I’m always setting up one challenge or another, whether it’s trying to lose weight or writing the most words I can within the year. And although some might think it was because of bragging rights, the truth is, I’m always in a state of self-improvement.
After all, where do you know the line is if you haven’t drawn one? And who says that line is the extent of your abilities over time?
Am I successful in every challenge? Hell no. In fact, there have been plenty where I completely flopped. However, the difference between me and many others is that I choose to keep trying and have faith in myself that I can accomplish great things.
Now, when I say, “great things,” I am referring to those things that matter most to me. For instance, from my point of view, publishing A Freelancer’s Tale was one of those great things.
This year, writing one million words across blogs, books, and clients is also a great thing as I want to know if I can still crank out the content.
I’m getting older, by the way.
The bottom line is that I’m always looking to see just how much further I can take anything I’m currently working on. Unfortunately, when you have your fingers in as many pies as I do, you’re also battling against available time.
How I Create a Challenge for Myself
As a creator trying to juggle as many projects as I do, it’s a challenge in and of itself just to balance it all. Still, there are a lot of things that I’m curious about when it comes to myself.
For example, how many books could I publish in a year if I really put in the effort? What would happen if I sustained a regular blog publishing schedule for one year straight?
Can I “Magic Mike” myself within 12 weeks?
It’s this curiosity that keeps me going. I’m never satisfied with sitting in place and am constantly looking forward to that next challenge.
But how do I create a challenge that isn’t setting me up for failure?
Only in Competition with Myself
When it comes to anything in life, you are your greatest competition. This is true whether your building a blog, writing a book, or trying to get in shape to run that 5k marathon.
The only real variable in anything you want to accomplish is you.
Case in point, I know several freelancers who make probably around four times what I make in a year. Yet, I still consider myself successful because I have everything I need. And I know that I could make that much money should I go back to freelancing full-time.
Though, I also know that doing so wouldn’t make me happy. I love helping other writers through the blog and YouTube channel, and I would have to give up much of what I do today to make more money.
My bills are paid, my mortgage is covered, and I have a few extra bucks each month to have fun. I’m a simple man, and it doesn’t take much for me to be happy.
Anyway, when I create a challenge, it is centered around what I have done in the past and how much further I can go. Sure, I’d love to write a million words this year. But if I can break last year’s total count, I’d still call that a win.
Being Realistic with Myself
A challenge is meant to push yourself to accomplish more than you have in the past. This means being realistic about what you want to accomplish over the long term.
For instance, if you’ve never lifted weights before, you wouldn’t stack 400 pounds on the chest press and expect good things to happen.
The reason I know I can write more than a million words is that I’ve done it in the past. Granted, I wasn’t nearly as busy with other projects back then. And this is why I want to see if it’s still possible.
This is where I’ve seen a lot of people fail. They try to accomplish the same level as those they emulate without taking into consideration their own abilities.
In fact, this is exactly why I set challenges and goals according to my past accomplishments. Even if it is by one word, it’s still an improvement and sets a new personal record.
I’ve made the joke in the past about how I could “out-write Stephen King.” And based on how much content I produce during any given week, I could. Now, whether or not it is a quality book is a completely different story.
Does that mean I pit my abilities as an author against a legend? Nope. For one thing, it was a joke comparing his word count per day against mine. And I highly doubt he cranks out WordPress tutorials and other company blog posts throughout the day.
It’s like comparing apples to fish.
But that doesn’t stop me from seeing just where the line is according to what I can achieve. I am realistic with my challenges based on what I’ve personally accomplished over time
Avoiding the Thoughts of Self-Doubt
I don’t think there is a creator alive who hasn’t had moments of self-doubt. The successful ones are those who persevered and overcame those thoughts. Sometimes this meant taking time off from creating.
In reality, those thoughts of self-doubt are why I haven’t tried to publish a book until 2021.
That’s what happens when you start focusing on positive accomplishments and taking steps to go where you want to be. It all contributes to confidence, which then influences a lot of your decisions both on and off the field.
What I mean is that building confidence in one area can ultimately affect another.
A great example of this is how I behave in public today as opposed to how I was in 2012. The confidence that came from being a full-time, successful freelance writer influences my interactions in real life.
From chit-chat in the elevator to talking with a stranger while waiting for coffee, I am far different today as opposed to who I was back then.
Instead of being overly quiet and timid, I am a bit more interactive. Well, that is when I leave the house, which isn’t all that often. That’s something I’m working on as well.
My point is that self-doubt can wreak havoc on any challenge you set for yourself. And you can avoid this by simply focusing on your accomplishments today as opposed to where you were before.
What is My Greatest Challenge Yet?
I’d have to say that my greatest challenge today is that of mastering time. Sure, I spent a couple of months prior to 2023 “perfecting” my daily schedule. But there is still so much I want to do and have a bad habit of overloading myself.
I also have a tenancy to get slightly sidetracked.
However, I can say that my time utilization this year is far better than it was in 2022. I just wish I had more of it.
I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. But I do relish the fact that I am becoming better and better at the challenges I work to finish.
Sure, the things I want to do are taking a bit longer than I would like. But the fact remains that I am still working on them and haven’t given up.
One of my favorite compliments from an employer was how he appreciated my “tenacity.” And it’s this tenacious attitude that has influenced everything I’ve done throughout my life.
A lot of the time, I simply do things just to see if I can do them.
Do You Challenge Yourself?
Now, do you need to set challenges for yourself in order to be successful? Not necessarily. Creating a challenge is simply what works for me. Everyone is different, and what motivates you to succeed is going to be vastly different from mine.
Yet, discovering where your boundaries are through a challenge can help you understand what you’re capable of and just how far you can take yourself.
Well, as long as you’re being honest and realistic.
How do you challenge yourself from day to day?