Over the past few years I’ve been really focused on personal challenges. Whether they be for business (like this blog), family, personal development or health, I’m all about it. I just completed a personal challenge I started back in November and I’m feeling quite accomplished. Which is just one of the benefits of taking on a challenge. So, I was thinking that it’s high time I challenge you to take one on. Or perhaps I should say “inspire” you instead. Here’s how to create and track your own personal challenges along with all the reasons you should pursue one!
Set Your Own Personal Challenge
Challenge yourself to make even small changes for a specific period so you can form habits that support the life you are trying to build. Consider what areas of your life could use improvement and start there. Pick only one thing that you will do to make a change. Now, select a duration of time (over 30 days) that you will stick with it! The more difficult the task is the longer the duration should be.
Track Your Personal Challenges
Be sure to track your personal challenge. I like to do this in many ways. I keep a habit tracker in my date book and add a sticker for each day I complete the challenge task. It might sound silly, but sticker charts work for grown-ups too. I always buy myself special stickers, so I really enjoy seeing them in my planner. And once I’m on a role I don’t want to break my streak, so I am more likely to stay on task.
The challenge I just completed was a bit unusual for me. I had to complete 100 workouts in 100 days. There are all sorts of reasons that might prevent me from completing that specific program every day. One of which is that I also lift with a trainer and recovery days are important too. So, in this case I broke my challenge into tens and on every 10th day I recorded in my phone calendar that I needed to be done with that unit. This gave me some flexibility within the set but not enough to get way behind.
When working on personal challenges that don’t necessarily work everyday consider breaking it up to make it easier to track and to prevent procrastination.
Create New Habits
One of the best reasons to challenge yourself is to create new habits. Therefore, you don’t need to have measurable results or an end in sight. Hopefully your new habit has no end!
Consistency is key to all improvement in life so the results will come in time and often they will surpass your expectations. If you challenge yourself to do something kind for someone every day, you’ll see greater joy in your life. Challenge yourself to become an exceptional employee and you’re likely to get promoted. And in my case, I challenged myself to 100 workouts in 100 days, so I’ve increased my endurance and strength. I’ve also set a habit for daily movement which has influenced my nutrition in a positive way and if I keep it up, I have no doubt I’ll be leaner as well!
Creating a personal challenge can simply be for the purpose of setting a new habit, personal development, or growth. There is no need to have specific measurable results. A task and a timeline are plenty for pursuing this. And there are some very valuable lessons you’ll learn along the way regardless of the challenge you choose!
Listen to Yourself
Completing a personal challenge is hard work and it will hone your listening skills! You must be very attentive to yourself in order to get it done. You’ll discover all sorts of things you didn’t know about yourself before. For example, you may discover that you’re more resistant to change than you thought. Or you might find that you struggle with negative self-talk. I found that I need to establish more clear and rigid routines because I was struggling to turn my exercise into a habit even 2 months in!
You also need to learn to decipher what is real and what isn’t. It might not be negative self-talk that’s keeping you from completing your challenge. You may have set yourself up for failure by taking something on that you weren’t ready for. Maybe you need to refine your challenge and build up to it.
During my challenge there were times I had to listen to my body and take a rest day. That may be true for you as well. Often people find that even when taking on something as beneficial and seemingly simple as a meditation practice, rest days are necessary.
Remember you’re seeking self-improvement in some way. You aren’t trying to break yourself or punish yourself. Taking on a challenge should help you tune in and dig deeper into self-discovery. Don’t ignore your instincts or what you’re telling yourself. Take this opportunity to learn and grow.
Swallow the Frog
You’re about to find out just what your tolerance is for discomfort! By definition, challenges are, well, challenging. They represent change and are meant to stretch you. So aside from that first week or so you’re likely to occasionally dread working on your challenge. That’s why it’s so important to get it over with!
Whatever your challenge task is, don’t put it off! Do it the first opportunity you have! Whether it’s a weekly or daily challenge, get it out of the way first thing. If you allow other tasks to get in the way or get preoccupied with something else, you’re unlikely to do it at all.
Learning to swallow the frog will benefit you in all areas of your life. Your daunting tasks won’t get procrastinated, they’ll be done first thing, and this will decrease your stress level. Which will enable you to be more fully present in your other activities, enjoy your fun time and fully relax!
Creating personal challenges help you learn to prioritize yourself and your needs. The very task of creating the challenge requires a level of reflection very few of us take the time for.
Very often we consider the needs and wants of others or simply get waylaid by the business of life. We are so busy doing things that we forget who we are and what we need. It’s time you zero in on what you need in order to grow and it’s time you nurtured yourself in that way. Which let’s face it, can be tough!
So, take the time to prioritize yourself. Figure out what you need to enrich your life and get to work. One thing you’re sure to discover along the way is that you’re worth the time and effort!
What Are You Made of
You’re about to find out what you’re made of! Can you commit? Do you struggle? What tends to get in your way? There’s nothing like a personal challenge to reveal your strengths and weaknesses. As you journey down this path you may find more self-discovery than you bargained for. This is not an easy feat! You’ll face all sorts of difficulties and they will be unique to you. This is an excellent opportunity for growth!
When I started my 100 day challenge I thought that after day 30 it would be a piece of cake. By then I should have a set routine and working out everyday should be habit. Right? NOPE!!! Instead I found that I was still struggling, and I had to take a long hard look at why! The truth was that it wasn’t about willpower, after all, I was still doing it. And, my struggle wasn’t even about self-discipline as it related to exercise. What I discovered was that my lack of discipline around bedtime and morning routines was making it much harder than it needed to be. Did I want to acknowledge this? Absolutely not! But it was true, and I had a difficult choice to make… continue struggling with the workouts or get myself in bed and up at a more regular time. If you’ve been reading for a while you know I struggle with this already and you won’t be shocked that it came up again! (I guess my next 100 day challenge will be sticking with a bedtime and morning routine).
Despite my struggles, self-doubt, and self-discovery I completed my challenge! The sense of pride I feel is overwhelming! I wasn’t competing with or comparing myself to anyone else and I’m still not! I set out to do something and I accomplished it! The truth is not everyone can do that and if I’m being perfectly honest a few years ago, I’d have never thought I could!
Now I know that I can do difficult things. Even when I don’t want to! I’m not a quitter! I know how to push myself and I know when to listen to my gut (or body) and take a rest. And, there is no fear in doing so because I know it won’t derail me. I can still get done what I’ve set out to do even if I don’t push myself past my limits. This allows me to let go of perfection and embrace my progress. Which is something I’ve struggled with my whole life. So, did I do 100 workouts in 100 days? Yep! Did I build endurance, stamina and strength? You bet! But more importantly completing this persaonal challenge changed the way I think about myself! And any challenge has that power!
What will be your personal challenge? Tell me in the comments! Don’t forget to share this post and encourage those around you to take on a personal challenge as well!