It’s hard to ignore the fact that the world is full of challenges right now. I think it’s fair to say that, worldwide, this is the most challenging time I’ve ever known.
When we’re experiencing deeply challenging times, it’s tempting to hunker down and take the easy road where we can. When the world becomes difficult, we try to avoid anything that adds to that difficulty. It might seem counter-intuitive that this is exactly the time that I’m looking to seek out new challenges.
The thing is that challenges invigorate us. They help us learn and grow and to develop a sense of achievement. Overcoming challenges reminds me that I can influence my own outcomes, and I think all of us need that reminder now and again.
I’ve mentioned before that treating energy, especially emotional energy, as a finite resource leaves you with less energy than if you fully engage with your activities enthusiastically. The same is true for avoiding challenges. Avoiding challenges, especially ones that are right in front of you can take more energy than it saves. I’m reminded of my children stepping around the hoover that they’d left in the doorway after vacuuming their rooms as part of their chores. They would step over this thing for days on end rather than spend the few seconds it took to put it back in the cupboard.
Obviously, not all obstacles are healthy challenges right now. In fact, one of the biggest challenges I see for many of my clients is knowing which challenges are there to be overcome, and which obstacles are better accepted with grace.
So, what kinds of healthy challenges am I seeking right now? One of the most important things I’m doing is spending more time talking with the people who challenge me; people who see my potential and expect me to live up to that. Being challenged energizes me. It might not sound like much, but I know that these are the people who will inspire me. I’m inviting discussion. I’m challenging myself to open up more and to ask for feedback on things I would usually approach alone.
I’m also challenging myself in my running. Not, as I used to, by trying to run further or faster. Now I’m challenging myself to be that much more emotionally present in my runs. To work on my awareness and attention. To get to know myself better.
This mindset of rising to meet challenges has been a huge blessing in these bizarre times. Some of the changes that we’re all experiencing in our day-to-day lives are, without question, distressing. I don’t want to minimise that at all. Approaching the restrictions to my business as a challenge, however, has led me to innovate in ways that I wouldn’t have considered possible this time last year.
As always, this is an ongoing process. We’re constantly getting better at examining the world around us, finding the challenges we feel equipped to take on, and then rising to meet them. It’s a source of deep satisfaction for me. If you’ve been avoiding additional challenges recently, it might be worth considering whether you might feel the same.