How to Step Up to Challenges and Create a Life that Rocks: 5 Tips

By Mary Jaksch

To be happy we need to find a balance between comfort and adventure. If our life is too predictable, it feels boring. If it’s too uncertain, it feels unsafe. How is your life? If you think of life as a continuum with ‘adventure’ at one end and ‘boredom’ at the other end, where would you place your life? Is it too predictable? Or too wild?

A quick way to find out is take a close look at one of your usual weekdays. Let’s say, you choose a Monday. Now jot down all the things you can reasonably expect to happen next Monday. When you compile your list, make sure to include any regular TV programs, such as the the news, shows, and so on. I think you’ll find that this particular day of the week is quite predictable. And maybe most of your days show a predictable pattern. Which means that they are comfortable. After all, human beings find comfort in what is predictable.

There is a fine line between comfort and boredom.

If you keep on living our life within predictable patterns, nothing new will develop. In term of spirituality, you will falter on your spiritual path if you don’t embrace the unknown.

Adding spice to life makes you happier

It’s important to get out of our comfort zone. For some people, just a little may be enough. Personally, I thrive on challenges. Each challenge allows me to develop my life further. But I am not without fear. I too have a built-in reluctance to embark on challenges – and that keeps me safe. However, too much reluctance can make for a boring life. Let’s take a look at the stumbling blocks to creating a life that rocks – and how to overcome them:

  1. The initial fear
    “I can’t do it. It’s too difficult!” This is a natural response to every new challenge. How does one deal with such negative thoughts? My trick is to say first of all: “Yep. I’ll do it.” This is how you invite the adventure. (Tip: say “Yes” before your rational mind kicks in with, “Are you crazy?!”) For example, next time someone asks you, “We’re forming a fun football team. Do you want to join?” simply say, “Yes!” – even if you’ve never played before. Worry about it later!
  2. Feeling overwhelmed
    “It’s too big. I’ll never complete it.” This is a natural response to a challenge. It’s not a real challenge if it doesn’t feel too big. A good way to overcome this fear is to break down the challenge into manageable steps. For example, let’s say that you have decided to run a half-marathon in six months time. If you have never run before, this would seem impossible. However, to start out walking for 1 kilometre and jogging for 100 metres may feel possible. Make a plan of small steps towards your challenging goal.
  3. The mid-way slump
    “I’m not really enjoying this. I think I’ll flag it.” This is a natural phase in your undertaking. Expect it and you won’t be sidetracked. Every challenge starts out with reluctance, and then excitement. About mid-way there is a slump in motivation. Then there can be an upsurge in confidence as your skill level increases. Right before completion is another difficult phase.
  4. Dropping out before the end
    “I can’t finish it. It’s taking too much of my energy.” I saw a statistic that 90% of all people quit a project before finishing. That’s right: only 10% complete! I’m not really surprise because I know from experience how difficult it is to finish. Right now, for example, I’m in the last phase of completing my E-book. If I listened to my self-talk, I would put it aside and not complete it. The kind of thoughts my mind produces at this stage are: “I just can’t pull it off’”, “It’s too difficult”, “It’s not good enough”, “I haven’t got time”, and so on. The way past this barrier is to be encouraging. Point out to yourself what you’ve done so far and that your close to the finish line: “Only a few steps to go now!” Map out a path to completion that seems manageable.
  5. Celebrate the completion!
    It’s important to stop and celebrate with others when you have completed your challenging project. Thank yourself for following through, despite all the difficulties. Enjoy your new-found skills. Each completed challenge will enrich our life and open new doors.

What’s your experience of this? Do you have any tips about taking on challenges? Please share them with us in a comment.

{ 2 trackbacks }

10 Awesome Blogs To Add To Your Feed - Self Improvement
February 26, 2010 at 6:27 pm
Come Affrontare Le Sfide e Creare Una Vita Meravigliosa – 5 Consigli « La Bussola Della Vita
September 18, 2010 at 8:59 am

{ 20 comments }

1 Eric D. Greene February 12, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Hi, I think I might add to #4 is to remind yourself at how *awesome* it is going to feel, once you get the thing completed. I often need to go back to that reminder, telling myself, “once it’s done, you’ll feel so great, such a sense of accomplishment!”.
Also with that, remind yourself how *not* awesome it is to have a project hanging around at being 80-90% complete! It is such a drag having something sitting around like that, and instead of finishing it, you put it aside and do other things, like watching tv, video games or whatever. Those few hours spent with the movie or tv shows could have been with your project, and possibly could have been done!
.-= Eric D. Greene´s last blog ..How to use Oil Pastels =-.

2 Sheryl Sisk February 13, 2010 at 6:07 am

Great tips, Mary. I’d echo Eric’s comment and add that one strategy my clients (and, hell yeah, me too) find helpful is to get really clear and vivid on both the “pleasure” and the “pain” principles. Not only what you’re going to get out of it – the wonderful stuff, I mean — but all the horrible things you’re going to avoid by taking this scary action. Works especially well when the scary thing is quitting a bad habit!
.-= Sheryl Sisk´s last blog ..Handling the Mess of Real Work (Article by Colleen Wainwright – Communicatrix) =-.

3 Manal February 13, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Excellent post. I agree with Eric and Sheryl, motivation and reminding ourselves of the rewards are key.

The biggest challenge for me is to keep going. It is overcoming the mid-way slump. For this I use a 10 minute rule. Just spend ten minutes on that project and see how it feels. Usually the 10 end up being 20 or 30 minutes. The next day I do the same thing. After a few weeks my brain starts itching if I’m not working on it because it became a habit.

Also I learned to appreciate the small steps even if I can’t see immediate results and just keep going. If I skip a few days, and feel like I lost some of what I accomplished, I go back to the 10 minute rule. As the change/results becomes noticeable, the motivation kicks in and momentum builds.

4 Tony Teegarden February 13, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Fantastic post Mary, I like how you structured the steps in line with how someone actually may have these experiences.

Visualizing the end result has always been powerful for me before I start on something. Much in line with the teachings of Neville, see the experience, and feel the experience as if it’s already happened. Stepping up and into my actions have only been challenging when I haven’t actually seen in my mind and felt in my heart what my desired outcome is.

5 Miche | Serenity Hacker February 13, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Hi Mary, what a great post! The “fine line between comfort and boredom” is spot on… that line can be very fine indeed. We often “put up with” boredom for comfort’s sake, forgoing broadening our experience and juicing up our lives, especially when that means taking on a new challenge. (Even when that challenge is something we really, truly want, and would contribute to our happiness!)

Your list is definitely helpful, and one thing I would add along the way is to make “celebratory points on the path”… especially if the new endeavor or challenge takes a considerable amount of time. Taking time to acknowledge our progress, and share that with others who are supportive can provide the incentive we need to keep going toward that finish line.

Cheers,
Miche :)
.-= Miche | Serenity Hacker´s last blog ..7 Ways to Strengthen Relationships by Creating Lasting Memories =-.

6 Vicky February 14, 2010 at 12:35 am

It’s a great post. For me, the key thing is to look at why I’m not getting something finished. Is it because I’m using it as a way to prove something to myself (that I’m doing interesting projects, that I can handle 100 things at once, that I’m important, or, worse, that I’m useless and can’t get anything done, etc.). Am I fearing the lack of purpose that sometimes follows completion? A key thing for me then is to start thinking about new projects before I finish one so that starting them is a motivator to finish the ones I’m currently undertaking. And celebrating is huge in that.

7 Lana - Dreamfollowers Blog February 14, 2010 at 8:00 am

Feeling overwhelmed is the worst demotivator for me. I always remind myself that I don’t have to see the whole staircase, all I have to do is take the next step. As soon as I do that, the the next step will be lit and the then the next.
Great post Mary, thank you!

8 Sami - Life, Laughs & Lemmings February 16, 2010 at 11:07 am

I find making a goal public helps me complete it. I’ll blog about it, tell people about it, get coached on it. All these things help keep me accountable and it’s amazing how effective it is at keeping you going.

9 Hulbert February 16, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Nice post Mary. I agree that there is a fine line between comfort and boredom. When we are too comfortable with ourselves, life eventually leads to boredom. This often happens with the people that we see or the activities that we do everyday. I like the tips that you’ve provided here on how to get out of our comfort zones and overcome our fears, in order to revitalize excitement and passion again.
.-= Hulbert´s last blog ..Do Your Blogging Struggles Still Bother You? =-.

10 Diane February 21, 2010 at 8:08 pm

What a great post- I am just new into discovering how to extend myself out of my comfort zone and your post is just the blog I needed to read.

11 Gr8fulAnnie February 23, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Very helpful post, Mary.

I’ve noticed one thing left out that I struggle with at that last 10% point: the fear of success. For me, this presents at the idea/project I’m working on WILL be successful. When it is, people will then expect me to be able to do the same (or similar) thing again, or something even MORE difficult, at the same level of quality or BETTER even, and in the same timeframe or QUICKER… (you get the idea).

This means that my original idea/project can’t have been a fluke, that my life wasn’t in upheaval at the time so I could focus… (fill in other self-defeating thoughts here). When I was still working, I used to have so many of these fears that I used to self-sabotage. The “cure?” Defeating negative self-talk with realistic positive affirmations to raise self-esteem.

12 Nepal Travel February 27, 2010 at 4:25 am

wow. whats a nice post.i learn many things from your blog. thanks for sharing

Best regard
Nepal Travel

13 everest expedition February 27, 2010 at 4:37 am

i thing these above 5 tips are very use full for all.it help me very well
.-= everest expedition´s last blog ..ROR Sitemap for http://www.monterosa-nepal.com/ =-.

14 Gerard McGarry February 28, 2010 at 11:56 am

One way of overcoming fear – realize how short your life is. I think the one thing that spurs me on is the fact that by sticking with the way things are, I might be missing an opportunity somewhere.

Though sometimes my biggest problem – not following through with an idea – comes from losing interest at the halfway point.
.-= Gerard McGarry´s last blog ..Pendrive Linux to the rescue! =-.

15 Jonny | thelifething.com February 28, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Hi Mary,

I was directed to your site by my good friend Diggy. Great looking site you have here, all the best with it.

16 Rebecca March 3, 2010 at 11:16 am

Hi Mary. Great blog you have here. I am glad you wrote this post. I am at a mid-way slump for my blog. I gained so much momentum and did so much during my first year that since the 2nd year started in January I have been in quite a burn out over it. I am brainstorming ways to kick the burn out and hopefully get out of the slump. Thanks for letting me know I am not alone!
.-= Rebecca´s last blog ..BookList: 3 Best/Worst Sidekicks to a Hero =-.

17 Madeleine March 9, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Mary, You’re so right about getting outside of your comfort zone from time to time. I took a big step out of my own comfort zone when I agreed to move across the U.S. with my BF and two cats in the middle of winter. Leaving comfort and predictability far behind, I confronted all sorts of obstacles. We all made it, and now I’m lookng forward to a bit of predictability.
.-= Madeleine´s last blog ..Biblio Philes:Change or Die by Alan Deutschman =-.

18 treks2nepal May 27, 2010 at 8:58 pm

wonderful blog and well written.thanks for shearing this.

19 Trekking in Nepal May 29, 2010 at 12:20 am

Welcome to Nepal And Enjoy Everest Trekking
Nepal Tourism Year 2011 Enjoy

20 Nepal Trekking, Trekking in Nepal October 2, 2010 at 11:39 pm

thanks trekking in nepal for your suggestion!!!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: