Life can become richer when we set ourselves up for accomplishable challenges. A challenge is a little more than a goal. A challenge involves taking a step that will change our paradigm. It means stepping out of our comfort zone. A challenge is associated sometimes with bravery when it involves facing a fear or trying something daring. It can be associated with a test, such as a test of strength or stamina, such as running a marathon or a special diet.
There are other challenges that we can set ourselves up for that are not so dramatic, but yet profound. This type of challenge involves the heart, spirit or mind. Fasting is a discipline that usually involves abstaining from food in order to focus on prayer or to cleanse one’s body. Lent is a period of fasting before Easter when people choose to give something up as a form of spiritual sacrifice, to clear their mind and to hear from God. What a person gives up might range from meals to giving up coffee, chocolate or alcohol. A person may also choose to give up an activity such as using technology or driving a car.
A day of rest serves as a type of fast when we refrain from common activity or work to rest our mind and soul. Taking a day or several days of rest might prove to be a challenge for those who are driven or workaholics.
Someone might challenge themselves to read a certain number of books or a series of books within a set time frame. Some writers have participated in novel writing marathons that involve staying up around the clock to churn out a novel by daybreak.
The desired result of most challenges is transformation. Individuals want to come out of the challenge changed for the better. The transformation is in the experience.
Challenges cause us to set up short term goals that usually involve discipline to complete. If we challenge ourselves to not eat sugar, sure enough we will be tempted by all kinds of sugary treats. If we are in a group challenge, we will need to be disciplined to do our share of the work as we will be accountable to the group.
Challenges can be invigorating. When life is humdrum, taking on a challenge helps us feel as though we are doing something a little more profound—something to brag about.
Challenges become invigorating when treasures are unearthed during the challenge. When we exceed our own expectations, we experience joy and new enthusiasm. When our challenges enable us to look at life differently, they’ve been successful. When our challenges broaden our world, perhaps in the form of creating new relationships or developing new interests, they are worth every minute.
So, how do you set up an invigorating challenge for yourself?
1. Consider what you might want to focus on. It helps if you connect your challenge with something that’s already on your mind—an area you’d like to see movement or improvement on. Your challenge may include something you do at a steady pace or it may target the achievement of a goal, crossing a finish line or winning a trophy.
2. Set a time period for your challenge. It can be 40 days or it can be seven. Set a period you will commit to. Have a beginning and an end.
3. Make a clear statement about your challenge and how you intend to focus on it. Declaring it publicly to a friend, professional, or on a social network solidifies it a little more, making you accountable, but there’s nothing wrong with keeping it private.
4. Do what you say you’re going to do.
5. Blog, tweet or journal about your journey either for personal or public reading.
6. Report to others how it’s going and what you’ve learned.
7. When your challenge period is complete, celebrate, look for the transformation and consider reporting your results to others.
Our personal challenge doesn’t necessarily have to have dramatic results to transform us. Our challenge might merely give us new clarity, set us in a new direction or help us see solutions to dilemmas. Persisting with our challenge and seeing it through gives us a sense of accomplishment that may provide a watershed life moment that becomes an important life marker.
Article by By Joy R. Calderwood