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Self-challenge means pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone, past invisible boundaries and into the unknown. But because the unknown can be a scary place, people often avoid it. This makes us feel more in control, but the easy road rarely leads to growth.
The people in your life—your boss, coworkers, friends, or spouse—are not responsible for challenging you. Life will throw you curveballs and you’ll need to overcome these challenges, but it’s on you to seek fulfillment. The rewards of self-challenge are high. This is why self-challenge, as uncomfortable as it is, is necessary. To master it, you’ll need to take an honest look at yourself and move forward in unpredictable ways.
Self-Challenge and Self-Discipline
Challenging yourself is the only way to grow and reach goals. Although it is difficult to muster the courage and motivation to start, once you start pushing yourself, it’s easier to keep going as your achievements propel you forward. But to get started, you need vision and determination. You also need a whole lot of discipline.
Self-discipline can be cultivated when you find a reason “why.” As the video mentions, finding your reason for challenging yourself and spending that reason on one actionable goal at a time is the best way to make progress. Don’t wait for opportunities—create them. Self-challenge pushes you to want more; self-discipline will keep you going when the going gets tough. Complacency is not good enough, and life’s challenges alone are not going to get you to where you need to be.
Things That Prevent Us From Challenging Ourselves
Attitude and fear of failure have a lot to do with whether we challenge ourselves or not. Your attitude influences your perception. People often feel negatively toward things that have caused them trauma, pain, or discomfort, and this will lead them to avoid these things.
How do you perceive self-challenge? Does the word “challenge” conjure positive or negative thoughts for you? If this word causes you to imagine difficulty or struggle, do your best to change your mindset into one of growth and exploration. We can choose to have an attitude of close-mindedness and hesitance or we can choose to be unwavering and brave.
Most of us have or have had self-limiting beliefs at one point or another. These are the nagging thoughts that tell us not to do something because it will likely result in failure. While this may sometimes be true, there is no way of knowing for sure what will happen unless we try. Try to form a healthy relationship with failure. Failure teaches—apprehension does not. Self-limiting beliefs must be overcome, which is a challenge in and of itself, in order for us to be able to really push ourselves. Fear is normal, but we must never let it take over our lives or cause us to believe that we are not strong.
The Importance of Reflection
In 2020, many of us have found ourselves at one point or another with an abundance of time on our hands. Whether this was because you lost a job or have simply been forced to stay home more than you normally would, this presented many with an unprecedented opportunity for prolonged reflection.
When will we get to engage in introspection like this again?
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is guaranteed. This is why it’s so important that you not get too comfortable. Reflect on your life, work on yourself, and develop a path forward.
Where Are You Stuck?
The first step to challenging yourself is pinpointing areas in which growth is needed. Is there anything in your life that you’re unsatisfied with? Your career? Relationship? Fitness or health? If you feel stuck anywhere, that’s a good sign you’re not where you’re supposed to be.
Consider the following questions to figure out where you might be stuck:
- Am I doing enough?
- Am I happy in this situation?
- Am I using my abilities and skills to benefit my life?
- What would the best version of this situation look like?
- What have I dreamed of and put off going after?
- Find your spark: Figure out what it is that excites you and go after it. Do you feel excited about leadership? Working for yourself? Service to others? Focus your attention on what makes you feel “on purpose” and then align your goals in that direction.
- Set your own goals: You won’t get the best results by following someone else’s blueprint. When you have determined areas for growth, think outside of the box. Do things you’ve never done before. One of the keys to personal growth is creativity, and by creating the kind of results you seek by traveling through uncharted territory, you learn what you’re capable of.
- Seek knowledge: Never stop learning and asking questions. It’s easy to feel like you’ve finally nailed it after a good deal of growth, but achievement is temporary. Bask in the rewards of your efforts for just long enough to feel motivated again by more to learn, more to know, and more ways to grow. Staying in one place for too long will not build your character or change your life.