Challenges can expand your life in amazing ways.
There is something magical that happens when we start doing slightly uncomfortable things. It starts off with an idea. The idea is both scary and promising. We want to do it but there is part of us that is afraid of what might happen. We decide to go on with the idea but right before we start, a second wave of doubt comes in. We must choose whether we will follow through on our plan or let go of it. Our decision at this moment is much more important than it may appear.
Choosing to follow through on your plan will change your life. The change will likely be small and slow, but it will be there. It will get you two steps closer to your final destination. Two steps isn’t a long way, but when it’s compounded by many decisions, it becomes the difference between people at different stages of life.
If you want to reach your highest potential, you need to follow through on these plans. Here are a few of the changes you will notice once you do:
1. Increased Confidence
People want to believe confidence is something you can build out of thin air. They hope that a few positive words will do the trick. Positive words are not enough. They are a great place to start but you have to take action during difficult scenarios if you want to truly feel what it’s like to be confident in your abilities.
Confidence is created by the combination of action and positive thinking. Without one, you’re bound to fail. How many times have you pictured yourself confidently in front of an audience? You may be able to prepare yourself a little, but the important changes occur when you combine this visualization with repeated practice in front of large groups.
Following through on plans that are scary and littered with unknowns will allow you to build this confidence. When you test yourself with these challenges and see that you can handle the results, even when the results are not ideal, you develop a belief that there is little to fear in that situation. You are confident that you can handle any scenario that may occur.
Once you have a few successes under those circumstances, your confidence grows again. Not only do you believe you can handle any scenario that may occur, but you’re also able to create a positive scenario most of the time. The things that were once scary and difficult are now something you’re good at.
Confidence is built up in a series of small increments. The first step is often the hardest. Following through on your plans in a moment of fear or doubt is taking the first step.
2. More Opportunities
In your career, you will find you have more freedom as you follow through on these challenging plans. You have to set goals that push you and take certain calculated risks to get the promotion you want. You have to show your boss you are capable of handling more responsibility. You must show you can make decisions that will help the company. This path will be scary at times but it will open up many doors as you go along. You’ll gain the trust of your boss. You may be given more opportunities to choose your hours and responsibilities. If you want to work from home or get moved to a different location, you’re more likely to receive that wish. If you feel like it’s time to move on, you will receive better offers from other companies because you have shown you can handle challenging situations. These are all freedoms that you have to earn, and an important part of earning them is continually challenging yourself.
If you say yes to following through on your plans in other areas of your life, you will notice differences there too. Writing a letter to thank someone can be uncomfortable, but the result is often very rewarding. The same goes for having a difficult conversation with your spouse. Creating a happier and more secure relationship with your partner, family and friends may require a few difficult decisions to be made, but a few months from now you will realize the reward was worth the little hoops you had jump through.
Opportunities are rarely given without a reason. Most opportunities in your life will have to be earned. You will have to overcome a few challenges before you see opportunities start to appear. If you can go through a little discomfort now, opportunities will arise later on. One of those opportunities might be a spot at your dream job or a date with your biggest crush. You will never know what you might miss out on by passing up the opportunities to make a small change today.
3. Challenges Create Great Memories
I don’t know about you, but many of my greatest memories resulted from doing something I was originally afraid of. My first rollercoaster ride, the time I went skydiving, being a part of the senior play, these are all memories that began as scary possibilities. Today, they are a source of pride, a reminder of what I am capable of when I put myself out there.
I find challenges carry a lasting sense of happiness. The sense of accomplishment is something that sticks for the rest of the day and something I can come back to again and again. They become a source of strength that propels me forward to take on new challenges and expand my life more.
One day, I hope to be an old man with a lot of great stories to tell and I believe the most interesting stories are those filled with both fear and joy. I want to live those stories. The ones where I face my fear to give a ted talk, travel solo throughout Europe, or help a stranger. Various figures throughout history have stated the importance of doing the things you fear, and I think there is great truth in that sentiment.
Fear is ever-present in most of our lives. It will always be there during the big decisions. Luckily, we have the power to alter and overcome our fears. As we gradually try the things that scare us, they become less scary. The importance of taking on new challenges cannot be understated. You won’t be perfect. None of us are. Just start by doing one or two things you might have avoided in the past. Talk to someone new, send your writing to a new publication, ask a question that has been on your mind that you haven’t asked yet. Face a small fear today and see where it takes you.