When was the last time you challenged yourself (I mean, REALLY challenged yourself) and got out of your comfort zone? I LOVE my comfort zone and I’m sure you do too, but you and I both know that’s not where the real magic happens (even though you’d like to believe otherwise).
We’re creatures of routine and doing anything that’s different is uncomfortable. A couple of years ago, I realized that my habits and routines weren’t serving me in the best way possible. So I decided to challenge myself a little more. I started small doing things that were just a tiny bit outside of my comfort zone. Those small things add up and they can turn into new habits and routines that really improve your life.
If you’re ready to get out of your comfort zone and improve your life, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s a list of 20 ways to challenge yourself every day and improve your life.
1. Wake up earlier
Does waking up earlier sound like your worst nightmare? Then that’s a good reason to challenge yourself to do it anyway!
Waking up just half an hour earlier can take the rush out of your mornings and it allows you to start your day slowly. You’ll have time to have breakfast (and actually enjoy it) or to do something for yourself like reading a book or doing a short workout (or any of the other things you tell yourself you never have time for).
Even though it may not feel like it right now, waking up early is the best way to start your day, believe me!
2. Learn something new
What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn, but never did?
Learning a new language, taking a painting class or maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to dive? Whatever it is, learning something new helps you grow and improve yourself.
Yes, it might be scary to go out into the open water for the first time or sign up for a language class (that’s probably the reason why you never did it in the first place). But think about what you could be missing out on: meeting new people, having lots of fun and getting to know yourself a little better.
And if it’s not exactly what you thought it would be, nothing is lost. You can always try something new.
3. Start exercising or try a new exercising routine
If you’re not into exercising (although you keep telling yourself you really should), it’s time to challenge yourself and start!
I stopped working out during college and when I graduated I knew it was time to get back into it. Starting from zero and motivating yourself every single time to work out isn’t easy. But making small steps and doing something – even if it’s just 10 crunches or a yoga session – is how you get started.
Already have an exercising routine established? Challenge yourself by switching things up and doing something different than what you normally do. Do some lifting instead of only cardio, make your workouts more intense or try a different sport.
4. Do a social media detox
If you’re glued to your phone and you can’t go an hour without checking your social’s, taking a break from social media probably doesn’t sound very appealing to you. And I’m not going to lie: it’s definitely going to be a challenge.
But once in a while, it’s good to press the reset button and take a break social media. It can make such a difference! Don’t know how to start? I wrote an entire article about it, just for you!
5. Reach out to an old friend
I think we all know someone we were good friends with back in the day, but somehow lost contact with. Have someone in mind?
You might see an update from them on Instagram from time to time or congratulate each other on your birthday. But why not reach out and get in touch again? Even though making that first step can feel a little weird, it may spark a beautiful renewed friendship!
I recently reconnected with an old friend I’ve known since I was about 4 years old. It immediately felt familiar when we started talking again and we could almost pick up where we left off. Believe me, reaching out and sending that initial message is definitely the hardest part of it all.
6. Be kinder to yourself
Are you your own biggest critic? Are you being hard on yourself and beating yourself up when you mess something up or it didn’t go as planned? Especially if you’re a perfectionist like me, I’m sure you can relate to this!
I’m learning to be kinder to myself and I can tell you that it’s not easy. I know that I still have a long way to go, but I can already tell you that it’s definitely worth it to give it a try!
By challenging yourself to be more gentle, loving and supportive towards yourself, you can turn around the conversation in your head. No more being hard on yourself, no more beating yourself up and no more judging!
7. Make time for self-care
Does it feel like you never have time for yourself?
I challenge you to make time for yourself and include some self-care into your daily routine. Even if it’s just 10 minutes to read a book, or taking a long bath instead of a quick shower. Squeezing in these little moments of joy into your day helps to relax and it can make a huge difference in how you feel.
Let me be honest here: decluttering isn’t exactly something I look forward to. But doing it is necessary once in a while to make sure that stuff doesn’t just pile up.
Even though it can be difficult to go through all your stuff and throw things out, it also creates a lot space – not only physically, but also mentally. And let me tell you: that feels so good!
9. Move forward on what you’ve been putting off
You know that thing you’ve been putting off for a while? I’m sure you know what I’m talking about!
Challenge yourself to move forward on it! I know you don’t feel like it, it’s difficult or boring. But whatever excuse you might have, it’s time to show up for yourself and get it done! No one else is going to do it for you (unless you ask or hire someone to do it), it’s all in your hands.
I know you can do it, I’m rooting for ya!
10. Go somewhere new
Whenever you go somewhere, do you usually go to the same place as you usually do? Or do you like to switch things up?
Next time you go somewhere, try something new to challenge yourself. Don’t take your regular route, but take a different one. Plan a daytrip to someplace you haven’t been before. Go to a different restaurant or try a different menu item. You might be (positively) surprised of what you run into!
11. Ask for help
I know you want to be independent and do everything alone, but sometimes you just need a little bit of help to get you going. And that’s okay! We all need a little bit of help sometimes.
But asking for help is easier said than done (speaking from experience here). You don’t want to be seen as weak or incapable and you definitely don’t want to be a burden to anyone.
Even though asking for help may feel like a sign of weakness, it’s not! It actually makes you more approachable if you show others that you’re not perfect and don’t know everything. I still struggle with asking for help sometimes, but reminding myself that it’s part of being human makes it easier.
12. Do something creative
Did you have many hobbies as a kid? Always making and creating things, in some way or form? So was I!
But I noticed that when life got more serious and busy, I prioritized getting good grades and working. My hobbies were put on the back burner and eventually I just forgot about them altogether. Sound familiar? Well, Let’s pick up those old hobbies and start being creative again!
13. Go out alone
When was the last time you went out alone?
I don’t know about you, but I rarely go out and do something alone (Okay, besides grocery shopping…). Somehow it makes me feel awkward. And a little vulnerable, I guess. It feels so much more safe when there’s someone with me to talk to and share my experiences with. Sound familiar?
I challenge you to do something alone a little more often. Go for a long walk, go shopping or visit a museum by yourself. Or (if you’re a real badass) go out for dinner alone.
Going out and doing something alone is a completely different experience than when you’re going out with someone else. From personal experience, I can tell you that it grows on you. Besides, who said going out alone can’t be fun?
14. Go to bed early
Going to bed earlier is the perfect way to challenge yourself if you always wake up tired and you keep telling yourself you really shouldn’t go to bed so late.
I know it can be a struggle every single night, but you can make it easier for yourself. Determine what time you want to go to sleep and then set a timer at least half an hour earlier. The timer is your cue to get ready for bed. That gives you time to brush your teeth, put on your PJ’s, take off your make-up and unwind.
15. Spend time in silence
There’s a good reason why most of us are always busy, busy, busy and avoid spending time alone or in silence: so that we don’t have to feel what’s really going on inside of us.
Spending time in silence forces us to turn our attention inward and look at how we’re really feeling. It helps to listen to ourselves more. And believe me when I say that it’s challenging and pretty uncomfortable at first.
Even though I still find it difficult to spend time in silence, I’m doing it anyway. And I’m challenging you to do the same (if I can do it, you can do it ;)). So journal, mediate or go on a long walk and see what happens.
16. Put yourself out there
Do you have a project you’ve been working on in secret? Or do you have a talent you’ve been hiding from people around you, because you’re too afraid to share it with the world?
I feel you! When I started my blog, this was my biggest struggle!
Putting yourself out there isn’t easy. It’s uncomfortable and it puts you in a very vulnerable position. All of a sudden, people can judge you and what you do. And let me tell ya: not everyone’s going to be all nice and positive. But if you don’t share your talents and projects with the world, they can also never grow into something more than just a hobby.
So challenge yourself and put yourself out there. Because if you never try, you’ll never know.
17. Saying no
Oh yes, I know how challenging it can be to say no to other people and to things you really don’t want to do. But it’s time for you to stop doing things because you feel like you HAVE to and learn how to say no.
Start small by saying no to little things such as having a piece of cake at a birthday party if you don’t feel like eating it (instead of just being polite and saying yes not to offend anyone). Or say no to going out if you’d rather spend the night in. As with everything: the more you practice, the easier it becomes.
18. Saying yes more often
‘But Janine, you just told me to say no more often?’ I know what you’re thinking, but just hear me out for a second!
What I’m talking about is saying yes more often to spontaneous offers or ideas that you’d normally decline because you have other plans. Or saying yes to things you wouldn’t normally do because they scare the living hell out of you.
A lot of times, we’re so quick to say no to things because they don’t fit into our schedule or because they make us feel incredibly uncomfortable. Even though doing these things is challenging, it also brings a lot of joy and memories if we do them anyway.
So here’s to saying yes to new adventures!
19. Set small daily goals for yourself
Setting small daily goals for yourself, is the perfect way to challenge yourself everyday. It could be something as: doing a workout, making a healthy meal, writing one paragraph of a blogpost or doing chores around the house you’ve been putting off for too long.
Just pick one small thing everyday that you want to do and make it your mission to get it done! Just wait and see what happens when these small daily goals start to add up!
20. Save money
Hey, big spender! Do you have a habit of spending money faster than it comes in? Challenge yourself by saving up some money!
You can start by skipping your daily round of Starbucks or packing your own lunch instead of buying something on the way, and put the money you didn’t spend into a savings account. There are even apps that round up your purchases and automatically put it into a savings account for you. Easy, right?
Just one more thing…
I hope this list has inspired you to challenge yourself a little bit more every day. And remember: you don’t have to do something big to challenge yourself. The key is to start small and build it up. That’s how you start improving your life, one day at a time.
Everything is uncomfortable and difficult at first. But the more often you do it, the easier it will become. And you might actually come to find joy in the things you’re doing over time.
How are you going to challenge yourself today?