How much of what you choose to do is your choice because it is the easy thing to do? How many things do you do because they are a challenge? Of course there are other reasons behind your choices, such as whether it is motivating and enjoyable, or a means to an end. The premise of this article is to consider how much of what you are choosing to do is because it is challenging.
Think of a spin class. Are you pleased when it is easy or when it is hard? If I book myself in to a spin class, it's because it's challenging. And if a session doesn't feel difficult enough, that can be very underwhelming or frustrating. We want to challenge ourselves with our actions and choices for a reason. There's a goal. There's an incentive. There's a reward. Sometimes we have to work hard for future gain.
Marriage is hard. Divorce is hard. Choose your hard.
Obesity is hard. Being fit is hard. Choose your hard.
Being in debt is hard. Being financially disciplined is hard. Choose your hard.
Communicating is hard. Not communicating is hard. Choose your hard.
Source: Devon Brough
Life will never be easy. It will be hard. But we can choose our hard. Choose wisely.
Consider whether you are an active participant in the challenges in your life, or whether you float through them as they come, struggling by until the next one comes along and knocks you off your feet. We all have challenges in our lives but we often frame these with negativity when in fact the frame of mind we build around them is such an important predictor of our success when facing them.
When we reframe challenges with a positive mindset we are building blocks towards greater resilience. This way, we are stepping into accountability, commitment to ourselves, and our futures. We are more accepting of bumps in the road, and more prepared for them.
When I think about this topic, I am reminded of the growth model. As we move away from our comfort zone, we are brought into a place where we lack confidence in ourselves. Pushing beyond this, however, we are able to deal with our challenges better as we grow our comfort zone. Beyond this is the growth zone, where we are finding our purpose in what we are doing, setting new goals for ourselves, and doing things we previously never would've thought possible!
How we adapt to our failures is a mark of how well we can work towards things we'd like to achieve now. What are your current goals? Why do you want to achieve them? Have you thought about taking action towards your goals because it’s a challenge?
Sometimes the challenge is to stop and pause too: it can be just as challenging to stop something as it is to start; just as challenging to slow down as to speed up. The word challenge includes a judgement - only we can decide if something is challenging.
You can go as deep as you like with this, but for me personally, growth is a part of my philosophy. I believe that we are here to grow, and that the impermanence of our world means that we will have to change. When you have this at your core, it spirals out into your thoughts, feelings and decisions around challenge.
I want to talk about how our emotions can play into our mindset around challenges too. This goes deep: into our level of self awareness. It's about how conscious we are of ourselves in the moment that we are finding something hard. Knowing what sort of a state we are in. Our body might be sending us physical signals that indicate fear.
When we find something more emotional and personal, we can feel resistance against practicing something, trying harder, or thinking of a new approach. With greater self-awareness of our Window of Tolerance comes the possibility of greater emotional control.
Being kind to yourself along the way is also crucial in the process of challenging yourself. Give yourself a break if something doesn't work out the way you wanted it to. Take time to reassess. Part of growing is taking care of yourself along the way.
It goes hand in hand with this that if you make a mistake, see it as an opportunity to be accountable and take personal responsibility. Don't dwell on your mistakes if you fail. Of course, reflect on where you went wrong and listen to any feedback people are willing to offer you so you can do better next time. But don't beat yourself up or be too hard on yourself.
When you're facing challenges, you want to enjoy the journey as much as you can, so accept that it's not always going to go smoothly. There will be days where it’ll be easier than others. If you're hard on yourself, you're far more likely to give up or place your goals to the side.
Are you here to grow? What is your relationship to challenge? I'd love to hear from you. Often, growth comes from listening to the ways in which other people have grown themselves.