Have you ever wanted to instantly motivate yourself to accomplish new- and once thought impossible- things in life? Have you ever wanted to improve rapidly at something or increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the time you spend learning something? Contrary to popular belief, doing the same things that give us small amounts of success will produce the same small and diminishing returns, and often doing the same things each day will lead to burnout, discouragement, loss of excitement and motivation, and even massive failure. There is one thing that is practically guaranteed to motivate you, make you improve faster, and get more out of each second you spend trying to make your dream a reality…CHALLENGE.
Ever had a friend, relative, loved one, or co-worker tell you that you couldn’t do something? How did it make you feel? I bet, if you are anything like most people, that those words stoked the inner flames of rebellion deep inside of you. Maybe you didn’t do it, or maybe you couldn’t do it, but I bet that there was a voice deep inside of you that said “Watch me.”.
What causes us to want prove others wrong, and what causes us to want to try to out perform others or do the impossible? Often, the answer is challenge.
Challenge is a little invitation to reach beyond what we think is possible (or beyond what someone else thinks is possible) and go a little further than is comfortable to go. The tricky part about challenge is this: if the challenge is too big, and if our self confidence is too small, we will often be too afraid to try; however, if we know we can beat the challenge or if we think it is within our capability, then we will be greatly motivated to find out.
I bet you can’t finish this article all the way to the end! You know something else? I bet you wouldn’t change a thing about your life even if you finish reading it. (How do you like being told you won’t or can’t do something? Makes you want to do it right?)
A challenge is a little call that is often hard to ignore. Even if we know beating a challenge is a waste of time, a lot of times, we will do it just to show someone that we can. Call it a symptom of the human condition, but we can use this trait to produce better results, increase the rate at which we learn and absorb new information, and to increase our motivation.
Challenge yourself to learn more quickly, unlock motivation, and produce better results.
There are two ways in which we can use challenge to spur more rapid improvement at anything. The first major way is to perform a directly challenging task that causes us to push our comfort zone, and the second way is to set goals that challenge us to hit bigger results over time.
Example 1: When we use a challenging situation to spur growth it works like this, imagine you are trying to cut down your mile time; if you run a mile everyday in 7 minutes and 30 seconds, it is going to be tough to ever improve much; rapid improvement comes from pushing yourself further than what you are capable of doing with no effort. So if we can easily run a mile in 7 minutes and 30 seconds, challenge yourself to run a mile in 7 minutes, or challenge yourself to run 2 half miles at 3 minutes each, or 4 quarter miles at 1 ½ minute each, by challenging yourself to try something different and push your comfort boundaries, you will certainly start to drop your time.
Example 2: Setting goals to hit long term goals. Let us go back to improving our mile time; let us imagine you run a 7:30, but you want to drop to a 5:30 mile time. If your goal is to drop the time, you will need a couple different goals to get you on your way, for example: just running once a week will not produce the same results as running 5 days per week, so goal number 1 is to run 5 days per week. Next, goal number 2 should be to shave off 10 seconds per week, and lastly, goal number 3 should be set a date to try for your first 5:30 mile. Your 3 goals will challenge you to be consistent with your practice, make improvement each week, and to test yourself on a set date. You have an impending deadline pushing you to workout each day, and you have a challenge to lower your time each week calling you to action. Long term goals give us a measuring point to gauge our daily effort.
Anyway you look at it, challenge spurs you to grow, while doing the same easy thing over and over again will ensure you stay stuck in the same place that you are in life.
Wanna get stronger? You will have to lift more weights. Want to get faster? You will have to run harder. Want to become a better lover to your spouse? You are going to have to do things that make you uncomfortable like focus on communication, honesty, and becoming vulnerable emotionally.
Reward comes from pushing through discomfort and finding the benefit on the other end of the challenge. Sure, you can get better doing the same thing over and over again, but if you REALLY want to get better, you need to step outside of doing the same thing repeatedly and start challenging yourself to grow.