Why We Should Challenge Ourselves

Believing in yourself: who you are, what you like, what you are capable of and what matters to you are all part of how you “Be You” – the only reason any of us are here in the first place.

Living in such a diverse culture with so many “ways of being,” it can be hard sometimes to stay true to who you are. When there are so many roads to take, it is easy to have questions or doubts about your life and the choices you are making. But we’re all in the same boat trying to navigate our present into a future that makes sense, matters and makes us feel valued, which is exactly why I’m advocating taking on at least one challenge per month as a learning experience about YOU.

Do you challenge yourself on a regular basis? Or do you find yourself saying, maybe another day? What happens when we say yes to challenges? When we say no?

The challenge is to do something you aren’t sure you can do, but have wanted to do or been interested in a while. For example, let’s say you’ve always been slightly interested in that bootcamp class down the street (the one where people are working hard to get in shape, but still laughing and helping each other along the way). But you’re pretty sure the workout will kick your butt. Not sure if you can make it through the hour? Me either, but what if we could? How might we feel about ourselves after? What might we discover?

Ever see the look on the face of a kid who did something they didn’t know they could do, like ride a bike or swim across a pool. When we are young, we take on challenges because everyone else is and for some reason, we believe we can too. Often, we are encouraged by our parents to “just do it.” Our parents believe in us until we’re able to believe in ourselves.

But when we become adults, no one is really cheering us on anymore, (at least not often). We don’t get as much encouragement to do the hard things, like interviewing for a job we’re not sure we’re qualified for, or losing the extra 20 pounds we’ve been wanting to drop for over a year. We have to face our challenges alone, but there’s a good reason why we should.

When we make ourselves do something “hard” and we finish, we put a little notch in our belt of self-belief which translates into self-esteem. Self-esteem is something we are born with, but It can be battered and bruised as we grow. We have to work hard to nourish and grow our “self-estimation” of who we are and what we are capable of because that defines our beliefs about our worth in this lifetime.

On the other hand, when we avoid challenges, we undermine our self-esteem by saying “I can’t.” We miss opportunities to discover things about ourselves like strengths, preferences and maybe even passions. We set ourselves up for a life of mediocrity full of regrets and what-ifs.

For me, I’ve always been intrigued by kayaking. I think it must be hard, but next month I’m heading out to rent a kayak at Eagle Creek for a few hours. I don’t know if I will even like it, but I’ve been curious about it for a while. I know it’ll probably take all of the upper body strength I have (probably, I will be sore) but I’m going after it – if only to put that notch in my belt. I know it’s a little thing, but little challenges add up, preparing us for the bigger ones we don’t have the luxury of choosing.

I’d love to hear about the last thing you did that was hard, that challenged your belief about what you were capable of – or who you are? Share in the comment box below!

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