The Challenge

Every moment is an opportunity to challenge yourself. I’m currently reading Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which is a study on “flow” like experiences people derive an immense amount of enjoyment from.

I’ll write a longer post about this book when I finish, but one key component of having a flow like experience is by pursuing an activity that you feel challenged by. Reflecting on my good days vs. bad days I realize that my good days are not days where there isn’t much work to do and I have leisure time. The days where I feel most alive, motivated, and excited are days when I’m challenging myself.

We’ve all had those slow days at work where the immediate tasks are finished and there isn’t much else to do until it is time to go home. I find that these days are the worst – I come home feeling groggy, tired, and slightly agitated. The days where I feel sharpest are days where there are a million challenging tasks, I’m engaged, and I’m focused.

After reflecting for a bit,  I realize I can have these types of days all the time as long as I’m aware and make the commitment to always develop or look for a challenging activity. A quick list I brainstormed this morning –
> Challenge yourself to finish everything on your to-do list in half the time you estimated
> Challenge yourself to remain aware and present throughout the day without letting your mind wander
> Challenge yourself to improve your active listening skills in every conversation and meeting
> Challenge yourself by taking on additional side projects that force you to learn and think differently, even if it isn’t part of your day to day job (Most bosses won’t get angry if you finish your normal tasks and spend the rest of your time developing new skill sets that will add value to the company)
> Challenge yourself by picking one new topic a day to learn as much as you can about when you have downtime (Preferably work related when you are at work)
> Challenge yourself by going out of your way to write an email with positive feedback and gratitude to a co-worker, client, or boss

Every single moment provides a challenge, it is up to me if I want to spend that moment tackling that challenge or mindlessly squandering that opportunity.

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