Accepting a personal challenge can be a rite of passage. A strenuous hike, climbing a mountain or swimming in open water can all offer personal risk, the chance for failure and are something you can take pride in if you achieve it. These are challenges that you do for yourself, planning and executing a strategy to accomplish something great. You can do it by yourself or in groups and it can be of the level of difficulty you choose. The key to a personal challenge is that the challenge is something that you own, not borrow from an organizer or social media outreach. Learning a new martial art, climbing a mountain and starting a business are all personal challenges. Achieving your goals in personal challenges with no safety net are the most satisfying challenges to accomplish.
As we have gotten busier with obligations and have concerned ourselves with the opinions of others on social media, we have abandon the idea of the personal challenge. Instead we have established artificial challenges that just seem to bring attention to the participant and organized challenges that satisfy our need for achievement with less personal risk which can in turn reduce the personal reward.
Artificial challenges include the cinnamon challenge, hot pepper challenges and the lemon juice challenge. These challenges make the participant uncomfortable and can offer some risk but do not end in a result that the participant can take pride in. Would you take pride in telling your grandchildren about the time you took the cinnamon challenge or the time you ate a hot pepper or drank a liter of lemon juice? These seem to be attempts to get attention rather than personal achievement. Trying to fit in or to get more views on social media is not personal achievement.
The artificial challenge is a temporary achievement. Like winning a drinking game, there is satisfaction for a short time but indifference or worse, regret later. They offer false achievement that does nothing to improve confidence or self-respect.
Organized challenges are better. These are events that are organized to give people the opportunity to push themselves to their limits and achieve something. This can be a 5K race, a triathlon, or an obstacle course race. These activities offer the opportunity to challenge yourself in relative safety. There is still some personal risk. When I ran my first obstacle course race, I saw someone faceplant on an obstacle and cut his head open. The organizers had nurses posted on the course so the guy was taken care of. This type of safety net is not always available if you are doing a personal challenge like a solo climb of a mountain.
Organized challenges can offer the opportunity to prove one’s ability and build confidence. There are organized challenges that range in the skills needed for success, so you can fit the challenge to your skill level. Martial arts tournaments can also offer these opportunities. Putting your skills against the skills of another can be very challenging. Pushing yourself to achieve a challenge only helps you improve. Even if you are not successful.
Don’t fool yourself into believing that you have achieved something when you have not. Challenge yourself to improve and achieve things that you are unsure you can achieve or are even scared of. Use organized challenges and personal challenges to test yourself. You will find you have more skills, heart and perseverance than you believed you had. Go out and do it.