Stuck in a Rut? Try Something New For 30 Days

I recently came across a TED talk by Google engineer Matt Cutts where he suggests trying something new for 30 days. His proposition is that it takes 30 days to form a new habit or break an old one, so why not use 30 day challenges to make your life exactly what you want it to be? Matt started biking to work, became a better photographer and wrote a novel using the 30 day technique.

This is similar to my suggestion I made in a recent blog post, Eating the Elephant, where I suggest you should break up big jobs, but I like Matt’s idea that you can do anything for 30 days. This makes the challenge more concrete, and, as Matt says in the video, it makes the time you spend taking these challenges and more meaningful.

I’m inviting readers to take their own 30 day challenges this month to do something new and adventurous. It doesn’t have to be anything big, just something that you’ve been saying to yourself, “I wish I could . . . ”  Set a goal to do that thing daily for the next 30 days and see what happens.

I’ve wanted to be a more consistent blogger, so I’m challenging myself to write 500 words per day for the blog over the next 30 days (hopefully I’ll write something along the way that you’ll find useful!)

Watch Matt’s TED talk  for inspiration (it’s only 4 minutes) and then post your personal 30 day challenge below in the comments.

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About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of, and founder of the Art Business Academy. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.


  1. Thanks Jason for the link…this is SO great and true!. I actually was able to finish my BA in Art (30 yrs after high school!) using this principle…”the next (period of time) is going to pass ANYWAY” so just do it step by step, day by day. I also went on to earn a CA Clear Teaching Credential and a MA of Ed with the same idea. It works. and you have motivated me (and others) to do this with our art and art careers. Thank you.
    My 30 day July goal is to finish framing some art to participate in a local group show for August.
    Sincerely, Katherine

  2. Thank you for the link and blog. I find that to be true break a cycle and try something new adds inspiration and gives me ideas. I just bought 4 new canvases and have been planning them out and started one.

  3. My goal is to revisit my older research photos, looking for subjects that I evidently love (since I took a picture of them) but have never chosen to paint for whatever reason. At the end of the month, I’ll prioritize them into categories and see if a series emerges.

  4. Ok, Jason. This is a great challenge.

    I have had an idea for a new book for artists titled “Insider Secrets to a Successful Art Career,” in which I share the things my husband and I have learned over the past 40 years that enabled him to paint full time since 1986 and enjoy a prosperous and exciting career as an oil landscape artist.

    I started writing in earnest several months ago, but lately the project has languished. My 30 day goal is to finish the book and have it ready to go to the editor by August 7.

  5. What a great idea! It reminds me of cleaning the house… when you think of everything you need to do it’s overwhelming but if you think about just one room to clean, once you get into it it feels good and it isn’t difficult and the next thing you know you’re cleaning the next one too~ I learned years ago to break down large tasks this way to make them more do-able. This feels similar as a lot of times a change in habit feels so overwhelming. I’m going to start doing 30 day challenges and see if I can slow down the pages of the calendar a bit as well as do some interesting new things! Thanks!

  6. Jason – thanks so much for sharing No-Rut Matt Cutt’s words to live by – I’m inspired!

    For my 30 day challenge I will draw in a sketch book everyday! It might be just a doodle sometimes but it’s a start and I’m OK with that. I’ve always “intended” to have a daily sketchbook habit and now I know I will!

    thank you!

  7. I’ve been wanting to have my home studio clean enough to have other people see it! I work in there, but it is certainly not presentable! My motivation is a reminder that several people over the past year have said to me “I’d love to come and see your studio one day”… that is vaguely suggestive of asking for an invitation! And if it WERE presentable enough that there would be a place for them to sit, and I had my work better displayed, it would be an extension of my business, besides just painting there! I could hold private classes there; I could sell some of my work from there; I would find it more peaceful and conducive to “dreaming” there. So this is my challenge over the next 30 days: I will spend 1/2 hour clearing and sorting and organizing the visible mess in my studio!! Wish me luck!!

  8. Matt has a similar idea from 1 other author I know of: Steven Covey 7 habits in 7 days . That was a real excellrating book in the 80’s and still works today. Let me see a new habit I would like to procur is riding my excercise bike each day for 30 minutes before my day is on down the road. Being the road to my studio………..Thx Jason and Matt

  9. I came across this same talk a month and a half ago – brilliant concept!! For my first 30 days I watched a TED talk each day especially any on the theme creativity. I am still watching them weekly as they are a bit addictive 🙂
    I am on my 2nd 30 day project now, up to day 23 to be exact, I’ve been photographing pieces from my collection of old hand tools. I’m a still life painter and love these tools but have struggled to come up with really good compositions ……. well 500 photos plus into the exercise I have some beauties. AND I’m addicted!! If I am out for the day a bag of assorted tools and my camera come with me :-)The second part of the project will be to paint half a dozen framers before 2013 is out.

  10. I recently put my sketch book in my purse with the intent of sketching each day. So far not happened. But starting today I will do that for the next 30 days. Dorothy I will think of you as I sketch too! Thanks for the link to the TED talk – they are great.

  11. for more years than i care to remember i have had the photo choas situation….in my drawers, cabinets, boxes, under my bed…thirty days from now they will be in order or gone thanks to your inspiration

  12. I did take up the challenge: I am working at “thoroughly” organizing my studio for the next 30 days, spending at least a half hour just on cleaning, tossing, stacking and rearranging. So far, shelves up, piles of papers unnecessary any longer – tossed! Thanks for the push!

  13. My life is beginning to return to ‘right side up’ after 3 years of chaos. It seems to me that when I draw and fall into ‘the zone’ extraordinary serendipities happen. I have always wanted to do “a painting a day’ and have been unable to be creative for a long time- so here goes! I wish you would have a column after 6 weeks to ask what people DID and how it affected them!
    Thanks, Jason!

  14. Wow, after two weeks, my 30 days goal got done…this was helpful for the extra umpphh…I also thought of Steven Covey. I love how everyone that commented did have a goal and I agree with Liz…it would be very cool to share out what people DID and how it affected them. I am on to my next goal and will continue to use the daily step concept. We can do more than we may think we can.

  15. 30 days, cool. I just a read books on Pissarro and Monet…..I’m going their way for 30 days atleast. I just finished a plein aire art competition working off the easel in the outdoors. With the painting finished and books behind me Im going to paint large landscapes with heavy paint, lots of palette knife work, no more abstracts and no more watercolor for 30 days.
    Lets see what I can do….. a new exciting path…..what can I looooooose?

  16. Great post! I wasn’t yet aware of this TED Talk, so I definitely added it to my bookmarks. I couldn’t be a bigger advocate of “you can do anything for 30 day”. I created any entire 2014 New Ywar’s Resolution around this idea – a different resolution each month! January is #meatless, February is #trysomethingnew, etc. and I focus on health, community, self and adventure! I’d love if you checked it out and let me know what you think! Best way to find it is on Instagram @hashtagresolution but you can also see my journey on tumblr. Thanks!

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