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How to challenge yourself to start living your best life every day

February 12, 2022 - 16 min read


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What does challenging yourself mean?

Why should I challenge myself?

How to challenge yourself

Final thoughts

Think back to the last time you challenged yourself. 

Most likely, it involved leaving your comfort zone. There's a lot that falls under the umbrella of trying something new. For instance, maybe you ran an extra mile, woke up earlier than usual, or tried a new approach to solving a problem. 

It doesn't matter if it's a small challenge or a big one that takes a year to accomplish. It's still a challenge.

If you're on the road to self-improvement or personal growth, you need to know why and how to challenge yourself.

What does challenging yourself mean?

What does a challenge mean? It means you've stepped outside your comfort zone and taken on a new task. You've set new goals for yourself, and you're ready to work hard to achieve them.

A challenge is something that teaches you how to grow as a person. They encourage personal development and are a way to work on self-improvement.

The challenges you take on test your resiliency, grit, and determination because — well, they're challenging. They aren't supposed to be easy and accomplished without any effort. Challenging things to do might look different for you than it does for your coworkers, siblings, or friends, but that's OK.

Your challenges could seem like little things, like trying to wake up earlier or shake bad habits like smoking, but they're still challenges. Everyone’s experience is different. 

In fact, that's the beauty of a challenge. It opens you up to new experiences and puts in the effort to improve yourself every day. It lets you really focus on yourself. Whether you're challenging yourself to declutter and stay organized or run a marathon, the challenges you set for yourself to overcome are entirely your own.


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Why should I challenge myself?

New challenges can be scary. They push you outside your comfort zone, and you don't know if letting go of old mindsets and habits will improve your personal development. But while it's daunting to take on new goals, they’ll lead you to new opportunities.

Why do people enjoy a challenge? Challenges help you discover new skills, jump into new experiences, and boost your well-being. If you're feeling stuck in life, embracing new challenges gives you the chance to grow. New challenges can give you the confidence boost you need and encourage you to push further with your personal growth. 

Challenges make you think harder and demand focus, too. Research has found that mentally challenging yourself stimulates brain function and helps to curb anxiety and depression. Doing something different that requires focus and effort invites you to learn something new, gain a different perspective, and shake up your routine.

Imagine your life if you didn't challenge yourself at all. You would wake up every day and ignore any new opportunities that would come your way. You wouldn't seize any chance to improve your skills, find a job that makes you happier, or try new hobbies. 

You aren't alone if you look at new challenges and feel a sense of doubt. If you're feeling uneasy, learn more about what a BetterUp coach can do for you. Together, we'll help you face challenges with a more positive, excited mindset.


How to challenge yourself

Once you've decided that you're going to challenge yourself, consider where to start. Challenges come in all different sizes, styles, and categories in your life. They can impact your personal life, professional career, or both simultaneously. 

Your physical well-being and financial well-being, emotional well-being, and social well-being are rich with challenges. Bonus, when you're taking on challenges, these areas will benefit.

If you're having trouble thinking of ways to challenge yourself, an excellent strategy is to break goals down into different parts of your life. Take a look at these 13 challenges divided into personal, professional, and fitness categories:


1. Prioritize your mental health more

When you have a lot going on, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. Choosing to value your well-being and letting go of things that hurt you can be a big challenge. 

Personal growth takes time, but you'll see the benefits in your everyday life once you practice more self-care. This can look like managing stress better, getting a good night's sleep, or knowing when to say no

2. Limit the time you spend online

Is the main culprit of your procrastinating your social media apps? We're all guilty of spending too much time online, but if your new goal is to be more focused on work, you might want to try limiting your time on social media. You may even try a digital detox

If your morning routine is to hop on Instagram before anything else, swap in another activity instead of scrolling. Try stretching or mindful meditation. Anything that prepares you for a productive day is worthwhile.

3. Start writing in a journal


Journaling can help us track our progress and stress and hold us accountable for our new goals. It's a great way of reflecting on memories with loved ones, old friends, and more. Think of journaling as a personal, intimate way of connecting with yourself. 

Setting time aside in your day to write these entries may be tricky, but the key is to establish a routine and stick with it. Even five minutes each evening before bed will make a difference. 

4. Downsize your closet

When was the last time you looked over your clothes? If you have many items in your closet that you haven't worn in years, take the time to free up some space. Get rid of clothes that don't fit or no longer match your taste. 

Once you have a pile that you're ready to part with, consider donating them to your local shelter or asking your friends if they want them. Decluttering your space will declutter your mind — and help you identify your personal style. 

5. Improve your memory

It might be a challenge to remember what you went to the grocery store for, or maybe you know you'd excel at your job if you had a better memory. Improving your memory takes time, and you won't see results overnight. But it's still possible to improve.

Things like drawing have been found to benefit your working memory and improve it over time. You could also try downloading certain apps on your phone to help you with this challenge.

This challenge is more long-term, so you'll have to remain dedicated. Think about when you're most available to dedicate time each day for your memory improvement. It could be during your morning routine or over your lunch break. 


6. Take a class to learn something new

Perhaps you had the chance to learn something new before, but you didn't go for it. Now's the time to go back and try again. 

New classes could help your professional career by teaching you new skills and getting you qualified in more areas of your industry. You could learn a new language that helps you with your job or that you've always wanted to learn. Make sure you choose classes that work well with your schedule.

7. Take a leadership role at work


If you've always been the employee who follows, try to lead. You'll develop your leadership skills and establish yourself as someone who isn't afraid to be in charge. Plus, your efforts in this area will show your coworkers and boss that you can handle new opportunities. 

If you make a mistake as a leader, be prepared to own it. Mistakes happen, and everyone faces leadership challenges. Remember that you're helping yourself grow in your career, and mistakes are part of the process.

8. Find a mentor

Everyone gets a little lost and confused from time to time. If you're feeling this way in your industry, a mentor could be the person who shares their wisdom with you. They could answer your questions, inspire you to learn new skills, or even give you a sense of comfort within your work.

Your mentor could also teach you about self-motivation and how to sustain it for your future career endeavors.

It can be challenging to initiate your mentorship and find someone who fits your needs. But there's no question: the pros of the mentor-mentee relationship outweigh this difficulty.

9. Start networking more

Networking isn't every professional's favorite thing to do. It's daunting, and putting yourself out there is nerve-wracking. But think about how spending time networking could help your career growth, not to mention your confidence.

 Attend workshops or seminars about your work, and look for new opportunities from there. Don't forget other skills, like conversing with people and articulating your thoughts.


10. Set a step goal

A step goal is a challenge requiring you to get up and move daily. It's a small habit that can make a big difference. 

Your step goals don't have to be huge, but they should push you to exercise more than you did before. You can use apps like MyFitnessPal to track your steps or trackers like an Apple Watch or FitBit to help you out.

11. Take up a new sport

Is there a sport or physical activity you've heard great things about? Why not try it? Do your research and see if your local gyms or community centers offer beginner classes or intramural teams. 

Make sure you have access to any necessary equipment and give it your best shot. If you're nervous about trying it alone, ask a friend if they'd like to do this challenge with you. 

12. Become more flexible


Flexibility is a fitness challenge that anyone can do, and we often forget about it. Stretching each day is a good habit as it helps your body alleviate tension. If you're doing other physical challenges, it can be a good cool down, too. 

Set yourself goals, even if you start small, and work to touch your toes while standing up. Work to fit it into your morning routine when you first wake up or stretch after a long day full of work to decompress. 

13. Go for a long walk every single day

Do you have any parks nearby that you'd like to explore? Challenging yourself to go for a long walk each day is a commitment, but it's pretty rewarding. Studies have found that walking improves your mood, boosts brainpower, and helps your physical health.

Plus, this new habit could help you meet new friends as you venture to try new places or provide some inspiration for some of your creative pursuits.

Since your walk might take up an hour or more of your time, do your best to plan ahead. Stick to a set routine to help your time management

Final thoughts

These new challenges aren't something that everyone will look at and feel like jumping into right away. But that's part of the challenge itself. As you learn that personal growth starts outside of your comfort zone, you'll be more inclined to learn how to challenge yourself.

The positive thing is that you don't have to do all of these self-improvement challenges simultaneously. Pace yourself, and be proud of your accomplishments.

Here are five final tips when it comes to challenging yourself:

  1. Accept your failures, but don't let them dictate your next moves
  2. Look for inspiration to help you keep your momentum
  3. Don't be impatient with your goals
  4. Learn to love learning
  5. Be present and appreciate your journey

A BetterUp coach can help you face your scariest of challenges. Our coaches will act as your biggest supporters, helping you to reach your goals confidently.

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Published February 12, 2022

Maggie Wooll

Managing Editor

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