Utilising Challenges to Supercharge Motivation
When it comes to thriving in life, we all need goals and challenges. Here’s exactly why we need them, and how to use them to supercharge your motivation.
Without Challenges, Nothing is Worthwhile
The fact is, nothing given freely is ever truly worthwhile. The things in life that are really valuable, relationships, mastery of skills, monetary or social success, are all hard won and worth striving for. If they were easy, everyone would have them, and there would be zero value or acumen associated with them.
Not only is the actual value of the achievement reduced as far as the world is concerned, but it reduced to you. Cheap things are less valuable, obviously, and if you acquire something too easily why would you feel any great satisfaction in its acquisition? The fact is, overcoming challenges is like struggling up a hill. You learn, develop and achieve as you clamber up the hill, and then on the way down, you’re riding the wave of achievement and motivation.
Life is all about finding the passions that really matter to you.
Those individual, engaging things that you really care about, then pursuing them until you reach new peaks and successes. It’s about humbling you initially, rendering you receptive to each fresh chunk of success as it comes.
Challenges Are Super Useful
Whether you’re talking about fitness goals, like earning your six pack, or financial goals, like saving for a house deposit, these are all things that will see you working hard toward a goal that’s worthwhile for you. As you hit milestones along the way, you’ll get all those little boosts and encouragements, until eventually you hit your goal.
Define success for yourself and you can start seeing real results. Without defining what you would call success, you can’t hope to feel real satisfaction and pleasure from getting them done. We all need to see results from our hard work, but the problem nowadays is that we spend too long plugging away at seemingly endless, passionless tasks. There’s no end reward, there’s no great pay-off, just more slog, without any milestones or real development.
Breaking down your labour into challenges to beat and grow from is essential when it comes to really developing in your career, hobby or niche. If you don’t focus in on these individual chunks, success as a feeling will always evade you. If your objectives are too ephemeral, diverse and hard to define, you will never feel real satisfaction. You will just keep plugging until you get sick and tired.
Leave Your Comfort Zone
Fundamentally, challenges have to involve leaving your comfort zone. If there’s no risk of humbling failure, then it’s not a challenge. Even better, you need to be trying something new. Trying something new inherently takes you out of your comfort zone, making you reassess your skill set, develop new skills and most importantly, the bravery to leave your stronghold of ego and comfort.
By giving yourself tough, meaningful challenges that force you to leave your comfort zone, not only are you going to develop as a person, you’re going to harvest the very tangible benefits of trying something new. You’re going to see mood boosting, motivation boosting elements, as well as new perspectives. This is the key boost of real challenges when it comes to motivation.
Struggling Uphill Means There Will Be Downhill Soon
It also pays to keep that hill metaphor in mind that we mentioned earlier. If you visualise each difficult struggle to get something done as a trek uphill, you inevitably know that you’re got an easy downhill stretch coming to you. Like money in the bank, striving hard will always give you periods where life and the things you’re aiming to achieve are notably easier.
This is one of the big pay-offs of challenges. Nothing ever stays equally difficult, eventually you will develop the right skills and mindset and set results coming faster than ever. This tipping point is one of the big realities of regularly embracing challenges. While it might be hard, taking a long time to hit this shift into fifth gear, if you persevere, it will eventually happen.
The best challenges are always the hard ones, you don’t want to hit this point too easily.
One of the major misconceptions that really holds people back nowadays is the idea that the opposite of happiness is sadness or depression. This isn’t true. The real opposite of happiness is boredom. Feeling useless, directionless and out of control is true misery. One thing that really lays out a clear path to feeling more productive, more in control and more focused is always going to be embracing challenges. You cannot be bored when you working hard to hit new goals and meet new challenges. Having goals like this is an essential part of continuing to develop as a person.
Challenge Ego, Develop Self
One of the big risks we run when we stop pursuing new things is always going to be becoming slave to our own egos. Getting trapped by our own fears of failure and inability to accept the idea that we’re not good at something. The fact is, if you never do things you’re not good at, you will stop developing as a person, and once you stop developing you’re going to be on a downward slope with the things you are good at. If you want to keep being skilled, driven and purposeful, you need to do more than the bare minimum, and that requires new challenges and new opportunities to develop.
By embracing new hobbies, activities, projects, whatever, you’re embracing being rubbish at things. This ego reset will give you the chance to get way more satisfaction out of the new thing than your old competencies could ever provide at this point. The fact is, when you embrace new challenges, you do more than give yourself new growth opportunities, you exercise all kinds of new abilities and elements. I wouldn’t be surprised if once you hit that running a marathon goal, you weren’t doing better at the same old job.
Motivation via osmosis, crossing from your hobbies and side projects to other elements of your life that you’ve always struggled with. The fact is, if you find motivation in one new thing, there’s a strong chance that motivation is going to spread to the rest of your activities. Along with the simple satisfaction of keeping developing, you’ll also be fending off stagnation and boredom, and these are always worthwhile too.
Become Addicted to Leaving You Comfort Zone and Facing Challenges
If you want to start embracing challenges regularly, continually looking out for the new fun thing to get to grips with, you will keep developing, and that motivation will start to become more and more present in your life. In order to reach this point, we all need to achieve that difficult state of addiction to trying new things and leaving our comfort zones. This is a hard thing to start doing on the regular, it’s true.
However, if you use your passions and interests to drive you onward, continually looking for the next plateau to jump from and prove yourself, it can become easier. Become addicted to adventure, leaving your comfort zone, trying new things, meeting new people. Find your outer limits and abilities as a person and watch your motivation and zeal for life blossom. Without challenges, we decay and stagnate, with them, we thrive.
Don’t Rest Too Hard On Your Laurels
Lastly, I wanted to say a quick warning when it comes to hitting your targets and goals. We all need to remember why we did this. Why we made this the goal instead of some other thing. It’s all about that satisfaction, and more importantly, the motivation to keep growing and developing. That hunger to keep moving forward is essential. One potential threat to that forward momentum is always going to be resting on your laurels.
It becomes way too easy to sit back and say “look what I did” rather than “look what I’m going to do”. You want to rest and chill out for a little while, and that is okay. We all need to rest from time to time. What you don’t want to do is rest purely because you feel you deserve it. Deserving rest is nonsense. You rest when you need to rest and recuperate. Otherwise, carry on with your goals and challenges. While burnout is a real threat, it’s up to you to keep an eye on yourself and monitor how things are going.
That reminds me of a story I heard about tribal persistence hunters. Persistence hunting is one of the oldest forms of hunting, involving hunters jogging after prey until the animal collapses of exhaustion and they’d catch up with it. They were able to do this because of adaptations like sweating that allow humans to cool quicker while running long distances. Anyway, while deep into the ten-plus mile runs after prey, always on a hot day, the hunters would continually make use of the animal’s tracks to see where it was going and how it was doing. If the tracks were wild, unpredictable and inefficient, they could tell the hunt was coming to an end, the animal was clearly nearly exhausted. However, the same went for their own tracks though. If they were started to struggle, dug in, messy and becoming erratic, they also knew it was time to call it a day. Keep an eye on your own tracks too, when you’re on the hunt, or you’ll run out of steam out in the middle of nowhere!