As I’ve gotten older, challenging myself has felt more like something I want to do in my life. Maybe it comes with age and experience, but I find myself less doubtful about taking on new and different tasks.
There’s a desire to embrace them with a belief that it’ll result in renewed strength, self-improvement, and personal growth. The challenges still come with stress and feelings of doubt, but it’s not as scary as it used to seem.
It just feels like life as it’s supposed to be. Taking on one task after the next and learning to manage life better. Looking at things that way may help you be more motivated and less lazy.
What does challenging yourself mean?
Challenging ourselves means we decide to take on new tasks. We approach things in a different manner than we’ve done before. We also try to do more work to improve ourselves.
A study found that mentally challenging yourself can be help us feel less anxious and sad. When you stick to doing things the same way you’ve always done them, it’s rare that anything will change for you.
Few things will improve and you might find yourself stuck in a place that’s unhappy for you. But by taking that step out of your comfort zone, you have the chance to discover a new way of life that’s more satisfying and fulfilling.
What can I challenge myself with?
There are many different ways you can bring more challenge to your life. It’s just a matter of what way would be meaningful to you in this time of life you’re in.
If you’re a student in college, you may find academic challenges more meaningful. If you’re beginning to build your career, work challenges will probably interest you more.
I’ve put together a list to fit with different areas of life. Consider using any of the challenges to enhance yourself.
1. Read more books
We have access to all sorts of knowledge in books more than we ever did before. You can find a book on a topic that interests you and learn something new.
It's not a bad idea to consider reading fiction too. Research from Harvard Business Review found that reading fiction can increase social acuity and be better at understanding other people's motivations.
2. Be more open about how you feel
We often choose to believe that people should be mind-readers and understand how we feel based on our actions. But most people aren’t. Practice being more open with those in your life about how you feel.
Studies have shown that bottling up our emotions can be harmful to our well-being. Helping people understand where you’re coming from can make your relationships operate a little more smoothly.
It’s something I still struggle with, but in moments where I do share what’s in my mind, it usually relieves my stress. It also helps bring me closer with those I care about.
3. Take more time for your wellness
You only get one body to take care of, and as you get older, the decisions you make now determine your quality of life later. Some of the ways self-care can help you includes:
- Living longer
- Fostering resilience
- Managing stress
We can often let things such as work or school get in the way of the necessary things we need to live well. Make it a challenge to decide that no matter what you have making you busy in life, you’re going to put your well-being first.
That means pushing yourself to get your sleep, eat well, and exercise. Do all the things that will make you feel your best.
4. Declutter your closet
According to an article in Psychology Today, there's many benefits to having uncluttered spaces. Among them include:
- Increased confidence
- Increased energy
- Reduced family tension
5. Accomplish new goals that would make you feel good
Think of different activities or experiences you’ve never tried to accomplish in life. What are some things that would make you feel cool to say you can do?
Try making time to accomplish those goals. Much of the value we get from life is from gaining new experiences and developing ourselves in new ways.
I can’t imagine how much less meaning my life would have had I never learned how to play guitar. Try something new. You might be surprised how much it enhances your life.
6. Enhance your creativity
Believe it or not, being creative can be good for your well-being. Being creative can boost your mood, make you smarter, and improve your overall physical well-being. Learn about how to be more creative.
7. Take a difficult class
Perhaps one of my regrets from my college days is dropping some of the classes that I felt would be too hard for me. I didn’t look at the hard classes as something that could help me develop my study habits or improve my critical thinking abilities.
Instead, I looked at them as just something that would be a hassle in my life and chose to avoid them if I could. Next time you start a class and after the first day of attending you feel like it’s going to be hard, look at that as a good thing.
It’ll put your academic skills to the test. If you do well, it’ll show you that even when something seems hard to you in life, you can still find a way to do it.
8. Earn a 3.0 GPA or higher
For most of my academic career, I managed to earn a 3.0 grade point average or higher. I made the Dean’s List multiple times. Some people choose to set their sights higher and try to earn a 4.0 grade point average.
That’s fine as well if you want to try that, but even if you don’t reach that mark, a 3.0 GPA still isn’t bad. The multiple classes you have to manage spending time practicing problems and studying text can be a good test of your time management skills.
9. Participate more
Some people are naturally comfortable raising their hands to ask or answer questions in class. Being more on the introverted side, I wasn’t one of them.
But I did try from time to time to participate in class despite my slight nerves about speaking up. Usually the more you do something, the easier it can get. In life, you’re going to have to speak up at times, so you might as well get some practice.
10. Take the lead on work projects
You can show yourself how well you can lead others on a task by taking on more leadership roles at work. You never know what opportunities it’ll open up for you in your current career or your next career.
Even if you fail to lead things as well as you would have liked, you gain great lessons out of it. You'll potentially help yourself be better at leading in the future.
11. Work extra hours
We underestimate how much we can really do with our time if we put our mind to it. Of course, we shouldn’t become workaholics. But we can test our ability to put in more work in our day and see what we can accomplish.
12. Have a side hustle
Working for yourself can be a rewarding experience. You’re able to take full responsibility for how things go and be proud of yourself when they go well. It’s also possible that as you develop your side-hustle, it can eventually become your full-time hustle.
13. Exercise three times a week
Keeping a regular workout schedule is a challenge for most people with how busy our schedules can be. But the benefits of regular exercise are too much to keep from doing in your life.
No matter much you may have to do in a day, you can spare 15 to 30 minutes of time for your wellness. You might feel better for it.
14. Practice weight-lifting
Building your muscles can be a good boost to your confidence and be good overall for your body. If you don’t have weights at home, you can use heavy objects you have around your home as a weight.
It’s always been a fun challenge for me to see if I can increase the amount I can lift from week to week. It could be fun for you too.
15. Gain or lose some weight
Weight can be a tricky challenge for many of us. For those who need to lose it, it’s probably one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to.
The same is the case for those of us who’ve always had a hard time gaining weight as well. But getting yourself to the weight you want to be can be one of the most satisfying challenges to overcome in life.
Final thoughts on taking on challenges
A new challenge is not something we all automatically feel like jumping up for joy for when they come. But you can learn to recognize them as ways you can grow and potentially bring more meaning and happiness to your life.
Be inspired to face your biggest challenges with enthusiasm and use it as an opportunity to build yourself. You may not succeed at everyone you face, but you can always find a way to gain from it.