The Trial Period

We all know of free 30-day trials to online services. There are often smaller trial versions for many things in life. They’re great because you get to test-drive any service you are considering, allowing you to judge whether the value provided is worth your money and time. A lot of the time, people will continue with a service after its trial period finishes, unless they decide beforehand that they will not exceed the duration of the trial or believe that it isn’t worth their time and money. If we’re much more likely to start using a service that has a trial period, how about we try and apply this to starting new habits?

Imagine you’re trying to start a new habit, such as reading fifteen minutes a day, going to the gym each morning, beginning a new diet, or any other positive practice. If you start with no intention of giving up, you may change your mind or miss a day quite easily. Once you realise that it may be a challenge to keep up your self-discipline for your new diet, it becomes much easier to slip up. How about if we try a seven or thirty-day trial period for the new habit? We’re committing to only seven or thirty days, so if we change our mind, we can quit after it’s over. It becomes harder to miss a day, especially if you’re only doing it for seven days, as you have committed for a fixed period and you can only consider relaxing when it’s over.

It allows you to test if a new habit is a viable fit to your schedule, and it also forces you to dive straight in and adapt to it quickly, giving results quicker than easing into it. It tests the level of self-discipline required to keep to that habit, so you know what you’re getting into if you commit to the habit as a long term or permanent change. If you’re going for a full thirty-day period, you will likely have adjusted to the new habit and will find it easier to do, and it will seem much more comfortable to continue past the thirty days.

This is the power of the thirty-day trial. If you only try it for thirty days, it will be much easier to keep the habit long term than if you attempted to make it a permanent change immediately. You have the option to quit after the thirty-day period ends, considering if it is worth the effort. If a service you are considering subscribing to doesn’t have a trial, it is more difficult to be persuaded to start it. The same goes for starting new habits. You even gain the benefits of performing the habit for seven or thirty days, which could be hugely beneficial.

This idea could also be used to quit negative habits. Say if you eat chocolate every few days, consider banning yourself from it for seven or thirty days. It’s much more comfortable than stopping for an unknown length of time, and after the trial has ended, it will seem much easier to resist its temptation.

The thirty-day trial is what I’m doing with this blog. I’m writing an article a day to get me up to speed on writing, forcing self-discipline and creativity, while also providing a decent amount of content for the website. If I don’t want to continue past the thirty days, then I can quit after it’s over. After the trial is over, it will be much easier for me to write articles, and probably more likely for me to write them as well. The challenge of forcing creativity and finding time to research and write each article also forces me to improve myself.

I’ll be starting a new thirty-day trial after my current trial is over. Possibly meditating for thirty minutes to an hour each day, maybe going for a run every day, or even alternate day fasting. Each will provide significant benefits while making it easier for me to continue each habit in the future. You don’t need to go as extreme as alternate day fasting, it can be a small change such as eating no chocolate; reading fifteen minutes a day; reaching out to a friend each day; going meat-free; etc. If it seems really difficult, consider the seven-day option. It doesn’t provide the same level of benefits of a thirty-day trial, but can still be quite a worthwhile investment, and it may seem easier to adjust to than expected.

If you tried to adjust to a new habit and failed, consider trying again but only committing for seven days. At the end of the seven days, you can decide whether to turn it into a thirty-day endeavour or quit. If you can manage seven days, it will be much easier to manage it for two weeks or a whole month the next time you try.

So, will you consider a new thirty-day trial? It’s a unique experience which you can start right now. If you don’t want to start now, set a specific date in the future when you will begin; don’t say you’ll do it and never get around to it. I encourage you to at least try a new habit or remove an old one using this method; it works for me at least. Consider it a trial of the thirty-day trial method. Your fantastic new habit may be just around the corner.