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How To Set Yourself a Challenge

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Last week I came up with a crazy idea. For the last few years, I’ve had a closeted passion and desire to start a YouTube channel, but I’ve always put it off, blaming equipment or time, questioning why people would watch my content or why I think I’d be able to succeed when so many don’t. I think in the back of my mind I always knew these were just scared, panicked thoughts that didn’t want to expose themselves to potential negativity or the effort it would take to build something from the ground up. But last week I got a small glimmer of motivation and somehow I’ve decided that I’m going to jump into the deep end and set myself a massive challenge (I’ll detail it below!). As always, you’re invited on the journey with me, so whatever you’ve been apprehensive about doing or putting off, join me in exploring how to set yourself a challenge (and actually do it!).

“We won’t grow and learn, doing what we’ve always done, and thinking what we’ve always thought. We need to move beyond our comfort zones. We need to engage with new and different if we want to expand ourselves.” – Akiroq Brost

Step 1) Define your challenge

Before anything else, you need to get really clear about what your challenge is. Aim to condense it into one sentence and include: the activities you want to do, the frequency of doing them and the start and end date of the challenge. Sometimes you might have a goal that ends once you’ve achieved something eg. being able to do 100 pushups, but I think it’s important to put a time stamp on it too, it makes the planning a lot easier and will help you commit to your schedule better.

My new challenge, for example (I’m scared to even write this down), is to post a YouTube video every single day from Tuesday the 6th of October (yep, that means starting today!) until Christmas. That’s 80 videos in 80 days, with no experience. It’s a big one, but I’ve figured that at this rate, throwing myself in the deep end is the only way I’m really going to commit to doing this.

Examples of challenges to set yourself:
  • Exercise four times a week for the next month.
  • Journal every day for the next three months.
  • Work on a project for at least an hour everyday for the next fortnight.
  • Start a new evening class and attend every session this term.
  • Spend five minutes a day meditating for 100 days.

You get the point. Get creative with your challenges, really push your comfort zone and embrace your passions, strengths and weaknesses!

Suggested: How To Set Achievable Goals You’ll Stick To

Step 2) Create your plan

Now you know what it is that you want to do, it’s time to set out exactly how you’re going to do it. The famous saying, “fail to plan, plan to fail” is just so accurate here. I think sometimes we can be so ambitious and be so passionate about doing something, but unless we sit down and figure out how we’re going to do that thing, we can fall off the habit quite easily, or worse, never get started.

Things to consider before creating your action plan:
  • How much time will this challenge require?
  • Where is that time and how can you fit it into your routine?
  • Is your challenge going to progress (working up towards 100 push ups for example)? If so, at what rate do you plan on progressing?
  • How are you going to record your progress?

These basic technicalities will help you plan out when and how you’re going to be working towards your challenge and how you’ll make your progress. If you want to read a chapter a day for a month, maybe you make your reading time your commute and record your chapters on an app like Goodreads (shoutout to them, I love them). If you want to do the 100 pushups challenge, mark down the time you’ll do it everyday and the amount you need to do everyday to work your way up to 100.

Step 3) Create a safety net

As with any challenge, there are inevitably going to be days when you really don’t want to show up. If anything, that proves that you’re doing something that’s really challenging you, but having something prepared to give you a boost when this happens will help keep you on track.

Ideas of things to keep you motivated:
  • Write yourself a motivational letter reminding you why you started in the first place
  • Tell a friend about your challenge and have them check in with you and motivate you when you’re struggling (better yet, do the challenge together!)
  • Record a streak and use not breaking it as a motivator
  • Create milestones in your plan to keep yourself feeling accomplished and to see how far you’ve come

I want to quickly add that sometimes it’s inevitable that we won’t complete challenges perfectly. Maybe you were overly ambitious with your rate of progress, maybe life happens and something pops up out of the blue and puts you off, maybe you get injured or you’re burnt out or overworked. Those things are all just part of life and it’s important to forgive yourself for being human. However, I also need to make the point that life isn’t an excuse to feign failing at the slightest inconvenience. Deep down, you’ll know the difference. This challenge is for you and you only, so give it your best shot, whatever your best might be.

Suggested: How To Get Motivated: A Guide to Shaking Things Up

Step 4) Prepare yourself

Make sure to give yourself the best chance at success in your challenge. You might need to make more changes to your routines and lifestyle than is immediately apparent. When you’re feeling your best, you’ll be performing at your best too. You don’t have to show up glowing and perfect everyday, but it’s worth making little tweaks to your lifestyle in order to make your challenge work to the best of its (and your!) ability.

Suggested: How To Stick to Goals: My 9 Strategies for Success

Step 5) Go for it

I’m apprehensive to write this point because I’m not sure if I can completely portray the amount of excitement and elation I feel about people following their passions and pushing their comfort zones. I just love when people really tackle life, yanoe?

I’ve always been a person that flips between being really ambitious, motivated and impulsive, to being someone who’s more reserved, a little nervous and apprehensive. I think deep down I’m the former, but the latter is layered on top, to slowly be broken through (something that was my aim for the year). Having that underlying want to just hit life with 110% means that I just adore seeing it in other people. 

YES – let’s all smash our goals, live and love our lives, and experience everything in as much detail and as much feeling as we possibly can. I can’t voice how happy it makes me. So I ask you, please, to go away from reading this post to do something you really care about. Choose to set yourself a challenge that will push you to grow, challenge yourself, prove to yourself that you can handle and do anything you set your mind to. (my excited spiel is over, but don’t you forget it)

Step 6) Reflect & celebrate

When your challenge is over, I encourage you to really take the time to reflect on it. When we rush too quickly through our successes, we become somewhat numb to them. We don’t feel grateful or accomplished, proud or satisfied. Long term, this can leave you feeling really dissatisfied with life, yourself, and eventually you might stop challenging yourself, because there seems to be little point for you to.

Appreciating how far you’ve come, the work you’ve put in, the ways in which you’ve learnt and grown and evolved keeps that spark in you alive. You’ll be hungry for more challenges, to grow more, to keep pushing yourself. But you also deserve a break and it’s important to keep yourself in balance. Take a break between your challenges and make sure to thank yourself, congratulate yourself and take time to enjoy the view, before you start your next hike.

You can do anything. Love, Ella-Rose xx

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