Self-challenge translates to pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone, past invisible boundaries and into the unknown. The unknown can be a scary place, which is why people often settle into comfortable habits and choices. When the parameters are known, we feel like we are in control of outcomes... but that is the easy road. Mastering self-challenge means taking an honest look at yourself and taking steps to enrich your life in ways that may not yet be possible to predict.
If you aren’t going to challenge yourself to make the best of your life, there are no guarantees that anyone else will. Your boss, your friend or your spouse might to some extent; but ultimately you are responsible for pinpointing the areas of your life that need work. The rewards of self-challenge are high, and this article aims to give you the lowdown on the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of this process.
Mastering self-challenge is all about developing a new mindset, or a new way of approaching life. Although initially it can feel hard to muster enough motivation, once you set off down this road, the rewards you reap become the motivation for your next steps. To get started, you simply need vision and determination.
With time, self-challenge becomes a way of life. You no longer want to accept second best in any area of your life. Does it ever feel like this world is some kind of school? If so, thankfully it also has a playground… but arguably, the main point of life is lessons and consequent personal growth. The alternative is stagnation, which is often an uncomfortable place to be. Life would be incredibly dull if nothing ever changed, but if you intend it, it always will. You are in the driving seat!
Self-challenge is a version of self-work, which really improves your life; but self-challenge means taking the bull by the horns and creating opportunities. Only waiting for opportunities to arise is like waiting for a bus that may or may not be coming. The truth is that you are capable of so much more than you may ever have thought possible, and the way to prove this to yourself is by overcoming challenges that you set for yourself.Things that prevent us from challenging ourselves
Attitude relates directly to perception. Even the word challenge can have either negative or positive connotations dependent on your mindset. Challenge doesn’t have to translate to ‘difficulty’ or ‘struggle’. Depending on your attitude, challenge might translate to ‘growth’ or ‘exploration’. There is a ‘can do’ mindset, and there is a ‘can’t do’ mindset. Which one do you currently have?
It’s normal for us to carry fears based on previous experiences, or negative conditioning (perhaps passed on by family or society). We might have had it drilled into us that we aren’t particularly capable, or that compared to others we don’t have that much going for us. If so, know that this is an illusion.
Most of us have held self-limiting beliefs from time to time. Those nagging thoughts that tell us there is no point in doing this or that, since we will probably fail - for whatever subjective reason. The thing is that until you actually try something, there is no way to guarantee an outcome. In any event, failure can be seen as a teacher rather than an embarrassment. Self-limiting beliefs must be overcome, and that in itself may be a challenge to master!
Ego is another thing that gets in the way of healthy self-challenge. We all have an ego, for sure, but it can’t be dissolved. It just needs to be kept in check. The ego is responsible for closed-mindedness, or being steadfast in beliefs. Our beliefs guide us through life but when you think about it, by definition, to believe is to not know for sure. Keeping an open mind about possibilities (and realities) opens the door in ways you may not have even considered.
If you’re wondering where to start on the path to mastering self-challenge, the first step is pinpointing the areas in which you should be challenging yourself. Which areas do you feel are lacking? Perhaps your fitness or health isn’t up to scratch. Maybe you’re bored in your career, stuck in a home life rut or experiencing difficulty in personal relationships.
You’ll need to apply a combination of analysis and imagination to establish the right course of action. A good starting point would be to mentally comb over your life by considering the following questions:
- Am I doing enough?
- Am I really 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 then put on the back burner?
It’s important to be totally honest with yourself and read inspirational quotes. Although it’s often easier just to muddle along taking things as they come, self-challenge requires proactivity.
Here are a few more pointers that will keep you firmly on the path of mastering self-challenge:
- Find your niche: Do you feel more excited by the prospect of leadership? Is it service to others? Maybe you are more inclined toward artistic or musical endeavors. Focus your attention on what makes you feel ‘on purpose’ and then make sure actions are always aligned with that direction. If and when this gets old, admit it… and find your new niche!
- Set personal goals and blaze your own trail: the best results never come from copying someone else’s blueprint. When you have determined areas for growth, don’t blindly do things ‘by the book’. Do things you’ve never done before, or in a new way. One of the keys to personal growth is creativity, and by creating the kind of results you seek via uncharted territory, you learn of your true capabilities.
- Ask for feedback (often): ask others how they honestly see you. Where do they think you could improve? What do they think you’re good at? What do they like the most about you? These viewpoints might be more objective, or at least give you insights you missed from your standpoint.
- Always seek knowledge: it is easy to feel like you’ve finally nailed it. However, this is often a temporary state – and it probably should be, if you don’t want to stagnate eventually. While it’s good to bask in the rewards of your previous efforts, know that at some point there will be more to learn, more to know, and more ways to grow… and over time, these are character-building and life-shaping.
Once you master the art of self-challenge, you’ll go forth boldly into new life situations with confidence, courage and conviction. The challenges life throws at you will be easier to navigate, and you’ll know that you hold the keys to your own destiny. We think you’ll agree… that’s a powerful place to be!