The Importance Of Challenging Yourself
“You won’t make any progress in life if you just sit back and dream your life away.”
One of the worst things you can do to yourself is sit on the side lines as life passes you by. The biggest downfall of most people—and the main cause of regret—is never getting out of your comfort zone long enough to do anything worthwhile. So often you’ll hear someone discuss their life-long dreams, but they always seem to gloss over the ways to make those dreams a reality. Essentially, they’re all imagination and no action. It’s easy to dream of winning the lottery, but that dream doesn’t mean shit if you don’t go out and buy a ticket.
How many people do you know who always have grand ideas, yet nothing ever materialize from them? Now, ask yourself the same question. How many ideas have you had—ideas you got excited about—but never put in the effort to make anything out of them? This is a problem a lot of us struggle with. We’re dreamers. The thing is, a dream is nothing more than that if you don’t have a plan to make it come true.
This is where self-imposed challenges come into play. The best way to make your dreams a reality is to stay motivated and work hard. To do this, you need something to keep you going. Most people fail because of lack of effort brought on by waning ambition. Using writing as an example, we all start out strong when creating a new story. It’s when we reach that muddy middle section where things start to drag us down. The writing gets tough and we end up losing our motivation, ambition, and will to keep going forward; eventually quitting all together.
If you create small challenges for yourself, though, you’ll improve your chances of seeing your hard work come to fruition. For instance, say you hit the mud pit in the middle of your story. The writing slows almost to a complete halt and every sentence feels like a chore. All you want to do is quit or work on something else. Instead of giving in to these urges, try making a challenge for yourself. It could be something easy like hitting a specific word count each day. Or maybe you challenge yourself to throw some random nonsense into your story to make your stoic grandfather laugh for once.
There are plenty of small challenges you can impose on yourself, and what they do is ease your way to your ultimate goal. A good challenge makes you feel great for completing it while making progress toward your ultimate goal. Let’s say you want to lose 30 lbs in four months. You’re more likely to fail if you attempt to maintain a super strict and repetitive weekly workout schedule. But if you throw in a random “crazy challenge” workout once a week, you’ll find that the breaking up of your mundane gym schedule will give you a fantastic boost while you continue to make progress.
Fitness is a good example of challenging yourself because most people fail to reach their fitness goals out of boredom rather than difficulty. Boredom is one of the main reasons why people fail at their diets, too. Humans are just bad when it comes to repetition. We even start to go bonkers in our daily lives when things stay the same for too long.
I got in a real fitness rut a few months back. I was tired of my weekly gym routine and started going less and less. That’s when I decided to shake things up and do something unfamiliar to me. I gave up the weights for a whole month and did a 30 days in a row yoga workout challenge. It was tough but very rewarding. Most importantly, it snapped me out of my funk and got me back in the gym a month later. Hell, after doing yoga for a month straight, I not only felt amazing, I was really pumped to get back in the gym and lift again. And because that challenge went so well, I ended up doing a 6 week powerlifting challenge.
It’s these challenges that keep us going. Humans seem to thrive on struggle. It’s when we get too comfortable that things start to go down hill. So if you find yourself in a funk, find something that challenges you in a way you’re not used to. If the challenge involves something you suck at (yoga, running, poetry, etc), even better! Because being bad at something and slowly improving is much more rewarding than being good at something and only getting marginally better at it. Just remember, whatever challenge you decide to try, the important thing is that you’re trying. You won’t make any progress in life if you just sit back and dream your life away.
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