Take a minute to think about all the things you do every day: You get ready for work, grab lunch, head to the gym, meet friends, put in a productive workday and so on. Whatever your routine is, it probably helps you feel competent and even successful. And while those habits are often comforting, their familiarity can also feel repetitive and unfulfilling at times.
Choosing a few new ways to challenge yourself not only keeps things interesting, it also expresses the part of you that wants more out of life. It’s a desire that says, I’m open to new things. I am determined. I want to explore, create, improve.
Here are three ways to start challenging yourself today:
Switch up your routine. Try some morning yoga poses before you shower, experiment with new lunch recipes or venture out for a hike instead of to the gym. Breaking out of the same old, same old makes it easier to be open to new experiences and discover other ways of enjoying yourself. By making even small changes to your day you’re putting in the effort to add more variety; even the smallest adjustments can have a big impact on how you feel physically and mentally. Simply put, you're taking yourself off autopilot by engaging your senses and your brain in different ways.
Step out of your comfort zone. Bigger challenges—like looking for a new job or training for your first marathon—can feel uncomfortable and even scary at first, even while they feel exciting. Maybe you'll volunteer to take the lead on a project at work, join a community group to get more involved in town projects or sign up for the adult volleyball league at the rec center. Step outside the box and give yourself a nudge to participate in unfamiliar territory—and see where it takes you.
Use your creativity. One of the best ways to challenge yourself is by finding ways to be more creative. Use the talents and passions you have (and you do have them!). Sign up for a local art contest, reserve a spot in the baking workshop that caught your eye or buy the luxurious yarn to knit that blanket you saw in a magazine. Taking the time to express your creativity can make each day feel unique and allows you to tap into a side of yourself that nurtures your spirit.
Whether you succeed at the things you try or not, the important thing is that you took on the challenge. “Just engaging in an experiment is a great way to get to know yourself,” says Ann Pardo, M.A., L.P.C., B.C.C., director of life management at Canyon Ranch in Tucson. “Sometimes, it can be a good exercise to try something at which you are pretty darn sure you will fail; it’s a great skill to learn how to cope with failure.”