teams

3. Be flexible - don't be precious and go with the energy. Ask your senior leaders to join in

Ready to design your own 30 challenge? Read on below for in-depth tips, using some real-life examples.

Where to Start: Use ACE Principles 

There are three design principles key to making an idea spread in a new power world. Ideas that take off are actionable, connect, extensible (ACE). When thinking about your 30 day challenge you should consider if it’s ACE:

Here is an example from Joanne Mohammed on how a challenge to celebrate the diversity of people who are nurses and midwives gave her the opportunity to finally write a long thought about blog:

Besides writing the blog, I also wanted to create a visual display to celebrate the diversity of the staff within our organisation. I took the opportunity to photograph different members of staff and created a display on the ward which highlights different races, faiths, ethnicity, roles and skills of our varied workforce.

What I would advise anyone to think about before undertaking a 30 day challenge is not to take it too seriously. Have fun with it. Think outside the box. Take the challenge and make them your own. They are not restrictive and can be adapted so that they are relatable to your area of work. Be creative and ask others for ideas, use the talents of others to develop these ideas further" 

Joanne Mohammed

Pick a theme

In October 2019, as part of the Transforming Perceptions of Midwifery programme, Ambassadors co-created a Joy at Work 30 day challenge. As ambassadors their focus was to increase job satisfaction experienced by colleagues which ultimately leads to a better patient experience. 

This 30 day challenge was designed to help colleagues build networks, agency and perceptions all whilst also spreading joy in the workplace. This seems timely to re-share as we are learning to live with COVID-19. The resource pack contains some examples of 30 Day Challenges that you may like to use:

  • Inspired by Alice in Wonderland, coordinate a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party designed to reflect how your organisation can help spread joy in the workplace
  • Run a randomised coffee trial to help build connections and positive perceptions of the profession
  • Run a 15 second 30 minute workshop which focuses on how a 15 second activity can bring 30 minutes of joy.

Get into a rhythm 

Getting started can be the hardest part! The best way to keep consistency, energy and momentum is to visualise your ambition, converting the challenge from an idea into action. 

You can do this by creating a calendar; download a template from the internet, or create your own with 30 boxes, one box for every day. As you work through the days and steps of your challenge draw a tick in a box or a virtual thumbs up each day right after you complete the new desired action. You can work on your own to complete your part of the challenge or create a shared document or pin the calendar on a wall in the office or communal area.

"When i was working as a Labour suite Coordinator and band 7 midwife at a large tertiary unit I wanted a gentle non patronising way to help bring a little joy into the day to day lives of my colleagues so created #JoyfulJanuary.

I wanted to make a little difference in the day to day life by reminding us all that one small simple gesture can change a persons day for the better. The appreciation and feedback from staff was overwhelming, a positive comment, a tea cup or homemade cookie completely changed staff moods and the moral across the team despite the daily challenges of work.

To implement my 30 day challenge I used prompts at hand over and bribery. We introduced the concept of bingo to increase engagement. Members of staff that completed a vertical or horizontal line would have it signed by witnesses and could submit the calendar for a raffle with a chance of winning surprise gifts"

Benash Nazmeen

Build energy

Preparation and timing are key for a successful challenge. If you can focus the activity around something that unites your team, department and organisation then your collective commitment rises.

Every June there is a What Matters to You Day. This year was different due to COVID-19 but in many ways this theme seemed even more important so we developed this 30 Day to continue the theme for the day over a longer period:

Share your success

Setting up and taking part in a 30 Day Challenge is just the beginning! 

What builds energy and engagement though is sharing it with others and inspiring them to join in too; showing how much you enjoyed an activity, whether it was a new or brave challenge for you or more powerfully, to tell your story! 

Here are some things that you can do to share your joy at work and get more people involved:

  • Tweet about your activities using the challenge hashtag: include a picture and tag others to amplify your messages (eg your Trust’s account, your senior clinical leads and your colleagues). Include national leads and anyone who has a passion about your topic
  • Make an appointment with your senior clinical lead: Ask them to take part, their leadership can influence others to get involved and support you in organising the challenge as well facilitating a regular slot at your local team meeting to talk about your plans 
  • Involve your organisation's communications team: Ask them to help you in supporting your efforts to promote your 30 Day Challenge both before and afterwards. They may have advice around timing and networks to connect you widely and get an article into your organisation newsletter - they may even get local media involved too!
  • Write a blog! Here’s some helpful hints and tips: Getting started with blogging

Remember to thank everyone for getting involved - they will look forward to the next one if this one is a great experience!

Why not start planning your 30 Day Challenge today, or join Action for Happiness, a social movement which helps people take action for a kinder and happier world.