If you are a living, breathing human being, you have already likely faced many challenges and have many more to come.
Some challenges you consciously chose. Others were brought on by circumstances out of your conscious control.
Yet regardless of the source, with each challenge you have faced and will face comes a tremendous opportunity – the opportunity to change.
As Fred DeVito says:
“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”
Sometimes you change for the better. You become wiser so you make better choices going forward. You become stronger and more resilient, able to face life’s challenges with more confidence and certainty. You become bolder, because you realize if you could meet the last challenge you are now ready for an even bigger one.
Sometimes you change for the worse. You allow fear to take hold, and in taking steps to protect yourself you close yourself off to relationships or opportunities. You allow anger or bitterness to grow roots that sap your happiness and limit your sense of possibility.
Whether you chose the challenge or not, however, you do get to choose how it changes you, for better or for worse.
Change doesn’t just happen – it is a response to being challenged. If you want to make a change in yourself, all you need to do is take on a challenge big enough to change you. tweet this
This year I set an intention to get in shape – the kind of shape I was in 20 years ago. In February I tore a tendon in my elbow so badly it required surgery. I had challenged myself alright. Clearly I caused a change for the worse despite my intention to get stronger. Nonetheless I continued to hold the intention. I just had to find a way to challenge myself without breaking something!
In the process I discovered a program called Strike Fit. The quote above is their mantra. The workouts are very demanding. I take longer, often much longer, than the others in the group to finish, even with modifying some of the exercises. The interesting thing to me, though, is that these workouts are also very demanding for the others, too. We were all just at a different level of fitness, yet every one of us has a big challenge to meet in each workout.
The experience illuminated 3 principles for ensuring you meet a challenge and cause change for the better. Here they are:
1. Choose a goal or outcome that is beyond what you already know how to accomplish AND that really matters to you.
Stretch goals tend to have us push a little harder with what we already know how to do. The kind of goal that I am talking about here is one that inherently will require you to change. You probably don’t even know what or how you will need to change when you start. That’s why the second part is equally important – the goal or outcome has to matter enough for you to be willing to go through the inevitable pain involved in changing. For example, setting a financial goal alone for my business didn’t motivate me enough to change what I was already doing. However, the goal of redesigning my business to work closer to home so I could be there more for my teenage daughter through high school has already resulted in dramatic changes.
2. Choose YOUR challenge wisely.
My approach to fitness this year originally involved what I already knew how to do. The problem was that I was 15 years younger when those methods last worked. It was a reminder of the importance of being honest with yourself about your current condition or state of affairs. Shoot too high too fast and you just might derail yourself as I did by getting injured.
It’s also important to remember this is your challenge – it is designed by you and for the purpose of changing you. A little competition may spur you on, but ultimately this has nothing to do with anyone else and your progress can’t be assessed by comparing yourself to someone else.
3. Choose a guide who is where you want to be.
Just as I have a coach and mentors in my business who have achieved what I aspire to achieving, I also now have 2 coaches supporting my quest to get fit again. Val MacMillan and Kere Minton are fit, strong, motivated, knowledgeable in their field and exceedingly encouraging and positive. Fear of injury is still very present for me, yet it is gradually dissipating because of their guidance. Even when I am pushing myself harder than I thought I could, I no longer fear injury because I am confident they are watching out for me and offering correction in the moment. This is a reminder that even when you aren’t confident in yourself, you can gain a great deal of certainty when you are confident in those you choose as your guides.
Challenge is the source of positive change and growth. Yet how do you know the challenge is big enough?
You know when you are changing – the way you think, the things you are doing, the things you are becoming capable of doing, and the progress you are experiencing that you weren’t experiencing before you started. Positive changes are both the fuel for your motivation and the key indicator that you are challenging yourself enough to get to the next level.
What is the next challenge for you – the one that will be the source of positive change and empower you to take your performance to the next level?
photo credit: darkmatter