There are days when it’s hard to understand the meaning of challenges in life, and days when we feel that no challenge can be too big for us.
Let’s start with defining what a challenge is. I’m not talking about a definition here, but rather distinction in understanding. Everyone has their own challenges.
For someone making the bed after the night might be a good starting challenge. For others it’s as obvious as breathing. In fact if your self discipline muscles are weak making bed every day may be a really good warm-up.
Challenges are closely combined with difficulties or obstacles. So we may think that everything in our lives that seems important yet not easily achievable can be a challenge. But is it that simple?
What does it mean to challenge something?
To answer this question we have to go back for a moment to your childhood. You remember doing many things in your life. Some of them were easy, some were pleasant and of course and some were difficult. Take for example school time. There were things that went smoothly, but some of them were hard.
If you were good at something you may have had a good teacher who told you: “Go and practice it because you have a talent for it”. But more likely if your school grades were low you could hear “you are bad at it, go and practice to become better”. And your challenges were given to you whether you liked it or not.
Unfortunately many teachers think that vinegar is better than honey. That is the reason why you probably heard threats much more often than kind incentives. That way many challenges were presented to you as difficult tasks or orders to fight your weaknesses. If you are no longer a student your challenges changed, but their difficulty level has grown significantly.
What are examples of challenges in life?
This was just the beginning. School after school, the whole education system was prepared to give you skills and knowledge but at the same time its purpose was to make you obedient. After school you’ll find a job to earn money but simultaneously continue the process of facing challenges obediently.
So now it’s time to present new division. There are two types of challenges:
- The ones given to us without our permission:
- A parent tells children to clean their room when they want to watch TV instead.
- A teacher gives his/her students an essay to write when they just want to hang out or go to a party
- Somebody finds out that he has a terminal disease and has to deal with it
- The ones we choose:
- You decide to start your own business and leave your current job
- This year you want to spend beautiful holidays in a foreign country so you have to earn more money to afford it
- You don’t want to see your neglected body anymore, so you start practicing well balanced diet and regular workouts
If there are two types, there are also at least two different answers to the question – what is the meaning of challenges in life.
What do challenges in life give you?
The first answer was suggested to you already – challenges give you experience. This is one of many ways of becoming smarter. The knowledge you gain gives you ability to make less mistakes, get better results and achieve new goals. This is a really good side of challenges. Because sometimes thanks to them you can face a lifetime opportunity. One without which your life wouldn’t change.
Every difficulty carries a seed of the same size or even of a bigger opportunity. Every challenge you face patiently makes you stronger and more ready for a reward it brings. At the same time you are becoming more qualified to take on bigger challenges with greater rewards awaiting at the end. In other words they teach you self discipline and offer an honest payment for it.
The second answer will be significantly different. Challenges that are given to you are simply supposed to teach you obedience or humility.
This is the moment to mention that sometimes life just happens and we have to face huge challenges despite our will. Take for example illnesses or tragedies which are totally out of our control.
The third answer refers to challenges we choose. This type of challenges gives us much more than knowledge and experience. We face these challenges because we want to achieve something more. It comes directly from our hearts and ambitious nature.
We want to test our strength, skills, abilities, talents in order to achieve clearly defined goals. Challenges we choose and take are the most rewarding when they end. Victory that proves we were able to overcome obstacles and our weaknesses gives us maximum satisfaction and builds our self-confidence. These are probably the most important experiences for us because fighting ourselves is the hardest battle we can experience. You can be either your biggest ally or greatest opponent.
How to face challenges in life?
Good question, though the answer is not that difficult. To face the challenge well all we need is the right mindset. Our mind is so flexible and powerful that strength we need is already in us. We just have to find it inside and reveal it. Sometimes to make it happen we might need help from other people who walked that path already.
Facing a challenge may require some special resources. It might be something material, spiritual, psychological or it may involve overcoming your shyness and asking other people for help.
Eleven steps to face challenges in life well:
- Define what happened that led you to your challenge.
If needed speak out your emotions, let them come out.
- After you let your emotions raise, calm down, now it’s time for you to think.
Don’t postpone it, the best time is now.
- You see yourself and your life in a certain way because of this challenge.
Decide who you don’t want to be, how you don’t want to see yourself.
- Define who you want to be and how you want to see yourself.
Use your imagination for a moment, visualize yourself as vividly as if it was real.
- Now face the hard reality – who you are right now, where you are in your life.
Say it out loud, the more honest you are the better.
- Project painful future – what happens if you stay the same as you are right now.
If you don’t take action what will be the painful result a year or five years from now?
- Project compelling future – what your future would look like if you took action starting now.
What can change, what can be improved, how your actions may push you towards your desired future.
- Decide what type of needs your compelling future involves.
What resources, help or guidance you may need?
- Now take action. Make a plan, decide what to do and how to find and utilize help.
Take a piece of paper and right down what comes to your mind.
- After some time you will see which of your actions give results.
Obviously it won’t be perfect but it’s important to stay on course. Now, accelerate to reach full speed of your action. Make little corrections when needed but stay on track.
- Remember that your reward awaits right after the hardest climb.
You may think that your work doesn’t make sense when the results don’t appear instantly. Don’t let yourself be distracted by thoughts like this. Your success will come in silence along with your patient work.
If you want to look at dealing with challenges at different angle try using these 7 stretegies Psychology Today give you.
Remember, human beings are designed to achieve, so challenges are a natural part of life. If you accept that, your challenges will be much easier to stand face to face with it and overcome them however big they may seem.
It may take time to understand the meaning of challenges in life. Always stay positive however hard your problems can be. Whenever you are down use the energy of other people to get on track. I like listening to Les Brown who speaks from the depth of his heart.
“When life knocks you down, try and land on your back because if you can look up, you can get up” – Les Brown.
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