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Why it is Important to Challenge Yourself Continually - 6 Areas to Help You to Keep Moving Forward

Updated: Mar 29

Life doesn’t happen in your comfort zone.

Continuing to challenge yourself will progressively grow the size of your comfort zone.

The more you grow, the more you continually challenge yourself and the more you can achieve.

Comfort Zone vs ‘Where the Magic Happens’

Whilst it is very tempting to stay in the comfort zone, we really aren’t doing ourselves any favours.

The need for personal growth is one of our basic human psychological needs and so if we don’t make a conscious effort to work on ourselves then this can have a negative impact and often leave us with feelings of frustration.

The desire to grow and develop does not mean that we cannot appreciate and be grateful for the situation we are in or what we have achieved so far.

The desire to grow and challenge ourselves can be uncomfortable, the more you can get comfortable with being uncomfortable the more you will achieve and succeed.

Outside of the comfort zone lies the fear zone. On the other side of that lies the Growth and Learning zone. The fear zone may be uncomfortable, however, the more we push forward and gain momentum the sooner we move into the growth and learning zone and can see and feel the benefits of our personal growth.

Focus ahead on the growth and learning zone, when it gets uncomfortable remind yourself of the original reasons why you left the familiar feeling of your comfort zone.

Feel the Fear and do it anyway

You may have heard the phrase, however, the book, by Susan Jeffers, talks about how we can embrace the feeling of fear and use this as a challenge.

The book helps empower the reader to adopt a life of power, energy, enthusiasm, and action. This does not come naturally to everyone, but it can become a learned behaviour.

Holding ourselves back due to fear can double our frustration, especially as we become more aware of the people around us who continuously work on their self-development and are able to consistently move forwards.

We associate discomfort with negativity and that is not always the case. Stepping outside of our comfort zone can feel uncomfortable, however, this can be a positive. It is often uncomfortable because it is new and unfamiliar. The discomfort on these occasions is often positive.

Challenge yourself to say 'yes'

Say ‘yes’ when fear would normally hold you back. Let the fear say ‘no’ but say ‘yes’ anyway and see what happens!

Be a part of the 2%

If you like to stay in your comfort zone, then you aren’t alone.

You often see quotes (research or source not stated) that 98% of the population is quite happy staying in this comfortable and familiar place. That is a lot of people who are comfortable or perhaps accepting with who they are, and where they are in life.

Through her research on ‘Fixed and Growth Mindset, Dr Carol Dweck found that only 40% of the population had a growth mindset and were willing to actively step outside of that comfort zone to test what they are capable of.

Which group are you currently in?

Does this group bring you happiness and fulfilment?

The quoted 2% embrace change and the unknown, they seek to get the most out of life. They are prepared to step out of their comfort zone to seek new opportunities and achieve their goals and dreams.

The 2% don’t just survive, they thrive!

Get Comfortable with being Uncomfortable

Life outside of your comfort zone is not always going to be a comfortable place to be.

This is why fewer people venture out there.

When this happens, you have a choice. You can retreat to the place of comfort and ease, the place where things are familiar or you can continue to move forwards and put your energy into making this new place familiar, comfortable and a place you can be confident.

Take a moment to reflect on, and recall all the things you have achieved to date. It is highly likely that you went through a period of time where it was uncomfortable and unfamiliar. In order to achieve that success, you had to push through these challenges.

The more we get comfortable with the feeling of being uncomfortable and unfamiliar, the more we will be prepared to say ‘yes’ and step out of our comfort zone into the unknown.

You may be surprised at how quickly this can happen. Saying ‘Yes’ brings opportunities.

The bigger the challenge, the bigger the opportunity.

When opportunity knocks, open the door and embrace the challenge.

The Motivation for Personal Growth

Look around you.

Look at the people who are most fulfilled. What do they have in common?

Look around the office and at the people you work with.

Look at the people who enjoy their work and the role that they perform. What do they have in common?

I suspect that there is a common theme in that they all invest time and energy into their personal growth.

They may take courses, they may volunteer for opportunities, and they may accept opportunities to work at a higher level. When the role they are in no longer challenges them, they seek new opportunities and new roles.

When we are children, we are continuously working on our personal growth as we learn about ourselves and what we are capable of.

We don't put a cap on the limit of our growth, we keep driving and pushing forward to see what else we can do, and what else is possible.

Does this stop when you become an adult?

At the age of 18, had you determined who you were and all you were capable of?

Can you determine that now, regardless of your age?

Are you achieving everything you can?

Are you the best version of you?

Recognise what you have achieved and your successes whilst you strive to be more, learn more, and achieve more.

a white open door between a dark room and a light hallway
You never know what doors may open when you try new opportunities

Overcoming Overwhelm

Overwhelm is probably the biggest reason people retreat to the safety of their comfort zone.

If you can overcome the overwhelm, then this can have a significant impact on your ability to challenge yourself that little bit more.

Write down all the things that are causing the feeling of overwhelm.

Do you need to be thinking about them all today?

How many of these are simply thoughts or feelings that are not helpful to you?

How many of these things are actually facts?

Section off those that you choose to give time and energy to. Focus on the present and leave those other worries for another day. That day may never arrive!

Personal growth is often achieved when we set specific intentions and goals.

If the goal feels too big and overwhelming, then chunk it down into small and achievable steps. Allocate those steps into periods of time, days, weeks, and months so that they are spread out into smaller sections that make them feel and be more manageable.

Consistent, daily actions, that take you one step closer to your goals are a lot more manageable and successful than making a big effort once a month. Knowing that every day you have taken one step closer is a great motivational tool and is less likely to create the feeling of overwhelm in comparison to a long list of things to do that just sit there getting longer and longer as time passes by.

If you want to really commit to those activities, then schedule them into your calendar so that the activity is allocated a time and day for completion.

Discipline creates consistency which creates results. Results bring motivation. The Phoenix planner is formatted to help you break down goals into the small steps needed to achieve the bigger picture you can order one here.

a person standing at the  bottom of a long staircase with the light shining from the top
It may be a long way up but take it one step at a time

If you show up every day and did something that took you closer to your goals, what could you achieve?

365 days, one year to challenge yourself.

What could you achieve and change with 365 small steps of challenge?


If you would like to find out more about how Coaching might help you then I would love to have that conversation with you.

First published Nov 2020

Revised and republished Sept 2022

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