Challenge is the food achievers feast upon, dream about and dive into. Challenge both sharpens the sword and nourishes a more resilient sense of self-confidence.
By challenging yourself regularly and decisively, you step outside your comfort zone and enter undiscovered territory. By contrast, if you never challenge yourself outside the familiar, you will never know what skills, resourcefulness, creativity and all-around awesomeness you may be keeping in storage.
But, the rewards of self-challenge go beyond self-discovery. Here are five additional rewards you'll receive if you commit to leaning into your edges and taking a few brave steps into the courage zone:
1. You'll live life more vibrantly.
At the simplest level, you'll break your routine. You know the endless cycle of waking up, going to work and heading home to relax on the couch gets old. If you let the repetition dull your edges, you'll also grow feeble.
New experiences broaden your vision and wake you up. You not only gain new energy, but you also gain new perspectives. The taste of new pleasures will alert you to how many new flavors of pleasure await you in this world.
New skills will fascinate your friends and energize your social circle. Your partner, if you have one, will find you sexier and be less likely to become distant toward you. Dates will find you more fascinating. Business associates will want to be closer to you.
You'll have new stories to share with your friends, family or people you want to flirt with. Adventure and discovery is inherently a turn-on. At the root of it, the more alive you feel, the more electric you will feel to others.
2. You'll dissolve the noose of perfectionism.
Standing at the bottom of the learning curve and looking up, or standing at the starting line of a journey looking and into the distance, can be intimidating or discouraging.
If you feel the need to do things right and to perfection, you will be absolutely paralyzed. Perfectionism tends to throttle your momentum and motivation, and it stalls your goals, dreams and desires. Perfectionism can leave you stuck where you are.
By contrast, action is the cure to perfection paralysis. When you challenge yourself with something new and take risks, your engines fire up, your motivation kicks in and your momentum rolls in to support you. Taking challenging action obviates the need for the stars to align for that illusory, mythical “perfect moment” to begin.
And that vey shift in your mindset – becoming a doer rather than a watcher or waiter – will aid you in every area of your life as you take on more and more self-responsibility to forge your destiny.
3. You'll become an inspiration to others.
There are many people out in the world who would like to become millionaires, who would like to have perfect hair, bulging biceps or washboard abs or who would like to travel freely without financial worry. The difference between people who wish for those kinds of things and those who have it is they do whatever it takes to make it happen.
This means they create challenging goals for themselves — often just beyond their current capabilities — and earn it through work and effort. By challenging yourself, you step into that class of people. You're learning new skills, expanding your circles of friends and contacts and building new muscles, all in an effort to meet the challenging goals you've set for yourself.
You'll be inspiring yourself in a virtuous cycle, and you'll also be inspiring others. Why? Because some people don't take those crucial challenging actions to change, even though they crave the change. So, by you taking actions to grow, you become a beacon of inspiration to people who see your efforts, the results you're getting and how much happier you are.
This, in turn, positively motivates them to challenge themselves and make changes in their life. This is all because you're leading by example, and that's how confident leaders lead.
4. You'll redefine yourself.
Throughout life, you'll find people who will try to discourage and control you by saying you can't do something. They'll tell you “to be realistic.” Not only are they projecting their own limiting beliefs on you, but if those beliefs land, they're also circumscribing your desire and ability to grow.
Leaning toward your edges through your fear and doubts counterbalances those voices. By taking challenging action, you're proving to yourself that you have the capacity, effort and discipline to overcome hurdles that others may deem insurmountable. You're teaching yourself through a feedback loop of achievement that you have the ability to accomplish your chief desires in life.
All of that changes you. You'll expand your notion of who you are and of who you can be. Your self-value and self-esteem grow. You become the one who defines your game going forward.
No longer can petty remarks throw you off. No longer can people pigeonhole you. You define yourself based on your solid and proven experiences of challenging yourself, growing, accomplishing and charting your own course. And therein lies a new kind of freedom and power.
5. You'll unburden yourself of regrets.
Which would you rather have on your deathbed: the feeling of regret gnawing at your soul or feeling the satisfaction that you lived fully? That you took chances? That you, to quote the musical, "Man of La Mancha," strove “when your arms [were] too weary ... to reach the unreachable star?”
The juice of life is best found when you peel back the tough rind. Effort exposes rewards you may not have dreamed of.
As you make new kinds of friends, master new skills, live through experiences and gather tales of glory, you create a kind of epic life story. When everything all winds up in the end, it shimmers with a kind of adventure and pride that the couch potato will never know.
As you close your eyes and take your last breath, you'll likely go out with a smile on your lips. It will be a smile of deep satisfaction knowing you lived a full life. You explored, burst through limits, grew and experienced the wonders that this world has to offer. It's the kind of life is often there, just on the other side of challenge.