We are at the beginning of a new month – September 2021. Its been a challenge to many of us during this relentless pandemic, to get our life in order, keep to good habits and challenge ourselves to keep looking forward to a productive future.
Challenging ourselves is key. We can do our jobs, go to school or be wonderfully creative people. But what happens if we don’t have something to challenge us? We become complacent in what we do. We could lose our drive and motivation. We could lose our love for life. A challenge need not be something to send us hurtling down a cliff. It only needs to push us into stepping forward a little bit more than what makes us comfortable. Being comfortable and staying there for the long-term does no good if you are looking to live well.
Here are some things to think about to challenge yourself during this particular time we are living in.
- Start a creative hobby – learn as much as you can online or through books, about it. It could be fixing up an old car, planting a vegetable garden, art, creative writing, start a podcast (WordPress and Anchor are great options and is free).
- Enroll in a formal study program that will give you something you value within the next 5 years. It could be another degree in a different field than what you are interested in. Your interests at 20 could be quite different from your interests at 40 or 50. Maybe it is time to start on your Masters or a Ph.D.
- Set up your own business – a consultancy that will help you to share your knowledge and experience with others. Learn how to promote yourself through social media.
- For students, if you feel like you are stuck in your studies and your knowledge is not being enhanced, join Coursera or Edx and learn for free the subjects that you love.
Create a goal for yourself. Locke and Latham (1990) have done some fantastic research into goal-setting and outcomes. Try this: write down how you see yourself in the next 5 years. Then, write down the steps you need to take in order to get there. Be as detailed as you can. Write about how you will feel when you accomplish the task – when you reach that goal. And now, write the worst-case scenario. That is, write about what would your life be like if you didn’t take those steps and have such a goal. What will happen in 5 years, then? How would you feel about yourself in 5 years when you don’t accomplish anything? The devil is in the details. Write it well so you see the devil as clear as possible.
Now you have your clear goal in front of you and the devil behind. All you have to do is run away from it in the opposite direction as fast as you can. Away from that worst-case scenario. Keep reading what you wrote on a regular basis so that you will become motivated to keep running forward. Rate your sense of well-being every single day as you take one step at a time to reach your goal.
Watch a really good short video from Clinical Psychologist, Jordan Peterson, here. He explains goal setting so much better than I do. And here is a free download to get you started on some good habits for the next 30 days. Print it out. There are 9 items to tick off every day, and a space to write your reflections on how you are moving toward your goal. Rate your sense of well-being every single day. You can see the trajectory at the end of the month – is it moving in the direction you want?