We all have dreams and I have no doubts you have made attempts at pursuing your goals as well.
But more often than not, life’s struggles get the better of you and holds you back. The pressure of day-to-day life too often knocks you off course. No matter your willpower, dedication, and desire, alone they are not enough. It is far easier to throw down your gloves and stay in your little comfort zone! But, you know as well as I do, that by staying in that comfort zone, there is not really room for any personal growth.
By being here and reading this post, you demonstrate that you are not willing to settle for a mediocre life and ambitions that will be hidden forever. I applaud you for that!
You are ready to go beyond, you are ready to do whatever it takes (ok, maybe you are not there yet, but we’ll keep working on that). You are ready to be real with yourself, about your life, your goals, your joy, and creating that balance in your life.
You are ready to challenge yourself!
In the past years, I’ve been on a journey myself, and I still am by the way. I’ve challenged myself to try new experiences I previously would have probably avoided. But, by opening up my mind to them has led to a lot of personal growth!
That’s why I’m sharing 5 ways to challenge yourself and create your path filled with JOY and happiness.
1. Wake up earlier and give yourself the gift of a calm morning
If you have been following me for a longer time, you just know that I LOVE my calm mornings. It’s just the best time of the day, a peaceful time to set yourself up before the rush starts.
You’ll be surprised to find what it can bring if you start off your day on the right foot.
Getting up before 07 AM used to be a NO go for me. You’ll probably not going to believe me if I say that I now get up at 04.40 AM almost every single day. You can read all about my morning routine here.
I would encourage you to start getting up just 20 minutes earlier and slowly grow into creating a routine that will fit you. The whole idea is to find some stillness before your day starts. Whatever that stillness means to you. Just enjoying your cup of coffee in stillness is a perfect way to start.
2. Turn off that TV and read a book
Nope, I don’t have a TV. Not since I’ve moved to South Africa in 2015 and YES it changed my life tremendously, for the better. We all have become so reliant on technology that it’s beginning to get scary. TV is just one of them.
I can still remember the days that there were just a couple of channels. You actually had to walk to the TV to change the channel. I don’t even want to start counting all the options there now is. Let’s just say that I presume they are endless.
Binge-watching became popular with the rise of the streaming industry. I’m sure that at one point it even was the new word of the year. I tried it out, but I just saw so much of my time going down the drain! It really wasn’t worth it.
I also don’t understand the fact that you wake up and the first thing you do is turn on the TV and leave it on for the entire day… why?
Anyway, I swopped binge-watching for binge-reading. That has become my guilty pleasure. I come across more and more people that have said goodbye to TV. Yes, even families with small children who need to be “entertained”.
Have you got what it takes to turn off that TV for an entire day?
Instead, go for a walk, read a book, interact with your family and people around you, write, color,… and embrace some JOMO!
3. Start a gratitude Journal
Oh boy, journaling. I was never good at it but then some magic happened. I was participating in the Whole Life Challenge and one of the weekly well-being practices was journaling for 10 minutes. The first time around I struggled big time. What on earth do you write about? Slowly but surely, I got the hang of it. And when I say slowly, I mean really slowly.
I believe it took me almost a year and 4 challenges before I finally started appreciating the idea of journaling. What actually triggered the switch in my mind was the concept of gratitude journaling.
It is very simple but yet has got an amazing impact and more importantly, it lets you focus on that what makes you smile and feels good!
I would challenge you to give it a try and remember, Rome wasn’t built in one day either!
Write one thing down that you are grateful for and give 5 reasons why. That’s it, don’t overcomplicate.
4. Try cooking something new
I like cooking. Sometimes not entirely sure what I’m doing and participating in Masterchef is not my idea of challenging myself. What I do like is to try out a new recipe once in a while!
I’m sure you’ve got, just like me, a drawer full of recipes, torn out from your favorite magazines. Chances are that you are now thinking that it’s time to declutter and organize that specific drawer. While you are at it, choose one recipe and try it out.
If it’s a keeper, then you can file it neatly in your new recipe folder. If it didn’t turn out the way you had in mind? In the bin, it goes. I’m talking about the recipe, not the meal. Unless it’s really bad, then yes you can chuck it out.
5. Make your bed
According to various studies, only 27% of us make our bed. More importantly, 71% of them consider themselves happy! 60% of those who skip the routine of making their bed first thing in the morning, are to be found at the other end of the happiness scale.
I’m not saying that you can’t be happy when you don’t make your bed but imagine what it could do to your happiness if you did make your bed!
Retired U.S. Navy Admiral Seal William H. McCraven and author of the book “Make Your Bed” believes that picking up this daily practice can have a bigger impact than you might think.
You want to watch his commencement speech at the University of Texas in which he told students that the importance of making your bed every day was one of the most powerful lessons he learned during his time as a Navy SEAL.
“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day,″ he said. “It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.”
Still not convinced? Then I would challenge you to give it a try for 30-days and just see what happens. There are a couple of other benefits when you make your bed, but it’s up to you to find out
A final thought…
As a child, you were pushed to step out of your comfort zone almost every single moment of the day! “Just give it a try!” was said to you more than often. You did what was told, or sometimes it took a bit of persuasion, but you still did.
With that gentle nudge, you pushed yourself out of that comfort zone and challenged yourself every single day. That is how we all managed to literally grow.
But then all of a sudden, we stop doing that. That gentle push is gone, and we find it way better to stay in the safe little space even if it sometimes feels uncomfortable.
Don’t let that hold you back, there are so many awesome ways you can challenge yourself and keep growing as a person. And the great thing is when you start with something really small, you are actually be building some strong foundations for even bigger challenges ahead!
Trust me on this one, I just know that it can – and will have – a great impact on your life.