It’s possible to coast through life - to take the path of least resistance, to make life as easy for yourself as possible. You can settle for a job that doesn’t challenge you, where you clock in and clock out each day, followed by a night in which you go home, watch TV, and eat a frozen pizza.
But that is not the path to meaning. You will not find fulfillment if you take that road.
Your life needs a challenge. Even if it hasn’t already, life will eventually press challenge upon you. Ultimately you will need to make the decision to change through challenging yourself. Sure, life may challenge you when you realize that you’re overweight and getting out of shape, but nothing will happen until you take the initiative to get moving.
In order to grow, we need an obstacle to overcome. Challenges are crucial to our development as a dynamic individual with character. When we have a particularly difficult workout at my gym, my coach will often say “if it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you”.We have to stare down something difficult in order to change, and we continually need to be developing and growing.
I have a tendency to get bored and become stagnant if I’m not challenged in some way. That’s why I have to constantly be learning new things, opening my mind to new possibilities and ideas. I love training and learning. At my current job, I was in training for a month and I loved it. I was new to sales and everything I learned was brand new, which made the learning so exciting. This tells me a lot about myself, specifically that if I’m challenged then I can be engaged with anything, whether it be work or life as a whole.
A few years ago I was coasting through life and had no direction. Work was a pain and boring, and on top of that, I was gaining weight. I was losing interest in both my job and in exercising. I had to make some changes. So, I discovered ways I could learn more at work, and I joined a CrossFit gym. Now I spend four days a week starting my morning with a daily challenge. At Crossfit, I am pushed to exceed at different movements, weights, and pace. The anticipation of the daily challenge wakes me up at 5 a.m. (sometimes begrudgingly) and sets me on point to overcome a challenge each day before the rising of the sun.
In work, I have worked to create an environment that I am pushed to constantly learn, otherwise, I will become stagnant and lazy. This was extremely important for me to realize and change early on because in my job a reduction in engagement can mean a reduction of sales and ultimately profit. By learning to regularly challenge myself, I am not only creating a more dynamic day, but I am also serving as a better employee and colleague.
Consistently challenging oneself is vital to achieving as much as you can. Most people don’t tap into their highest potential due to a lack of challenge or motivation (which is often spurred on by a challenge or goal). It’s natural for us to find a place where we can survive, live comfortably and settle there. Setting higher goals for yourself will help you to reach more potential than just surviving.
Life is also more dynamic when you challenge yourself. Always having something to work towards or grow in adds a unique spice to the hours of the day. If you always have something to work towards or grow in, then you won’t become stagnant. Your day to day life can be a lot more exciting if you have a compelling obstacle to overcome, and there is more to celebrate in each day when you are daily working to conquer a challenge.
A challenge can also help you contribute to the world in a positive way. Who has ever made a great impact on the world without overcoming conflict? With a challenge in front of you, you have a purpose to fulfill, a dragon to slay.
The key to overcoming a challenge is that your challenges must be obstacles you actually want to overcome. If you are not fully invested in the end result, then you will find excuses to not put in the work. Choose challenges that awaken something in you and you find meaning or purpose in. In addition, it is important to be selective about the challenges you choose. By selecting challenges that involve long-term work and personal success, you create a personal connection without getting overwhelmed by multiple short-term opportunities.
So today, I encourage you - don’t spend your young years cruising along. Now is the time to challenge yourself and create good habits for the future. Now is the time to learn and grow. School may be done, but your education is just beginning. Challenge yourself. Be as good as you can be today, and then do it again tomorrow. Demand the best of yourself. The world needs you to give all you can.