‘If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.’
-Fred Devito, author.
The word with a seemingly inherent negativity. This could be as a result of not wanting to fail in a highly competitive and fast moving world. But challenges help us to grow and better ourselves. They push us to our limits and encourage us to aim beyond what we did before. This doesn’t have to be a bad or stressful thing.
It doesn’t mean having to stay up all night and feeling moronic, trying to understand a mathematic equation that you learn at university level when you’re in Year 9! Challenges are supposed to help us develop our understanding of things or to succeed our previous goals once they’ve been achieved. Sometimes, overcoming the challenge isn’t what truly matters. It’s the journey you take to get there which shapes you. It gifts you with the realisation that you’re capable of more than you thought you were.
We’ve always challenged ourselves
According to Devito, if something doesn’t challenge you, this means it doesn’t change you. You might be questioning why we need to change if we are happy in our lives. We need change because it’s essential for our growth as people. The way in which you reached a state of happiness in life is because you were forced to change and adapt to different situations as you got older. Some situations that may have challenged you and made you change could include studying and taking exams, going through a break up for the first time or doing a job you didn’t like in order to improve your future job prospects. We challenge ourselves all the time without even realising it.
So, if we subconsciously challenge ourselves anyway, why should we actively seek them out?
The sense of achievement you feel having surmounted your challenges.
When you knowingly face challenges and thus work in order to overcome them, the sense of achievement you will feel will be incomparable to anything you’ve experienced before. You can feel proud of yourself for having attempted and succeeded in something that was difficult because you know it meant that you now know something or understand something or just feel better about something than you did before.
But what if I don’t achieve and I can’t overcome the challenge?
Mistakes are your future wisdom.
We learn just as much, if not more, through our mistakes as we do by doing things well. If you’ve never made a mistake in your life, then you’ve never bettered yourself and that’s what challenges are all about. We should aim to challenge ourselves to the extent that we do make mistakes because this allows us to not only see how we should’ve approached things but it teaches us how to approach a similar challenge in the future.
What constitutes a challenge?
To challenge yourself is different for everyone.
When I decided to become a vegetarian, I wouldn’t consider this much a challenge, as I rarely ate meat before becoming a vegetarian anyway. When my father then decided to become a vegetarian, he struggled. He overcame the desire to give up by focusing on the reasons he decided to do so. In this instance, the challenge for my father was not a challenge for me. Therefore there is no specific way to say what constitutes a challenge. Except that it is something that you know you’ll find difficult to endure or take on and complete, but that it’s something that you want to do because you know it will help you grow.
Don’t fear failure
Challenges are intimidating because there is always the risk and fear of failing. But if you don’t risk it, it will always remain a fear. You can’t succeed in something if you don’t try. You know what they say, you’ve got to be in it to win it! So, the next time the idea of doing something scares you, like joining the gym or applying for that job, remember, if you don’t try, you lose an opportunity to be victorious or learn from your mistakes. Failure only exists when you don’t try.
To seek out challenges is to welcome change according to Fred Devito and I’ve got to admit that, even just six months ago, I wouldn’t have believed him. But here I am, saying to you, I believe him. Challenges are the best ways to learn more about the world and yourself, to grow as a person and also just to allow you to experience things that you wouldn’t normally experience. Don’t be afraid! You don’t have to dive into the deep end but dipping your toes in the shallow is a start. The only obstacle to a better you is a fearful you!